|Year One (Theatrical & Unrated Edition) (2009)|
|Written by Noah Fleming|
|Thursday, 08 October 2009|
From the moment I first saw the trailer, the movie looked a lot like Mel Brooks’ “History of the World.” The trailer did not reveal much in the way of plot for the film, and that is the downfall of the movie itself. The film relies on bits and pieces of religious mythology as its basis. Unfortunately, this is not enough to sustain interest in the film. Sure, there are a couple of laughs here and there, but nothing as funny as I expected from a Jack Black and Harold Ramis production.
Harold Ramis, the genius behind “Ghostbusters” and so many other comedies, is the director of “Year One.” I expected a lot more from him, but I guess there is so much that can be done with religious humor. “Dogma” is hard to top. Jack Black has some moments in the film, but it a bit over the top. There is nothing to ground Black to the film. He tries to make the best of the part one line at a time.
Zed (Jack Black) and Oh (Michael Cera) are two misfits in a village of caveman. The year is supposedly the first in existence. However, there are more too many legends that supposedly occur at different times all happening in this film. While they are funny, they don’t really add up. When Zed eats the forbidden fruit he is banished from the village. When Oh joins Zed they run into Cain and Abel in the field. They are so treated to the death of Abel by Cain and certain inventions that were unbeknownst to the cavemen in the village.
When Cain, Zed and Oh run away to the coast, Zed and Oh are betrayed by Cain and sold into slavery, along with the rest of their ex-village. On their journey across the desert, the caravan is attacked by soldiers of Sodom. Zed and Oh are able to escape and promise to find their women, Maya and Eema and rescue them. Unfortunately, their siesta causes them to lose the caravan.
While walking through the desert they happen upon Abraham sacrificing his son Isaac. It is through the tribe of Abraham that Zed and Oh learn of God’s plan to burn Sodom to the ground. Zed and Oh must go to Sodom to save their women. They are immediately captured once they arrive, but saved by Cain, who is now a soldier of Sodom. Zed and Oh join the force and get sidetracked by the lawlessness of the city.
The princess of Sodom finally gives Zed the faith that he can save the women and the villagers. He is called the Chosen one. I wish I could say that there is a proper ending to the film, but because there is really nothing but humorous bits and pieces, there is nothing to tie up at the end of the film. It simply just ends.
“Year One” is nothing more than a bunch of comedy skits put together. There are enjoyable sections, but they are few and far between. Overall, this is pretty much a one-time-watcher.
“Year One” comes to Blu-ray with a 1.85:1 aspect ratio and 1080p AVC encode. While the movie is not very impressive, the video transfer is quite excellent. I expect nothing less for a film that was released just three months ago. The colors are bold and vibrant, when more than browns are present. With the deep black levels there is much depth to the image. The detail is beyond exceptional. Every blade of grass, tree leaf and branch contains intricate details. Film grain is extremely minimal, yet the image retains a film-like appearance. Fleshtones and dark sequences are the only trouble for this transfer. Fleshtones waver over the course of the film and dark scenes contain a big push toward the blue end of the spectrum. This blue push makes the image look like it has weak contrast levels. There does not appear to be any digital manipulation done to the image. Bright sequences will surely impress. This is a top notch transfer.
In what may become more common for Sony transfers, the audio is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio. The track is not as good as the video transfer, but it suffices. There is nothing special about this audio track. It is a typical comedy track. The mix is very front heavy. Only on a couple occasions do discreet sound effects make their way into the surround channels. Ambience in the surrounds is also fairly poor except for a couple of occasions. The LFE channel is noticeably absent. There are only two times in the entire film that the LFE chancel even becomes remotely noticeable. Dialogue is crisp and clear. However, it lacks an anchor. There is ambience to ground the dialogue to the screen. Therefore the dialogue does not seem to match the actors’ lip movements. The frequency response and dynamic range is limited to a bare minimum.
There is a decent amount of supplemental materials present on the Blu-ray release, especially if glancing at the back cover. However, there is not much in the way of useful bonus materials. Sony has put forth a good effort.
First there is a an audio commentary track with director Harold Ramis and actors Jack Black and Michael Cera. Ramis offers the most useful information, while the actors provide some comedy to the track. Note, this Blu-ray release contains both the theatrical and unrated editions of the film. There is about three additional minutes of footage in the unrated version. There is nothing really unrated about it. There are some deleted scenes, as well as some extended and alternate scenes, including an alternate ending. The Line-O-Rama feature is much like a bunch of outtakes. A gag reel is also present. “’Year One:’ The Journey Begins” is a making-of featurette. “Sodom’s got ‘em!” is a fake television commercial, while “Leeroy Jenkins: The Gates of Sodom” is a recreation of an epic.
There are also several exclusives to the Blu-ray disc. “Year One Cutting Room” allows you to create your own video and share it using BD-Live functionality. MovieIQ is a function that allows you to view extra cast, crew and production information during playback of the film. Cinechat allows you to instant message with friends while watching the film. There are also various trailers at the start if the disc.
“Year One” is not the best film of the year by any means. However, there are some clever moments when you watch the film for the first time. After that, the film becomes more and more unbearable. The vide transfer is excellent, yielding a deep and pleasing image. The audio transfer is competent, but lacks any lasting impression. If you are a Ramis or Black fan you will probably be disappointed with the film, but it is worth it if you just want a laugh.