You know what separates Judge Ryan Keefer from Brad Pitt? In a word, abs.
"We have an unusual problem here, Jane. You obviously want me dead, and I'm less and less concerned for your well being."
In the battle for the money of an average consumer with a bit of disposable income and a yearning to invest in some high definition technology, Fox has slowly been trickling out their recent catalog of titles for those who own a Blu-ray player. Most of the titles have been in the vein of those that are pretty sharp in the audio and video territories, and Mr. and Mrs. Smith is one of those titles. So how does it measure up in Blu-ray?
Facts of the Case
Written by Simon Kinberg (X-Men 3) and directed by Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity), the film follows the lives of John (Brad Pitt, Troy) and Jane (Angelina Jolie, Alexander), who meet while "on vacation" in Colombia. They fall in love and get married and resume their lives as a contractor and server assistant (Pitt describes her as "Batman with computers" which is pretty funny). However, unbeknownst to each other, they are assassins within apparent covert government agencies. It's only a matter of time before the paths of their secret lives bump into each other, and when they do, neither can live while the other is in the proverbial pink. Things get a little bit tricky when they reconnect with one another in a more honest, open setting, both united in a mission to get back at those who want them dead.
At the time I reviewed the unrated two disc edition of Mr. And Mrs. Smith, I mentioned that what people probably enjoyed about the film is that Pitt and Jolie kept their character motivations firmly within the secret agent frame of mind, so that if things deviated from that in their lives, it worked to some degree of fun and entertainment. Going through the disc, I think that with Liman's explanation that making things more in the romantic comedy side of things helps to make you appreciate it a little bit more. See, Jane and John are just like a lot of other couples, never mind that they're secret agents whose job it is to kill people who threaten national security.
And yeah, I talked about how I enjoyed the way that Pitt and Jolie conducted themselves as "seriously" as they did up until latter stages of the second act into the third. But it helps that they get some ample supporting help as well, with the obvious contribution of Vince Vaughn (Swingers), who plays John's friend and co-worker Eddie. It's clear that he appears to have riffed a lot of his dialogue, which is outstanding. In a deleted scene, he talks about how the meanest person in the world is a 14-year-old girl. It's hilarious stuff. But there's also some yuks from Adam Brody (Thank You For Smoking), who plays the shared target of John and Jane at some point in the film. But it all comes back to Pitt and Jolie, one of which (Pitt) plays their role for some more yuks than you'd expect, and it's a pleasant surprise. Jolie's semi-comic turn is slightly underrated, so I guess that and their chemistry makes you understand why they're with each other adopting orphans in third world countries and occasionally having spawn.
Technically, this 2.35:1 widescreen film that uses the AVC MPEG-4 codec looks sharp, with a lot of solid blacks and image clarity that we've come to expect from all this high definition stuff. I'd suggest that there's not as much detail in the foreground or background that you'd expect from something like this, but otherwise it's fine. The DTS HD soundtrack is much like the unrated edition that I reviewed previously. The suond is enveloping, intense and thunderous, with a lot of surround usage during the action sequences, and subwoofer use is pretty constant throughout the film. All in all, I liked watching this thing again.
The extras are the same on this release as on the rated single disc version, already out on standard definition. Three deleted scenes that last about 10 minutes are included and they're pretty lackluster, as is the Fox Movie Channel "Making a Scene" featurette which runs about 10 minutes and covers the first chase between Jane and John after they find out about each other. The big supplements are a trio of commentaries, the first of which features Liman and Kinberg. Of the commentaries, this one by far is the most informative. It doesn't really discuss what happens on set as much as focuses on broader strokes on the production itself. Kinberg talks about older drafts and rewrites on set with Vaughn that lasted entire days, and Liman talks about making the picture work within the budget. The only thing that put me off about the commentary was that Kinberg seemed to talk about Pitt and Jolie's "beauty" a lot during the track which was OK, but I didn't need to be reminded of it. It's a very good complement to the film. The second track with producers Akiva Goldsman (Constantine) and Lucas Foster (Man on Fire). It's moderately disappointing as much of the information is redundant from the Liman/Kinberg track, and they seem to find themselves watching the film from time to time. Overall I'd skip this one, as well as the third with editor Michael Tronick, production designer Jeff Man and visual effects supervisor Kevin Elam, which serves to be nothing more than your time taken up by a lot of shot breakdowns and nothing more. Two trailers complete the disc.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
As I mentioned before, Fox put out this edition on standard definition, and a slightly more improved two-disc version in 2006, so with some improved disc space, we don't get the best of both worlds, we get the same supplements as on the one-disc version. This is a potentially troubling sign, as Fox titles take up a bit of space in this Judge's library of titles, and I'd expect the same treatment given to the Blu-ray titles as the standard def stuff, otherwise, they need to get back to the drawing board.
If you've not gotten into Mr. & Mrs. Smith before, you're not going to find a better looking and sounding version of the film that exists right now. If you've already got the one-disc version, it's worth upgrading as well. However if you've got the two-disc version, you're only going to upgrade for the technical qualities, and specifically the video.
The filmmakers are found not guilty, though Fox is found guilty again for not providing a complete experience on the Blu-ray platform.
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Scales of Justice
• "Making a Scene" Featurette
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