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When a couple of lazy hunter-gatherers (Jack Black and Michael Cera) are banished from their primitive village, they set off on an epic journey through the ancient world. Directed by Harold Ramis.
For more about Year One and the Year One Blu-ray release, see Year One Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on September 29, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Jack Black, Michael Cera, Oliver Platt, David Cross, Hank Azaria, Xander Berkeley
Director: Harold Ramis
» See full cast & crew
Year One Blu-ray Review
Is this Summer Comedy greater than the sum of its hysterical trailer?
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, September 29, 2009
Year One seemed to have everything going for it, including a prime summer slotting that, yes, pitted it against the unstoppable forces that were Star Trek, Harry Potter, Transformers, and Terminator Salvation, but also offered something those film's didn't: the promise of nonstop laughs. Not content to stop there, Year One featured a Comedy trio to be reckoned with, with Jack Black (Tropic Thunder) and Michael Cera (Superbad) starring and the legendary Harold Ramis (Ghostbusters) behind the camera (and in front of it for a few scenes). In addition, the film found a setting virtually untapped and primed for Comedy gold. With one of the funniest trailers ever edited together the final selling point, Year One seemed like a can't-miss prospect. Unfortunately, the movie didn't sell, grossing a paltry $43 million domestic, its status as a summer failure (earning less in its entire run than The Hangover pulled in on its opening weekend alone) certainly not for lack of effort.
Hunter Zed (Black) and gatherer Oh (Cera) are two outcast losers within their small tribe of primitive peoples. Each with their eye on a local beauty but unable to impress the girls thanks to poor hunting and gathering skills, it seems these two primitive screwheads are destined to lead meaningless lives. Fed up with his inability to get the girl or kill game with his spear, Zed decides to take matters into his own hands, eating the forbidden fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. When the village's elders learn of his sin, Zed is cast out for fear of a curse befalling the entire tribe. Oh decides to tag along when Zed accidentally burns down Oh's hut, and the two set off on a journey that takes them through the ancient world of the Old Testament where they seek love, find danger, and even learn a thing or two about themselves and the world around them.
Because Year One features a stellar trailer, it seemed all-too-possible that this was going to be one of those instances where all the best material made it into a two-minute movie drill, leaving audiences positively stupefied at the end of the full-length 100-minute experience. Fortunately, such is not the case; though Year One oddly uses less-effective takes of several of the funniest trailer soundbites in the final product, there's still plenty of uproariously funny tidbits that make the movie worth watching. Still, despite more hits and neutral skits than flat-out misses, this isn't the stuff of Comedy legend. It's pretty routine fare, and Year One's gross output doesn't match the potential afforded to the feature not via its admittedly funny but not classic script but instead the collection of raw talent surrounding the project. While Black and Cera are just fine in their respective roles, they really don't do anything but play themselves; they bring the exact same style found in School of Rock, Tropic Thunder, Superbad, and Juno to Year One, and despite the radically different setting, there's just not much going on outside the superficial differences to really make the movie stand out from the crowd. Harold Ramis' direction is rather ho-hum and reserved, smartly letting his actors do their thing instead of trying to one-up their efforts.
Year One makes absolutely no sense when viewed with a critical eye and keeping in mind even the most basic of historical events and timelines. It's certainly going to drive teachers crazy when students base a test answer on Year One's shoddy sense of history, but at least the movie works, for the most part, despite such flaws. With its decidedly novel mixture of modern gags placed within the context of a world that shifts from primitive to suddenly far more advanced, the movie earns a free pass, particularly since it seems to revel in the ridiculousness of the entire plot and considering that no reason is given for the sudden major advancements of civilization between one sequence and another. It's all in good fun, and after all, Year One's all about the jokes, anyway, and rightfully so. No matter the setting, Year One manages to deliver a satisfying period appearance; it's obvious that this isn't the stuff of grandiose budgets afforded to more serious period movies like Troy or 10,000 B.C., but for a modestly-budgeted Comedy, it all looks surprisingly seamless at a glance, which is all a movie like this demands in the first place.
Year One Blu-ray, Video Quality
Year One traverses onto Blu-ray with a high quality 1080p, 1.85:1-framed transfer. Though flesh tones take on a decidedly red tint in many scenes, the transfer serves up a nice array of high quality imagery that borders on the extraordinary in several scenes. Year One doesn't feature abundant grain; in fact, it's hard to spot it, but in true Sony fashion, there's no evidence of digital manipulation. Year One takes on a nice film-like appearance and sports generally excellent detail, particularly in bright outdoor scenes. The individual needles on evergreen trees, tall wavy grass, and animal fur all appear nicely defined. Close-up shots of a cage made of tree branches and rope deliver borderline startling levels of detail; viewers will see each imperfection and line in the wood, and every loose strand on the rope. There's not much color in the film; clothes are of a mostly neutral shade -- browns and tans -- and blend in with the similarly-colored terrain. A few splashes of color do manage to impress, including Abraham's blue and yellow robe and several more ornate garments and decorations found in the film's final act. Black levels are fairly good throughout, and on the whole, Year One delivers an impressive 1080p image.
