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Blues Brothers 2000(1998)
Elwood must reunite the old band, with a few new members, and go on another "Mission from God."
For more about Blues Brothers 2000 and the Blues Brothers 2000 Blu-ray release, see Blues Brothers 2000 Blu-ray Review published by Brian Orndorf on August 28, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Dan Aykroyd, John Goodman, Joe Morton, Matt Murphy (I), J. Evan Bonifant, Nia Peeples
Director: John Landis (I)
» See full cast & crew
Blues Brothers 2000 Blu-ray Review
Actually, it's pretty expensive to keep her.
Reviewed by Brian Orndorf, August 28, 2012
Although it would seem natural to sequelize the 1980 hit, "The Blues Brothers," the 1982 death of co-star John Belushi made such a prospect daunting for even the most money-hungry producer. After all, to regenerate Belushi's slovenly presence for a successful follow-up would require a major casting effort to match survivor Dan Aykroyd beat-for-beat, while instilling the feature with a sense of anarchic comic timing and generous stage command. It took 18 years for a continuation to bubble up, yet Aykroyd and co-writer John Landis were persistent, constructing a picture that could do justice to the spirit of the previous extravaganza while forging a new identity for a different era. The result was 1998's "Blues Brothers 2000," which was greeted with a collective yawn at the box office, while managing to annoy a legion of fans. The film is not without its flaws, yet its primary purpose as an advocate for the blues remains impressive, working up a sweat as it marches trough musical numbers populated with industry legends. It goes without saying that "Blues Brothers 2000" doesn't carry the original's significance and R-rated personality, yet select treats remain, while the soundtrack wails triumphantly.
Released from prison 18 years after the events of the first adventure, Elwood Blues (Dan Aykroyd) is crushed to learn about the deaths of brother Jake (John Belushi, whose image isn't used in the film) and spiritual father Curtis (Cab Calloway). Returning to Chicago, Elwood yearns to reunite the Blues Brothers Band, with hopes to encourage Curtis's son, Cabel (Joe Morton), to lead the group. A hardheaded state police commander, Cabel wants nothing to do with the band, setting out to arrest Elwood as the bluesman crosses the city causing trouble with Russian gangsters and doubting spouses in an effort to tempt the likes of Murphy Dunne, Steve Cropper, and Donald "Duck" Dunn back into service. Accepting help from bartender Mack (John Goodman) and tolerating participation from orphan Buster (J. Evan Bonifant), Elwood rebuilds the band, testing out the line-up on a few stops across America, while keeping his eyes on a battle of the bands prize hidden deep within witch Queen Mousette's (Erykah Badu) Louisiana music club.
With such a large gap between productions, there's bound to be a dip in presentation. However, "Blues Brothers 2000" is often radically different from its precursor, finding Landis and Aykroyd taking the adventure to Canada, despite the sights and sounds of Chicago on the movie's set list. It's a severe downgrade in cinematic texture and location fingerprint, creating an economical look to the effort, away from the blissfully grungy appearance of the original feature. "Blues Brothers 2000" doesn't bleed Chicago, which is an unpardonable sin. The sequel also shoots for a PG-13 rating, trying to appeal to family audiences with a brightly lit, intensely colored visual scheme, while introducing a child character and altering Elwood's stoic personality to help welcome outsiders to the long-in-the-making part 2. While "The Blues Brothers" was a particularly silly creation, "2000" aims to force the same freewheeling attitude, urging the shenanigans instead of stumbling upon them. The garish approach of "2000" takes some time to get used to.
Actually, much of "2000" doesn't warm up until the second act, with the screenplay displaying stiffness with character introductions and tributes to the previous film. Landis shows difficulty managing the take off, laboring to locate the bucket of Blues Brothers magic that was so easily accessed the first time around. However, once the band recruitment musical numbers begin and Aykroyd gets used to his starring role, "2000" enjoys a pleasant string of minor moviemaking victories, all centered on the blues. The cameos are plentiful here, representing a range of talent and fame, including Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Paul Shaffer, Eric Clapton, B.B. King, Blues Traveler, and Junior Wells (in his final screen appearance), just to name a few. Backed by frisky choreography and dazzling colors, the performances are superb, temporarily erasing sequel disappointments and shortcomings, allowing Aykroyd and his rabid fandom to deafen the viewer in a most agreeable manner. While the soundtrack is loaded with hits, a favorite sequence belongs to Wilson Pickett, Eddie Floyd, and Johnny Lang, who belt out a particularly jubilant version of "634-5798," bringing throat-popping energy to a picture that needs the injection.
"2000" has its share of weirdness, some of it strained (Elwood covering his head in shaving cream to avoid police attention is downright stupid), while the rest finds a kooky vibe worth embracing (Elwood and the boys as zombies during a performance of "Funky Nassau" is amusing). Belushi's presence is also missed, with Goodman and Morton failing to make a distinct impression as the new members of the band. Thankfully, the backing musicians and their charmingly amateur acting provide solid comic relief. The sequel also spends too much time recreating moments from the first film instead of breaking away on its own. Homages are expected, but many fail to catch fire in "2000," including a return of the outrageous car stunts and smash-em-ups. Landis attempts to top himself, which is a wrong direction to take, creating a leaden atmosphere of chaos that feels alien to an otherwise happy-go-lucky endeavor that's moved on from wanton destruction.
Blues Brothers 2000 Blu-ray, Video Quality
The AVC encoded image (1.85:1 aspect ratio) presentation benefits from bright, crisp cinematography, keeping the screen antics vivid throughout. Colors are buoyant and clean, displayed wonderfully on costuming (the film is quite intentional with its parade of outlandish outfits), which really pops during the show. Hues are bold and purposeful, always convincing. Skintones look natural. Some mild filtering is detected, reducing the presence of grain, though fine detail remains in good shape, with fabrics easily read, while close-ups carry pleasing textures. Group scenes also provide clear, pauseable moments. Black levels are consistent and supportive, preserving evening encounters to satisfaction. A broad-looking feature, the general party atmosphere of the movie carries over satisfactorily to BD.
Blues Brothers 2000 Blu-ray, Audio Quality
While attempting a comedic attitude, "Blues Brothers 2000" is essentially a musical, supported by a robust 5.1 DTS-HD MA sound mix. With the emphasis on toe-tapping soundtrack selections and stage performances, the track is rich and clean, delivering specific instrumentation with a full frontal force, blended well with deep dialogue exchanges. Low-end also keeps a tasteful presence, with the bass line on "Funky Nassau" a particular chest-thumping delight. Surrounds aren't explosive, but they do fill out the musical numbers as needed, while the final act in the Louisiana bayou provides some mild directional effects and pronounced atmospherics. Keeping with the spirit of the picture, the mix achieves a sonic power that lifts the visuals, selling the musical genres with expected might.
Blues Brothers 2000 Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Blues Brothers 2000 Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
There's a lack of ambition around "Blues Brothers 2000," or perhaps its confusion on how to continue a story that ended rather successfully 18 years earlier. Intentions are genuine and the movie is certainly entertaining, but it's a production best savored for its musical appreciation and intermittent liveliness than its foggy sequel headspace.
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