Bruce Almighty (2003)

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Released 24-Nov-2003

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Main Menu Audio & Animation
Menu Audio
Audio Commentary-Tom Shadyac (Director)
Featurette-The Process Of Jim
Outtakes
Deleted Scenes-With Optional Commentary
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time 96:59 (Case: 98)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (58:21) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Tom Shadyac
Studio
Distributor

Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Starring Jim Carrey
Morgan Freeman
Jennifer Aniston
Philip Baker Hall
Catherine Bell
Lisa Ann Walter
Steven Carell
Nora Dunn
Eddie Jemison
Paul Satterfield
Mark Kiely
Sally Kirkland
Tony Bennett
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $36.95 Music Toni C.
John Debney
Andrew Dorfman


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
French
Italian
German
Spanish
Hebrew
Italian Audio Commentary
German Audio Commentary
Italian Titling
German Titling
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Bruce Almighty sees a return to the manic comedy style of film for funny man Jim Carrey, who is again directed by Tom Shadyac, the man responsible for some of Carrey's more zany films, 1994's Ace Ventura and 1997's Liar Liar. Carrey stars as Bruce Nolan, a television reporter for the Channel 7 news in Buffalo, New York State. He's not the anchor, but in every journalist's worst nightmare gets to cover the warm and fuzzy human interest stories - the ones that nobody wants to do and those that are a severe knock to the credibility of every reporter. As the film opens, Bruce is reporting on Buffalo's biggest ever baked cookie - so I think you get the idea.

    Fed up with his mediocre life, Bruce has an argument with his live-in girlfriend, Grace (Jennifer Aniston), and their relationship appears headed for the scrapheap. Back at work, Bruce is also desperate to fill the soon-to-be-vacant role of news anchor. Whilst covering the usual human interest story at Niagara Falls, he learns that his rival in the newsroom, Evan Baxter (Steven Carell) has been promoted to anchor. Bruce flips out and loses the plot. In a moment of madness, he insults just about everyone during the live cross and is summarily fired.

    With relationship and professional problems mounting, Bruce starts praying. When he suddenly crashes his car, he believes God is also against him and starts berating and blaspheming the Almighty in the strongest possible way, wanting to know why the big man upstairs isn't doing his job properly. This is where the film starts to get fun and provide all the footage we saw in the trailers. God (played by Morgan Freeman) suddenly appears and offers Bruce the use of his powers for the week, to see if he can do the difficult job any better. Initially sceptical, Bruce agrees and suddenly finds himself able to do all manner of marvellous things. The love scene with his girlfriend is among the funniest of the film, as is his method of getting one up on his rival for the anchor job. Of course, having all these supreme powers brings responsibility and Bruce soon learns that every action has an equal reaction somewhere in the world or down the street and brings about consequences he had never dreamed of. Maybe being God for a week isn't all it's cracked up to be.

    The big problem with this film is that it is about 30 minutes too long. Now considering the running time is only 96 minutes that's saying something. The problem is, that up until this point, this is Jim Carrey at his manic best. Crazy ad-libs and improvisation, strange faces, and goofy noises - it's all there. Unfortunately, his character of Bruce Nolan even exhibits some of the traits that made Ace Ventura such a laugh, like catchy sayings. But rather than a decent 'Alrighty then' we get a pretty tame 'B-E-A-utiful'. Unfortunately, with about 30 minutes to go all the manic stuff disappears and the story gets bogged down as a conventional romantic comedy, the I've been a fool and must win the girl back type of story. A shame, because the premise had some potential.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Apart from a couple of softer than normal shots and a little excessive grain on the backgrounds in some scenes, this is a pretty decent video transfer, with no real glaring problems other than some obvious and really cheap looking use of blue screen backgrounds for the Niagara Falls scenes.

    The video is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1. It is also 16x9 enhanced. This is the same as the theatrical aspect ratio.

    The transfer is reasonably sharp throughout with virtually no edge enhancement of any consequence. The odd shot looks a little softer than others, leading to some minor inconsistency in the transfer. This is probably most noticeable at 27:38 where God is talking to Bruce for the first time. Morgan Freeman's face (in profile) is really quite blurry - I'm not sure if this is how it was meant to look, but the result is quite off-putting. Shadow detail is excellent. Unfortunately, grain is noticeable in several scenes, though is contained mostly to the backgrounds. There is no low level noise.

