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Feature


Clear the runway for Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller), VH1's three-time male model of the year. His face falls when hippie-chic Hansel (Owen Wilson) scooters in to steal this year's award. The evil fashion guru Mugatu (Will Ferrell) seizes the opportunity to turn Derek into a killing machine. It's a well-designed conspiracy and only with the help of Hansel and a few well-chosen accessories like Matilda (Christine Taylor) can Derek make the world safe for male models everywhere. (From the Paramount synopsis)

 Zoolander: The Blue Steelbook
With Zoolander 2 around the corner Paramount has released this Blue Steelbook Walmart exclusive set. It has been advertised as the first time this movie is on Blu-ray, but there has been a Blu-ray release from 2014 around online retailers for some time. I've long held the opinion that the best Ben Stiller movies are the ones he directs himself (disclaimer: I haven't watched The Secret Life of Walter Mitty yet). When other directors work with Ben Stiller he tends to play the same character, usually in a relationship, navigating through awkward social situations. With his own projects, he seems to give himself room to stretch. This has never been more true than with Zoolander, where he gets to inhabit a wholly different kind of dumb character in a movie that embraces stupidity to hilarious effect. Fourteen years after it's release I still had a good time revisiting it.

Zoolander gets a lot of its strength from not settling on it's premise. A lot of poor comedies find a silly premise and confine themselves within it. Zoolander could've been a MTV style comedy making fun of male model culture and probably still would've been successful, but it goes further and actually does some effective world building. There's brainwashing, an undergroung modeling world and an assassination plot that keep things moving in a way that few comedies do. An overabundance of cameos can also be exhausting in a modern comedy, but Zoolander world of celebrity culture allows the frequent cameos to slot in effortlessly.

 Zoolander: The Blue Steelbook
I definitely appreciated the "random" humor in Zoolander more when I was 14 years old. At twice the age, it seems I've grown tired of Will Ferrell's comedy stylings. I probably keeled over the first time I saw Mugatu throw his latte at his assistant but it did nothing for me this time. Maybe I'm just dead inside. What I did love about it a lot more as an adult is how visually refreshing it is. This thing is alive and makes any other mainstream comedies seem incredibly flat by comparison. I shouldn't be shocked by this, as Stiller has always had a knack for visual style in the director's chair, but I certainly didn't recognize it as much as a teenager.

Overall I was happy to revisit the movie and I think the majority of it still holds up very well. It was enough to make me hopeful that Zoolander 2 is worthwhile, but with belated comedy sequel disappointments like Anchorman 2 and Dumb and Dumber To fresh on my mind, it is hard to muster any excitement.

 Zoolander: The Blue Steelbook

Video


It's easy to forget Zoolander was made fourteen years ago before digital was the go to format for comedies. This 1080p transfer looks as good as any other comedy from the era does, but Zoolander's colorful, montage-heavy fashion world gives you a lot more eye candy than your average comedy. Blues and greens are especially vibrant. As part of its montage nature, video quality obviously shifts from time to time to make certain things look like archival footage. White look a bit muddled but this isn't uncommon for the format. Though the movie may show its age a bit in this transfer, a healthy bitrate ensures that artefacts are never a problem.

Audio


Zoolander has a lively and extremely memorable soundtrack to accompany its visual vibrance. From "Relax" by Frankie Goes to Hollywood, which plays a vital role in the plot, to Wham!'s "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go", every song sounds great in this sound mix and brings every sound channel alive. The songs are the real highlight of the audio presentation, but Zoolander has an impressive amount of sound design throughout. Be it a small amount of ambient noise or the rustle of a runway crowd, the extra channels are used to great effect.

 Zoolander: The Blue Steelbook

Extras


This extras loaded disc kicks off with an Audio Commentary by Ben Stiller and Writers Drake Sather & John Hamburg. This is the same track from the original DVD release, so those hoping for a 15 year retrospective may be disappointed. Next up is A Really, Really, Really Cool Teaser for Zoolander 2(HD, 00:58), which is just a small bit of behind the scenes fluff for the upcoming sequel. This seems fairly skipable now that the actual trailer is online.

Breakdance Fight Rehearsal (SD, 04:29) delivers exactly what the name says: a bit of behind the scenes goofiness of the actors practicing for this scene. It's fun, but goes on a bit long for what it is. The rest of the extras, most of which are taken from the previous DVD release, are Alternate Brainwashing Sequence Storyboards (HD, 04:35), Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary from Ben Stiller (SD, 07:46), Extended Scenes with Optional Commentary from Ben Stiller (SD, 08:00), Outtakes (SD, 06:34), VH1 Fashion Award Skits (SD, 06:42), Music Video "Start the Commotion" by The Wiseguys (SD, 02:48), Public Service Announcements (SD, 02:01), MTV Cribs Special (SD, 01:33), Interstitial (SD, 02:49) and finally three Photo Galleries.

 Zoolander: The Blue Steelbook
I should also note that the set comes with a headband, complete with Derek Zoolander hair. Here's my niece modeling it with an uncanny blue steel:

Zoolander: The Blue Steelbook

Overall


Fourteen years later I am surprised by how well Zoolander holds up. It's still a really clever movie about really dumb characters and has remained one of the more visually impressive comedies of this era. This new blu-ray release isn't worth picking up just for the special features, which are mostly ported over from the old DVD release. But if you're just looking for a better audio-visual experience this will do the job. This Blue Steelbook release is a Walmart exclusive available now, but a non-steelbook edition is due out everywhere on February 2nd, 2016.

 Zoolander: The Blue Steelbook
 Zoolander: The Blue Steelbook
 Zoolander: The Blue Steelbook
 Zoolander: The Blue Steelbook
 Zoolander: The Blue Steelbook
 Zoolander: The Blue Steelbook
 Zoolander: The Blue Steelbook
* 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.


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