Clerks II appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 5:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The movie presented a consistently satisfying transfer.
Sharpness was good, as I noticed no instances of softness to mar the flick. The image always seemed crisp and well-defined.
Jagged edges and shimmering failed to appear, and I detected no signs of edge enhancement. Source flaws also stayed away, as the movie suffered from no specks, marks or other defects.
Colors were the only questionable part of the transfer, as they seemed somewhat pale and submerged under the movie’s overblown, high contrast look. However, this came across as a production choice, not as a problem with the presentation.
Blacks were dark and firm, while shadows seemed clear and smooth. Overall, this was a satisfying picture.
Should you expect a slam-bang spectacular from the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack of Clerks II? Nope, as it stayed with an extremely subdued soundfield.
Speech dominated, as dialogue was easily the most important aspect of the mix. Music and environmental elements also appeared but didn’t play hugely significant roles. They broadened the package to a degree, however, and opened up matters in a natural and satisfying manner.
Audio quality was good. Speech seemed natural and concise, and I noticed no edginess or other issues connected to the lines. Effects were a minor concern but appeared accurate.
Music worked well, as the tunes sounded lively and dynamic. All of the elements boasted solid bass response. Though the flick sounded good, the bland soundfield left this one as a “B-”.
How did the Blu-ray compare to the original DVD? Audio seemed pretty similar – the lossless Dolby TrueHD track might’ve had a little more punch, but the restrained nature of the mix meant minor improvements at best.
Visuals showed improvements, mainly in terms of definition, as the Blu-ray boasted superior accuracy. Colors remained held back by the pale production design, but this still turned into a decent upgrade.
The two-disc set comes packed with the same extras from the DVD, and on Disc One, we find three separate running, screen-specific commentaries. For the first, we hear from director Kevin Smith, producer Scott Mosier and director of photography Dave Klein.
All three sit together for what they tout as a “technical commentary”. That means they discuss subjects such as sets and locations, visual design, cinematography, and related issues.
That sounds like it could be dry, and indeed, this is a more low-key commentary than the others. However, it seems nearly impossible for Smith to be boring, and he interacts well with his long-time pals and collaborators.
They delve into the technical issues well and make sure that we remain awake and interested along the way. Indeed, the piece moves surprisingly briskly and turns into an enjoyable and informative chat.
In the second commentary, we get Smith, Mosier and actors Jeff Anderson, Trevor Fehrman, Jason Mewes, Brian O’Halloran and Jennifer Schwalbach. All seven sit together for their running, screen-specific discussion view of characters and performances, how the roles reflect the actors, other aspects of the participants’ careers, and scene specifics.
Much of the material remains anecdotal. We learn about romantic trysts on the set and get some impressions of a few conflicts.
We also hear general reflections about the movie and the experiences. This all comes across as chatty and engaging, with plenty of good humor to keep us involved.
Finally, we locate the “Unused Podcast Commentary” with Smith, Mosier and Anderson. This was designed for fans to download and listen to as they watched Clerks II in the theaters. Cinema owners put the kibosh on that idea, so we get it here instead.
The track looks at Smith’s decision to revive the “series” and various connected issues. We hear about bringing everyone back on board and attached qualms along with story concepts and changes. Smith discusses writing the script and we also get notes about new cast members, performance issues, sets and locations, and scene specifics.
Of the three commentaries, the “podcast” probably proves the most satisfying. It covers the production’s nuts and bolts well and remains consistently engaging.
All three succeed, but this one is the most interesting and stimulating. Inevitably it repeats some material from the first two, but it’s usually fresh and fun.
By the way, if you choose to listen to all three tracks, I’d recommend you do it in reverse order. Start with the “podcast” and then do the actors’ commentary before you finish with the technical discussion. I think that’s the most logical way to view the production.
If desired, you can watch the flick with an Introduction by Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier. The four-minute, 38-second clip includes comments about what to expect from the set’s extras as well as some random remarks about Smith’s sex life and whatnot. It’s typically entertaining.
