Last Vegas (Blu-ray) (2013)
Audio Commentary-with Jon Turteltaub and Dan Fogelman
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-It's Going to Be Legendary
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Shooting in Sin City
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Four Legends
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-The Redfoo Party
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-The Flatbush Four
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Ensemble Support
|Year Of Production||2013|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Language Select Then Menu|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||Jon Turteltaub|
Robert De Niro
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0
French dts 5.1
Italian dts 5.1
German dts 5.1
Spanish dts 5.1
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.40:1|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.40:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Last Vegas will be inevitably branded as the geriatric version of The Hangover as it’s set in Las Vegas and features a cast of males who head to Sin City to drink and party. But rather than R-rated debauchery and immoral shenanigans, this party is intended more for the older demographic, with milder content and non-offensive humour. The picture was written by Dan Fogelman, who cut his teeth on several Disney animated films (Tangled, Bolt, and Cars) before penning the superlative romantic comedy Crazy, Stupid, Love. in 2011. Fortunately, the strengths of Crazy, Stupid, Love. are carried over to Last Vegas, with touching story dramatics and plenty of big belly-laughs, not to mention the characters at the centre of the tale feel remarkably real and lived-in. The big draw of the movie, of course, is the presence of Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline, who keep the movie consistently watchable with their limitless on-screen charisma.
As children, Billy (Douglas), Paddy (De Niro), Archie (Freeman) and Sam (Kline) were known as the Flatbush Four, sharing a special friendship and keeping in touch over the decades. Now in their late 60s, the four men have grown apart and are in various stages of disrepair. After Billy proposes to his 31-year-old girlfriend Lisa (Bre Blair) with plans to marry in Las Vegas in a matter of days, Archie and Sam push for a Sin City bachelor party, refusing to take no for an answer. Paddy also tags along, though there’s awkwardness between himself and Billy due to personal reasons. Before long, the foursome are drinking and gambling, and soon meet a lovely lounge singer named Diana (Mary Steenburgen) who attracts the attention of Billy and Paddy in particular. As the weekend kicks into high gear, the old-timers begin to bond amid the booze-fuelled antics, while Billy is also compelled to re-assess his romantic needs.
Last Vegas dredges up the proverbial story clichés that we expect to see in this sort of production, but the movie miraculously manages to circumvent the most hoary chestnuts in a satisfying way. For instance, the pessimistic douche(™) begins giving the old guys a hard time, but he’s soon put in his place by the troupe, who mess with him in hilarious ways to make him change his tune. Furthermore, Archie’s unexpected luck at the casino results not in him being accused of cheating, but rather being offered the most expensive luxuries at a Vegas hotel. Last Vegas is great fun when locked in party mode, with Fogelman’s script making just about every possible joke about old age. It will probably play better for older members of the audience who’ll laugh at the universal truths about the aging process that are brought out, but it’s a fun sit for just about anyone. The movie is saucy too, with sexual gags all over the place, and the PG-13 rating thankfully does not hinder the humour’s sharpness. In fact, I never even realised it was PG-13, which is a massive compliment to everyone involved.
Director Jon Turteltaub (National Treasure) is a reliable purveyor of big-screen entertainment, and he’s in fine form here, making the most of the meagre $28 million budget at his disposal. This is a slick comedy with attractive Vegas locales, and it’s for the most part paced very agreeably. Suffice it to say, Last Vegas does have its more dramatic movements - Billy and Paddy’s relationship is rocky, and the tensions between the two men only become more pronounced with Diana’s arrival on the scene. But against all odds, this aspect of the story is handled with genuine poignancy, leading to a moving rumination on what matters in life, and the values of love in one’s autumnal years. Above all else, we get the sense that these two men do care about each other deep down inside, bestowing the story with real heart and warmth. Drama comes off as perfunctory in most comedies, but it’s an organic part of the story here.
You simply cannot miss with a cast like this. Douglas, Kline, Freeman and De Niro are wonderful thespians on their own, but together they positively light up the screen with energy, exhibiting effortless chemistry and camaraderie, and playing off one another with superb precision. It’s truly a treat to see these old dogs sharing the frame, each of whom are given their individual moments to shine. They’re perfectly complemented by Steenburgen as well, who’s an utter delight. Freeman is especially warm here, and there are a handful of touching moments in which he shows us yet again just how good he is (a late scene with Michael Ealy as Archie’s son is very moving indeed). Kline is also as great as ever, flexing his wonderful comedic muscles that have not faded over the years. Douglas and De Niro are just as strong, with De Niro clearly enjoying himself while Douglas has an engaging on-screen presence. On a less positive note, the scenes with the protagonists as kids are a bit on the stiff side. The young boys are dead ringers for their older counterparts, but they’re flat actors.
