The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Starz/Anchor Bay - 2007
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 117 Minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: MPEG-4 (AVC)
Video Aspect: 1.78:1
Audio Format(s): English uncompressed 5.1 PCM, Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
Starring: Simon Baker, Winona Ryder, Mindy Cohn, Patton Oswalt, Julie Bowen, Robert wisdom, Neil Flynn
Written &Directed by: Mark Waters
Music by: Rolfe Kent
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: July 1, 2008
"Some dreams are too true to be good"
Less than two weeks before his wedding, good-guy Roderick Blank receives a mysterious email listing every girl he's ever had sex with...and the 70+ names of everyone he ever will have sex with. But as Roderick begins enjoying all the strippers, porn stars, stewardesses and celebrity lesbians on the list, he discovers that his ultimate date with destiny may lay with the serial killer known as 'Death Nell' (Oscar nominee Winona Ryder). Is the luckiest man in the world now doomed to face the final position of the Karma Sutra?
I think that the tag line I chose for this film sums things up pretty well. This film is the brain child of Writer/Director Mark Waters who penned the ‘legendary cult classic’ Heathers. As most of you know I try to give creative works a fair amount of leeway before judging them too harshly. I also take into account that I am not a film critic. I am really here to offer some insights into the technical quality of Blu-ray Discs and include my personal opinion on the film itself. For me the premise for this movie was interesting because it dealt with destiny versus free will. The idea that a person could know before hand with absolute certainty who he was going to meet, and hook up with posed some food for thought. I think that a story based upon that had lots of potential. Well this story completely missed the mark. It took a relatively solid cast and did nothing with them. Simon Baker generally comes off as pretty likeable onscreen and I think that didn’t help the character he plays here. Roderick Blank starts out as a pretty nice guy who is engaged to be married in a few weeks. He works as an Ad Executive for a fast food joint called “Swallows” (yeah imagine that). His assistant receives an e-mail for him that contains a list of names. The names include every person that he has slept with or will sleep with in the future. He does not give much credence to the e-mail until he “accidentally” has sex with a stripper (at his bachelor party) whose name appears next on the list. By the way the accidentally having sex part was ridiculous. This leads to him question his feeling for his fiancé played by Julie Bowen as he feels the need to explore his new found knowledge. Explore he does as he begins to seek out the women on the list. The e-mail he received came from a super computer which is under the supervision of three men/beings (they really don’t say) who seem to have the inside track on future events for those chosen by the computer. They attempt to warn Roderick of the problems inherent in acting upon his new found foresight but of course he does not listen. At the same time there seems to be an unrelated story where there is a mysterious femme fatale named Death Nell (Winona Ryder) who has become somewhat of an urban legend because she is believed to be responsible for killing men who are guilty of sex crimes against women. Obviously the paths of Death Nell and Roderick are going to cross which will lead to trouble for Roderick.
This film lacks cohesive writing and direction which leads to less than quality performances from the cast. Mindy Cohn is actually decent as Roderick’s assistant and I liked Leslie Bibb as Miranda, the woman who almost pulls Roderick out of his sex driven quicksand. Winona Ryder is in her late thirties and still looks great. This role was not something that would make use of her talents but it’s good to see her working again. There is a reason that the word Sex appears in the title. There are several tasteless sex scenes, nudity, and graphic language for those that find that appealing. For me it just seemed like nothing other than an attempt to attract audiences based upon visualization rather than smart writing. The press kit describes this as a black comedy. I think that perhaps it is more of a dark comedy but that is even a stretch. It tries to add elements of a love story nature which just doesn’t work. There were one or two laughs but those were contrived. In the end I felt that Sex and Death 101 was shallow, over the top, and boring.
The rating is for strong sexual content and language, nudity and violence. Obviously not one for younger viewers.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Sex and Death 101 comes to Blu-ray Disc from Anchor Bay featuring 1080p AVC encoded video with an average bitrate of 27 mbps and lossless uncompressed PCM 5.1 audio with a constant bitrate of 6.9 mbps.
This is the first Anchor Bay Blu-ray disc release that I have reviewed and overall I was impressed with this video presentation. Images were clean and crisp with sharply resolved detail in both close up and distant shots. Every now and then I noticed halos around objects but the effect was minimal and I had to look for it. I didn’t feel that it was excessive enough that it infringed on fidelity. The film uses a wide variety of colors and hues which simply looked beautiful in high definition. Colors were vivid with excellent extension and natural tonality. They didn’t appear falsely pumped up or hot. Flesh tones appeared spot on with nice refinement and texture across the board. Scenes containing mixed content with light and dark elements looked punchy with solid blacks and visible detail within shadows. I saw no signs of bit starvation or compression noise. Overall I thought that this looked great.
The uncompressed PCM audio didn’t offer much in the way of dynamics, low frequency effects, or surround sound. Based upon the source material this didn’t come as a surprise as the film is essentially dialogue driven. I would like to have seen better pronouncement of dialogue as I felt it was compressed slightly within the mix. The surrounds were used occasionally to provide ambience but even then it didn’t offer a very immersive experience. There was no problem with the perception or detection of sounds as they were distinct and clear. I would have appreciated a broader soundstage across the front of the room but as I stated earlier this film didn’t necessarily require a strong surround audio presentation to drive its elements. In the end I found it to be just fine.
The bonus supplements consisted of an audio commentary track, single making of feature and the theatrical trailer both of which were in standard definition. The 17 minute 101 Perversion feature offered a basic look at the production which featured interviews with several of the cast members, the producer and director. I found Director/Writer Mark Waters to be a little strange and a bit pompous when comparing this film to other comedies. The audio commentary featured Waters by himself and was more of the same.
- Director Audio Commentary
- 101 Perversion: Making of feature
Sex and Death 101 is a less than entertaining film that had an interesting concept that was poorly executed. On the bright side I was glad to see a nice looking high bitrate video encode and lossless uncompressed PCM audio from Starz/Anchor Bay Blu-ray Disc. I hope that is a trend that continues and I look forward to reviewing future Blu-ray Disc releases from them.
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