Friday, November 13, 2009

DVD Review: Kevin Smith Blu-ray Box Set

Either you like Kevin Smith’s work, or you don’t. That’s just the simple truth. Smith is one of those polarizing talents that either you love or hate; there isn’t much middle ground with his films. Now that we have that bit of information out of the way, I’m assuming that you’re a fan since you’re still reading. Since these films have been around for a while, I’m going to concentrate on the Blu-Ray presentations, rather than the films themselves.

Kevin Smith fans should be excited that two of his most popular films, Clerks and Chasing Amy are available for the first time on Blu-Ray. The previously available on Blu, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, is also included in this Blu-Ray three pack, but if you already have the later, Clerks and Chasing Amy are both available as separate Blu-Ray offerings. If you’re a Kevin Smith fan, not only have you seen these, but you probably also already own them. So, the real question here is, “If I already own these films on DVD, is it worth upgrading to Blu?” Let’s find out.


Clerks: Being that the film is in black and white, there aren’t exactly any HD colors popping out at you. Now, that’s not to say that a film done in black and white can’t look amazing on Blu-Ray, but considering that the film was shot on a very minimal budget, it wasn’t exactly captured with the kind of precision that shines on Blu-Ray. That being said, this is the best the film has ever looked. Despite the lack of detail, the transfer is clean, and presents some nice blacks without darkening the overall picture.

Chasing Amy: The picture here fares about the same as it did on Clerks. While the film is in color, they seem a bit bland and washed out. As with the previous film, Chasing Amy had a very small budget, so the picture quality here is understandable. One of the drawbacks with Blu-Ray is that, while it emphasizes great picture quality with HD footage, older footage of a lesser resolution has its weaknesses emphasized as well.

Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back: The picture on this Blu-Ray is the best of the set, but also the least acceptable. How’s that, you ask? Because this is the exact same Blu-Ray version of the film released in 2006. Did I compare the standalone Blu-Ray disc to the box set disc? Nope, I didn’t have to, because the Blu-Ray copy of Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back included in the box set stands apart from the other two films as soon as you remove it from the box. The first thing that you notice is that the JASBSB cover art doesn’t use the same format as the other two films. Then it becomes painfully obvious that the previous Blu-Ray version has been stuffed into this box set when you turn the case over and clearly read, “2006 Blu-Ray Release”. Three years have passed since the original release of the film on Blu, yet no effort was put into this release for a better transfer. They could have at least tried to fool us by giving us some new, matching cover art. Why should they have put in the effort to redo this film, when it was already out on Blu? We’ll get to the special features in a minute.


All three films feature similar 5.1 mixes. All three are adequate and have the dialogue mixed pretty high, which is good since these movies thrive on the dialogue and character interactions. None of these films are the kind of films you would use to show off a sound system anyway, so no problems here.

Special Features:

Clerks: Though “15th Anniversary Edition” is stamped on the front, all but two of the special features are carried over from the Clerks 10th Anniversary DVD Edition. So what are the two Blu-Ray exclusive features? An Introduction by Kevin Smith (how special), and Oh, What a Lovely Tea Party: The Making of Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. Wait-What? Why is this on the Clerks disc? Oh wait, that’s right, they just stuffed the three year old version of JASBSB in the box without bothering to update it.

Chasing Amy: The original DVD release was almost barebones. It included Deleted Scenes, Outtakes, and the Trailer. All of these have been included again with the Blu-Ray release; however, the good news is that there are an ample amount of Blu-Ray exclusive features. These include audio commentary with Kevin Smith and Producer Scott Mosier, Tracing Amy: The Chasing Amy Doc, Was It Something I Said? – A Conversation With Kevin And Joey, 10 Years Later Q&A – With Kevin Smith And The Cast.

Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back: As previously mentioned several times already, this is the same Blu-Ray release of the film that we got in 2006. Same transfer, same box art, and you guessed it, same features. Actually, same lack of features, would more accurately describe what is presented here. What we get is audio commentary with Kevin Smith, Jason Mewes, and Producer Scott Mosier, as well as an option to jump to certain scenes that were magically selected as being worthy of this feature by the makers of the disc. The later feature seems particularly useless; don’t we already have scene selection if we want to jump to a certain scene? This lack of special features is particularly frustrating when you consider the original 2-Disc DVD release, which included the following: - Feature Commentary Track with Kevin Smith, Scott Mosier and Jason Mewes, Deleted Scenes with Intros by Kevin Smith and members of the View Askew family, Jay & Silent Bob's Secret Stash w/Intros, Gag Reel with intro, Internet Trailers with intro, TV Spots, Still Galleries, Storyboards, Behind The Scenes Featurette, "Morris Day and The Time - Learnin' the Moves"
Featurette, Afroman "Because I Got High" video, Stroke 9 "Kick Some Ass" video, Comedy Central's Reel
Comedy special, Cast and Crew Filmographies. All of these features, which were included on the original 2-Disc DVD release, were left off the 2006 Blu-Ray release, and by extension, are still missing. This box set was a golden opportunity to correct that error, but sadly they went the cheap route instead.

Final Thought:

So, is it worth it? That depends. Are you a Kevin Smith fan who for some odd reason doesn’t own any of these three films on DVD? Then by all means pick up the Blu-Ray Box Set. Are you a Kevin Smith Fan who owns all three on DVD? Then, if you aren’t completely anal about having movies in full HD quality, and can live with up-scaling, Stick with the 10th Anniversary Clerks, 2-Disc JASBSB, and consider whether or not the new features on Chasing Amy justify a $25 price tag. If they do, Chasing Amy is the most worthy of the set for upgrading, but the other two, especially the lackluster presentation of JASBSB, are passes.

Terry Barnhill
Staff Reviewer

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