Year One Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Year One makes for something of a departure from Sony, the studio eschewing their normal Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack in favor of the fan-favorite DTS-HD MA 5.1 encode. Unfortunately, Year One is the sort of title that doesn't really lend itself well to demo material. This is a routine Comedy mix, with most of its sound effects placed directly up the middle and occasionally spread out from side to side. Some tribal beats as heard in chapter three deliver a fair bit of power from the low end, but it never even threatens to rattle the chest cavity. A clap of thunder in chapter six is probably the highlight of the film. Booming loudly and reverberating throughout the entire soundstage, it offers a clear, powerful, and lifelike moment in an otherwise dull soundtrack. The other standout moment comes in the form of a crash near the end of the film that also features a hearty thud and a nice, albeit fleeting, rear-channel presence in support. Also featuring flawless dialogue reproduction, Year One sounds as good as its limited source material allows.
Year One Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Year One arrives on Blu-ray with a fair amount of supplemental features. First up is a feature-length commentary track with Director Harold Ramis and Actors Jack Black and Michael Cera. This is a well-balanced track, with Ramis chiming in with more pertinent technical information and Black and Cera manning the other flank, delivering more laid-back, humorous anecdotes. Ramis has a lot of fun reminiscing with his actors and doesn't let them completely dominate the lighter side of the track; genre aficionados or fans of any of the participants or the film will want to give this one a listen. The 'Year One' Cutting Room is an interactive feature that allows users to cobble together their own series of scenes from the film; users can edit scenes, add music, title their creation, and share it with the world via the disc's BD-Live page. Year One also features CineChat, a feature that allows users to chat with their friends in a text box that overlays a portion of the screen while the movie is playing. Also included is the interactive "MovieIQ," a feature that offers live, up-to-date details about every scene, including cast and crew filmographies and biographies, soundtrack listings, and more.
'Year One:' The Journey Begins (1080p, 17:52) is a basic making-of piece that examines how the film evolved, its brand of humor, the work of the cast, the process of shooting several scenes, and more. Sodom's Got 'Em! (1080p, 1:52) is a mock television commercial pitching the joys of living in Sodom. Leeroy Jenkins: The Gates of Sodom (1080p, 2:08) recreates the famed "World of Warcraft" epic mishap using characters from the film. Line-o-Rama (1080p, 5:10) features the actors delivering alternate and improvised takes of their lines. This Blu-ray release of Year One also features an alternate ending (1080p, 8:13), two deleted scenes (1080p, 4:02), and 10 extended and alternate scenes (1080p). Also included is the Year One theatrical trailer (1080p, 2:17) and additional 1080p trailers for Black Dynamite, Angels & Demons, The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, It Might Get Loud, Whatever Works, The Ugly Truth, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, Moon, District 9, Assassination of a High School President, Blood: The Last Vampire, and Ghostbusters. Unfortunately, the digital copy that was announced to be included with this title is nowhere to be found.
Year One Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Year One is a lame-brained Comedy that won't go down in genre lore as one of the best of the best, but it's a surprisingly decent experience that delivers a steady barrage of laughs, including plenty that weren't featured in the film's uproarious trailer. Jack Black and Michael Cera play themselves and deliver their usual schtick, only this time in loincloths. Also featuring steady direction from Harold Ramis, Year One makes for a good time at the movies, provided audiences can sit back and enjoy the movie for what it is rather than dwell on several glaring errors that only hurt the film if viewers allow them to. As expected, Sony has delivered Year One to Blu-ray with stellar results. While the disc won't blow listeners away with the included DTS-HD MA lossless soundtrack, it does its job in delivering the film's somewhat bland soundtrack for home consumption. The video transfer looks fantastic, and the studio has included a solid supplemental package. Year One is easily worth a rental, and fans shouldn't hesitate to pull the trigger on a purchase.
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Year One Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Year One Announced for Blu-ray - August 10, 2009
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has announced that they will bring the Jack Black and Michael Cera comedy 'Year One' to Blu-ray on October 6th, day-and-date with the DVD release. Including both theatrical and unrated versions, this Harold Ramis directed film will ...
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