Year One (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
October 15, 2009 by Dennis Amith
“A film partnering funnymen Jack Black, Michael Cera and writer/director Harold Ramis. Overall, fans of the film will definitely enjoy the number of special features packed in this Blu-ray release and you do get both the theatrical and unrated versions of the film. This is probably one of the few films where I felt that the alternate ending should have been used instead of what was used in the final cut of the film. Overall, not as strong as other Apatow produced films but for those who enjoy that style of comedy, will find ‘Year One’ to be humorous, crazy and moronic.”
TITLE: Year One
DURATION: Theatrical Version – 97 Minutes/Unrated Version – 100 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:85:1), English, French and Portuguese 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Subtitles: English, English SHD, French, Spanish, Portuguese
COMPANY: Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
RATED: PG-13: Some Material May Be Inappropriate for Children Under 13
Release Date: October 6, 2009
Directed by Harold Ramis
Based on a story by Harold Ramis
Written by Harold Ramis, Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg
Executive Producer: Rodney Rothman
Producer: Judd Apatow
Co-Producer: Harold Ramis and Laurel Ward
Associate Producer: Andrew Epstein
Music by Theodore Shapiro
Cinematography by Alar Kivilo
Edited by Craig Herring, Steve Welch
Casting by Tara Duncil, Chris Gray, Jeanne McCarthy
Production Design by Jefferson Sage
Art Direction by Richard Fojo
Set Decoration by Dorree Cooper
Costume Design by Debra McGuire
Jack Black as Zed
Michael Cera as Oh
Oliver Platt as High Priest
David Cross as Cain
Christopher Mintz-Plasse as Isaac
Vinnie Jones as Sargon
Hank Azaria as Abraham
Juno Temple as Eema
Olivia Wilde as Princess Inanna
June Diane Raphael as Maya
Xander Berkeley as King
Gia Carides as Queen
Horatio Sanz as Enmebaragesi
David Pasquesi as Prime Minister
Matthew Willig as Marlak
Harold Ramis as Adam
Rhoda Griffis as Eve
Gabriel Sunday as Seth
Eden Riegel as Lilith
Kyle Gass as Zaftig the Eunuch
Bill Hader as Shaman
In June 2009, a new comedy film starring Jack Black (“King Kong”, “Be Kind Rewind”, “Tropic Thunder”) and Michael Cera (“Juno”, “Superbad”, “Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist”) was released in theaters with a large tie-in with the NBA Finals and also featured a commercial aired on Super Bowl XLIII.
The film which was directed and and a screenplay co-written by Harold Ramis (“Ghostbusters”, “Groundhog Day”, “Stripes”, “Caddyshack”, “Meatballs”) and “The Office” writers Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg. The film would be produced by Judd Apatow (“Forgetting Sarah Marshall”, “Pineapple Express”, “The 40 Year Old Virgin”, “Knocked Up”), cinematography by Alar Kivilo (“The Lake House”, “The Lookout”, “The Ice Harvest”) and music by Theodore Shapiro (“Marley & Me”, “Tropic Thunder”, “Semi-Pro”).
The film revolves around two men who come from a village (a village of cavemen/women) and Zed (Jack Black) is known as the worst hunter/gatherer in the village. He finds out that Maya (June Diane Raphael) wants to get married and the man that wants to marry her is Marlak (Matthew Willig), the strongest hunter in the village. Although self-confident, Zed believes he can be better than Marlak even though his only true friend in the village, Oh (Michael Cera) thinks he’s full of BS.
As for Oh, he is a shy man not confident for himself. Not a great gatherer, he has interest in Eema (Juno Temple) despite not knowing how to communicate with girls and thus giving off a gay vibe.
But when Zed takes a bite out of the forbidden fruit (from the apple tree – which Eve ate an apple from), Zed feels that the glowing fruit may have given him magical powers. But unfortunately, because he at the fruit, against his village’s rules, he is banished. In the process of leaving the village, Zed accidentally burns his village and thus forces Oh to join with him (and essentially and unknowingly making his village homeless and slaves to a slave owner).
