August 29, 2007

Blades Of Glory (2007)
Dreamworks Home Entertainment

93 mins. · PG-13
16x9 · 1.85:1

Format
HD-DVD

Audio
English - DD 5.1 Plus
French - DD 5.1 Plus
Spanish - DD 5.1 Plus

Subtitles
English, French, Spanish, Portugueseortuguese

Extras
Featurettes, Deleted Scenes, Gag Reel, Photo Gallery, Music Video

Starring
Will Ferrell, Jon Heder, Craig T. Nelson, Amy Poehler, Will Arnett, Jenna Fischer

Review by
Guido Henkel


Rating



(2007)

Will Ferrell is such a high profile comedian these days that his films have become a hit-or-miss affair. Some of them are outrageously funny while others are just flat out stupid. Therefore it was with some trepidation that I approached "Blades Of Glory," especially since the trailer showcased some of his usual schtick, which is growing a bit tired. I was all the more surprise that "Blades Of Glory" actually manages to keep the SNL-Ferrell in check mostly and goes for a different approach – one that makes for very entertaining 90 minutes.

Jimmy MacElroy (Jon Heder) and Chazz Michael Michaels (Will Ferrell) are fierce figure-skating competitors and when they both win a competition by a tie, a brawl on the podium ensues between the two, resulting in a lifetime ban of both skaters.

They both end up disillusioned and penniless until one day one of MacElroy's fans points out a loophole in the Federation's decision. They may be banned from men's figure-skating but they could still enter the pair-skating contest. With time running short for the Olympic qualifications and no female partners available, MacElroy and Michaels decide to rock the world of figure skating. The former enemies team up as the world's first male-male figure skating team! But it's easier for them to toss each other through the air than to check their egos at the door and so their path to glory is a painful – and funny – one.

Building on the "Zoolander" concept, "Blades Of Glory" tells the story of two successful individuals, their competitive clash and their growing admiration and respect for each other until they become friends. In that respect the story is straight-forward but with all the little vignettes sprinkled in, the unique character traits, the side-characters, such as Amy Poehler's and Will Arnett's brother-sister-skating team determined to put stop their competitors dead in their tracks, and the performances of the main cast, this film is more than just another flat me-too comedy. It is entertaining and has some great funny moments without going down the gross-out route – with one or two exceptions, maybe.

Dreamworks Home Entertainment is delivering "Blades Of Glory" in high definition in a sparkling transfer on this HD-DVD version. Of course the studio has alienated many of its potential customers by cancelling of the Blu-Ray version of this release, also disenfranchising countless DVD owners as a result of the short-sighted move, so I do not expect this film to do nearly as well as it would otherwise and I would also expect an impact on future Dreamworks titles as a result.
Nonetheless the HD-DVD version is beautiful to look at with a transfer that is absolutely clean and clear. With an incredible level of detail the most striking thing about the presentation are the film's colors. This transfer revels in even the most subtle hues and shades. The flamboyant costumes and colorful backdrops make for a great showpiece as the high definition transfer reproduces even the silkiest tones and the most striking highlights in the picture.
Black levels are also stunning and give the image formidable visual depth with shadows the never break up and add impressive sharpness and detail to the picture at all times. Clearly, this is a wonderful high definition transfer to behold.

The 5.1 channel Dolby Digital Plus audio track is also doing the best to make the film a lively and exciting experience. Whether it is the driving music during some of the figure-skating numbers or the more subtle, understated moments, the track always makes sure that channel separation is properly handled and that dialogues remain understandable at all times. Good dynamic range and a wide frequency response put the audio presentation in the same league as the video presentation, though due to its nature, the sound track is not as aggressive as that of some other movies.

Dreamworks has also filled the disc with a large number of extras, including a short Gag Reel. Unfortunately it appears a bit forced because it's not really funny. The same is true for the Deleted Scenes which have evidently been excised from the film for good reason – they are simply not very good.

"Return To Glory" is a making-of featurette that isn't really a making-of featurette. It is in fact a promo featurette because it doesn't cover anything production related other than explaining how the newcomer director-team of Josh Gordon and Will Speck have been associated with the film. The rest is talking head interview clips which eventually turn into a mock featurette as the questions become more dubious and weird in a desperate attempt to make it funny – but it ain't. After a while I simply had to turn it off because it became too painful to watch.

The disc contains a number of other featurettes, such as "Celebrities On Thin Ice," "Arnett and Poehler - A Family Affair," "Hector: Portrait of Psychofan," and "The Super-Sexy Costumes of Skating" but despite their promising names, most of them are simply more promo fluff that doesn't hold much real value in regards to the actual movie.

"Moviephone Unscripted with Will Ferrell, Jon Heder and Will Arnett" is probably one of the most entertaining of the features, as well as Bo Bice's "Blades Of Glory" music video.

Overall "Blades Of Glory" is a decent comedy. It has some seriously funny moments and allows you to simply kick back and enjoy. It is not ground-breaking and offers little surprises, but it is enough to keep you entertained for its 90 minute running length. While Dreamworks Home Entertainment has added a good number of bonus features on the release – and virtually all of them in high definition – their value is dubious at best as they play mostly like excerpts from the film's EPK, re-purposed to add a large number of bonus material bullet points to the packaging.


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