Aloha (Blu-ray) (2015)

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Released 8-Oct-2015

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Audio Commentary-with Writer/Director Cameron Crowe
Featurette-Making Of-The Untitled Hawaii Project: The Making of Aloha
Additional Footage-Original Opening & Alternate Ending
Featurette-The Awe of Space
Featurette-Ledward Kaapana: Music Is Everything
Featurette-Uncle Bumpy
Additional Footage-Mitchell’s Film
Outtakes
Deleted Scenes
Gallery-Photo
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2015
Running Time 104:47
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Cameron Crowe
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Bradley Cooper
Emma Stone
Bill Murray
Rachel McAdams
Danny McBride
John Krasinski
Alec Baldwin
Bill Camp
Jaeden Lieberher
Danielle Rose Russell
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $29.95 Music Jon Thor Birgisson
Alex Somers


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 5.1
German dts 5.1
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
German
English Audio Commentary
German Audio Commentary
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

     Cameron Crowe continues his cinematic downward spiral with 2015’s Aloha, a project which should have been the veteran filmmaker’s redemption for past misfires, but instead plays out like a poor imitator of the type of excellent pictures that Crowe used to manufacture with ostensible ease. A tone-deaf romantic dramedy, the feature is overloaded with ideas, but Crowe struggles to connect them in a coherent or substantial way, resulting in a disjointed storytelling mess of confused tonality that squanders a superb ensemble cast. Frankly, the film’s failure is not a total surprise, considering the delays as well as the leaked emails from Amy Pascal (a former top executive at Sony Pictures) who stated that the movie was shaping up to be a disaster. With any hope, this will be Crowe’s last movie for a while.

     A former Air Force pilot now working as a private contractor, Brian Gilcrest (Bradley Cooper) travels to Hawaii to assist in the launch of a communications satellite for billionaire industrialist Carson Welch (Bill Murray). Landing on the island, Brian immediately runs into ex-girlfriend Tracy (Rachel McAdams), who’s now married to airman Woody (John Krasinski) and has two children (Danielle Rose Russell, Jaeden Lieberher). Meanwhile, Air Force captain Allison Ng (Emma Stone) is assigned to monitor Brian during his five-day stay on the island, and takes an immediate liking to him. Brian finds himself drawn to Allison, but Tracy’s flirtations throw things into disarray. Also complicating matters is the impending launch of Carson’s satellite which may be a bit more sinister than anyone has suspected.

     Aloha cannot figure out what it is, and the end result amounts to an erratic hodgepodge of half-baked ideas, with nothing being given the breathing space required in order to fully take flight. Crowe’s script contains several interesting concepts - including creepy Hawaiian urban legends and military-related issues - but does literally nothing with them. The main thrust of the plot concerns Carson being up to no good, but it has so little bearing on the narrative at large that one has to question its purpose. In fact, the subplot dealing with the satellite launch makes zero sense, eventually culminating with a hacker battle between Brian and some Chinese cyber-terrorists which winds up being every bit as ludicrous and perplexing as it sounds. It’s actually hard to figure out precisely what genre Crowe was aiming for - it’s not very funny, the romance never soars, and it also dips into thriller territory. It feels as it Crowe was constantly changing his mind during shooting, making it difficult to get a firm grasp on what the movie is meant to be about. It’s flat as a pancake.

     As perhaps to be expected, the Hawaiian locales do make for some very pretty pictures, and the island’s natural beauty is an ideal backdrop for a film of this ilk. Aloha does look magical, with picturesque cinematography and eye-catching production values, not to mention the agreeable music that underscores the enterprise, but it ultimately amounts to nothing. With Crowe unable to juggle the various plotlines in a cohesive fashion, the characters make little sense, especially Brian who’s about as ill-defined as the movie itself. Also problematic is Tracy, who’s unusually keen to ditch her husband and get back with Brian after thirteen years apart. Meanwhile, the “romance” between Ng and Brian comes across as wholly forced. Aloha should be warm and satisfying, but instead comes across as artificial and cold to the touch, solid technical specs notwithstanding.

     Aloha was shot in 2013 but spent the best part of 18 months in post-production, with rumours surfacing online about the troubled editing process. Judging from Amy Pascal’s emails, one supposes that Crowe’s original, much longer edit was probably a meandering mess, which prompted Sony to bring in as many people as possible to try and carve something watchable out of the available footage. One has to genuinely pity the cast at the centre of all this, with Cooper remaining quite amiable despite the poor material, while the likes of Stone and McAdams are likewise charming. But perhaps the biggest waste is Bill Murray, who’s given hardly any screen-time, stuck with a one-dimensional role that squanders his immense talents. Considering how notoriously difficult it is to secure Murray for a motion picture, one has to wonder why Crowe opted to use him in such a wasteful manner. Other names pop up in supporting roles, including Alec Baldwin and Danny McBride as military men, but they have minimal purpose in the story.

     Admittedly, as the movie approaches the finish line, there is a degree of sincerity that works to an extent, but it’s a case of too little, too late. In fairness, Aloha does breeze by easily enough throughout its 110-minute runtime, and it’s not outright terrible enough to be angering, though this is hardly a ringing endorsement. Aloha is not some kind of abomination against cinema; just an aggressively mediocre, miscalculated dramedy for which it’s hard to conjure up much feeling towards. There has been controversy about the fact that the main characters are all Caucasian, whitewashing the Hawaiian culture, but honestly, that’s about the least of the film’s problems. Sweep this one under the rug, forget about it, and move on.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Aloha was shot on 35mm film stock, and Fox’s Blu-ray does justice to the eye-catching photography. The movie is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, and the 1080p video transfer is AVC-encoded. It just looks exceptional.

