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A group of oddball characters assemble at an old Victorian mansion to play a game of "whodunit."
For more about Clue and the Clue Blu-ray release, see Clue Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on August 2, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Tim Curry, Christopher Lloyd (I), Eileen Brennan, Michael McKean, Colleen Camp, Lesley Ann Warren
Director: Jonathan Lynn
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Clue Blu-ray Review
Get a Clue on Blu.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, August 2, 2012
What's your little secret?
"Clue" is without question a member of the first family of board games, up there with all-time classic titles such as "Monopoly," "Risk," "Life," and "Battleship." These games have entertained generation of players, of all ages and ability levels, while teaching basic skills such as strategy, critical thinking, mystery solving, and money management. They've withstood the test of time and will undoubtedly continue to do so for decades to come. With so many units sold, so many players familiar with the concepts, and such high name recognition, it's almost startling that the market for board games-turned-movies isn't larger than it already is. Perhaps it's writers' and filmmakers' inability to translate the gameplay experience to the silver screen (a venture perhaps better suited to fictional games like those depicted in Jumanji and Zathura) or an unwillingness to touch sacred material (though that certainly hasn't stopped studios in the past), but whatever the reason may be, the board game experience hasn't really made much of an impact on cinema, particularly in comparison to the video game, comic book, and literature-based pictures, three categories which absolutely define the movie landscape. Director Jonathan Lynn's (My Cousin Vinny) Clue is the most successful and recognizable of the few board game movie adaptations. It's a fun and faithful screen telling of the favorite party game, a blast to watch, a breeze to sit through, and smatter and more mysterious than audiences might very well expect.
It was a dark and stormy night. Five guests have been invited to attend a mystery get-together at a large, somewhat secluded mansion, all invited by a single typed sheet of paper offering no clues as to why they're coming, who else to expect, or the identity of their host. The house is maintained by butler Wadsworth (Tim Curry, The Rocky Horror Picture Show), maid Yvette (Colleen Camp, Die Hard with a Vengeance), and an unnamed cook (Kellye Nakahara, "M*A*S*H"). Upon arrival, each guest is provided an alias, situates in the house, and is given a deadly weapon. "Colonel Mustard" (Martin Mull, Mrs. Doubtfire), "Mrs. White" (Madeline Kahn, Blazing Saddles), "Professor Plum" (Christopher Lloyd, Back to the Future), "Miss Scarlet" (Lesley Ann Warren, Secretary), "Mr. Green" (Michael McKean, This is Spinal Tap) and "Mrs. Peacock" (Eileen Brennan, The Sting) are given a lead pipe, a gun, a candlestick, a wrench, a knife, and a rope tied into a noose. They begin to sort out their lives without revealing their true identities, and a common thread appears to be government work and blackmail. They are introduced to "Mr. Boddy" (Lee Ving, Flashdance), their blackmailer. Quickly, when the lights go out, Mr. Boddy turns up dead. The gun goes off, but no bullet hole is found in the body. There are no signs that any of the particular weapons did him in. The group is frightened yet determined to discover the identity of the murderer. Unfortunately, the body count continues to rise. Tensions mount, trust deteriorates, and the group has well under an hour to name the killer before the police arrive and all of their secrets are revealed.
One of the few problems Clue faces is its limited appeal; whereas the board game is likely to change its dynamics every play through, the movie is stuck with the same story and only one of three possible endings. It's impossible to get the same mileage out of a movie as a board game, but Clue works very well as a supporting element, a supplement to the game, or as mere standalone entertainment, easily enjoyed by rabid fans of the game, those who have never played, or casual audiences who might make "Clue" the choice on family game night once or twice per year. It's an innocent, high-vlaue, highly entertaining, and comically-balanced little venture fit for the whole family. The movie embraces genre cliché and benefits for it. Thunder claps accentuate manufactured jump scares, corny faux mystery/danger/thriller/comedy music defines many scenes, the eclectic collection of characters gleefully bumble and stumble along, and the well-designed house -- large but not intimidatingly so -- is the perfect setting. All contribute to a joyous, effortless final product. The movie gets pretty much everything right; some of the repetitive jokes fall flat a little more quickly than they should, but overall the movie is quite funny, looks good, is very well cast, and maintains a sense of genuine whodunit mystery while playing it both safe for all audiences and over-the-top in an effort to capture a specific and enjoyable rhythm that actually captures the essence of the board game played with a happy large gathering of family and friends.
