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Blades of Glory(2007)
In 2002, two rival Olympic ice skaters were stripped of their gold medals and permanently banned from men's single competition. Presently, however, they've found and exploit a loophole that allows them to qualify as a pairs team.
For more about Blades of Glory and the Blades of Glory Blu-ray release, see Blades of Glory Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on May 21, 2008 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Will Ferrell, Jon Heder, Will Arnett, Amy Poehler, William Fichtner, Craig T. Nelson
Directors: Josh Gordon, Will Speck
» See full cast & crew
Blades of Glory Blu-ray Review
Does 'Blades of Glory' reach for the Blu gold?
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, May 21, 2008
Let's kick some ice.
Here it is. DreamWorks' Blades of Glory is finally here and available to own. The title has become somewhat of an icon, representing the embodiment of the Paramount/DreamWorks defection to the rival (and now deceased) HD-DVD format. The disc was scheduled for release just days after the studios abandoned the now victorious high definition Blu-ray format. A Blu-ray version of Blades of Glory had supposedly shipped to retailers but was returned to the manufacturer upon news of the defection just days before the disc was slated to hit store shelves on August 28, 2007. Now, some nine months later, the studios are back, and the long sought-after disc is amongst their initial wave of releases and re-releases. Sporting the same specifications and features that were announced last year, the disc is obviously from the same batch that were initially pressed and packaged prior to the defection. No doubt that this first wave of Paramount/DreamWorks discs, including Blades of Glory, Next, and Face/Off, is the same products that Blu-ray fans would have seen and owned last year, smartly saved by the studios for their inevitable return to the Blu-ray format.
Jimmy MacElroy (Jon Heder, The Benchwarmers) was a child prodigy figure skater living in an orphanage until he was "bought" by Darren MacElroy (William Fichtner, Prison Break) and further trained and molded into a gold-medalist caliber singles figure skater. Now an adult, he performs very well at the World WinterSport Games and is on track for a gold medal until his rival, Chazz Michael Michaels (Will Ferrell, Semi-Pro) skates and earns the exact same score. The two are co gold-medal winners, but a brawl ensues between them, and they are quickly banned from the sport. Jimmy is left on his own, Darren wanting nothing to do with the now-disgraced star. More than three years pass, and a loophole in the National Figure Skating Association's rule book is brought to Jimmy's attention, a rule stating that he can indeed return to skating, but only as part of a pairs team. By happenstance, as Jimmy is searching for a partner, he runs into Chazz and the two continue their brawl which is caught by a camera and broadcast on the local news. Jimmy's former coach (Craig T. Nelson, TV's "Coach") sees their fight but also sees through the confrontation and recognizes the pair's possible compatibility as a skating team. Eager to get back into the sport, they agree to become an oddity, a male-male figure skating tandem. To win and gain acceptance in the skating community, they are going to need a revolutionary move, something new and dangerous, a move only two men can perform together, all the while dealing with some competitors who will exploit Chazz and Jimmy's weaknesses to stop them.
To say that I don't particularly enjoy what passes for comedy these days would be an understatement. They just don't make 'em like they used to (I really miss John Candy), but all things considered, Blades of Glory isn't half-bad. I sure didn't find myself laughing all that often, but perhaps I just don't relate to Will Ferrell's brand of humor. For my money, there were only a few truly unique and funny moments in the movie, such as a low-speed chase between two characters on ice skates as they have to walk across a busy street, up a few stairs, hitch a ride on an electric scooter, and proceed up an escalator, ending with a mascot with an arrow in the head. It's a brilliant and side-splitting routine, worthy of mention in the same breath as some of the all-time best comedic routines. Jon Heder once again portrays his trademark-style character and steals the show (I can't wait for Napoleon Dynamite to hit Blu-ray).
As a sports fan, I do appreciate Ferrell's recent trend of involving himself in projects that poke fun at some of America's most cherished sporting pastimes (see Talladega Nights and Semi-Pro, the actor's spin on NASCAR and professional basketball). As a sports-centric film, Blades of Glory is a very watchable movie. It never becomes bogged down by a slow pace or worthless plot devices. The action flows naturally, and even if the material wasn't quite as funny as I hoped it would be, the movie proves itself to be well-made, acted, and directed. The skating routines are entertaining and as unique as the characters that participate in them. The cameos by some of the legendary figure skaters of our time, namely Nancy Kerrigan, Scott Hamilton, Peggy Fleming, and Dorothy Hamill, add a charm and realism to the movie that only the best sports-centered movies can boast. The actors are also impressive when they display their skating prowess. Though aided by cables (as seen in the supplements), the actors, filmmakers, and choreographers have nevertheless created a final product that has us believing that these people truly can skate at a high level of excellence.
Blades of Glory Blu-ray, Video Quality
Blades of Glory graces Blu-ray in a 1.85:1 framed, 1080p high definition image. Frankly, I wasn't a fan of the look of the movie. That's not to say the transfer is bad, it's fine, I just didn't care for the cinematography, lighting, and the like. Save for the actual competitive ice skating sequences, the movie looks drab and lifeless, certainly an odd and often startling difference in appearance to the bright, pleasing, and vibrant championship skating sequences. The skating portions of the film do look very pleasing, offering rich and well-defined colors and sparkling imagery that is impeccably clean. Flesh tones appear just a bit off in some scenes, appearing somewhat darker than they do in others, almost as if the actors are caked in dark make-up. Detail is generally good, and and in some scenes exceptional. The intricate costumes worn by the competitors shine in high definition, all the nuances and adornments clearly visible and elaborate, providing some impressive eye candy. Black levels are solid throughout, certainly not as deep as others I have seen, but far better than merely "acceptable." Finally, the disc maintains a sharp, well-defined look and softness is never a major problem. Blades of Glory makes for a perfectly acceptable high definition image, even if I wasn't enamored with the look of the entire movie.