     A light, subtle layer of grain is retained throughout which adds beautiful texture to the image, and it’s mostly well-refined rather than blocky or unsightly. Detail is superb, with the transfer flaunting crisp uniforms and detailed faces.

     Colour is absolutely spot-on, and looks dazzling throughout. The forests and landscapes of Hawaii look lush and green, while skin tones look natural and the brightness of the image is eye-catching. Clearly minted from a digital source, there are no scratches or flecks, nor is there any print damage. Its smooth sailing.

     There aren’t many issues to speak of, save for some unsightly aliasing during the opening montage of vintage 4x3-framed footage. Said footage is meant to look old and low-quality, and I have no issue with the deliberate film artefacts, but aliasing is a digital issue. I did not see the movie in the cinema during its theatrical run, so perhaps it’s attributable to the source, but it is distracting nevertheless.

     This issue aside, Aloha looks amazing on Blu-ray; it shows yet again why HD is so much better than SD.

     English and German subtitles are available for both the movie and Cameron Crowe’s audio commentary. This is a dual-layered disc, and I did not notice any issues with the layer change.

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

Audio

     On this disc you’ll find an English DTS-HD MA 5.1 track, an English Descriptive Audio track, a German DTS 5.1 track, and an English Audio Commentary track.

     The English DTS-HD MA 5.1 track is a winner, as expected. This is not The Avengers or Transformers, so don’t expect an immersive surround sound track that will bring the house down. But for what this is - a dramedy - it’s perfectly sufficient, with crystal clear dialogue and well-mixed music. It just sounds ideal.

     When the movie gets into the lush Hawaiian forests, there is some noticeable ambience which works extraordinarily well.

     I have no complaints.

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

Extras

     Against all odds, Fox have splashed out with a generous extras package. How odd that a critical and commercial bomb receives one of the most extensive supplement packages in recent memory. All extras are in 1080p high definition with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio.

Menu

     A nicely-themed menu.

Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Cameron Crowe

     Crowe provides a scene-specific audio commentary, discussing a number of facets relating to the movie. Production experiences are shared, and Crowe waxes lyrical about the cast, Hawaii, and the themes of the movie. Honestly, the commentary didn’t engage me much. It’ll be a good listen for fans, but it’s a bit of a slog for everybody else. Also, it’s frustrating that Crowe doesn’t speak about the editing process; I would have liked to hear Crowe’s side of the story, and I definitely would have liked to hear him speak about the mountains of deleted footage or his original cut. What a waste of potential. Much like the movie itself, really.

The Untitled Hawaii Project: The Making of Aloha Documentary

     As odd as it may sound, this is essentially an art-house “making of” documentary; a disjointed examination of the production, with plenty of voiceovers and on-set footage. It’s good stuff for the most part, but there’s not much of a structure. The documentary is broken down into the following three segments:

Original Opening of Aloha (19:08)

     It’s easy to see why this was cut, and it really makes you wonder why anyone gave the go-ahead to Crowe’s script before shooting. A painfully long opening that ultimately leads nowhere, it introduces more subplots and more characters, and fleshes out Brian’s backstory. Jay Baruchel gets some airtime as well. There is optional commentary from Cameron Crowe.

Alternate Ending: Iridium Flares (4:20)

     Another extended sequence that was wisely cut, with Brian and Allison having a rather emotional chat over the phone before Brian and Gracie share their climactic moment. Crowe provides an optional audio commentary.

The Awe of Space (2:53)

     Crowe provides a commentary on a succession of images and videos of NASA’s glory days, talking about his fascination with space travel. Nothing special.

Ledward Kaapana: Music Is Everything (14:40)

     A featurette dedicated to Ledward Kaapana, who talks about music and plays a few tunes. Rather meandering, but some people might enjoy this.

Uncle Bumpy (5:53)

     Additional footage of Dennis “Bumpy” Kanahele, Head of State for the Nation of Hawai’i, sharing a few stories with Brian and Allison. Bumpy played himself in the film, and was told to tell real-life stories to the actors, so this is footage of Bumpy that wasn’t used in the final flick.

Mitchell’s Film (2:00)

     In the movie, the character of Mitchell is constantly seen with his camera. As explained in the documentary on this disc, the actor was actually filming all of the time. Here’s two minutes of footage shot by child actor Jaeden Lieberher.

Cast Gag Reel (6:26)

     The usual assortment of line flubs and monkey business on set. Nothing too spectacular, but there are a few nice moments featuring Baldwin.

Deleted Scenes (11:22)

     Two deleted scenes are included here: “Crud with Caron and Dixon” (0:42) and “Facing Forward” (10:46). Neither of these scenes add much to the movie. Cameron Crowe provides an optional audio commentary. Interestingly, there is more deleted footage glimpsed in trailers that is not included here. Who knows what exactly happened during the movie’s prolonged post-production.

Aloha Photo Gallery

     Hundreds of high-def photos are available here, with an optional audio introduction by photographer Neal Preston.

R4 vs R1

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

    The recently released Region A disc (distributed by Sony) appears to be identical in terms of extra features, only adding a handful of previews. Call it a tie.

Summary

     I didn’t hate Aloha, but it’s an aggressively flat and mediocre motion picture that wastes its talented cast, its hit-and-miss director, and the beautiful Hawaiian locations. I did not find the movie as offensive as so many others, but that’s about all I can say in the movie's favour.

     Fox’s Blu-ray effortlessly impresses. Terrific video and robust audio, with an incredibly extensive selection of bonus material, which is a surprise since this is the type of movie that should be brushed under the rug by everyone involved. Still, the movie’s rare fans should be satisfied. If you like the film, buy with confidence. Everyone else, rent or skip.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Callum Knox (I studied biology)
Wednesday, October 14, 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

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