Clerks II 2-Disc Edition (HD DVD)
In an effort to outperform the original, sequels invariably spend more money, have more explosions, more action, more stunts and more special effects. In this spirit I suppose it's inevitable that Kevin Smith's Clerks II would turn to bestiality (er, "interspecies erotica") in an effort to go where even the original Clerks hadn't gone before. The original did feature necrophilia as a set piece after all. And there's also a hilariously wrong homage to Silence of the Lambs here that anyone who sees this film will never forgive Kevin Smith or Jason Mewes for.
The cast and crew picks up the story of clerks Dante and Randal and really, it's remarkable how the people and the dialog pick up so seamlessly where the 1994 cult phenomenon left off. It's fitting with Dante and Randal's station in life that it doesn't feel as if a day has passed since the first movie, let alone a dozen years. It's safe to say that if you like the original, you're going to laugh your ass off here as I did, and if you didn't, well, why are you even reading this?
Clerks II is presented here by Weinstein Company's Genius Products at 1080p and crunched with MPEG-4/AVC. It has a processed look to it that's very typical of today's movies, with garish colors, overenhanced grain, blown whites and also a very crisp, overly sharp look to the edges. If this were a DVD I'd expect to see edge enhancement halos accompanying this look, but it's a credit to AVC and HD DVD in general that such artifacts are nonexistent here. Essentially, this is a respectable looking disc that's reasonably sharp and probably very much what the filmmaker intended even if it's not reference material. And really, were you expecting this to be the next T2 of home theater demos? Besides, we see more than we want or need to see of Kinky Kelly anyway!
On the soundtrack front, there's a big surprise in the menus that's not mentioned on any of the disc's packaging: Clerks II boasts a full-blown Dolby TrueHD lossless audio track! Alas, this soundtrack isn't demo material either. The dialog is sometimes hard to catch, and only some added weight and dimension on dialog and the pop music distinguishes the TrueHD track from the fine DD+ track. Still, check out chapter 14 when the Smashing Pumpkins' "1979" is playing and switch back and forth. You'll clearly hear the music swell in realism and depth on the TrueHD track.
Kevin Smith is great to his fans. He's clearly embraced the technologies at his disposal with Laserdisc, DVD, and now HD DVD to give his fans the biggest treats he knows how. Smith and co. have created a special edition that goes over two HD DVD discs just to include hours of supplements, which is giving back to the fan community in a big way. Before going into these, thanks Kevin!
The first disc features two official commentaries, and a podcast commentary that's referred to as "unused." Since it's here I don't know what the hell unused means, but maybe if I listened to it I'd find out. I"m going to be ungrateful and wonder why there isn't a video commentary here, given that Smith has already done that before with lesser technology at his disposal. Slacker.
Also on disc one are deleted scenes, which include several as funny as anything in the movie, especially the running dialog with comedians Wanda Sykes and Earthquake. And yes, there is an entire 10-minute featurette on the Interpsecies Erotica scenes from the film, which is appropriately subtitled "Making a Watershed Cinematic Moment." Indeed.
Disc two features a 90-minute documentary about this 98-minute film(!), an awesome blooper reel that runs almost a half hour, production diaries and a VH1 special. And that's just the shit we know about- there could be easter egges here. Smith and producer Scott Mosier offer intros to most or all of the features that are defeatable.
This two-disc set is available for $20 on Amazon. Pretty much the best deal out there. I have a two-year old and am sleep deprived, but still stayed up until almost 1am watching these extras. Thanks again, Kevin!
Picture: 7 out of 10
Sound: 5 out of 10