The Internet savvy high definition crowd has been anxiously awaiting 50GB dual-layered Blu-ray Discs and Sony’s promises of improved audio and video fidelity their arrival will usher in. Unsubstantiated rumors floating about cyberspace over the past few months have questioned whether the only available Blu-ray Disc player on the market could even play these phantom BD-50 discs if or when they arrived. Sony was quick to put any doubt to rest by sneaking in Click on a BD-50 disc which early Blu-ray Disc adopters are already robotically snagging off store shelves. But will the average consumers fortunate to have secured Playstation 3 preorders recognize Click as BD-50 disc that holds twice the information of a single-layer Blu-ray Disc, or even care if they did?
Click is the latest stab at box office success by the same creative team that brought us The Wedding Singer. Adam Sandler stars as a work-obsessed architect who blows off his family, including Kate Beckinsale, in favor of climbing the corporate ladder. In an act of rage against who is given a universal remote by an odd old man (played by the always entertaining Christopher Walken) in the fictional “Beyond” section of Bed, Bath and Beyond. With the remote, he has the ability to literally control his own universe with the simple click of a button or access his entire life through the main menu, including amusing commentary by James Earl Jones. The premise is sound and ripe for plenty of belly aching laughs, especially with Sandler in the lead. But the writers clicked passed Comedy Central and stopped on ABC Family for the main event.
Spanglish aside, we expect an Adam Sandler movie to provide juvenile humor like dogs humping giant stuffed ducks and David Hasselhoff’s presence, which Click does infrequently. After all, only a complete moron would confuse a fan remote with a TV remote. We don’t expect nor want a script that deteriorates into a serious A Christmas Carol knockoff once Sandler’s character realizes the universal remote fast-forwards through his life automatically based on activities he’s fast-forwarded through previously. During this slow procession through Sandler’s character’s latter years, a “family comes first” moral message is repeatedly reinforced through one melodramatic event after another. The overstated life lesson only concludes when Sandler’s character is set straight by predictably living his own death. Even a reformed Ebenezer Scrooge would have been tempted to click stop before the inevitable token redemption conclusion.
Of all the Blu-ray Disc publishers, Sony in particular has taken a lot of heat over the past few months for publishing inconsistent Blu-ray Disc transfers using the MPEG-2 codec. “Click” is the perfect property to help remedy this consumer perception given it was shot on high definition video and not film, plus with the extra space allotted with BD-50, there are no excuses why the video compression should yield unwanted blemishes or anomalies. Does it pass the test? Yes, for the most part. Click is certainly one of the better looking titles the studio has churned out to-date, falling into a tier behind the marvelous Tears of the Sun release. Both compression noise and film grain are minor and only noticeable when actively scanning for them. When Adam accesses the menu on the remote, the blue CGI background offers great depth and color. I was only distracted during some of the fast moving scenes where objects blurred slightly, but in no way was this minor quip a deal breaker or even worth mildly fretting over.
Sony has embraced lossless audio from day one without the benefit of 50GB discs so the PCM 5.1 track on “Click” is probably identical to what would have appeared on a 25GB disc. Regardless of disc space semantics, this mix is on-par with expectations and might even awaken a few snoozing viewers during the sluggish third act. Since the genre is a family drama with a sprinkle of comedy, the surrounds are only pushed by the score and accompanying throwback music. When they are pushed, the result is an enveloping blast of music that underscores the melodrama playing out on screen. I would have gladly traded less score for more comedic writing.
Including the entire suite of extras found on the standard DVD in high definition on this Blu-ray Disc is most definitely thanks to the increased room BD-50 affords. Whether this tickles the fancy of everyone is a matter of personal preference. For me, the increased resolution helps balance out the high definition experience by omitting all standard definition footage that sticks out like a sore thumb when viewed immediately after high definition footage.
First up is an Audio Commentary with Adam Sandler, Director Frank Coraci, Co-Writer Steve Koren, and Executive Producer Tim Herlihy. This rambunctious group offers a perfect blend of insider stories, jokes and information pertinent to the film. In many ways, I had more fun listening to these guys reminisce than watching the film. A total of seven relatively short Featurettes touch upon various aspects of the production and thankfully can be played concurrently without interruption. The best moments that kept my interest were special effects secrets behind Adam as a fat man and how the dogs were so willing to continually jump a giant stuffed duck. Also included are four Deleted Scenes that are more short extensions of other scenes. There’s nothing worthwhile that deserved to be in the final cut.
Why was Click chosen as the first Blu-ray Disc to show off BD-50 technology? Only Sony knows for certain, though I’m guessing the answer is three-fold: it’s a mainstream release; the film and extra features are shot in high definition; and its release window times perfectly with BD-50 being ready for mass production. But let’s face it: right now, general consumers won’t care. There’s nothing on Click’s package indicating it’s any different from any other Blu-ray release. A couple minor creative marketing changes could have gone a long way in educating the non-technologically craving current and near-future Blu-ray Disc owners that this extra space is a step towards a complete high definition home video experience. Instead, what’s left is an average film thrust into the annals of endless video-phile arguments over whether BD-50 is a stake in the coffin of HD DVD. Thanks, but no thanks. I’ll sit that argument out and enjoy what both formats have to offer.
– Dan Bradley