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Featured Blu-ray Review: Lionsgate Triple-Shot: The Cove, The Rules of Attraction, and Still Waiting

April 3rd, 2011

Lionsgate Blu-ray Triple-Shot - Buy from Amazon: The Cove, The Rules of Attraction, and Still Waiting

Lionsgate has been releasing some of their recent catalog titles onto Blu-ray as part of waves, or mini-waves. (It's hard to call three films a wave.) This week it's The Cove, The Rules of Attraction, and Still Waiting. I'm lumping all three Blu-ray reviews into one featured review for two reasons. Firstly, they were offered to me as a group. Secondly, I've reviewed two of the three movies when they came out on DVD, so doing them separately would result in incredibly short reviews for those two.

The Cove

A documentary about the dolphin harvest in Taiji, Japan. The official reasons for this harvest is for scientific research, but as the filmmakers show, that's a dubious claim at best. More dolphins end up doing tricks at aquariums than in scientific research, while the vast majority end up on someone's plate. (Often they are not even label as dolphin when they are sold.) This movie is incredibly powerful and absolutely worth checking out. In fact, after I reviewed it, it won the Oscar, which was one of the most obvious results of Oscar night.

The Blu-ray

This is shovelware, but fortunately, the original DVD has more than enough extras to be worth picking up. There's an audio commentary track, deleted scenes, behind-the-scenes, several additional featurettes on subjects like free diving. On the technical side, it's a bit of a mixed bag. On the one hand, at its best, the film looks stunning. Excellent details, fantastic colors, deep blacks, high contrast, etc. On the other hand, the film was shot with a variety of cameras, some of which produce less than spectacular shots. Night-vision, infrared, hidden cameras, etc. are not going to produce the same level of detail as one would see in a summer blockbuster. There is also a lot of archival footage, which obviously doesn't look great. It looks better than it does on DVD and compared to other documentaries, the video is great. Likewise, the audio track does what you expect from a documentary. I.E. it has very clear dialogue, most of the time (some hidden mics are muffled). But don't expect a lot of activity from your surround sound speakers.

The Verdict

If you don't already own The Cove on DVD, then the Blu-ray is a must have. If you do own the DVD, then $15 for the upgrade is a little on the high side. It's not an outrageous price to pay, but it's right on the border between being worth the upgrade or not.

The Rules of Attraction

The film starts with Lauren Hynde introducing herself and a bit of the cast through a voice-over that sounds bored more than anything else. (She does admit you might be bored by her story.) She's pining for Victor, her ex-boyfriend who is now sleeping with her roommate. She instead hooks with an unnamed character, but passes out before anything happens. He then films her as she's being raped by some other unknown character.

The party then rewinds and we meet Paul, who starts his internal monologue by complaining about how pretentious he is. At least he knows it. He is chatting with a couple students trying to get them to take some Ecstasy. One of them is game, but while they are high, Paul puts the moves on him. It turns out to be a bad move, because either he wasn't actually gay, or was just still too far in the closet.

The party then rewinds again and we meet Sean Bateman, who is a drug dealer. He starts off his internal monologue by telling us he's an emotional vampire, although he could have also said he was pretentious like the last guy, as it works just as well (he breaks into third person partway through). He's looking for he latest victim and finds it in Kelly, whom he takes back to his dorm room. After playing the guitar for her, he tries to have sex, but can't perform.

The film then rewinds to much earlier and we follow these three characters in their day-to-day lives and how they begin to interact. Unfortunately none of the characters are dramatically interesting. They are all either assholes or victims. Am I supposed to care that this drug-dealer might get beat up by his psychopathic supplier? When we get to Eric Stoltz playing a teacher who trades good grades for sex, I was starting to actively loathe the movie.

The film has an amazing cast, but they are wasted on a plot that goes nowhere and they have to deliver dialogue that feels forced.

The Blu-ray

The only extras on the Blu-ray are audio commentary tracks, but there are six of them. Six. No, I didn't listen to all of them all the way through. The first is with Carrot Top, who is there because he has no connection with the movie. The rest are "revolving door" commentary tracks, as the Blu-ray calls them, which means while there are several participants on each, each of them only talks during specific scenes. Solo tracks tend to suffer, because there's no one to bounce ideas off of or to spark memories, so this is not the best idea.

As for the tech specs, the movie was made for just $4 million, and it shows. It's not a bad looking transfer, but everything is a little weak compared to the average wide release. Details, contrast, black levels, colors, etc. are all good, but not great. The audio is functional, but uncomplicated. Dialogue is clear, but outside some of the party scenes, the surround sound speakers are underused.

The Verdict

The Rules of Attraction is a very polarizing film with some loving it and others hating it. I lean more towards the latter group. Also, $17 for shovelware is a little more than I would like to pay, especially for a film that doesn't really shine in High Definition.

Still Waiting

This direct-to-DVD sequel to Waiting... has the same basic plot, a day in the life of a chain restaurant. A lot of the old staff are gone and have been replaced. Also, the restaurant in question, ShenaniganZ, is dealing with competition from Ta-Tas Wing Shack, which is run by a former member of the staff of ShenaniganZ, Calvin.

I liked Waiting... more than a lot of critics did, so did I also like Still Waiting? No. It's just more of the same, or to be more blunt, less of the same. In nearly every regard the film is just a lesser copy of the original. In almost every case where the film borrowed from its predecessor it pales in comparison, and the only change that is an improvement is the addition of Tania Raymonde.

The Blu-ray

Another example of shovelware. The DVD had plenty of extras for a direct-to-DVD sequel, including an audio commentary track, deleted / extended / alternative scenes, outtakes, making of featurette, etc. On the technical side, the film was a low-budget affair, and you can tell. It's video is sub-par for the format in practically every area. The audio is marginally better, but only because the dialogue is clear, while the surround sound speakers and the bass are underutilized.

The Verdict

This is a bad movie and the Blu-ray is unnecessary and at $17 it is overpriced.

Final Verdict

Of the three movies on this list, only The Cove is really worth grabbing on Blu-ray. Even if you already have the movie on DVD, $15 is a relatively good price to pay for the High Definition upgrade. On the other hand, both The Rules of Attraction and Still Waiting are increasingly weak films and their Blu-ray releases are not worth the money.

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Filed under: Video Review, The Rules of Attraction, The Cove, Still Waiting...