Year One Blu-ray review

Harold Ramis' latest film failed at the box office. But does Year One deserve a fresh chance on Blu-ray?

Harold Ramis’ latest as writer / director finds Jack Black’s inept hunter Zed and Michael Cera’s inept gatherer Oh banished from their village, after Zed eats some forbidden fruit. Following their banishment they embark on an adventure through a world unknown to them and meet a number of biblical characters along the way. Gene Stupnitsky & Lee Eisenberg (Writers of The Office: An American Workplace) assisted Ramis with the screenplay and Judd Apatow co-produced, so all signs seemed to be pointing towards Year One being a big hit. Sadly, it wasn’t. It has been widely reported that it didn’t perform as well as many had hoped; I understand that it only just recouped its budget at the box office.

Having read reviews by Ron and Emma ahead of Year One‘s cinematic release, I decided I would wait until it was released on DVD and go see something else instead. I’m glad I did, as I would have been disappointed if I’d made the 50 minute round trip.

There are funny moments in the movie, it’s just really inconsistent. Highlights are easily the exchanges between Jack Black’s Zed and Michael Cera’s Oh, which are great at times. The two seem to have a good chemistry between them. It’s just a shame the film’s a bit of a let down. Jack Black’s fine when he’s with Cera but there are some excruciating moments when he’s not, “…I want you to sit on the poliest of polies.” being the prime example.

Some of the cameos are ace. David Cross and Paul Rudd are entertaining as Cain and Abel and Hank Azaria and Christopher Mintz-Plasse are decent as Abraham and Isaac, even if their material is a little ropey at times. That seems to be the films big flaw. There’s a lot of talent here, both in front of the camera and behind it, but it’s wasted on a series of extremely hit and miss jokes. Given the premise being fairly promising and the talent involved, it’s not unreasonable to expect more.

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Unfortunately, the funniest moments will be familiar if you’ve seen any of the trailers building up to its release. Yes, this is another one of those cases where the majority of a film’s best moments are included in the trailers, which is common among sub-par movies. I’m struggling to think of any stand out moments that I hadn’t seen a number of times already without having watched the film.

The pacing is poor, a percentage of the scenes seem to lack any sense of purpose whatsoever. It’s as though some scenes are there purely to support the jokes as opposed to adding to the story. What’s worse is that some scenes don’t have a logical conclusion. Without giving too much away, there’s a scene where Michael Cera’s Oh is having trouble with a snake, but instead of showing us how he resolves the situation there’s a cut to the next scene. I found this quite frustrating. I know that there were numerous cuts made to achieve a favourable rating, but I can’t imagine that the conclusion of these scenes contained R-rated material.

The film has many flaws but it’s not entirely without merit. As stated earlier, the earlier the exchanges between Black and Cera are great at times and the cameos are entertaining. Michael Cera is by far the highlight of this film even if his role is essentially George Michael BC.

The Disc

I was quite surprised with the picture here, as it’s fantastic. It’s not quite demo quality, but it’s not far off. There’s an incredible amount of detail and the colours are extremely vivid. The only slight bad point is that in some of the night scenes there seems to be a blue tint about the actors from time to time. I recently watched the movie on DVD and the difference in picture quality is noticeable, so fans of the movie trying to decide between the DVD and Blu-ray versions of the movie should definitely opt for the latter.

Sadly, the sound quality doesn’t match the near demo quality of the picture. It’s not that it’s particularly bad, it’s just that there aren’t a lot of moments that would give a decent set up a work out. Then again, it’s not as though this is the type of movie that you’d necessarily expect amazing sound quality from. The picture quality far surpasses the quality of the movie; the sound quality matches it.

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A lot of the extras are fairly run of the mill, but there’s a decent amount here. As with a lot of other Sony discs, Cinechat makes a return. Yep, that’s the amazing feature that allows you chat to other people watching the same movie as you. I’ve commented on how pointless I think this feature is in the past, but if you like this kind of thing, it’s here for you to use.

There’s a feature called The Year One Cutting Room. I had a bit of a play around with this. Basically, it lets you reorganise scenes and share them on BD live. There’s a variety of additional and extended scenes, gag reels, outtakes etc as well as a commercial for the town of Sodom called Sodom’s Got ‘Em!

There’s a fairly interesting behind the scenes feature called ‘Year One’: The Journey Begins. The best feature here is a BD live exclusive called Movie IQ, which contains a lot of interesting information on cast and crew and film trivia.

If you’re a fan of the movie, definitely pick up the Blu-ray. The picture’s great and there’s a decent amount of extras. If you haven’t seen the movie, I’d definitely recommend renting before buying. Feature:


Year One is out now on Blu-ray.


4 out of 5