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Master chef Kate Armstrong lives her life like she runs her kitchen at a trendy Manhattan eatery — with a no-nonsense intensity that both captivates and intimidates everyone around her. Kate's perfectionist nature is put to the test when she "inherits" her nine-year-old niece Zoe, while contending with a brash new sous-chef who joins her staff. High-spirited and freewheeling, Nick Palmer couldn't be more different from Kate, yet the chemistry between them is undeniable. Rivalry becomes romance, but Kate will have to learn to express herself beyond the realm of her kitchen if she wants to connect with Zoe and find true happiness with Nick.
For more about No Reservations and the No Reservations Blu-ray release, see No Reservations Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on March 2, 2008 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Catherine Zeta-Jones, Aaron Eckhart, Abigail Breslin, Patricia Clarkson, Jennifer Wade, Brian F. O'Byrne
Director: Scott Hicks
» See full cast & crew
No Reservations Blu-ray Review
Should you "reserve" a spot on your shelf for this Blu-ray?
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, March 2, 2008
I wish there was a cookbook for life with the recipes telling us exactly what to do.
My wife went with a few of her friends to see The Other Boleyn Girl on opening night, leaving me at home to celebrate the passage of another theatrical release of a period chick flick that I didn't have to endure. Perhaps you've clued in from several of my previous reviews that I much prefer action and science fiction films, eschewing those geared for the female audiences. Even when I have to review romantic comedies, I generally try and find some positives (see Becoming Jane, The Jane Austen Book Club, and Music and Lyrics), and I sometimes find myself actually liking the movie. I've found viewing the chick flick from the comfort of my own home as opposed to a packed theater where I see more cell phone screens than movie, allows me to get drawn into the story rather than agonizing over the seconds in the theater, bored by the third preview, let alone the third act of the movie. I must admit that the last two films of this sort I saw theatrically, August Rush and No Reservations, both surprised me, the former being a completely enjoyable, engaging film and the latter merely tolerable, a major success for a movie of this genre.
No Reservations stars Catherine Zeta-Jones (The Legend of Zorro) as Kate, a New York chef of high standards who knows every recipe by heart. She takes her job as the head chef of the prestigious 22 Bleecker Street restaurant very seriously. For example, she shows up at the seashore first thing in the morning to have the pick of the day's catch or hand-picks exotic foods that costs thousands of dollars. Out of nowhere, Kate's life is tuned completely upside down, twice, in the span of several days. When her sister Christine dies in an automobile accident, Kate finds she must care for her elementary school-aged niece, Zoe (Abigail Breslin, Signs). When she returns to work after a few boss-sanctioned days off, she finds a new sous chef has been hired. He's Nick (Arron Eckhart, The Dark Night), a happy-go-lucky, opera-singing chef who has turned down bigger and better jobs to work with the revered Kate. Juggling a grieving niece looking for her new role and place in life, a potential love interest in Nick, and keeping her kitchen together, Kate will have no choice but to come out of her shell and approach everyday life in a way she never expected, and she just might find herself with a family before the final credits roll.
While No Reservations is one of the better and more tolerable of the romantic comedy genre, it certainly has its share of annoyances, namely predictability, boring visuals, straightforward direction, and a typical chick flick score. The story is as plain as day, obvious in its resolution, and never offers one iota of suspense. Even the "shock" of the death of Kate's sister Christine is nothing more than a plot device, and the moment we realize she will be keeping Zoe, we can easily predict the phases she will go through and that she'll eventually come full circle, accepting Kate as her mother. The music throughout this film is the typical "heard it once, heard it 1,000 times" romantic comedy score, replete with the appropriate "be happy now" and "be sad now" melodies. Several scenes where each melody is used are so cookie-cutter that it is only the musical cue that allows the audience to know if times are good or bad for the characters. On the plus side, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Aaron Eckhart play enjoyable lead roles. Their characters bring a bit of flair to an otherwise routine movie, though their actions are mostly predictable. The film is paced rather briskly, never feeling long in the tooth, allowing just enough time to flesh out the characters, bring the story full circle, and provide a few humorous, heartfelt, and cute scenes throughout. Director Scott Hicks hasn't made a bad film with No Reservations, just a generic one. It kept me mostly entertained, and I found myself glancing at the time remaining only once or twice, which is an accomplishment in and of itself. For a romantic comedy, this one is almost as tolerable as it gets.
