Fred Claus is a mediocre holiday tale meant to entertain younger audiences, yet the runtime of nearly two hours caters more to adults. Vince Vaughn has some great scenes, particularly in the first act, but the pacing is so slow through the middle that my family lost interest in the characters by the conclusion.
The middling VC-1 1080p encode fails to spread a lot of holiday cheer. Colors are richly saturated, especially red, but detail is sorely lacking in medium-to-long shots, which often appear out of focus. Close-ups have the sharpness I've come to associate with good HD, but flesh tones lack any texture or detail, and skin pigmentation is all over the map from scene to scenesometimes too red, other times too yellow. Black levels are deep and provide adequate shadow delineation, but overall, this isn't one of the better video transfers of the year.
For some unknown reason, Warner has once again chosen a lossy soundtrack for a Blu-ray releaseDolby Digital 5.1 at a paltry 644kbps. Granted, the unremarkable soundtrack wouldn't sound that much better in lossless. Dialog makes up the majority of the track, but there are a few scenes that stretch the dynamics, especially when Fred gets a first-class seat in Santa's sleigh. The surround speakers provide minor ambience, and the ordinary musical score bleeds to the rear channels, giving them a bit more life.
There are plenty of extras spread out over three discs. Disc one includes the feature as well as an audio commentary by director David Dobkin and 25 minutes of deleted scenes. Other supplements include some behind-the-scenes features, a funny look at sibling rivalries, some promotional material, a chat with Paul Giamatti and Vince Vaughn, and a rap video by Ludacris (all in HD). The second disc includes a digital copy of the film, and the third disc offers a DVD video game called "Fred Claus: Race to Save Christmas."
The interesting concept and all-star cast is wasted on an unremarkable screenplay and unbearable pacing. The presentation doesn't enhance the production, so unless you’re a die-hard Christmas-movie lover, I would steer clear.
Release Date: November 25, 2008
JVC DLA-RS1 projector
Stewart FireHawk screen (76.5" wide, 16:9)
Onkyo Pro 85 pre/pro
Anthem PVA-7 Amplifier
Belkin PF60 power conditioner
M&K S-150s (L, C, R)
M&K SS-150s (LS, RS, SBL, SBR)
SVS PC-Ultra subwoofer
Monoprice HDMI cables (source to pre/pro)
Best Deal analog-audio cables
PureLink HDC Fiber Optic HDMI Cable System (15 meters) from pre/pro to projector