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Agent Cody Banks (Blu-ray Review)

Agent-Cody-BanksDirected by Harald Zwart (The Karate Kid) from a screenplay by Scott Alexander, Larry Karaszewski, Zack Stentz and Ashley Edward Miller, Agent Cody Banks Frankie Muniz (Malcolm In The Middle), Angie Harmon (Rizzoli & Isles), Hilary Duff (Cheaper By The Dozen), Ian McShane (Deadwood), Martin Donovan (Trust).  The film co-stars Keith David (Larger Than Life), Cynthia Stevenson (The Player) and Darrell Hammond (TV’s Saturday Night Live).  The popularity of Agent Cody Banks would spawn the 2004 sequel – Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London – reuniting Frankie Muniz, Cynthia Stevenson and Keith David.  The spy game will never be quite the same in the action comedy Agent Cody Banks.

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Film 

James Bond. Matt Helm. Cody Banks. Super spies all … with one exception: Cody Banks is a 15-year-old CIA operative who has to make sure his chores are done before saving the world.  Under the watchful eye of CIA handler Agent Ronica Miles Cody is called into service to investigate Dr. Connors, a scientist employed by the nefarious organization known as ERIS headed by the dastardly Dr. Brinkman who’s bent on destroying the world’s defense systems in order to rule the planet.  When Natalie Connors, Cody’s high school crush and the daughter of the eminent scientist, is used as leverage to force her reluctant father to aid Dr. Brinkman in his plans, Cody springs into action.

Believe it or not, I’ve seen this movie before.  I watched it in college to be exact.  Sometimes movies aimed squarely at kids can provide some unintentionally hilarious or ridiculously entertaining for the wrong reasons.  There was a feeling I had about Agent Cody Banks that it looked like that bad movie in the vein of that like Three Ninjas from back in the 1990s.  And yeah, I was on the money with that.  My friends and I got a kick out of it very late one summer night after renting it.

Going back for this viewing, it wasn’t all too hilarious like it was before.  However, there was a whole new perspective on the movie that made it sorta uncomfortable or just plain weird to view.  Everything is all cutesy and fine and dandy.  But, I thought to myself “What if you gender swapped the characters in the movie?”.  With that gender change, the movie would then appear to be very disturbing, creepy and hard to watch at times.  After that thought, the movie then actually became that sort of discomforting experience.  I’m talking about the relations with Angie Harmon’s character and Cody as well as the treatment and behavior toward the females in the film.  I’m not recommending you even watch the movie, but if you’ve seen it before (and remember ANYTHING from it) give it a shot.

Overall, this movie is pretty dumb, but its silly and fun and I think kids would still find it cool.  I know they’re not going to think deeply into the gender swap idea I had.  The film features a lot of kid jokes, over the top action sequences and some spy sleuthing and gadgetry.  They’ll have fun with it.  And for me…well, Angie Harmon is absolutely on fire in this movie.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Clarity/Detail:  Agent Cody Banks debuts on Blu-ray with a fine, but rather disappointing picture.  I couldn’t help but feel this looked just a little bit of an upgrade better than the DVD.  Maybe its the kind of film that didn’t transfer well, or just not enough was done.  It looks the best it ever had, but its rather average in terms of its crisp sharpness and detail.

Depth:  Decent depth work.  Slightly above average spacing and free movement that comes over as cinematic.

Black Levels:  Blacks are solid and no crushing witnessed.  Some detail is hidden in very dark or black surfaces, clothing and hair.

Color Reproduction:  Colors are pretty solid overall.  Its on the brink of being vivid but is under control.  Things look natural with a hint of a tropical rich feeling.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones are natural and consistent throughout.  Facial details fare better in close-ups with medium shots being all right, but mostly average.

Noise/Artifacts:  There is some grain and murkiness to the picture.

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 2.0 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: N/A

Dynamics:  Well, I’m a little baffled.  2.0?  The DVD had a 5.1 track.  But, hey, what they have to work with is what they have to work with.  And this one is pretty loud and effective, despite not being to its full capacity.  The sound effects are full, booming, loose and well rounded.  Very effective.  There is a decent free-feeling between score and the effects.

Low Frequency Extension:  N/A

Surround Sound Presentation:  N/A

Dialogue Reproduction:  Vocals are clear and crisp.  However, they are slightly lower in the mix from the score and the effects which can overtake them in intense moments and the like.

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Extras 

The extras are all encoded in HD, but are standard definition.  It appears they are all ported over from the DVD release.

Director’s Diary (HD, 12:39) – The director narrates over behind the scenes, on set shots, story boards and the like of his visualization, ideals and execution in making a film.

Developing Agent Cody Banks (HD, 4:53) – This is a little piece revolving around what goes into screen tests and production meetings.

Deleted Scenes (HD, 11:04)

Outtakes (HD, 3:11)

Cast Read-Through (HD, 4:31) – A abbreviated version of the table read with the director narrating over it.

Production Design Featurette (HD, 6:36) – The title pretty much says it all.  Has some behind the scenes footage and plenty of footage of meetings, discussions and drawings.

The Music of Agent Cody Banks (HD, 4:38) – The director, composer and Frankie Muniz talk over footage of the score being recording and worked on.

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Summary 

Agent Cody Banks debuts on Blu-ray, but would kids of today be as captivated by it as they were over ten (wow!) years ago?  I think they would be.  The technology isn’t that dated and the gadgetry is still fun enough as well as the action.  This Blu-ray is a fine release, but I can’t help but think the video could have looked better and there HAS to be a 5.1 mix around somewhere.  But, at its current price, you can’t really beat it if you’re a fan.  Which, yeah, “fans”(?) only on this one.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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