Blades of Glory Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Blades of Glory is not only representative of Paramount/DreamWorks' defection to HD DVD, but is also representative of a change in philosophy at the studios just prior to the abandonment of the Blu-ray format. Blades of Glory was to be the first title from those studios to receive a high-definition soundtrack. Although now technically tied with the aforementioned Next as the first title from Paramount/DreamWorks with an uncompressed sound mix, Blades of Glory nevertheless makes good on that promise, delivering a fine sounding PCM 5.1 uncompressed soundtrack that runs at 6.9 Mbps. This track is one of the best I've heard associated with a comedy. The rear channels always offer up a good amount of ambience, be it crowds cheering or jeering during the skating matches or finer nuances that add a sense of realism to the mix. The film's score always comes through loud and clear, floating to the back channels but definitely focused in the front soundstage. Queen's Flash Gordon theme song sounds fantastic during the film's climax, far better than it did on the recent release of that film by Universal (the last DVD I purchased, oddly enough). Bass, when it is called upon, is solid and deep. It's not action movie deep, but it pounds and thuds on occasion, the music playing over Chazz Michael Michaels' first skating routine of the movie providing one example. Dialogue is solid, perhaps a bit muffled in a few places, but almost always discernible and clear. The final skate provides some nice moments, the music and some of the special skating effects employed by the skaters to heighten their routine coming through perfectly with excellent imaging. All things considered, however, this is a mostly uninteresting track. It is neither excellent nor dull, but it does fit the subject matter of the film perfectly, and receives a score reflective of that.
Blades of Glory Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Blades of Glory arrives on Blu-ray with a long list of high-quality and high-definition supplemental materials. The first is Return to Glory: The Making of 'Blades' (1080p, 14:46). This is a better-than-basic feature that looks at the making of the film but with a decidedly comedic twist. Featured are interviews with producer Ben Stiller, the primary cast, and co-directors Will Speck and Josh Gordon. Celebrities on Thin Ice (1080p, 6:03) is next, a short feature that examines the actor's introduction to the world of ice skating and their training, showcasing interviews with the cast and their trainer, along with raw footage of their training sessions. Cooler Than Ice: The Super-Sexy Costumes of Skating (1080p, 4:36), obviously, takes a look at the wardrobe in which the cast decks-out throughout the movie, how the clothes fit in with the personality of the characters, and the insight of costume designer Julie Weiss.
Arnett & Poehler - A Family Affair (1080p, 5:48) is a short interview about how this real-life married couple got involved in the movie and the challenge of playing as brother and sister. Like the other features, this one is decidedly lighthearted and not meant to be taken seriously. 20 Questions With Scott Hamilton (1080p, 4:59) is an interview with former figure skater Scott Hamilton, so far the most serious feature on the disc. This interview is followed by Hector: Portrait of a Psychofan (1080p, 3:21). This is a mock interview with a fictional fan of Jon Heder's character, Jimmy MacElroy. Moviefone Unscripted With Will Ferrell, Jon Heder, and Will Arnett (480p, 9:54) is a short 3-way conversation between three of the film's stars where they answer fan mail about the movie.
Next on the list of special features are four deleted scenes. They are presented in 1080p high definition video, Dolby Digital 2.0 channel audio, and run for 9:10. A series of alternate takes (1080p, 8:38) follow the deleted scenes. I found several of these scenes to be far funnier than anything that made it into the final cut of the film. Concluding the extra features are a gag reel (1080p, 2:08), three series of behind-the-scenes still photos, a music video entitled Blades of Glory (1080p, 4:38) by Bo Bice, and MTV Interstitials (480p, 1:37) which are three 30-second previews for the film.
Blades of Glory Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Blades of Glory definitely has its funny moments, and Will Ferrell fans will eat this one up. The movie is somewhat raunchy and potty-mouthed, but never in excess, hence the PG-13 rating. Classed in a genre that, for me, has headed south over the past decade, Blades of Glory managed to prove just entertaining enough to hold my interest and keep me reasonably entertained, even if I only found myself laughing uncontrollably once or twice and barely emoting a smile the rest of the way. Ferrell and Heder have a wonderful chemistry and can pull off hating one another just a well as they can pull off being best friends and teammates. DreamWorks' long-awaited and overdue Blu-ray release of Blades of Glory is a solid effort by the studio. It looks fine, sporting good detail and vibrant colors in the skating portions of the film. The PCM soundtrack is impressive and ranks as one of the best comedy-centric soundtracks available today. The supplements are numerous in number and entertaining, but a bit short nevertheless, though fans of the movie will no doubt enjoy them. Blades of Glory is one of the most talked-about Blu-ray discs of all-time, and even if you aren't the film's biggest fan, it's importance in the history of this burgeoning format should earn it a spot on every serious Blu-ray collector's shelves. Recommended.
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Blades of Glory Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Paramount Further Details Their Blu-ray Plans - April 30, 2008
Paramount Home Entertainment today revealed further details about their upcoming Blu-ray plans and in addition to releasing 'Bee Movie', 'Face/Off' and 'Next' on May 20th, they will also be releasing 'Blades of Glory', a quirky comedy about the competetive world ...
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