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This Means War (Blu-ray Review)

Greetings.  Welcome to my 105th professional Blu-ray review.  In today’s review, I contemplate my childhood.  Growing up, I remember being “madly” enamored by Mad magazine, particularly one regular strip in particular, Spy vs. Spy.  Do you remember those?  Those black and white characters had me in stitches every time I read their strip and I was overjoyed when they were eventually commercialized into everything from an animated television series to trading cards and video games.  The reason I mention these crudely animated little fellows is because they are exactly what I thought about the first time I saw the theatrical trailer for This Means War.  And it also meant the return of McG.  In the eyes of the critics out there besides myself, I wonder what fairs worse? I’m not going to lie.  This Means War looked like a fun little movie, but its trailer didn’t win me over instantly.  What did was the controversy behind it.  I’m referring to how it went from a Rated-R comedy to a PG-13 cut.  That was instant disappointment in my book, but nevertheless, when a press screening was arranged for the flick I ventured out of my warm igloo and into the harsh Cleveland temperatures to check the romantic action comedy vehicle out.  And yesterday just so happened to be my second go around with the feature.  This time it’s the Unrated Edition, which I would term the mild Rated-R cut.  So as they say in the game Mortal Kombat…Round 2…Fight!

Film  

So is the $70 million dollar romantic action comedy flick from 20th Century Fox a perfect idea for a romantic, but low key night in with your favorite girl?  I mean here’s the promise of what you can expect the film to at least deliver on.  Going in, at least you know you’ll have a hot Reese Witherspoon and a comedic action thrill ride.  And for the lady folk, there are the hard chiseled bodies of Chris Pine and Tom Hardy.  Ever since I saw Tom Hardy in the Warrior, I think I have a small man crush on the lad.  Yes, he doesn’t have perfect teeth.  Yes he has thin hair.  But guess what?  The guy has charisma and onscreen chemistry with his surrounding cast members and that’s usually always the right ingredient for success in any given movie, providing of course the script is airtight too.  Want to know something funny?  Warrior was my chaser after watching this on Blu-ray.  I just couldn’t get enough of Tom Hardy.  One day I’m really going to have to check out that Bronson flick.

Initially, the first time I saw this film I couldn’t help think about 2005’s Mr. & Mrs. Smith, but not so much the second time around.  However, I guess that was for good reason considering Simon Kinberg, the same man responsible for the Smith script, penned the screenplay. Well with that said, I guess you pretty much know what to expect from this film.  My guess is whether you or male or female, and depending upon whether you liked Mr. & Mrs. Smith or not, you have about a 50% chance of having a romping good time with War.  I enjoyed myself equally the second time around, and I know that is usually not the case (i.e. Colombiana), so I count myself lucky, but at the end of the day you already know what my final judgment is going to be on this one.

The film pits CIA agents and best friends, Chris Pine and Tom Hardy, against each other in a love triangle when they discover they are dating the same woman, Reese Witherspoon.  It should also be noted that Chelsea Handler has a role in this and she comes across as almost the perfect comedic sidekick to Reese’s character.  Her husband references and jokes continue to have me in stitches and always thinking about things.  Anyway, this little problem, or predicament we will call it, has a serious strain on both the agents’ personal and professional lives.  I’m telling you guys, women will do that to you.  I’m willing to bet a “predicament” like this would drive most guys to all out war on each other, hence the film’s title.  God!  Am I genius for putting two-and-two together, or what?

The 97-minute popcorn flick starts out with a bang as we are treated to an AC/DC like induced rooftop over-the-top Bond-like shootout that rudimentary sets up the motive of the movie’s bad guy played by Til Schweiger.  This guy suffers from what I like to call the Die Hard syndrome.  He is out for revenge on Pine and Hardy’s characters for the fatal fall his brother accidentally suffered at the hands of the two agents.  Better yet, he’s like a Terminator.  This guy hunts them down mercilessly, but unfortunately, not too menacingly.  And in between this revenge story, we also have this blossoming romantic comedy happening too.  To what hilarious and violent extents will Pine and Hardy go to secure an exclusive relationship with Reese’s character?  Well that’s part of the fun of the Act II B-Love Story.  I’m not going to ruin that for you, but rest assured, there is some new hilarious stuff to be seen here that wasn’t represented in the film’s theatrical trailer.  Thank God!  I was really worried that the spy versus spy antics from the trailer was all the gas this movie had, but thankfully I was wrong.  And in times like these, I love to be proven wrong.

You want to know my favorite part of the film?  No, Reese does not get naked.  And no, my man crush is not that severe on Tom Hardy.  It’s actually a reference to JJ Abrahams’ Star Trek film as it relates to Chris Pine’s character.  I’m not going to ruin the delivery of the joke, but see if you can catch it.  It will probably go right over the heads of many females, but for the geeks like me, the reference/nod to Star Trek was priceless.  And one thing’s for sure…Reese Witherspoon has a horrible singing voice.  I guess I just don’t see the appeal, but I am weird like that anyway.

