L  e  n  s  V  i  e  w  s

A view on Blu-ray and DVD video by Leonard Norwitz

 

Introduction: I first noticed that some movies were actually "films" back around 1960 when I saw Seven Samurai (in the then popular truncated version), La Strada and The Third Man for the first time. American classics were a later and happy discovery.

My earliest teacher in Aesthetics was Alexander Sesonske, who encouraged the comparison of unlike objects. He opened my mind to the study of art in a broader sense, rather than of technique or the gratification of instantaneous events. My take on video, or audio for that matter – about which I feel more competent – is not particularly technical. Rather it is aesthetic, perceptual, psychological and strongly influenced by temporal considerations in much the same way as music. I hope you will find my musings entertaining and informative, fun, interactive and very much a work in progress.


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Meet Dave [Blu-ray]

 

(Brian Robbins, 2008)

 

 

 

 

 

Review by Leonard Norwitz

 

Studio:

Theatrical: 20th Century Fox

Blu-ray: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

 

Disc:

Region: A

Runtime: 90 minu

Chapters: 24

Size: 50 GB

Case: Standard Amaray Blu-ray case

Release date: November 25, 2008

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p

Video codec: AVC @ 36 Mbps

 

Audio:

English DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio. Dolby Digital English, Spanish & French 5.1

 

Subtitles:

English, Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin & Korean

 

Extras:

• Featurette: The Making of Meet Dave in HD (22:29)

• Crew Profiles (1:54:41)

• Gag Reel in HD (2:42)

• Deleted Scenes in HD (2:25)

• Alternate Ending in HD (0:47)

• Fox Movie Channel Presents: Life After Film School with Director Brian Robbins in SD (28:58)

• Fox Movie Channel Presents: Making a Scene in SD (9:54)

• Fox Movie Channel Presents: World Premier in SD (4:35)

 

 

The Film:

The view from the critics:

The story line is hardly original: Dave is a visitor from another planet let loose on Manhattan. But it's a perfect setup for Murphy, who must show Dave attempting to imitate New Yorkers. . . It wouldn't be an Eddie Murphy movie if he didn't get to play a couple of roles. Besides being an alien, Murphy also is the captain of an unusual vessel from outer space: Dave himself. Within him are dozens of Lilliputians, each 2 inches tall, scurrying around trying to make sure Dave is shipshape. – Ruthe Stein – SF Chronicle.

Eddie Murphy — was that Oscar nominated performance in Dreamgirls just something I imagined? — continues to trash his very real talent with bottomfeeding material. In Meet Dave, Murphy limits himself to two roles (none human). He plays a pint-sized alien from outer space and the spacecraft he rode in on. If you think I'm going to explain that lame premise, think again. But know this: Murphy, teaming again with his Norbit director Brian Robbins, is assuming we'll all line up for lazyass toilet jokes and pay for the privilege. – Peter Travers, Rolling Stone.

 

 


Some movies demand flow charts. Are you under the age of 11 and instantly amused by the notion of a spaceship that looks like Eddie Murphy, captained by a tiny Eddie Murphy and a crew of Spandex-clad explorers? If you answered "yes," proceed to Meet Dave. (And if you're amused by the notion of a character called "Lieutenant Buttocks," don't waste any time reading the rest of this review.) If you answered "no," you're likely to spend much of the film silently asking questions. Why, for instance, would humanoid aliens whose culture has so much in common with Earth's spend so much time baffled by what they encounter? Members of Murphy's miniscule crew smile at each other, but seem baffled when humans bare their teeth to greet the giant, Murphy-shaped ship. Brian Robbins, A.V. Club.

The Movie: 5
It seems that planet Nil is badly in need of salt, so they sent a fist-sized sphere to Earth so that it can distill the salt from our oceans, but the trinket gets thrown off course and lands in a kid's fishbowl. A spacecraft is sent to find out what has become of the sphere – that's Eddie there as the spaceship, which is conveniently human sized. That's also Eddie piloting the ship – he and his crew are just a couple inches tall, and don't get out much. The ship soon finds its (his) way to the home of fishbowl boy (Austin Myers) and his single mom (Elizabeth Banks) and introduces itself as Dave Ming Cheng. Meantime young Josh loses the sphere to his nemesis at school and Dave is in a race against time to locate it and get on with his mission. The only problem is that, if he succeeds, it would be the end of our planet as we know it.


 

Image: 7/8
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.

Despite exceedingly high bit rates in the upper 30s, the image is only pretty good: it’s reasonably sharp, but not exquisitely resolved. A fine fuzz pervades - not that this material screams out for better resolution. I assume this all has to do with the way the movie was photographed and processed. There are some scary close-ups of Eddie Murphy that ought to seem more like real skin. I've seen some pretty smooth skin in my time, but even with serious makeup we ought to be able to get more texture than this: DNR or some other business to assure us of his alienhood?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio & Music: 6/6
You'd think a movie about aliens come to Earth would offer more audio interest that this but, in fact, this is mostly a front-directed mix. There are the occasional surrounding opportunities when the sphere scatters itself here and there and when various commotions take place on board Dave, but I found them unconvincing as to location. A salesman tells Dave that putting on headphones is like having a subwoofer in your head. Not.

 

 

 

Operations: 3
Dual layer Fox discs take a while to load, even on a PS3, but once on board we get to the main menu quickly. Top Menu permits direct bypass of promotional material. Fox is experimenting with a new chapter search design, where only one scene thumbnail at a time is viewable. I don't feel that the increase in scene size outweighs the loss of strategical navigation. Beyond that, I had some serious problem with some of the extra features, the most important of which was an inability to navigate within the extensive Crew Profiles. Excepting this difficulty, the idea is a good one, where each crew member comes on camera to explain his or her mission – very droll. But once I began with any member of the crew the remainder of the feature was totally on autopilot: nothing but a return to the menu could allow me to chose a different starting point in the profiles. Not done with me, there was no audio on two of the three Fox Movie Channel featurettes. I've encountered this snag once or twice before on Fox Blu-rays and I continue to think it may have something to do with the peculiar way I've configured my surround system.

 

Extras: 4
Included is a fairly routine making-of piece that covers casting and production. The Fox Movie Channel Presentation with Brian Robbins is worth a look. (see also: Operations).

 

 

Bottom line: 6
Meet Dave might be thought of as The Return of Galaxy Quest meets Woody Allen's Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex. Unlike Norbit, also directed by Brian Robbins, this movie is at least breezy and good-natured. In case, you forgotten, Murphy is quite good at physical comedy (something like Steve Martin in All of Me?) and there's no latex suit to moderate his shtick. There's considerable opportunity for Murphy to strut awkwardly and open wider, wider, widest.

Leonard Norwitz
November 27th, 2008

 

 

 

 

 


 

 





 

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