Alan Partridge (US - BD RA)
Jonathan gives a quick review of the US release of the Alpha Papa movie...
Steve Coogan reprises his most popular role as the iconic Alan Partridge, the famous local radio DJ and one time talk show host. Alan finds himself at the center of a siege when a disgruntled fellow DJ (Colm Meaney) decides to hold their station hostage after learning that he's getting fired by the new management. (From the Magnolia synopsis)
Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa (or if we're going with the reduced US title, Alan Partridge) is the movie version of one of Steve Coogan's most popular characters in the UK, and I must confess I haven't seen any of the original series before watching this movie. But now I'm a fan and I will be looking to correct that mistake very soon. Coogan's performances in a lot of the films that make it to the states have never really tickled me, but I was impressed with his more serious performances. After watching The Trip I decided I needed to see more of his comedy offerings. Alan Partrdige feels like the character Coogan was born to play. The radio host position makes perfect use of his incredible voice. I could listen to him say stupid stuff for hours.
This movie probably could've got by on Coogan's comedic chops alone, but there's actually some very witty writing at play here and a few memorable visual gags. The supporting cast is mostly just there for Coogan to bounce lines off of, but Colm Meany gets to play an unusually goofy disgruntled employee. The comedy loses momentum at times when things grow just a tad serious, or when the story becomes about Alan Partridge using the hostage diversion to inflate his own ego. Fortunately these segments aren't too stretched at out, and at a lean 90 minutes the film manages to end before it overstays its welcome.
The 1080p transfer on this disc from Magnolia is perfectly serviceable for this comedy release. Only taking up approximately 15GB on a BD25, there was certainly room on the disc for a stronger bitrate. It shows a little in the image quality, with small but noticeable instances of pixelation and blocking throughout. These problem areas are mostly relegated to the background or dark areas of the picture so they aren't a particularly bad distraction, but they could've been avoided. The movie goes for that orange and teal look that a lot of modern thrillers use, but its not nearly as excessive as most examples. It was filmed on the Red Epic digital camera so detail is quite strong. Given that this is first and foremost a comedy, this transfer is perfectly capable and shouldn't cause any fuss.
Alan Partridge has a great soundtrack. It opens with a funny use of "Koyaanisqatsi", and moments later there's an enjoyable opening credits sequence to "Cuddly Toy". These songs all sound great on this DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track, and they are the main draw of the audio mix for me. The rest of the track isn't particularly inspired but much like the video transfer on this disc it serves the material just fine. Voices are the important thing here, and they are clear and easy to make out. The soundtrack appropriately lowers in volume to allow dialogue to float above it. There's some outdoor activity that uses the rear channels well for extra background noise, but most of the activity stays to the front channel. There's a scene where a lunch box is disposed of with lethal force, and it is appropriately loud and noisy.
Extras kick off with The Making of Alan Partridge (HD, 12:05), which plays like an advertisement for the movie and not like insight for those who have already seen it. Some interview footage with the actors is mixed in with clips from the movie. It's mostly centered around describing the characters and story, and the actors all do so rather seriously without much lightness. The actors also talk about working with Steve Coogan, who it sounds like was running the show for the most part. Next up is Behind the Scenes (HD, 01:42) which is just a bit of fluff. No talking or interviews here, just a quick montage of some stuff happening on set. Last of all is AXS TV: A Look at Alan Partridge (HD, 02:56), which plays like an abbreviated, more television friendly version of the earlier "making of" featurette, and features some of the same interview footage. It is more EPK fluff.
If you're a fan of Steve Coogan there is no reason not to check out the Alan Partridge movie. Watching it has encouraged me to go back and visit the original series and some other work Coogan has done, like Saxondale. This Blu-ray release from Magnolia looks and sounds just fine, but those hoping for good extras will find nothing but fluff.
* Note: The above images are taken from the Blu-ray 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 Jonathan Hogberg
Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian
Release Date: 10th June 2014
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Extras: Making of Alan Partridge, Behind the Scenes, AXS TV: A Look at Alan Partridge
Easter Egg: No
Director: Declan Lowney
Cast: Steve Coogan, Colm Meaney, Tim Key
Length: 90 minutes
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