While Zed and Oh, go beyond their village (which they were taught that anything beyond the mountain is the end of the Earth), they end up in the farm area where they see two men fighting. Cain (David Cross, “Arrested Development”) and Abel (Paul Rudd, “I Love, You Man”, “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”) in which the two see Cain murdering his brother. With Cain’s father Adam (Harold Ramis) wanting Cain punished for murdering his brother, Cain takes Zed and Oh to the city where they learn that their village members are slaves and are being taken to the city of Sodom.
Now Zed and Oh must come up with a plan to rescue their beloved women and the village.
“Year One” is literally a parody of stories from the Bible and also stars Xander Berkeley (“Fracture”, “24”) as the King of Sodom, Olivia Wilde (“The O.C.”, “House M.D.”, “The Black Donnellys”) as the princess of Sodom, Oliver Platt (“Frost/Nixon”, “Nip/Tuck”, “The West Wing”) as The High Priest, Vinnie Jones (“X-Men 3: The Last Stand”, “Loaded”) as the Sodom warrior Sargon and Hank Azaria (“The Simpsons”, “Huff”, “Mad About You”) as Abraham.
The Blu-ray release includes both the standard theatrical version and the unrated version of the film which has three more minutes of extra footage.
VIDEO & AUDIO:
“Year One” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1) and the quality provides excellent detail. From the detail of the sand in the desert, mountains in the region, trees in the village, detail on the clothing, you name it… the picture quality for “Year One” is solid, not reference but still a very good looking film. Good trace of grain and no DNR (Digital Noise Reduction).
As for the audio, the audio is presented with an English, French and Portuguese 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack with a Spanish 5.1 soundtrack as well. The Blu-ray features one of the few films that were released from Sony that uses a DTS-HD MA soundtrack instead of Dolby TrueHD. For a comedy film, audio is satisfactory. Dialogue is clean and understandable. For the most part, the film is front and center channel driven but the crack of thunder can be heard quite nicely throughout the channels. But it’s too bad the alternate ending was not used because that is where the majority of the action is featured in the film. But overall, the lossless audio is fine.
Subtitles are featured in English, French, English SDH, Portuguese and Spanish.
“Year One” comes with the following special features (all presented in High Definition, in English stereo and Spanish and Portuguese subtitles):
“Year One” is one of those films that Apatow or even Happy Madison film fans will enjoy. In other words, films that are comedy-driven, not meant to be taken seriously and for the most part, films that many people tend to see as moronic, idiotic and pushing the button.
For “Year One”, I will say that for an Apatow-produced film, it was not one of the best films and truthfully, I was surprised this was written by Harold Ramis because it is definitely one of his weakest written films to date. The funny has its humorous moments and as expected, both Black and Cera are a good pairing. It’s just that the screenplay felt a bit mediocre.
The biggest surprise when watching this Blu-ray is that included is an alternate ending that features more action and although a bit more dark, it was a pretty good ending that of course, people who knows the tragic story of Sodom will understand why the alternate ending was appropriate. The fact that they spent so much for that ending scene and didn’t use it, is quite a surprise and sure, it was bleaker and humorous but I think those action sequences of destruction would have been more entertaining for viewers. I just felt that the ending Ramis did choose keep, was to saccharine and to easy going. In the commentary, Ramis said he chose the Obama versus the George W. Bush version. But personally, for those familiar with the Sodom and Gomorah storyline expect nothing but destruction of the city of Sodom in someway.
But overall, for those who did enjoy this film will enjoy the fact that the Blu-ray does come with a lot of special features and that the picture quality is pretty solid. And again, you get both the unrated and theatrical version of the films. If anything, despite the film’s shortcomings, the Blu-ray release for this film is packed with features, Sony really utilizing some of the BD-Live capabilities for this release. So, if you did enjoy this film, you’ll more than likely enjoy this Blu-ray release.
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