First Sunday—Columbia Pictures (Blu-ray)
When the first trailers hit for Ice Cube's new comedy, I somehow thought this might be a new addition to the Friday series. That is definitely not the case, though the films do have some slight resemblances. In the beginning I thought this one was actually borrowing a bit too much from the themes and setups of Friday but once the story really got rolling things settled out a bit. I'm not going to lie; this one stumbles a lot out of the gate. My wife and I weren't clicking with the rather forced comedy early on in the film, but if you give this one a chance it makes up for it in the second and third act and actually turns out to be a fun film with a good heart. The comedy can be a bit hit or miss at times since some of the jokes are a bit forced, but overall we had a good time with it.
While the film may be a bit inconsistent the transfer sure isn't. Sony really delivers with this one and I was constantly impressed with the level of detail and dimension afforded by the HD presentation. Close ups look absolutely phenomenal and in line with what we normally see from a film shot in HD. Colors are vivid and have lots of pop on the screen, lending even more to the showcase quality. Contrast is excellent and even shadow detail is impressive. This is one of those films that exemplify how HD can look so much better than standard definition releases.
Unfortunately the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix doesn't come near the quality of the video presentation. First off, this film was recorded a lot louder than most of the films I review. Film soundtracks are supposed to be relatively similar in volume considering they are recorded to a reference level. This one required me to turn it down quite a bit to achieve a comfortable listening level. The biggest reason was the overly loud musical selections. Dialogue was better though. Dynamics weren't great either. There wasn't a lot of separation in the mix or a real sense of space. This was especially noticeable in the church while the choir was singing. The soundtrack didn't convince me at all of being in that room and the front soundstage was narrow and came off compressed. This was probably a limitation of the production, but I did find it a bit distracting at times.
Extras keep to the theme of the film and include some deleted scenes and a gag reel for laughs. There is also a feature commentary, some behind the scenes features and a pop up trivia track that can be played during the movie.
I enjoyed this one far more than I thought I would. It wasn't easy in the beginning but the film eventually found its heart and delivered some good laughs. While the audio presentation wasn't near what I would expect from a Sony release, the video was outstanding.