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The End (Blu-ray Review)

The-EndAcademy Award-nominee Burt Reynolds (Best Supporting Actor, Boogie Nights) directs Academy Award-winners Joanne Woodward (Best Actress, The Three Faces of Eve), Sally Field (Best Actress, Norma Rae and Places in the Heart) and Myrna Loy (Lifetime Achievement Honorary Oscar) in the darkly comic The End.  Directed by Burt Reynolds from a screenplay by Jerry Belson (Smile) also features Pat O’Brien (Some Like It Hot), Carl Reiner (Ocean’s Eleven), Norman Fell (TV’sThree’s Company), David Steinberg (Nothing Personal) and Robby Benson (Harry & Son).  The End is coming to Blu-ray for the very first time on the format from the wonderful people over at Olive Films.

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Film 

When California real-estate agent Wendell “Sonny” Lawson is told that he only has six months to live he decides to try and beat the grim reaper to the punch.  After a failed overdose (a handful of pills and sour milk do not mix), the hospitalized Sonny finds the solution to his problem in his fellow inmate, the certifiably insane Marlon. As it turns out Marlon is of little help, botching Sonny’s suicide attempts at every turn. Nothing works – not hanging, not jumping from a tower, not bludgeoning by an adjustable hospital bed, not even holding his breath until he dies. During a drowning attempt, Sonny has a change of heart. How could he possibly leave his daughter, Julie orphaned. Marlon, unaware of Sonny’s sudden zest for life, is a man on a mission who’ll stop at nothing to make sure that his friend’s wish is fulfilled.

Burt Reynolds took to dark comedy with his sophomore directorial effort.  The film comes across as a bit less obvious of the hand its playing and at many times disjointed.  It takes a while to finally find its footing somewhere in the second act.  The opening sequence is a perfect example of how off balance this movie can get.  Dialogue in that moment is actually quite good and rather impressive, but instead of just playing it out, Reynolds chooses to perform it severely over the top.  This doesn’t work for either dramatically or some sort of parody-type of comedy.  Your left scratching your head as if to be like “I get its darkly comic, but this just really doesn’t sit right at all.”  The scene isn’t offensive, but just sort of baffling in terms of the film setting itself up with some solid righting, but poor direction.

Pacing is also another issue with the movie, too.  This film takes about 40 minutes to get to its Act I turning point.  Its a long long long time.  In that time, we’re treated to Reynolds visiting loved ones and a church that almost play out a tad repetitive or obvious in terms of details in point A to point B.  Yes, there are some good chuckles in the middle, but that happens when you’re throwing out a bunch of jokes and trying your best to be shocking with some crude humor.  By the time we get to what this movie is really trying to be, I’m sort of tired and done with it, trying to hold on until we get to the finish line.

Reynolds reunites himself with co-stars he’s known for working with.  Obviously Sally Field is the big one.  The two were a hot item onscreen with plenty of chemistry.  Here she’s more relegated to a cameo-ish role, but she’s good enough to keep her on the brain the whole film.  And she’s pretty adorable as well.  Dom Deluise is the other, and he and Burt look like they’re having an absolute blast together during a lot of their suicide hi-jinx.  Reynolds himself is loving this.  Even if I didn’t like the movie myself, I could tell that everyone involved in the film looked to be having a great time and that sort of helps to get through it.

This dark comedy seemingly worked for critics back in the day, looking at the vintage reviews for the film.  Burt Reynolds was one of the biggest film stars of the world at the time this was made so maybe it was just a joy to see whatever he did next.  37 years later, I don’t know if time has been kind to the film.  Had this been sometime I saw younger or closer to when it came out and grew up with it, maybe it’d have been something easier to sit through, but I found myself disinterested more than I was engaged.  Everybody here in the movie is good, but the story is a bit obvious with a lot of what its doing and its charm starts to wane after a while.

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Video 

Encoding:  MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Clarity/Detail:  For what its worth, this transfer looks pretty nice.  Its as sharp is the source materials are probably going to allow, but its also a real clean image too.  It doesn’t look like this has been tampered or manipulated at all either.  Details are pretty solid and overall its just something that impresses on just getting the job done right.

Depth:  Depth is decent.  There are some good interior moments that have some nice separation between objects and environment.  Movements are cinematic and smooth.

Black Levels:  Blacks are solid and can tend to hide detail in darkly lit portions of a frame or on dark clothing, surfaces or hair.  No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction:  Colors are very good and bold  Browns have many different shades in the palette and look very strong.  Reds pop very well.  Particularly the Redskins (OH THE HORROR, I SAID IT) jersey that Sally Field wears.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones are natural and pretty much old their tone throughout the picture.  Facial details like make-up, wrinkles and stubble all come through very well in close-ups.

Noise/Artifacts: Features some grain and very very minimal specs/dirt.

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Audio 

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

Subtitles:  N/A

Dynamics:  The End features a nice 2.0 audio mix that gets the job done.  Its pretty loose.  The effects don’t sound as well rounded as they could be, but the source may not have allowed it.  This is a more dialogue heavy film and it does very well in that regard which is most important.

Low Frequency Extension:  N/A

Surround Sound Presentation:  N/A

Dialogue Reproduction:  Dialogue is clean and clear, some moments hinting at that analog source.

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Extras 

Trailer (HD, 2:34)

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Summary 

Burt Reynolds’ dark comedy The End was a well received film back upon its release.  Personally, I had a difficult time keeping my interest as it had an awkward balance and snail pace.  This Blu-ray from Olive Films does give the film a solid presentation in both the audio and video departments.  Fans of the movie should be happy with how it looks, newcomers may want to see it in some kind of rental form before making the big decision to invest in a bare bones release.

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Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a 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. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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