Bitch Slap appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Though not flawless, Slap offered a strong SD-DVD viewing experience.
Sharpness was quite good. Wide shots could be somewhat iffy, but most of the movie displayed positive delineation. The majority of the flick delivered nice clarity and definition. I noticed no issues with jagged edges or shimmering, and edge haloes failed to cause distractions. Source flaws also remained absent.
In terms of colors, Slap offered a varied palette. The desert sequences showed fairly natural, sandy tones, while flashbacks were more stylized. Whatever the design choices, the movie offered nice color reproduction; the tones always came across as intended. Blacks were dark and deep, while shadows seemed clear and smooth. Only the mild softness kept this one from “A”-level consideration, as I felt quite impressed by the transfer.
(By the way, if I believed in conspiracy theories, I’d note that the best-looking SD-DVD transfers I see these days are almost always for movies not available on Blu-ray. Coincidence?)
As for the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Slap, it provided an active affair – probably too active, to be honest. The movie used all five speakers in an aggressive manner that didn’t always suit the material especially well. This seemed particularly true when it came to audio. The score emanated from the back speakers almost as loudly as in the front, and that was a bit of a distraction; the present of music from all the channels meant that the score lacked great localization and clarity.
Effects worked better. Those were also pretty active, though the music could drown them out at times. Still the various elements popped up in appropriate channels and added some kick to the film’s many action sequences. The elements didn’t combine in a tremendously smooth manner, but they gave the movie a little zest.
Audio quality was fine. Speech suffered from some awkward looping but the lines were always intelligible and reasonably natural. Music appeared fairly full and rich, while effects demonstrated nice punch. I thought the track was a little too erratic for high marks, but it seemed worthy of a “B”.
When we head to the set’s extras, we find two audio commentaries. The first comes from writer/producer/director Rick Jacobson, writer/producer Eric Gruendemann and associate producer Brian Peck. All three sit together for this running, screen-specific discussion of cast, characters and performances, sets and locations, camerawork and effects, stunts and action, edits/deleted scenes, story issues and influences.
Early on, Jacobson refers to actor Erin Cummings as a “whore” and a “total slut”. He does this in jest, of course, but his remarks still are quite unusual in the world of audio commentaries. Banal praise is the rule, not comedic slander.
Those comments set up the track as a more outrageous one than it becomes, unfortunately. Oh, we hear more profanity and joking around than usual, but we still find much of the standard praise. Still, we get a pretty good look at the production, as the participants dig into a mix of topics with reasonable gusto. The track doesn’t enthrall, but it offers decent information.
For the second chat, we hear from actors Julia Voth, Erin Cummings and America Olivo. Those three also chat together for their own running, screen-specific look at their characters and performances, stunts and action, various sets and locations, and other members of the cast and crew.
Like its predecessor, this commentary proves to be reasonably engaging, but it’s not particularly heavy on great facts. As I would expect, it takes on a more limited scope than the first track, so it comes mostly with basic thoughts about experiences during the shoot. The women are lively and fun, so they help carry the chat, but it fails to become particularly informative.
Building a Better B-Movie runs one hour, 39 minutes and 24 seconds. It features info from Jacobson, Gruendemann, Voth, Cummings, Olivo, Peck, stunt coordinator Zoë Bell, best boy grip Erin Weller, and actors Michael Hurst, William Gregory Lee, Ron Melendez, Minae Noji, Dennis Keiffer, Scott Hanley, Renee O’Connor, Lucy Lawless, and Kevin Sorbo. The program looks at the project’s roots and development, story/script topics, casting, characters and performances, training, stunts and action, production design and props, some location issues, and a few other production notes.
At nearly 100 minutes, “Building” certainly provides an epic “making of” documentary. Does that automatically make it a great one? No, but it does work pretty well. It’s never a particularly deep or insightful piece, but it covers the set nicely and keeps us interested across its long running time. This ends up as a satisfying show.
While Quentin Tarantino and a few others create effective 70s throwback flicks, the folks behind Bitch Slap can’t pull off their not-so-lofty goals. Despite lots of action and many sexy women, the movie turns into a surprisingly dull affair; it throws a great deal of tawdry material at us but none of it actually entertains. The DVD provides very good picture, erratic but usually positive audio, and some interesting supplements. If you want to see a exciting, sexy action flick, look elsewhere, for Slap isn’t a winning entry.