School of Rock (US - BD RA)
Jonathan revisits one of Jack Black's most endearing movies on Blu-ray..
Note: This Blu-ray is currently a Best Buy exclusive.
I don't have a whole lot to say about School of Rock. Chances are you've seen this popular movie by now. It's a sweet, harmless experience that served as a perfect showcase for Jack Black's wild comedic talents and performing capabilities. The movie doesn't have an unpredictable bone in its body, and the rock edge given to the proceedings does little to mask that fact. It's a by-the-books inspirational movie with rock music, but its blessed by an enthusiastic performance from Jack Black who keeps the film's energy high even when the beats are too familiar. The cast of wonderful child talents are also immensely charming and awe inspiring. Watching them make music together is a blast. I had a good time revisiting the film, but I don't see myself watching it again for another few years. Now onto the technical stuff.
At first glance, this 1080p transfer seems just fine, but on careful inspection it has some strange little inconsistencies. It is much more evident when the transfer is in motion than it is in my screen caps, but there are some jagged edges that pop up from time to time, usually on a characters face. It looks like the result of some mild sharpening effects applied in post. You can see an example of it if you look at the computer monitors to the left in the second screen cap. The transfer mostly maintains a healthy, consistent film grain, but occasionally that over-sharpening effect rears its ugly head and you get sharp little block clusters that aren't attractive. Color looks great for the most part, with good black levels, but there are still a few minor inconsistencies. Certain scenes look more washed out than others, but then some scenes look fantastic (like the stylishly lit concert stage at the end) and much better than standard definition could produce. Add detail to the list of inconsistencies, with some scenes looking overly sharpened and others looking on the blurrier side. This transfer could be much worse. It still has a clear advantage over the old DVD, and most probably won't be bothered by a lot of the things I've described, but picky videophiles will find plenty of frustrating little quirks in this catalog release.
Here is where this Blu-ray release gets to stretch its legs and show a clear advantage over previous releases. With lossless audio comes crisp, more dynamic sounding music. The drums sound appropriately poppy and energetic, string instruments are clear and sharp, and the bass guitar takes to the LFE channel like it should. The music is never particularly loud, even in the opening scene where Jack Black's character is playing a show with his former band in a crowded diner. In the classroom setting it is understandably quieter to allow room for the dialogue. The volume does get more ramped up in the concert finale though, and the music fits well into whatever environment it is being played in. Dialogue clarity is never an issue, even amid musical numbers. Certain environments like a concert show or a busy cafeteria will produce background noises in the surround channels, but there isn't much beyond that. There aren't a lot of surround effects and traveling noises to be found in this mix, but that really isn't necessary. When there isn't music on the soundtrack, its usually just characters exchanging words.
All the extras here are ported from the old DVD release. Things kick off with two Audio Commentary Tracks. The first features director Richard Linklater and actor Jack Black talking over the film. This is the much more informative of the two tracks. It's got plenty of lighthearted, goofy anecdotes, but they also recount a lot of the inspiration for ideas that made it into the movie. The second commentary is labeled the 'Kids' Kommentary', and features a few of the child actors commenting on the film and working with Jack Black.
Lessons Learned on 'School of Rock' (SD, 24:50) is a very encompassing documentary with a variety of on set footage and interviews. There's interviews with the kids, Richard Linklater, Jack Black, and the crew. There's even an amusing interview bit between Jack Black and one of the young actresses in the film. It's fun to watch Jack Black goofing around on set and see the composers working with the kids to give some of their classical music training more rock personality. It's a very entertaining and breezy 25 minutes.
Jack Black's Pitch to Led Zeppelin (SD, 03:35) is exactly what the title suggests. With an audience of extras behind him, Jack Black turned to the camera and begged the members of Led Zeppelin to let them use 'The Immigrant Song' in the film, and it worked. 'School of Rock' Music Video (SD, 3:38) is a promotional music video made for the film using the song 'School of Rock' from the film's soundtrack.
Kid's Video Diary: Toronto Film Festival (SD, 08:13) is a short look at the kid's journey to Toronto for a festival appearance. This is really just a showcase for the awesome kids in the movie, and won't teach you too much about their musical background. It's still enjoyable to see them getting starstruck at all the celebrities around. MTV's Diary of Jack Black (SD, 16:32) is a silly journey through a day in Jack Black's life, intersecting with interview footage of him talking about that day. It's strange and over-the-top goofy, but I'm sure dedicated Jack Black fans will find something to like here. Dewey Finn's History of Rock is a neat interactive feature with a navigational chalkboard that lets you study genres of music and read bios of popular artists. Lastly there is a Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2:32).
School of Rock doesn't reinvent inspirational storytelling, but the wonderful cast of talented youngsters and an entertaining performance from Jack Black make it an endearing experience worth revisiting from time to time. This catalog release has some frustrating inconsistencies in the video department, but it is still a nice upgrade from the DVD. Audio sounds great and there are plenty of worthwhile extras ported over from the DVD release.
* 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 Jonathan Hogberg
Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13
Release Date: 28th August 2012
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English, Dolby Digital 5.1 French, Dolby Digital 5.1 Spanish, Dolby Digital 5.1 Portuguese
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese
Extras: Commentary by Jack Black and Richard Linklater, Kid's Commentary, Lessons Learned on 'School of Rock', Jack Black's pitch to Led Zeppelin, 'School of Rock' Music Video, Kids' Video Diary: Toronto Film Festival, MTV's Diary of Jack Black, Dewey Finn's History of rock, Theatrical Trailer HD
Easter Egg: No
Director: Richard Linklater
Cast: Jack Black, Mike White, Joan Cusack
Length: 109 minutes
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