The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Disney/Touchstone - 2008
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 120 Minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, spanish
Starring: Kevin Costner, Dennis Hopper, Nathan Lane, Paula Patton, Madeline Carroll, Kelsey Grammer, Stanley Tucci, George Lopez
Directed by: Joshua Michael Stern
Music by: John Debney
Written by: Jason Richman & Joshua Michael Stern
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: January 13, 2009
"One ordinary guy is giving the candidates a reason to run"
Bud Johnson is content to coast through life in a dead end job, until his precocious twelve-year old, Molly, sets off a chain of events that results in a presidential election coming down to a single vote: Bud's. Political operatives swarm his tiny hometown in New Mexico in an all-out battle for his ballot and there are no lengths the Republican incumbent Andrew Boone (Kelsey Grammer) and Democratic
candidate Donald Greenleaf (Dennis Hopper) won't go to in order to curry Bud's favor. As the underhanded antics of their campaign managers, played by Stanley Tucci and Nathan Lane, create hilarious consequences, Bud realizes that beyond the implications for the nation, this is his shot at winning his daughter's respect.
I saw Swing vote this summer while it was in theaters. I am a Kevin Costner fan and the rest of the cast looked so good we decided to check it out. I enjoyed this film and thought that Costner's performance was genuine, charismatic and entertaining. He seemed to have a great feel for the affable, boozing, and forgetful but loving father Bud Johnson. The story looks to poke fun at politics and successfully does so while leaving out the rhetoric that can sometimes plague films that contain this type of subject matter. It's a lighthearted comedy that has a message and a bit of drama that never derails its comedic perspective. The dialogue is well written and certainly apropos to the cast members delivering it which made it all the better. Madeline Carroll was wonderful and she and Costner seemed to gel nicely onscreen. They have several exchanges in the film that are really great. I think my favorite is their discussion in chapter 5 while sitting near the creek fishing. Stanley Tucci, Kelsey Grammer, Nathan Lane, Paula Patton and George Lopez are all perfectly matched to their characters. I am not so sure about Dennis Hopper though. Seeing him as a clean cut, liberal, tree hugging politician is just too much of a stretch for me. He is a professional though and was just fine in the part. I thought that Bud's transition in the finale was rather abrupt but his heart felt speech came off well. This isn't an award winning film but it's a touching, light hearted and well written comedy that offers some great moments that are highlighted by a well placed cast.
The rating is for language.
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:
Swing vote comes to Blu-ray disc from Disney/Touchstone featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 29 mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 2.8 mbps.
Having seen this film theatrically I had high expectations for its high definition video release and true to form Disney has done a wonderful job with this encoding. This is a reference quality presentation that boasts exquisite detail, bold, dynamic contrast, and bright, effervescent colors. Images are three dimensional with transparent resolution and meticulous fine rendering. Whites are brilliant and crisp with a blooming quality that washes out some fine detail. Blacks are stable and fairly deep with noticeable gradational stages that are appreciable in low lighting and dark areas onscreen. Flesh tones are nicely delineated with diverse complexional texture that leaves them just on the pale side of realistic depiction. Grain is well preserved and is presented in fine, even layers that never draw attention to it. This presentation seems to mirror what I saw in the theater and it looks great.
This is essentially a dialogue driven film that relies mainly on front channel emphasis. The higher resolution inherent in the lossless encoding is evident in the form of superlative high level detail, transparent clarity, and punchy dynamics. There is a variety of music used in the film. Sometimes it holds center stage and other times it stays in the background. Regardless of its implementation it had an engaging quality that sounded airy, tonally descriptive, and free of colored mid range or strident treble. Dialogue benefited from this as well as it held a notable position of prominence within the front soundstage. It was crystal clear, slightly forward, and perfectly integrated with the rest of the audio. Imaging, off camera directional cues, and panning sequences across the front of the room were right on the money. Ambient detail through the rear channels was used to extend the front sound field to create environmental sounds that effectively broadened the depth of the surround mix. This was evident during the party and large crowd sequences but was also detectable in quieter moments as well. While this soundtrack may not offer immersive surround sound, I felt that it had excellent two dimensional depth and an enriching quality that elevated the experience.
- Audio commentary with Director/Writer Joshua Michael Stern & Writer Jason Richman
- (HD) 5 Deleted/Extended scenes with optional commentary
- (HD) Inside the campaign: The politics of production - 13 minute making of feature
- (HD) Hey man, how about you? - music video performed by Modern west (featuring Kevin Costner)
Swing vote probably isn't the most memorable comedy to come along but it put a smile on my face and a lump in my throat. I liked the cast and the writing and while some may find the political subject matter objectionable it remains light and avoids over emphasis. Disney continues to put forth solid efforts in their Blu-ray Disc releases. This disc features reference quality video and excellent high resolution DTS-HD Master Audio sound quality. The bonus content is just average but it is offered in high definition which is always a plus. This isn't a must have title for everyone but if you are in the mood for an enjoyable, lighthearted comedy that looks and sounds great, I would recommend that you give this one a spin.
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