The Interview (Blu-ray) (2014)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 11-Jun-2015

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Audio Commentary-Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg
Deleted Scenes
Outtakes-Gag Reel
Additional Footage-Line-O-Ramas
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Directors of This Movie
Featurette-Spies Among Us
Unseen Footage-Randall Park Audition Tape
Featurette-Getting into Character
Additional Footage-Dating a Dictator
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Puppy Power
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Here Kitty Kitty
Featurette-Joking Around
Featurette-Naked & Afraid
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2014
Running Time 112:11
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Seth Rogen
Evan Goldberg
Studio
Distributor

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring James Franco
Seth Rogen
Lizzy Caplan
Randall Park
Diana Bang
Timothy Simons
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $19.95 Music Henry Jackman


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 5.1
German DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Turkish Dolby Digital 5.1
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.40:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
German
Hindi
Turkish
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

††† 2014ís The Interview was never going to live up to expectations. With the massive controversy, Sony hacking scandal, terrorist threats from North Korea, and the flickís temporarily cancelled release (it was going to sit in a vault forever unseen), most film-goers most likely expected too much from this all-in-good-fun comedy romp, hoping for a razor-sharp, incisive political satire that it was never meant to be. Directed by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, The Interview is by no means high-brow or classy, nor is it The Great Dictator of the 21st Century, but it is funny. Humour is subjective and your mileage will vary depending on taste, but I cannot deny that The Interview worked for me - I laughed frequently, and the movie holds up on repeat viewings.

††† A high-profile talk show host, Dave Skylark (James Franco) and his producer Aaron Rapaport (Rogen) have conquered the entertainment industry, consistently scoring high ratings from their interviews with various celebrities. After a thousand episodes, however, Aaron finds himself yearning to take on ďreal news,Ē and perhaps earn some respect from his peers. Learning that North Koreanís Supreme Leader, Kim Jong-un (Randall Park), is a fan of the show, Dave and Aaron are given the chance of a lifetime: an hour-long interview with the controversial dictator. The announcement draws attention from the C.I.A. though, with Agent Lacey (Lizzy Caplan) requesting their help to assassinate the controversial political figure. But soon after touching down in the country, Dave finds himself bonding with Kim, prompting second thoughts about the plan. Aaron, meanwhile, gains an ally in the form of Sook (Diana Bang), a military official and propagandist working for the Supreme Leader.

††† Many of The Interviewís detractors bemoan the lack of sophistication and political satire here, with Rogen and Goldberg content to fill the feature with d*** jokes, drug trips, creative uses of profanity, and other infantile humour. But Dan Sterlingís screenplay actually does more than it gets credit for - in one particularly astute exchange, Sook asks Aaron how many times the U.S. can make the same mistake, to which he replies ďAs many times as it takesThe Interview also plays up several of the myths surrounding North Korea, some of which are hugely alarming. Itís easy to see why Kim Jong-un and his people would find this feature offensive, though it still wouldíve been nice to see the movie go even further - one must wonder if any material was cut from the final product in light of the tremendous controversy.

††† As with all comedies, not all of the laughs land, of course - itís especially grating to listen to the white actors talking like rappers. Furthermore, some scenes could have been tauter, such as the interview with Eminem which runs past its logical closure point. Nevertheless, I laughed more often than not, and the movie also makes side-splitting use of the Katy Perry song ďFirework,Ē which becomes a brilliant recurring joke. Rogen and Goldberg were aiming for a sophisticated visual style here which belies the projectís comedic origins, collaborating with veteran comedy cinematographer Brandon Trost to give The Interview the look of a stylish espionage thriller. Lensed digitally, the results are to be commended, with shot compositions making brilliant use of shadows. Nobody can accuse The Interview of looking cheap. The climax here amounts to an extended action set-piece, and itís both hugely amusing and competently executed. Some of the violence is comically over-the-top, but, miraculously, it never grows too dark or mean-spirited - the madness is pitched at just the right tone.

††† Francoís performance is a mixed bag. He plays foolish well enough and he is amusing at times, but heís far too broad and often mugs the camera. One can only imagine what someone like Bill Murray could have done with the role, as heís capable of wonderfully dry line delivery. In fact, Murray would have been a great choice, as he has subtle, nuanced comedic chops that wouldíve made the movie even funnier. Rogen, meanwhile, is pretty much Seth Rogen, leaning on all of his usual trademarks as a performer. More worthy of praise is Parkís energetic portrayal of Kim Jong-un. Park had serious balls to play the dictator at all, but itís astonishing just how much he runs with it, turning the notorious Supreme Leader as a pothead who enjoys margaritas and Katy Perry music. Caplan is also mostly amusing, while Bangís performance as Sook is highly spirited.

††† High-concept R-rated comedies are becoming rarer and rarer, and while The Interview is not the home run that it might have been in defter hands, Rogen and Goldberg deserve credit for having the guts to mastermind a comedy of such brash political outrageousness. Other comedies these days like Sex Tape, Bad Neighbours, Ride Along, Letís Be Cops, Dumb and Dumber To and The Internship mine the same old tired territory, thus The Interview has an inherent edge since it delves into more dangerous terrain. Best of all, it does so whilst remaining fun and light on its feet, rather than leaden and pretentious. Itís not perfect, but Iíll take it.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

††† The Interview looks absolutely superb on Blu-ray, with an AVC-encoded 1080p transfer which belies its origins as a mere comedy. In the special features on this disc, Rogen and Goldberg talk extensively about their intention to shoot the movie like a stylish thriller (Argo and The Insider are mentioned as references) rather than just a regular old comedy, and it makes for excellent high definition fodder.

