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The Identical (Blu-ray Review)

Identical thumbA powerfully redemptive story about a young man in search of both his purpose and his identity, The Identical arrives on Blu-ray/DVD combo pack from Cinedigm and City of Peace Films. Featuring over 20 original songs, all produced and co-written by Motown legend, Jerry Marcellino, the “wholesome and faith-friendly” (Catholic News Service) film boasts an all-star cast, including Ray Liotta (Goodfellas, Field of Dreams), Ashley Judd (Dolphin Tale 2, Divergent), Seth Green (Family Guy,” “Robot Chicken”), Brian Geraghty (“Ray Donovan,” “Boardwalk Empire,” The Hurt Locker) and newcomer Blake Rayne.  The Identical is a redemptive movie about a young man, the son of a preacher, who rejects his father’s desire for him to join the ministry and instead embarks on a career as a rock singer.

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Film 

The Identical follows twin brothers unknowingly separated at birth during the Great Depression, Drexel Hemsley and Ryan Wade. Drexel, raised by his birth parents, grows up to achieve rock-n-roll stardom twenty years later, and Ryan, adopted by a reverend and his wife, struggles to balance his love for music and pleasing his parents who believe he has been called on by God to become a preacher. Against his parents’ wishes, Ryan chases a musical career, embarking on an unpredictable journey where he eventually finds his stride, ironically enough, as a Drexel Hemsley impersonator, and uncovers his hidden family secret, leading him to question everything he’s ever believed about God, family and his own identity.

So this is what you get when you want to make a fictional film, a “what if” of sorts with an aspect of Elvis Presley’s lore, but you don’t have the rights to anything Elvis Presley.  Now, I’m sort of “Ok” with this, but there’s a particular scene in the movie where Elvis Presley is actually name dropped and it just sort of makes things weird.  Our lead, Blake Rayne, is here because he looks, sounds, acts and sings like The King.  We now have a universe with dual Elvii wandering around and making hit music.  Its a very little line of dialogue, but has a big affect on the view of this movie if by some reason you’re paying any sort of attention.

Another thing they were unable to get was the rights to Evlis’ music catalog.  You’re then in for a bunch of knock off, not very good Elvis songs.  I dunno what it is, it just felt really awkward to sit through this music.  Everybody is selling it off as hard as they can, its just not working for me at all.

The film is just a bit trite and takes every possible expected path you can imagine it would take.  There’s hints to having fun, but it seems to be in love with getting into the melodramatic stuff with details that are just either boring or completely overdone.  And the dialogue and scenarios they get into are a tad too amateur and seemingly inexperienced.  Its a bit of fun trying to watch Seth Green not only convincingly say the things that are coming out of his mouth, but also trying to convince him he’s saying the things that are coming out of his mouth.  Then there’s some of the makeup work, where Amanda Crew plays “Not Elvis'” mother and she’s in a bunch of black and white scenes (Because, in the past there was no color), but when we get to her death as a grown up Hemsley Presley goes to visit her she doesn’t look like she’s aged a day and appears possibly YOUNGER than him.

 A film about this topic could have been interesting and amusing, but The Identical gets nowhere near that aside from its premise on paper.  I’ve read that the film is an enjoyable bad film on the level of The Room, but really its not even close to that.  I could not wait for this weird movie to get over.  And man, its been a long time since Goodfellas, eh Ray Liotta?  He’s pretty bad in this movie, too.  Instead of The Identical, just pop in one of Elvis’ records, or hell, even one of his films from back then.  You’ll get more satisfaction than this.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.41:1

Clarity/Detail: This is a solid transfer that features plenty of detail, but makes you feel like there could have been “more” to it.  The image is crisp, but is a tad shy of being a good sharp.  Surface texture is nice and detailed as well as the clothing fabric in the film.

Black Levels: Darker scenes prove to be a little under defined, but well lit and daytime scenes feature some solid rich blacks.

Color Reproduction: Colors are bold and well defined.  There’s a solid palette on display, but not strikingly vivid throughout.  Colors tend to pop only during certain times.

Flesh Tones: Just a binch blown out skin tones.  Detail is rather good on skin with wrinkles, stubble and blemishes.

Noise/Artifacts:  Clean

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English SDH

Dynamics:  A really nice 5.1 track accompanies this film.  Whether I was liking it or not, the musical performances in this film feature a nice dynamic range and lively presentation.  The rest of the film’s effects feel nicely and naturally woven into the mix balancing it out.

Low Frequency Extension: Some doors slamming and rustling get a boost from the subwoofer.  The music in the film and performance gets some extra drum kick and beautiful bass.

Surround Sound Presentation:  There is a good buffer to the music from the rear speakers.  Most of the action takes place in the front and is accurate in its depiction of events on screen.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Clean, loud and clear.

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Extras 

The Identical comes with a DVD Copy of the film.

The Making Of The Identical (HD, 20:35) – Here’s a run through of the production with the director and some of the crew involved.  It includes a creepy deleted scene with animatronic babies.

Behind The Scenes With Cast Commentary (HD, 14:4) – One by one the director and corresponding actor go through the characters and casting (sometime with other actors chiming in).  These all appear to be promotional interviews.  Ray Liotta though, seems EXTREMELY passionate about this movie.

The Music Of The Identical (HD, 5:32) – A discussion with the musical directors and Blake Rayne on conjuring up fake Elvis music.

Zaxby’s Promotional Video (HD, 4:03) – Nascar, fried chicken and The Identical.  A trio made in Fake Graceland.

Deleted Scenes (HD, 15:56) – Does not include the disturbing animatronic babies.

Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2:31)

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Summary 

I can dog The Identical up and down, paragraph by paragraph, but the fact remains that as a Blu-ray release, its been given a really good product.  Audio and visuals prove to be well above average.  There is plenty of bonus content, with a lot of insight from the film’s director as well as everything short of the soundtrack being included.  I dunno who you are out there, but those who liked this movie enough to in turn purchase it should find very little to complain about with this Blu-ray of the fake Elvis feature.

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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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