No Reservations Blu-ray, Video Quality
Warner Brothers seats No Reservations at the Blu-ray table with a hit-or-miss 1080p transfer, framed in its original 2.40:1 aspect ratio. There are times throughout the movie where this one certainly looks good. We see some fine color reproduction, a clean, blemish-free print, decent detail, fine skin tones, consistent contrast, and solid blacks, especially early on in the movie. Film grain is also non-existent here. However, quite a bit of softness creeps up as the movie wears along, and there seems to be no pattern as to what appears soft and what appears solid, sharp, and clear. We see the camera shift from Nick to Kate in one scene. Kate looks detailed, crystal clear, and vibrant. Poor Nick appears almost out of focus. Details are mushed, his face looks like a sloppy airbrushing has been applied to it, and there are no sharp, clear, or defined edges. Colors are rich and vibrant in many scenes, and in others drab and uninteresting, even in locales that previously looked very good. For the most part, however, this transfer should suffice for those times that it's pulled off the shelf for date night. When it looks good, it looks very good, but the inconsistency is most bothersome. While not a complete letdown, Warner Brothers can certainly do better.
No Reservations Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Blah. Boring. Bland. These are just a few words (and all beginning with the letter "B," oddly enough) to come to mind when thinking about the Dolby Digital 5.1 sound mix accompanying No Reservations on Blu-ray. The two primary items this track has to worry about are dialogue and garden variety chick flick music, and this lossy mix handles them both rather poorly. Granted, there just isn't much going on, but this mix seems phoned in nevertheless. When music or dialogue are presented separately, they sound alright, perhaps a bit harsh at times, but when the two collide, watch out. Music always overpowers the dialogue, drowning it out and making the simple art of dialogue discernment a difficult and tedious chore. The lack of a lossless option clearly hurts this mix. As typical a romantic comedy soundtrack as they come, No Reservations is a movie that allows your subwoofer and surround speakers to take an evening off. There simply isn't much to say about this one. It suffices, but I didn't feel that it lived up to even the modest aural experience this movie calls for.
No Reservations Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Bam! No Reservations on Blu-ray provides exactly two supplements for your enjoyment. First is a full-length episode from the television show Emeril Live (480p, 42:02). Stars Aaron Eckhart and Abigail Breslin, with the help of the famous television chef, prepare several of the recipes seen in the film. The trio makes pizza (Abigail's looked especially tasty and extra greasy), and Aaron and Abigail watch as Emeril prepares spaghetti, stuffed quail with truffle sauce, and a tiramisu for desert. This was a very nice special feature to include. Concluding the special features is an episode of UnWrapped (480p, 21:03), showcasing interviews with the cast about the movie and what they learned about cooking and the restaurant business. Also featured is Chef Michael White, the man who trained the cast and served as a technical advisor, and Joey Campanaro, owner/chef of "The Little Owl," the restaurant where the movie was filmed.
No Reservations Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
No Reservations is a fun but generic romantic comedy with all of the clichés and conventions of that genre firmly entrenched throughout the picture. The saving grace is definitely Zeta-Jones and Eckhart who make for a strong screen couple, and both are entertaining to boot. Oh, and the delicious-looking food we see throughout the film makes it a fun watch, too. Sadly, the Blu-ray is a disappointment. The video quality is average at best, looking pretty good at times, and pretty dull at others. The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is especially disappointing, hardly making its presence known. Even more entertaining than parts of the movie are the two supplements, especially the segment with Emeril, who always provides entertainment and recipes on which I, for one, would love to indulge. For your next date night movie, No Reservations would make a delightful choice. If you are watching your waistline, however, it might be best to eat dinner after the movie, or else there's a good chance you'll have dinner twice that night. A recommended buy for the chick flick lover in your life.
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No Reservations Blu-ray, News and Updates
• No Reservations Comes to Blu-ray - November 9, 2007
Warner Home Video has announced that they will bring the Catherine Zeta-Jones film 'No Reservations' will come to Blu-ray on February 12th. Coming on a BD-25, video will be presented in 2.41:1 1080p and audio will come in 5.1 Dolby Digital. Extras include two Food ...
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