To be sure, Last Vegas is not exactly revolutionary from a storytelling perspective, and a few more jokes would not have gone astray in the grand scheme of things. Nevertheless, this is a sweet and often funny movie which is far better than its “Hangover for old people” label implies. It’s witty, pleasant, crowd-pleasing comedy entertainment geared more towards the mature demographic, which is a satisfying change of pace in today’s cinematic climate. You’ll laugh, you might cry, and you’ll be left with a big smile on your face. Who can complain about that?
Presented in AVC-encoded 1080p high definition, and framed at 2.40:1 (which is oh-so-slightly altered from its theatrical aspect ratio of 2.39:1), Last Vegas looks just as eye-catching and crisp on Blu-ray as it did in the cinema. Placed on a dual-layered BD-50, the presentation is permitted a top-notch bitrate approaching 34 Mbps, and the result is another characteristically strong encode from Sony. In a nutshell, there’s very little about this fantastic transfer to complain about.
As Turteltaub discusses in the audio commentary, the movie was shot digitally with Arri Alexa cameras and it creates a vivid, warm image that looks reminiscent of film stock. This is not just another improv-heavy comedy with basic mise-en-scene and photography, as the cinematography here looks noticeably more sophisticated, and it translates to a seriously gorgeous viewing experience on Blu-ray. Noticeable noise does crop up from time to time, but it’s always refined and never distracting, handling the source as well as can be expected. The clarity of the video is startling, with rich textures on clothing, and phenomenal detail and texturing which is not exactly flattering to the aging leads.
Last Vegas takes place in casinos and parties, as well as brighter outdoor locations, yet the transfer never falters, with the video looking consistently refined no matter the environment or the lack of lighting. Since Alexa-shot movies tend to look more cinematic, the presentation seldom looks too smooth or lacking in fine detail, as the high bitrate and competent encode allows for a level of refinement usually reserved for 4K Ultra HD. Furthermore, even though the video doesn’t have the benefit of High Dynamic Range, blacks look deep and colours are rich and stable, while the encode does not yield any bothersome crush, aliasing or other anomalies. It’s evident that no unnecessary digital tampering was performed whilst preparing the transfer, too. The only shortcoming is that the transfer occasionally looks a touch flat, particular during the party scenes, which is almost inevitable for an SDR Blu-ray - a 4K double dip would be enticing. In short, this is a stunning transfer from Universal Sony, one of the best I’ve seen in recent memory - comedy or otherwise.
Multiple subtitles are available, and I had no issues with the English track.
Last Vegas receives a very generous DTS-HD MA 5.1 track which provides pristine, nuanced sound, handling the source as well as can be expected. Although there are no explosions or firearms, the movie does has a fair few party sequences and montages, with the track doing a marvellous job of filling the surround channels with crystal clear music. There is dialogue aplenty, and the mostly front-centred chatter is perfectly clear for maximum comprehensibility. The busy interiors of casinos, and the general commotion of Las Vegas, comes through wonderfully, showing terrific surround activity.
This is a rich, full track which sounds precisely as it should, and the shortcomings are purely design related.
|Surround Channel Use|
Apart from a solid commentary, this disc doesn't have much more of interest.
Fogelman explains upfront that he has never done a commentary before and feels nervous, but Turteltaub takes control of the track very early on. The director has a lot to say, and struggles to convey all of his scene-specific production anecdotes in the time allotted to him. He points out where he filmed various scenes, the logistics of shooting in casinos or other crowded places in Vegas, how things changed in post, and even defends a few of his choices to include specific scenes or moments. Turteltaub asks Fogelman how it feels when his script is re-written, and various outtakes and deleted scenes are mentioned that are unfortunately not on this disc. (It’s especially heartbreaking to hear that an apparently hilarious joke was removed to retain the PG-13 rating, but Turteltaub stops short of telling us what it is.) Also interesting is the discussion of the movie’s structure and the placing of dramatic moments. Last Vegas may be a comedy, but Fogelman and Turteltaub took their jobs seriously. This is a very engaging, spirited track that I found to be worthwhile.
A very brief, fluffy overview of the story and the characters, featuring interviews with the four leads as well as director Turteltaub. This plays out like a YouTube promo piece, especially since it mostly consists of film clips, with a tiny bit of B-roll.
Another short EPK-style featurette (there’s even an advertised release date at the end), with cast and crew talking about Las Vegas. It also briefly covers the shooting of a couple of scenes.
A decent but still far-too-short extra, this segment is concerned with the four legendary stars of the movie. Some nice interviews here, but it’s not overly insightful.
This brief behind-the-scenes snippet examines the shooting of the poolside bikini contest, with an appearance by LMFAO’s Redfoo. Although amusing, it’s still too fluffy for my taste.
As the title suggests, this extra is all about the four lead characters. More YouTube-grade stuff.
And finally, we have a brief segment about the supporting roles of the picture.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
All editions worldwide are identical in terms of supplements. Buy local.
|DVD||PlayStation 4, using HDMI output|
|Display||LG 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 Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.|
|Speakers||LG Tall Boy speakers, 5.1 set-up, 180W|