27 Dresses (UK - BD RB)
Chris braves the horrors of the rom-com to check out this Katherine Heigl movie...
Jane (Katherine Heigl) is a twenty-something, hopeless romantic New Yorker who believes that everyone should have their own ‘happily-ever-after’. To this end, she spends most of her free time organizing other people’s weddings. Always the bridesmaid and never the bride, Jane works as a personal assistant to successful businessman George (Edward Burns), with whom she is secretly in love. After accumulating a total of twenty seven hideous bridesmaid outfits Jane decides it’s time to make her move on George, but things don’t go according to plan.
When her sexy younger sister Tess (Malin Akerman) breezes into town and promptly steals George’s heart (using slightly dubious methods), it’s left to Jane to organise the wedding—much to her chagrin. Things are made even more complex by the arrival of Kevin (Jimmy Marsden), a wedding reporter looking to write a big story about the high-profile couple. Queue lots of misunderstandings, shocking revelations and sexual tension as the film rumbles towards its all-too predictable climax.
Okay, I have a confession to make. The reason I agreed to do this review was because my other half wanted the film on Blu-ray. That’s it. I already sat through it once at the cinema, and while it wasn’t a terrible film I wasn’t exactly looking forward to seeing it again so soon. The biggest problem I had with the film would probably be its greatest strength if I was a woman—it’s formulaic and predictable. It would seem that this is what the fairer sex want from their rom-coms, at least if my good lady is any indication.
Personally I like films with a bit more of an edge. The best romantic comedy I’ve seen in recent memory is Park Chan-wook’s I’m a Cyborg, which was an incredibly quirky look at love in strange circumstances. To be fair, the Mrs. also enjoyed it, but not in the same way she enjoys films like this, Dirty Dancing, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days or P.S., I Love You. I just don’t get the appeal. I can see the entire story arc within the first ten minutes, which pretty much renders the journey pointless for me.
Still, as far as these films go, 27 Dresses is fairly inoffensive. Katherine Heigl is a likeable screen presence, not to mention serious eye candy, and she coasts her way comfortably through the film. Malin Akerman plays the conceited, slightly bitchy little sister role well, and Jimmy ‘Cyclops’ Marsden makes the predictable character arc from jerk to love interest (oh no, a spoiler *cough*) more tolerable than some. However, the single biggest thing that 27 Dresses has going for it is that it’s not Fool’s Gold...
27 Dresses arrives with a 2.40:1 widescreen transfer (1080p/AVC) that looks just as you’d expect from a recent release, although it's not as impressive as the best the format has to offer. The image is clean and fairly detailed, with excellent black levels, but I found colour rendition to be a little hit and miss due to some slightly suspect contrast. Surprisingly the interior night-time scenes look better than those that take place in the daylight, which are strangely muted. This leads to some slightly unnatural skin tones and the aforementioned lack of 'pop' in the colours (as demonstrated by the screen captures). Unfortunately I can't remember how the film looked at the cinema, so I have to assume that this is an accurate representation of the film's theatrical look, but I still found it slightly underwhelming when compared to the best looking Blu-ray Discs in my collection. It's not that it does anything wrong, it just doesn't stand out from the crowd.
It’s a Fox release, so that must mean DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, right? Well, yeah, as it happens. Again, I can’t handle the full Master Audio track, so I was forced to listen to the DTS Core track instead. To be honest 27 Dresses isn’t a film to stretch your audio kit, so I doubt I was missing too much with just the 1.5Mbps track.
The most important element of the mix is probably the dialogue, which remains perfectly clear throughout. Elsewhere there are a few discrete effects, but these are mostly limited to surround action during the exterior shots or the various songs that punctuate the film (including a satisfactory rendition of 'The Force' from a pre-scandal Michael Jackson). Bass is actually surprisingly punchy during these numbers, although unlikely to rattle your ribcage. I guess the best way to describe the soundtrack is 'functional'. It does all that's required of it, but it's certainly not demo material.
'The Wedding Party' featurette is about as close to an in-depth making of as this disc gets, clocking in at a little under fifteen minutes. We go behind the scenes with the cast and crew, who discuss the genesis of the film and their character arcs in between the on-set footage. It does get a little back-slappy towards the end, but nowhere near as much as some featurettes of this type.
'You’ll Never Wear it Again' runs for little under seven minutes and deals with the costume design, specifically the titular dresses as worn by Jane. 'Jane’s World' clocks in at a little under five minutes and concentrates on the film's production design. Although set in New York, the film was actually shot in Rhode Island , which apparently proved challenging for the filmmakers. They should be thankful they weren't shooting in Quahog (yes I know it's a fictional place).
'The Running of the Brides' is a short (five minute) featurette that shows the real-life scramble that takes place at Filene's Basement's annual wedding gown sale. Basically it's a bunch of American brides-to-be going slightly mental as they swarm over a bunch of marked-down wedding dresses like veracious locusts. It reminded me of that episode of Friends. Three deleted scenes with a combined runtime of four minutes bring up the rear, but none of them would really have added anything to the film.
It's worth mentioning that the first three featurettes are presented in HD, while 'The Running of the Brides' and deleted scenes are presented in standard definition.
Yes 27 Dresses is another predictable romantic comedy, but it just about manages to rise above absolute mediocrity thanks to the quality of the principal cast. The disc itself isn’t too bad either, although the bonus material is as lightweight as the film. Thankfully the all-important audio-visual elements are up to snuff, although that’s to be expected given the film’s age. If you’re a woman who likes this sort of film (or a man whose woman likes this sort of film) I have no reservations in recommending it. In fact, you can probably add a couple of points to the movie score. However, if like me you’ve seen it all before, you’d do well to rent rather than buy.
* Note: The above images are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.
Review by Chris Gould
Suitable only for persons of 12 years and over
Release Date: 28th July 2008
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English, Audio Descriptive 5.1 English, DTS 5.1 French, DTS 5.1 German
Subtitles: English, French, German, Dutch
Extras: The Wedding Party, You’ll Never Wear it Again, Jane’s World, The Running of the Brides, Deleted Scenes
Easter Egg: No
Director: Anne Fletcher
Cast: Katherine Heigl, James Marsden, Malin Akerman, Edward Burns
Genre: Comedy and Romance
Length: 111 minutes
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