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A view from the Blu (-ray) on DVDBeaver by Leonard Norwitz


A Little Background     Openers     


    Modus Operandi     The Scorecard:     

Emotive Connection      Audio     Operations    Extras     The Movie     Equipment




Get Smart [Blu-ray]


(Peter Segal, 2008)







Review by Leonard Norwitz



Theatrical: Village Roadshow & Warner Bros. Pictures

Blu-ray: Warner Home Video



Region: FREE

Runtime: 1:49:58

Chapters: 28

Feature Size: 16.5 GB (single-layered)

Case: Standard Amaray Blu-ray case

Release date: November 4, 2008



Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p

Video codec: VC-1



Dolby Digital English 5.1; French DD 5.1, Spanish DD 5.1, Portuguese 5.1



English, French, Spanish & Portuguese



• Comedy Optimization Mode with Get Smart Takes in HD

• The Old

• The Right Agent for the Right Job (10:30)

• Max in Moscow (6:20)

• Language Lessons (3:29)

• Bruce & Lloyd Out of Control Sneak Peak (3:12)

• The Vomit Reel (5:19)

• Spy Confidential Reel: Gag Reel (5:39)

• Bonus Digital Copy Disc

• Bonus Disc: Get Smart: KAOS Control DVD Game



The Film: 5
Steve Carell seems to be cutting out quite a persona in films these days of a self-effacing nebbishy guy who ultimately gets the girl and maybe grows up a little in the process. After The 40 Year Old Virgin and Dan in Real Life, Carell revisits the classic 1960s TV comedy series Get Smart as Agent 86, Maxwell Smart, a role that ensured and enshrined Don Adams his place in history. Adams' Smart was more self-assured than Carell's. He was never in doubt about his capabilities: it was his very incompetence in the face of that confidence that made him so funny. There's a reason why he is Agent 86. It is Carell's nature to downplay any sense of confidence: He seems just a little frightened of his mission on Earth as a man, in some ways reminiscent of Gene Wilder in any number of movie roles – but minus that sense of impending or actual hysteria. Carell steps far enough away the role that it's more the situation than his character that makes a scene work. In addition, his Agent 86 is moderately capable, so if the jokes or setups aren't especially funny – well, that's the way it crumbles – cookie-wise.

Carell gets lots of help in this movie: Masi Oka & Nate Torrence as Bruce & Lloyd, a pair of technical wizards whose job it is to make Q look cool; Terence Stamp as Siegfried, a sadistic, but bored KAOS boss; Ken Davitian as Shtarker, a kind of Little Me version of Siegfried; Dwayne Johnson as the super cool Agent 23; Anne Hathaway, whose luscious Agent 23 has reason to be more suspect of Max's smarts than TV's Barbara Feldon – perhaps the explanation for the lack of chemistry. Alan Arkin as the Chief seems almost as bewildered as The Chief; James Caan is wasted in a foolish parody of George W. Bush; but Bill Murray does a lot with very little: a literal cameo inside a tree.

The movie has its funny moments: my favorite is a great dance number that, pointlessly and appropriately, has no point. Wrongly, I thought, director Segal has opted for big action scenes with lots of noise, which probably appeals to audiences less loyal to the original but, in any case, is at odds with the concept of a shoe phone. There are some nice aerial shots of the Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, which is the target for KAOS' placement of a nuclear bomb, perhaps one of the movie's least clever ideas: I can see the fire dept trying to figure out exactly where ground zero must have been after such an attack: My heaven's it was under the. . .! Not funny. Not smart. Where is Lt Frank Drebin when we need him?



Image: 8/9   NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.
The first number indicates a relative level of excellence compared to other Blu-ray video discs on a ten-point scale. The second number places this image along the full range of DVD and Blu-ray discs.

Get Smart gets a solid transfer with bit rates in the teens and low-mid 20s. Ever so subtly soft and dusty, I felt the image to be just right for the subject. Nothing to complain about, even if not demonstration material.















Audio & Music: 7/6
Warner has yet to get on board with uncompressed audio. I can't really see a reason not to make use of it, pretty much regardless of content, and here there are sufficient action scenes and lots of cleverish dialogue that should be presented at its best. That said, my main complaint is the bass, of which there is plenty, especially in bomb blasts and the like – but it's fat and overblown, so to speak, without punch or focus. Dialogue is clear. Music and effects are well balanced, with the latter properly located in the surround field.


Operations: 8
Possibly the best menu to date: Sensibly laid out, easy to navigate, with a fixed window that summarizes the selected features with their timings. Added to Warner's default of getting right to the movie on loading, this would have scored a perfect 10 if it weren't for the exceedingly wrong-headed decision to employ a flip-page insert hinged on a device too weak to support it. I've seen several of these and more than half were shipped with broken hinges. Even if they don't come apart in one's hands, they are destined to break sooner or later in normal use. Also, on my PS3, the Language Lessons bonus feature sometimes came up without audio which, at first, I thought was an intentional joke.




Extras: 7
Conspicuously absent is an audio commentary. That aside, the extras are fun and funny. Most interesting to fans of the TV show will be The Old "I Hid It In The Movie" Trick where hosts Masi Oka & Nate Torrence (Bruce & Lloyd) guide us through obvious and subtle references to the original series. The brief Sneak Peak of the Straight-to-DVD Get Smart's Bruce & Lloyd Out of Control was kick. An amusing concept to have a movie run concurrently with the feature film that stars two of its minor players. The DVD has been out for several months to poor-to-tepid reviews. The Max in Moscow segment looks at the set design for the Moscow sequences. The director, producers and stars do a little behind the scenes stuff on the featurette: The Right Agent for the Right Job: Steve, Anne, and The Rock wear out their tongue-in-cheek "I'm so hot" routine in no time. The producers can't stop congratulating themselves.

But the coup here, described by Warner as Comedy Optimization Mode, is an answer to the Picture-in-Picture method of conveying alternate angles or background information related to the scene we are watching. The problem with PIP is the size of the window insert, which, at this point, cannot be augmented at will. The Get Smart Takes in HD is simply a way of watching the feature film that, if pre-selected, interrupts the movie to show us alternate takes (in this case, jokes) all in full 1080p. There's some 50 minutes of this stuff that also doubles as outtakes. We can see for ourselves at a glance, in context and without compromising the image, the material that was not included in the final cut. (Who would want to use some of the deleted footage we see on other videos – it usually looks dreadful in untweaked 480p).

Finally, there are two bonus discs: a Digital Copy disc, and a Get Smart: KAOS Control DVD Game. In some ways I found this more entertaining than the movie. As our guide and instructor tells us: the game is a training vehicle to test our abilities as a potential field agent, as well as our sense of humor – by which he means, that the correct responses don't always make intuitive sense.



Bottom line: 6
A fine transfer and decent audio, plus the KAOS Control DVD Game, makes the Blu-ray the way to go if you have your heart set on the movie.

Leonard Norwitz
November 3rd, 2008










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