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Bruce Almighty (2003) Print E-mail
Thursday, 11 June 2009
ImageThere are few movies that have a near perfect balance between drama, romance and comedy.  "Bruce Almighty" is one of them.  Jim Carrey is the master of comedy and delivers a terrific performance in this film.  I'm not one for religious-related films.  The only exception is when religion is playfully integrated into the film.  "Dogma" is another great religiously comedic film.  "Bruce Almighty" is only mediocre to most viewers when seen through the light of all film genres.  However, among romantic comedies, "Bruce Almighty" is a true hit.

The film stars an all-star cast including, Morgan Freeman, Jim Carrey, Jennifer Aniston and Steve Carell (credited as Steven Carell).  Aniston delivers a great romantic comedy supporting actress role, while you just won't stop laughing at Jim Carrey's whackiness.  Morgan Freeman shows his comic side, while an early Steve Carell delivers an abundance of laughs as well.

The film spawned a sequel entitled, "Evan Almighty," based on Steve Carell's character in the first film, Evan Baxter.  In "Bruce Almighty," Jim Carrey stars as the lead character, Bruce Nolan.  Bruce is news reporter for a local Buffalo news TV station, reporting all the sidebar stories.  Evan gets all the live feeds and breaking news stories.  Both are vying for the open news anchor position.  When Bruce gets sent to cover a live news feed he believes that it is the station testing him in a live situation.  Unfortunately, just as Bruce is about to go live he hears in his earpiece that they have made Evan the news anchor.  Bruce flips out and delivers a funny, but evil live newscast.

Fired from his job, naturally, he turns to cursing God for all his problems.  Anniston stars as Bruce's girlfriend, Grace, who tries to support Bruce.  However, Bruce wants to do nothing but complain.  After a fight with Grace, Bruce takes off for a joyride while praying to God.  When he runs into a lamp pole, he curses God one last time.  When Bruce finds some weird and impossible signs staring him in the face, he shows up at the destination where he is called to, a large empty warehouse.

It is at this warehouse that Bruce meets the one and only, God (Morgan Freeman).  Obviously not believing that he is standing in God's presence, Bruce rants to the man and tempts him with quizzes.  God states that he is tired of Bruce's complaining and is giving him a new job, God's job.  In total disbelief, Bruce storms out of the warehouse and begins experiencing God-like supernatural powers.  Still in disbelief, God appears to Bruce once again to explain the rules.  From this point on, Bruce begins to his newfound powers for completely selfish reasons, as I am sure most of us would probably do. Bruce uses his powers to show Grace the time of her life (if you now what I mean) and to rig news stories so that he can work his way to take over the news anchor position.  Bruce conjures the body of Jimmy Hoffman and causes a meteor to crash to earth, becoming known as Mr. Exclusive.  The final nail in the coffin is when Bruce makes Evan look like a babbling idiot on live television.  It is a pretty impressive moment of comedy delivered by Steve Carell, and probably his best in the entire film.  With this latest flub, Evan is fired and Bruce is promoted to live news anchor.  To celebrate the station throws him a big bash.  It is here that he gets in trouble with a seductive co-anchor, Susan Ortega (Catherine Bell).  Grace, already mad that Bruce didn't propose to her, catches him in the act of a kiss with Susan.

This is the turning point in the film.  Grace leaves Bruce and telepathic prayers begin to haunt Bruce.  To get the voices in his head to stop he grants everyone their prayer and the city of Buffalo begins to riot.  On top of that, Bruce's first news cast is interrupted by breaking news stories and power outages.

Once the chaos becomes too much, God summons him where Bruce learns the true meaning of life.  Bruce returns to his life, still with the powers of God and begins to right the wrongs.  He begins to use manual labor instead of powers to fix his life and the lives of the people around him.  Back on the right course, he lets Grace go and prays for her to be happy.  Once he comes to this realization, he is hit by a truck and sent to heaven.  God gives Bruce another chance at life with Grace.

The original standard DVD in 2003 was pretty poor so I was hoping that Universal would have given "Bruce Almighty" a brand new transfer.  The film was originally released on high definition in the HD DVD format.  That transfer was subpar and unfortunately Universal has not given the film a new transfer.  The video quality looks like upscaled standard DVD quality.  There is plenty of edge enhancement to drive you up the wall.  The entire image is hidden behind a fuzzy nature.  Colors a drained and fleshtoens are all plugged.  The black levels are improved over the standard DVD but don't help to provide an eye-popping image.  There is a layer of film grain throughout the film, which isn't really bothersome, but it definitely noticeable that it is there.  In fact, is the only thing that really makes the image seem to have depth.  Other than that the image looks incredibly flat.  "Bruce Almighty" will definitely benefit from re-release that has been re-transfer and re-mastered from a clean master film print.  It doesn't help that the film is presented on a BD-25 disc.  Luckily there are no noticeable compression artifacts.  As it stands, the Blu-ray is better than the standard DVD, but not by much.

The audio on the HD DVD was presented in Dolby Digital Plus.  As a romantic comedy, the audio track doesn't have much to handle.  It is primarily dialogue and music, with sound effects during his God-like powers stage.  I found the music to be blended subtly into the surround channels.  The dialogue is anchored to the center channel.  The voices that Bruce hears in his head get nice separation in the soundfield.  The LFE channel is lacking quite a bit.  A stronger LFE presence would have bumped up the rating of this audio track, but as it stands there really isn't anything horribly wrong with this track.  It is just typical of a mid-budget romantic comedy film's production sound.

The Blu-ray contains all of the same bonus materials as the original DVD.  All features remain in standard definition.  There are over 35 minutes of deleted scenes and outtakes.  There are some funny moments in this collection, but overall it isn't that interesting.  "The Process of Jim" examines the comedy of Jim Carrey.  There is a feature audio commentary with director Tom Shadyac.  This audio commentary is a bit daunting and gets tiresome fast.  Lastly, the disc is equipped with BD-Live, which is where you may find the theatrical trailer for the film that seems to have gone missing from this Blu-ray edition.

"Bruce Almkghty" is a great romantic comedy that is great for date night.  Unfortunately, it did not get the video quality treatment that is commands.  The audio quality is more than sufficient but not spectacular.  I still have to recommend this disc for the film.

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