Video  

If there’s one area this Blu-ray disc suffers the most, then it’s the video presentation in my opinion.  This one is a mess. The 1080p transfer gets treated to an AVC MPEG-4 encode with a widescreen presentation of 2.40:1.  However, it’s not what you would expect from a brand new film being released on the format of choice in the calendar year of 2012.  Most of that, I believe, is due to McG’s pumped up vision of the film where he tries to emulate the Bay too much. Also, I truly believe the Super 35mm film stock adds to the attack of the grain you’ll see throughout, resulting in a rather disappointingly lack of crispness and sharpness.  You know, what Blu-ray dreams are made of?  Take my word for it.  This won’t be a reference film that you will demo for all your jealous friends who can’t afford these luxurious goods in life. And oh yeah…what’s up with the consistent orange skin tones?  It’s definitely not a”peeling.”  LOL.  Moving on…

Audio  

If there’s one thing you can’t fault this disc for, it’s the bombastic audio.  I had to lower my system a few times as I thought my ears were going to bleed during the film’s Bond-like, but completely unrealistic and utterly silly opening sequence.  For a rom-com, the lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track impresses like none other in recent memory.  It definitely makes for an intense and attention-grabbing viewing experience.  It’s just too bad the video presentation wasn’t equally as good because then we would have something really special for fans of the Blu-ray presentation that really dig this title.  Probably the most impressive thing here is that despite all the highs, zings and explosions in the action sequences, the dialogue NEVER gets lost in the shuffle.  I couldn’t be happier about that.

Extras  

The saving grace here in the special features/extras category, at least for me, is the inclusion of an iTunes compatible Digital Copy.  I can’t tell you how much I hate those UntlraViolet ones, but I digress.  What you have here is pretty much your typical straightforward supplemental package complete with an audio commentary, deleted scenes, alternate takes and an Unrated version, which in my opinion, really added to the appeal of the film during my second viewing.

  • Unrated Edition (HD) – As I mentioned above, I truly believe the Unrated Edition of this film added some modest value to this Blu-ray package.  There are a couple F-bombs now and a hilarious scene involving Hardy and his unknowingly replaced set of family actors.  You’ll just have to check it out to see what I’m talking about here.
  • Audio Commentary – Available for the Unrated Edition, Director McG discusses what works and doesn’t work in the finished film as well as things he thought would work.  The guy is very candid!  I like that.
  • Bachelorette Party (HD, 4:18) – This one is an extra scene where Lauren’s (Witherspoon) friends talk about her at a bachelor party.
  • Deleted Scenes (HD, 15:41) – There are a total of six deleted scenes, with optional commentary by McG.  I can’t believe I’m saying this, but some of these actually added value to the film and I believe they should have been included.
  • Alternate Endings (HD, 6:55) – There are three alternate endings, with optional commentary, including one that McG wishes he would of had the guts to end the film with.  Interesting!
  • Uncensored Gag Reel (HD, 3:59) – It is uncensored, if that means anything to you?
  • Alternate Opening Concept (HD, 8:53) – There’s a pre-visualization CGI version of an alternate opening that would’ve taken place around the world’s tallest building in Dubai (sound familiar?), complete with commentary by McG.
  • Theatrical Trailer (HD, 1:39) – I think this one is pretty self-explanatory.
  • Digital Copy (SD) – Yea!!!

Summary  

All in all, this film is exactly what you and I should have expected it to be.  The script is straight out of Blake Snyder’s Save The Cat and you can’t fault that.  However, I just can’t help wondering what a Rated-R cut might have felt like if they went all out like I think this film needs to go.  I feel like there were moments and scenes just begging and ripe for extra raunchiness that were missing, even in the Unrated Edition, but for the most part this rom-brom-com delivers on the laughs and also on the action, making this the perfect choice for a low key night in with your favorite girl of choice, provided she wants to be with you too.  I’m not going to chance it.  For the fans, BUY IT NOW.  All others give it a rent first.

 

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Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

8 Responses to “This Means War (Blu-ray Review)”


  1. Aaron Neuwirth

    It’s a good thing Tom Hardy has better movies lined up for his future.

  2. Brian White

    I’m salivating, in a non-G way, over see his take on Bane. When we saw him
    In Pittsburgh he was so social and nice, but Hardy can be so menacing. Love it!!

  3. Aaron Neuwirth

    You should watch Bronson. That’s hard core Hardy.

  4. Matt Goodman

    For an early role, Bronson was insane. He pulled a Fassbender in one of his first big roles!

  5. Sean Ferguson

    Don’t forget about Inception too.

  6. Aaron Neuwirth

    That’s more cheeky Hardy.

  7. Gerard Iribe

    Why So Blu covered Bronson way before our times and it’s a pretty amusing read.

    http://whysoblu.com/bronson-blu-ray-review/

  8. Aaron Neuwirth

    Good thing that time has passed.