††† The American release of The Interview was slathered in controversial, unsightly black crush, with a reported authoring issue leading to a darkened video presentation with lost detail. I have not personally viewed the American disc, but I have seen screen-shots on forums, and itís bad. I am happy to report, however, that our Australian disc is authored correctly. There is no black crush, with the video remaining consistently strong from beginning to end.

††† Black levels are very well-handled, doing justice to the stylish cinematography that the filmmakers worked so hard to achieve. Detail and sharpness is strong right across the board; close-ups of Rogen reveal every beard hair, and thereís excellent texture on clothing and faces.

††† Thereís no noticeable grain or noises to the image; itís razor-sharp and smooth. Some shots do look a bit too smooth owing to the digital photography, but itís never too bothersome. I watched The Interview in a cinema, and the Blu-ray presentation is faithful to how it looked theatrically.

††† I detected no encoding issues. This is an excellent transfer. I sampled the English subtitles, and, again, no issues - they are easy to read and smartly formatted.



Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

††† Just as Rogen and Goldberg aspired to create stylish visuals, they also wanted a comedy which sounds more like an action-thriller. And goodness me, the English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is an absolute beauty - itís unexpectedly demo-worthy. The disc also carries an English descriptive audio track, an audio commentary, and German and Turkish tracks.

††† Dialogue comes through clearly, Henry Jackson's original music is well-mixed, and the track makes beautiful use of the subwoofer and surround channels. There are gunshots, helicopters and tanks throughout the movie, and you could swear such things are in your living room whilst youíre listening to this track. Itís incredibly impressive and immersive. Also, that Katy Perry song sounded very special on my surround sound set-up.

††† Thereís nothing to complain about here. Itís a professionally engineered track that handles action scenes as competently as a Transformers movie on Blu-ray.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

††† A small but worthwhile selection of special features.

Menu

††† A static menu with themed music from the movie.

Directorís Commentary

††† Commentaries are hit and miss, but this particular audio commentary is pure gold, and anybody who enjoyed The Interview owes it to themselves to give it a listen. Directors Rogen and Goldberg discuss the movie in great detail, and the results are often incredibly hilarious. The pair light up joints fairly often (though they claim theyíre just lighting incense), which just adds another layer of hilarity. Thereís plenty of interesting, insightful information here in regards to the production, covering the writing, filming, and even adding or fixing jokes using ADR in post-production. The commentary was recorded before all the controversy, so unfortunately they do not touch on that topic, but the track is a home run nevertheless.

Deleted, Extended and Alternate Scenes (25:21)

††† Fourteen scenes, a number of which are alternate scenes (including alternate versions of deleted scenes also included here). Some of this material is pretty amusing, but itís probably best that everything was excised from the final edit. Worth watching.

Gag Reel (7:03)

††† An obligatory blooper reel is included, but this one is actually really funny. I laughed out loud multiple times. Essential viewing for anyone who enjoyed the movie.

Line-O-Ramas (9:32)

††† Three line-o-ramas, containing material of varying quality. There is some good stuff here which had me laughing heartily.

Directors of This Movie (6:41)

††† A short but insightful behind-the-scenes featurette concerning the two directors, Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen. They talk about their approach to the project, with particularly interesting insight into the cinematography.

Spies Among Us (7:24)

††† This behind-the-scenes featurette looks at the movieís performers and their respective characters.

Randall Park Audition Tape (5:14)

††† Parkís screen-test alongside Seth Rogen standing in as Dave Skylark. A worthwhile inclusion.

Getting into Character (4:47)

††† An insightful look at Randall Park and how he got into character to play the infamous North Korean dictator.

Dating a Dictator (1:10)

††† An online dating video featuring Kim Jong-un. Completely random, but a funny extension of the film.

Puppy Power (1:56)

††† An amusing behind-the-scenes featurette dedicated to the adorable puppy that Dave carries around in the last act of the movie.

Here Kitty Kitty (5:19)

††† This particular segment looks at the logistics of using a real-life tiger during filming. This is definitely one of the most fascinating featurettes on the disc.

Joking Around (1:54)

††† A short piece which looks at creating jokes on-the-fly.

Naked & Afraid (13:47)

††† Very, very funny. Teaming up with the Discovery Channel, Franco and Rogen strip naked and spend three weeks in the jungle living off the land. The pair are talented at improvising, and I consistently laughed out loud watching them deal with various things.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

† † Our disc appears to be identical to the Blu-ray edition circulating around many European territories. It's head-over-heels superior to the Region A edition, which has the major black crush issue. Buy local!

Summary

††† I understand why some didn't warm up to The Interview, but I enjoyed it, and I continue to laugh with each new viewing. I was very happy with this Blu-ray; video and audio are flawless, though the extras are a bit light, which is disappointing considering the history of the project. I would've preferred a meatier documentary which covered everything from the genesis of the project to the North Korea controversy, but the sublime audio commentary track almost compensates for this. All things considered, this disc is recommended.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Callum Knox (I studied biology)
Monday, October 05, 2015
Review Equipment
DVDPlayStation 4, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 42LW6500. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationLG BH7520TW
SpeakersLG Tall Boy speakers, 5.1 set-up, 180W

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE