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This hilarious Christmas film tells the tale of a young orphan child who mistakenly crawls into Santa's bag of gifts on Christmas Eve and is transported back to the North Pole and raised as an elf. Years later Buddy learns he is not really an elf and goes on a journey to New York City to find his true identity.
For more about Elf and the Elf Blu-ray release, see Elf Blu-ray Review published by Sir Terrence on November 29, 2008 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Will Ferrell, Ed Asner, James Caan, Mary Steenburgen, Bob Newhart, Zooey Deschanel
Director: Jon Favreau
» See full cast & crew
Elf Blu-ray Review
" I am just a cotton headed ninny muggins"
Reviewed by Sir Terrence, November 29, 2008
I am going to be honest, as crazy as this sounds, I really liked Elf. It has all of the ingredients of a good family oriented Christmas comedy. It's bright, light, funny, charming, but does not seem trite, forced, or play to the lowest common denominator.
Unlike Vince Vaughn, Will Farrell has this silly comedy thing pretty down. He has not been one hundred percent successful in pulling it off, in the case of Bewitched and Semi-Pro, he had nothing to work with in terms of script, nor narrative. In Elf, he innocently captures every nuance of a na´ve, genuinely honest, certainly not bashful, underexposed, immature man, clearly out of his element no matter where it is. His performance was so good, I really believed him. Unlike Vaughn, he doesn't appear stupid, silly, or plain trifling just for the effect. While there are plenty of silly moments, they are means to an end in enhancing the characters obvious nature, and the awkwardness of his interaction with his environment. The entire cast, which centers on James Caan, Mary Steenburgen, and Daniel Tay along with Farrell, contrastingly shows a level of dysfunction, alienation, and neglect that is juxtaposed to Farrell's jovial, enthusiastic, innocence, and strong desire to connect with his father. In essence, he just wants to be accepted and loved. All of this is clearly fleshed out with Farrell playing Buddy in Elf. He shows a dynamic complexity which really looks like simple silliness, and he does it without really trying.
As Buddy grows, his height and poor toy making skills begin to raise questions of who he really is. Seeing how frustrated Buddy was getting, Papa Elf takes Buddy on as his apprentice, and their first project together will be to make Santa's sled fly. Papa Elf added a jet engine to the sled which used to fly on Christmas spirit. However Christmas spirit has waned over the years, so its inclusion became necessary. After Buddy becomes so frustrated with events surrounding him, Papa Elf finally tells him he is adopted. Papa Elf tells Buddy who his real mother and father are, explains his mother death, and his father's current location. Determined to find his father, Buddy sets off for New York City.
Walter Hobbs is a 46 year old publishing Executive who was never aware of Buddy's existence. Married to Emily (Mary Steenburgen), he also has a younger son named Michael (Daniel Tay), who he has pretty much neglected for his career. Based on the information Papa Elf has given him, Buddy heads for the Empire State Building where he asks for his father's office. Thinking Buddy was a Christmas gram, Walter tells Buddy to sing. Buddy begins to sing his life story, and tell Walter he is his father. Thus begins Buddy's quest to connect with his father, win the affections of a special girl, bring a family back together, and save the spirit of Christmas.
Elf Blu-ray, Video Quality
Elf comes to Bluray in an eye popping 1080p/VC-1 encode framed at a 1:85:1 aspect ratio that renders the vibrant hues of the North Pole, Santa's workshop, and the city of New York beautifully. The print master appears spotless, with no film based artifacts to be found anywhere. The colors are strong, deeply saturated, without any chroma noise or bleeding. Contrast is spot on, and black levels while inconsistent, are very deep and inky. Images are sharp, three dimensional, and aside from a few soft shots, detail and fine detail are fairly crisp and sharp. Unlike the DVD release of this movie, images are not dogged by artifacting, banding, or severe edge enhancement, but it has its own set of issues.
In spite of looking so good overall, this bluray release is far from perfection. Noise and excessive grain dog scenes with heavy CG, and nighttime scenes as well. There are significant shifts in skin tones that vary from overly red to orange. And while not as severe as on the DVD, brief pulses of artifacting, and small slivers of edge enhancement can faintly be seen, but you have to look for it. Also extremely noticeable are the effects of DNR, over processing, and excessive filtering which brings detail down a few notches. This makes Elf's overall look rather digital looking and very unfilmlike. I am sure some of this is due to the fact you have to integrate so many different kinds of video effects with the film itself, but its effect really does affect picture quality negatively. Warner could have produced a more refined and natural looking picture, that is for sure.
Elf Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Unlike so many of Warner's releases, Elf is graced with a pretty impressive 5.1 Dolby TrueHD soundtrack encoded at 16/48 kHz. Also included are an English, German and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack the English at 640kbps, and the remaining at 448kbps. Dialog is clean, clear, and always discernable over the sound effects and music, so no prioritization issues here. LFE is well used to support the sound effects, and bass in the main channels. However there is not much output below 40hz on this track, so do not expect your sub to shimmy across the floor. The surrounds are effectively used, with some very good split surround activity. Unfortunately side and rear wall phantom images are non existent, which affects the level of immersion you feel. John Debney's film score is well recorded, and spread nicely across the frontal soundstage, extending fairly deep towards the front wall, and spilling into the surrounds as well. There are a few nifty panning effects that traverse around the room smoothly and with very convincing directionality.
When level matching and comparing the lossless track with the lossy track, you find that they with the exception of a slight bit of fullness, and a slightly wider soundstage on the lossless, sound pretty similar. This soundtrack is not bad for a comedy, but a little more could have been brought into the mix to enhance the visuals.
Elf Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Extras on this disc consist of carry over from the Infinifilm DVD. All are presented in standard definition video.
Audio Commentaries -- are a pair of audio commentaries, one with director Jon Favreau and a second with actor Will Ferrell.
Production Featurettes (SD, 39 minutes) -- "Tag Along with Will Ferrell" follows the comedian on a typical day of shooting, "How They Made the North Pole" looks at the design and implementation of the arctic sets, "Lights Camera Puffin" examines the use of animation and special effects in the film, and "That's a Wrap" explores the various post-production work and efforts of the filmmakers.
Film School for Kids Featurette (SD, 51 minutes) --is an entertaining and revealing behind-the-scenes documentary that never talks down to its declared demographic, "Kids on Christmas" introduces a group of kids who talk about aspects of the season, "Deck the Halls" focuses on extreme Christmas decorations and the people who cover their homes in holiday paraphernalia, "Santa Mania" looks at the big guy in red, and "Christmas in Tinseltown" introduces traditional Hollywood celebrations.
Deleted/Alternate Scenes (SD, 12 minutes) -- feature eight cuts and extensions that don't amount to much material, but it's an amusing collection that will give fans a few good laughs.
Elf Karaoke -- Are three Christmas songs karaoke style.
Trivia Track -- Is a text based fact track about the holiday season, its associated myths, and the production.
Focus Points (SD) -- is an interactive feature provides access to brief featurette clips and behind-the-scenes info any time an icon appears on screen
Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2 minutes)
There is also a digital copy of this film for use in a PC and other video devices
Elf Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
While the picture quality of this film has some serious issues, I can recommend this movie on the strength of its content. The issues do not deter anyone from enjoying the movie itself. Elf is a funny and entertaining Christmas movie for the kids, and adults as well. For those who enjoy a good Christmas comedy and are a fan of Ferrell, this is a must buy.(don't forget to click through the bluray.com link to Amazon). For those who have never seen this movie before, I would recommend you rent first to see if it is viewable multiple times. This Bluray version will replace my DVD version, and will be the preferred viewing format for this movie going forward. It looks and sounds much better than the previous DVD release.
Elf: Other Editions
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• Elf Coming to Blu-ray (Updated) - August 12, 2008
New Line Home Entertainment in conjunction with Warner Home Video have announced that they will bring the Will Ferrell holiday classic 'Elf' to Blu-ray on October 28th. Coming on a BD-25, video for this release will be presented as 1.85:1 1080p VC-1. No audio spec ...
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