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“The Kevin Smith Collection” (“Clerks”, “Chasing Amy” and “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back”) {Blu-ray}
Reviewer:
Wayne Klein
Studio: Miramax
Genre:
Comedy
Release Date:
11/17/09
Special Features:

Four commentary tracks, making of documentaries, featurette on restoration, theatrical trailers, restoration featurette, Q& A featurettes

Review:

Creating his first indie hit “Clerks” changed Kevin Smith’s life and introduced an interesting director with a great passion, wit and intelligence for film. This collection takes three of Smith’s more memorable films and gives us high def transfers for them. ***

“Clerks” takes us behind-the-scenes in a Quick Stop store in New Jersey where Dante (Brian O’Halloran) works discussing life, arguing with his friends and video store worker Randal (Kevin Anderson) who works next door and likes to mess with the customers that come in. Outside we have Jay and Silent Bob (Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes) commenting on the action almost like a modern day Greek chorus. ***

Smith’s film immediately displayed his style and use of stationary camera work in his first film which continues to dominate his work to this day to some degree. Not much really goes on in “Clerks”; it’s about the characters and dialogue. The film holds up amazingly well and still manages to be quite entertaining. ***

Smith’s film “Chasing Amy” is an unusual love story between a lesbian comic book artist Alyssa Jones (Joe Lauren Adams) and a comic book writer Holden McNeil (Ben Affleck). The relationship causes jealousy between Holden’s business partner and artist Banky (Jason Lee) Once again Smith uses his character of Silent Bob and his partner Jay to comment on the action. “Chasing Amy” continues to be entertaining while Affleck and Adams (whatever happened to her?) have nice chemistry on screen. ***

The third film in this set is the fifth to feature Smith’s characters of Jay and Silent Bob. The duo find out that a movie based on the comic book created by Holden McNeil and based on them is shooting in Hollywood. The only problem is that no asked THEIR permission so they head west in the hopes of stopping it and have minor adventures along the way. ***

“Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back” is the weakest of Smith’s films featuring the duo. The episodic story although enjoyable to fans who have seen all the films will leave others in the dark. Smith’s characteristic witty one-liners, crude humor stand shoulder to shoulder with his emphasis on character in the fifth film to feature both characters. ---

Image & Sound:

None of these films are ever going to be the benchmark for high definition or be demo quality for a home theater system. If you accept that and enjoy these movies that’s half the battle and you’ll want to pick these up on Blu-ray. ***

We have mixed results here. “Clerks” has always looked grainy and its stark black & white photography looks pretty good considering the low budget of the film. Detail doesn’t improve greatly in the Blu-ray presentation and, if anything, it’s a stark reminder of how inexpensively shot the film was. This is probably the one title in this set that benefits the least from a BD upgrade. ***

“Chasing Amy” looks markedly better but not brilliant. The color photography here benefits from the Blu-ray transfer only slightly with nice detail in close shots but a lack of clear definition in medium and long shots. Again, the budget was small (less than $3 million) and it often shows. Luckily, the performances and the entertainment value of the film save the day. ***

“Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back” should be outstanding by comparison to the previous two titles. It’s not but it does look better than either one. Detail is quite good looking by comparison to the previous two titles. It also had the biggest budget and benefited from superior photography. Colors look good and detail is quite nice but, again, it’s not a huge bump up from the standard DVD edition of the film. It’s also the least interesting of the three films included in this set. ***

Audio for all three sounds pretty good but the only film that benefits from the lossless option here is “Jay and Silent Bob” which had a nice 5.1 mix to begin with and sounds quite good here. ---

Special Features:

For “Clerks” we get the theatrical version and extended cuts. The theatrical version has the 1995 commentary with Kevin Smith and his stars. There’s also a synchronized trivia track with cast and crew quotes. For the “First Cut”, i.e., the longer version of the film we again get commentary track with the same crew as appear on the 1995 commentary track. You can also watch the 1994 introduction by Smith, the cut animated short “The Flying Car”, a featurette on the restoration, the theatrical trailer and the Soul Asylum’s music video “Can’t Even Tell.” “Snowball Effect: The Story of Clerks” and “Mae Day: The Crumbling of a Documentary” with an introduction by Kevin Smith and Scott Moshier also appear. We also get outtakes from “Snowball Effect”. ***

“Chasing Amy” features an audio commentary with Smith and producer Scott Mosier. “Tracing Amy” is a documentary on the making of the film. “Was It Something I Said?” features Smith in conversation on the making of the film. “10 Years Later: Q&A” features Smith and the cast. We get outtakes, deleted scenes and the original trailer for the film. ***

“Jay and Silent Bob” features Smith and Mosier joined by actor Jason Mewes and “Movie Showcase” which allows instant access to various scenes in the movie for scenes that benefit the most from the high def/lossless transfer.

Final Words:

Three of Kevin Smith’s early films in a nice package with plenty of special features is the main reason to get this set. It’s a bit more cost effective. If you don’t expect much from the high def transfers, you won’t be disappointed. All three films are solidly entertaining although I’ll admit to having a preference for “Chasing Amy” over the other two (with “Clerks” being a solid second). ***

It would have been nice to include all the episodes of the animated “Clerks” TV series as part of the extras here but due to licensing issues that may not have been possible.

 

 
 
 
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