"It's a lot bigger than it looks on the inside, I promise. It's a bit like, you know, like the Tardis."
Blue Juice is clearly an attempt to cash in on the rising stars of Catherine Zeta-Jones (The Mask of Zorro, Entrapment, The Haunting) and Ewan McGregor (Trainspotting, Star Wars Episode One, Eye of the Beholder). Filmed in 1995, just before Trainspotting took independent cinema in America by storm, and thus vaulting McGregor into the spotlight, and only a few years before Zeta-Jones would find herself starring along side Antonio Banderas. Both are now making names for themselves; whether or not they'll cross over into 'beloved actor' status is still up in the air; but for now, they're known.
Which makes this a perfect time to release Blue Juice to DVD and attempt to make a splash with it. The disc includes a newly recorded trailer that specifically highlights McGregor and Zeta-Jones. How's the disc?
Clearly an English production, Blue Juice is the story of JC, a surf legend (Sean Pertwee, Event Horizon, Soldier, Swing Kids) who's living in a quiet little English town with his girl friend, Chloe (Zeta-Jones). His relationship with Chloe is difficult in a relationship, quiet sort of way; not in a screaming at the top of their lung and throwing things sort of way. She's looking for commitment and a sense of maturity from JC. The appearance of JC's childhood friends (including Dean, played by McGregor) doesn't help matters as Dean is a drug dealing slacker without direction or sense. Along the way, as JC and Chloe sort their feelings for one another out, several subplots involving the friends wind around the main plot of Chloe trying to purchase a local hangout and eatery, as JC is eventually forced into surfing a dangerous local geographical beach feature referred to as 'The Boneyard'.
The video transfer is well done. A bit soft, but not negatively so; this is most likely a result of the original film print, and not the transfer process. Colors are bright where needed, though most of the film's palette is rather subdued and, well, dreary. There are no visible instances of artifacting, nor do edges degrade. While the transfer isn't exactly something you'd want to use as a system showcaser, it's up to the task of keeping the format looking solid, and that's a good thing to be said.
The audio is somewhat better done, however. Though many scenes are quiet, consisting of dialogue and conversing characters; the sequences of surfing, and later a rave, show a better amount of attention was given to the sound track than was to the video. Though only Dolby 2.0, the surrounds give good ambiance, the subwoofer is used well, and the fronts make excellent chance to provide sound weighting to either side of the soundstage as required.
The sole extra included, a full-frame trailer, is solid enough; but it clearly indicates it was newly put together for the recent video and DVD push. It doesn't play like a theatrical trailer, it plays like a spot on a cable movie channel. And, as mentioned, it does far too much emphasizing of Zeta-Jones and McGregor to have been laid down back in '95.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
The video could have been crisper, but this is a minor quibble most consumers will hardly notice. And it's not a bad thing, just mentionable when you go into it specifically looking for any problems. The audio could have stood a full Dolby 5.1 effort, but holds up nicely without.
As always, more extras would have been nice. I would have especially loved to hear a commentary with the cast and director; the film has a very European feel, especially in the dialogue and script. To American ears, so used to hearing Hollywood productions, it was fresh and delightful.
The heart of the film is the relationship between JC and Chloe, which is why the decision to highlight McGregor over Sean Pertwee seems to smack of marketing. The cover art for the DVD even goes so far as to use a constructed image of McGregor standing with Zeta-Jones; as if they're friends, or perhaps a couple. In fact, the two hardly have any screen time together at all in the film. While it is perfectly understandable to attempt to sell the disc to consumers, it is questionable whether or not this marketing push steps over the line into disinformation. It really shortchanges Pertwee, who does an absolutely great job with his role; JC is likeable, believable, and very appealing. The chemistry Pertwee shares with Zeta-Jones comes across clearly on screen. It's a shame he has been pushed into the background. This is, however, an issue with the film itself, and not the disc.
A solid DVD catalogue title, lacking only in the absence of an anamorphic print or Dolby 5.1. As so often is unfortunately the case, more extras would have been nice as well. Ultimately, however, it's a case dismissed.
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Scales of Justice
• Theatrical Trailer (Full Frame)
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