Director Jonathan Lynn keeps the camerawork simple, but effective. He allows the house and the cast to shape the movie; his camera merely frames the moment rather than defines it. Indeed, Clue benefits from a great set and a quality cast. The house is perfect; it's eerie but not frightening on the outside, something of a cartoonish, over-exagerated, but still believable structure that, especially in the dark, doesn't look like a place that would be very welcoming, particularly surrounded by thunder and lightning. Inside, it's dark and warm and even welcoming, but at the same time mysterious and oddly dangerous. It's the kind of place that's small enough for intimacy but big enough that it can host the players and the killings alike and hide the evil deeds within its many walls and rooms and secret passageways. The cast easily falls into character; every single actor brings obvious energy an enthusiasm to their parts, all of them hamming it up and having a grand old time overacting and overreacting, getting into the mood and never forcing the performances. They're helped along by quality wardrobe choices and that inviting and spacious but not completely safe or too big house. Tim Curry steals the show as the butler who "butles," the character who's the glue that keeps the story straight and the film moving briskly. His rapid-fire comedic explanation of the murders at the end highlights the movie and is the perfect wrap-up for a picture that moves lightning-fast, offers new developments almost by the minute, and enchants with its expert blend of zany humor, genre cliché, and genuine mystery.
Clue Blu-ray, Video Quality
Clue's Blu-ray debut should satisfy fans. Paramount's 1080p transfer is this release's strongest asset. Though blacks can be a bit muddled and the darkest scenes overwhelmed by dominant shadows, the bulk of the image impresses a great deal. A moderate grain structure is a constant, accentuating fine details and supporting a very pleasant film-like image. Indeed, detailing is quite good from start to finish. The image is stable and naturally sharp. The finest wooden texturing around the house never ceases to amaze, while clothing and skin textures are accurate and complex. Brighter scenes -- such as those in the kitchen -- fare a little better than the warmer scenes in other parts of the house, but the level of detail remains impressive in any environment. Colors favor a warmish tint, largely a result of lighting and the dark reds and browns that are so prevalent throughout. Yet splashes of color on clothes and adornments around the house are stable and true. Flesh tones never betray a natural tint, and blacks at least never go a shade of dark gray. There's no major banding or blocking to see. This is a very good, high quality Blu-ray catalogue transfer.
Clue Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Clue stumbles onto Blu-ray with an uninspired but functional DTS-HD MA 2.0 lossless soundtrack. In a general sense, the track gets the job done. Most of the dialogue is clear and delivered at an appropriate volume, playing with good clarity, front-center focus, and no competition with surrounding music and effects. On the flip side, there are a few moments where it sounds hollow, an example being Mr. Green's introduction on a rainy doorstep early in the movie. The remainder of the track follows suit, offering general clarity and accuracy but not much vigor and a few problems spots. The top end can be a bit shrilly and detached. There's very little sense of space or realism, whether gusty winds, booming claps of thunder, or general sound effects. A few sonic elements are downright poor; slurping of soup is harsh and over-pumped, too much even for the comic moment the scene efforts to engender. The track stumbles, but it at least gets listeners through the experience with only minor discomfort.
Clue Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Clue offers audiences all three endings in the special features tab, with the ability to play each separately or as a "trilogy" (1080p). The first runs 8:36, the second 8:47, and the third 7:24. Before movie playback begins, viewers are also given the options of viewing the movie with either one of the three endings randomly selected or in the "home entertainment version" that plays all three endings. Also included as part of the supplements the film's theatrical trailer (1080p, 1:33).
Clue Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Clue is a charming little picture that's a big celluloid bundle of board game energy. It's an effective, funny, nicely-acted film that's the beneficiary of great source material and high quality production design. The cast easily falls into role and seems to enjoy every second of the movie. Clue may not hold as much appeal as the board game, considering its limited endings and options, but it's a wonderfully authentic and genuinely entertaining little slice of pop culture brought to glorious life on the silver screen. Paramount's Blu-ray release of Clue features very good video, adequate audio, and almost no supplements. It's something of a mediocre Blu-ray all around, but the quality of the film and the strong video transfer make this an easy recommendation nonetheless.
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Clue Blu-ray, News and Updates
• This Week on Blu-ray: August 7-14 - August 6, 2012
This week, Universal Studios is releasing the Blu-ray version of its CGI-animated adventure The Lorax. One would think that this adaptation of the classic Dr. Seuss children's story should be even more relevant today than the book was after its publication in ...
• Exclusive Giveaway: Clue - August 4, 2012
Blu-ray.com and Paramount Home Entertainment are offering three members an opportunity to win a copy of co-writer/director Jonathan Lynn and co-writer John Landis' Clue, starring Tim Curry, Christopher Lloyd, Eileen Brennan and Michael McKean, among others. The ...
• Paramount Teases Five Upcoming Blu-ray Releases (Updated) - January 18, 2012
Along with a new, monthly sweepstakes designed to commemorate the studio's centennial, Paramount Home Media Distribution has announced further plans for the studio's 2012 Blu-ray slate. Today's press release also hinted at Clueless, Hondo, Barbarella, and Clue ...
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