25 Deleted Scenes fill a total of 36 minutes, 32 seconds. If you add an optional intro from Smith and Mosier, we end up at 38:24.
Most of the clips provide minor extensions to existing sequences, so that means a lot of the 36:32 running time repeats material from the finished film. Despite those redundant elements, some good bits pop up here.
“Sex Nuts and Retard Strong” is the most significant as it shows a car-based conversation in which Randal comes up with the possibility that Dante might accidentally impregnate his mother. We also get a long improv reel from Wanda Sykes and Earthquake. It’s a nice collection of clips.
A featurette entitled A Closer Look at Interspecies Erotica goes for eight minutes, 58 seconds and offers remarks from actors Zak Knutson and Rosario Dawson. Knutson dominates as he chats about his part and its challenges. This is an insubstantial piece but it becomes moderately interesting.
As we shift to Disc Two, we open with a documentary called Back to the Well: Clerks II. With optional Smith/Mosier intro, this piece lasts one hour, 30 minutes, 10 seconds.
We find notes from Smith, Mosier, Mewes, O’Halloran, Anderson, Schwalbach, Fehrman, Klein, Knutson, former Miramax Films co-head of production Jon Gordon, 1st assistant editor Elliot Greenberg, and actors Rosario Dawson, Wanda Sykes, and Earthquake.
“Well” looks at the decision to revisit the Clerks universe and the influences that led to the flick. From there we go through the nuts and bolts of getting the cast back on board, writing the script and dealing with the studio, reactions to the sequel concept, and bringing in new actors.
The program then moves through rehearsals, details of the actual production, camerawork and Klein’s return to the fold, Mewes’ attempts to deal with his substance abuse, editing, early screenings, the sound mix, going to Cannes, and the flick’s full release.
After three audio commentaries, it becomes inevitable that “Well” would duplicate a fair amount of information we already know. However, it manages to creates plenty of opportunities for fresh details and benefits from the surfeit of behind the scenes footage. “Well” gives us a reasonably fresh perspective on Clerks II and definitely stands as a strong documentary.
Next comes a Blooper Reel. Including another optional Smith/Mosier intro, this one fills 29 minutes, 55 seconds.
More isn’t necessarily better, as this compilation includes little more than the usual goofs and giggles. A few funny moments emerge, but mostly we get the same old nonsense.
Train Wrecks: Video Production Diaries splits into 10 chapters. If you factor in the inevitable Smith/Mosier intro and watch them via the “Play All” option, they go for a total of 51 minutes, two seconds.
These originally appeared on the movie’s website. Plenty more of them showed up there, but Smith picked his 10 favorites to plop on the DVD.
What do the 10 “Wrecks” cover? We go through hairstyles for Jay and Silent Bob, the first day of the shoot, meeting the crew, Jason Lee’s “Tongue Song”, filming the Dante/Emma make-out scene, a screening with Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez, more from Cannes, creating the burning Quick Stop, the poster photography session, and a prank at the Quick Stop location.
The “Wrecks” vary from pretty good to pretty pointless. At the low end of the spectrum, the Cannes segment is absurdly self-congratulatory. The best segments come from the effects demonstration as well as the chat with Rodriguez and Tarantino. Though the “Wrecks” are hit or miss, they’re a nice addition to the package.
The set finishes with a VH1 Movie Special. It lasts 19 minutes, 33 seconds and offers the usual array of topics – with an emphasis on promotion. It’s not bad for what it is, but it lacks much value after all the other materials.
An awkward combination of broad gross-out material and sappy sentimentality, Clerks II fails to live up to its predecessor. Though better produced in every way, it’s not 1/10th as clever or involving as the original, especially when it becomes way too melodramatic and like a soap opera. The Blu-ray presents very good visuals as well as a terrific set of supplements and acceptable audio. Objectively, this isn’t a terrible film, but it disappoints.
To rate this film visit the DVD of CLERKS II