    Colours are fairly standard, with only what I'd call a moderate level of vibrancy. Skin tones are perfectly natural with no evidence of any problems.

    I noticed no MPEG artefacts. There are no film-to-video artefacts such as aliasing present, which is always a blessing. Film artefacts are also virtually absent. Given this film was only made last year, this is how I would expect it to look.

    There are several sets of subtitles on this disc. I sampled the English variety and found them to have a reasonably annoying fault. For about the first 30 minutes, they are exactly one line of dialogue behind the action on the screen. That's not so bad when the dialogue is coming at you thick and fast, but when there are considerable gaps between each speaker and the subtitle which appears was for a line delivered some 20 seconds prior, the result is a little confusing. This issue does appear to rectify itself after the 30 minute mark.

    This is a dual layered disc featuring RSDL formatting. The layer change occurs at 58:21 and is placed mid-scene, right after Bruce gets covered in Post-It notes. Not perfect placement, but hardly disruptive.

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

Audio

    The audio on this disc is a highlight, but not for the usual reasons, especially for what is essentially a romantic comedy. I'll explain more in a second.

    There are a total of four audio soundtracks. There are three Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks in English, German, Italian followed by a Dolby Digital 2.0 commentary soundtrack.

    There are plenty of directional effects across the front speakers with dialogue anchored firmly in the centre. What I really enjoyed about this soundtrack though, was the quality and originality of the surround channel use. Whenever Bruce is listening to the prayers of the thousands who constantly babble in his ears the voices emanate from every speaker in the room. There are also several loud bangs and claps whenever God is around and these are also pushed through all channels. Some of them really make you jump.

    The dialogue is clear and there are no audio sync problems.

    There's also some great music used throughout here such as I've Got The Power by Snap, Never, Never Gonna Give You Up by Barry White, and Avril Lavigne's I'm With You.

    As mentioned, there is some great surround channel use. Likewise, the subwoofer cranks up only briefly, usually when God is doing his thing.

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

Extras

Main Menu Audio & Animation

Menu Audio

Audio Commentary - Tom Shadyac (Director)

    This is a fairly stock-standard commentary track from the director. Plenty of description about what is happening "that's my hat Morgan is wearing", amongst a few good stories about what lines are improvised by Jim Carrey. Not the greatest commentary I have heard.

Featurette - The Process of Jim

    Running for just 5:53, director Tom Shadyac quickly explains how he gets Jim Carrey to do all the funny stuff by effectively giving him free reign to improvise as much as he likes. Scenes shown here include some very funny takes on the lighting of the candles, and Jim in the bakery.

Outtakes

    6:37 minutes of outtakes where the manic Jim Carrey more often than not causes the whole cast to erupt into laughter. Some of these are quite amusing.

Deleted Scenes

   30:03 minutes of deleted scenes available with or without director commentary. There's also a few alternate scenes on offer here.

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 4 disc misses out on:

    The Region 1 disc misses out on:

    Unless Italian or German are your thing, this is a pretty clear win to the Region 1 disc with its dts soundtrack and inclusion of a theatrical trailer.

Summary

    Bruce Almighty sees a return to the safe manic comedy that Jim Carrey made his own in the likes of Ace Ventura and Liar Liar. Unfortunately, due to the director wanting to turn this into a schmaltzy love story, this film isn't a patch on those and runs out of steam about 30 minutes from the end. Jennifer Aniston does well with her character, as do the supporting cast, bouncing off the manic Carrey, but ultimately the story is a bit of a let down.

    The video quality is excellent, marred only by a little grain and a couple of shots which were not quite as sharp as they could be.

    The audio is very nice indeed, with some really neat surround channel use.

    The extras are fairly mediocre.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Darren Walters (It's . . . just the vibe . . . of my bio)
Tuesday, December 02, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDLoewe Xemix 5106DO, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Calida (84cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationHarmon/Kardon AVR7000.
SpeakersFront - B&W 602S2, Centre - B&W CC6S2, Rear - B&W 601S2, Sub - Energy E:xl S10

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Comments (Add)
Bruce Almighty - Alex
they cut all the good bits out -
The review is probably a little harsh on this one - it's quite good. - Gavin Bollard (bio - updated 9 Nov 2005)
Re: they cut all the good bits out -