The Devil Wears Prada 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. This was a decent transfer but not one that seemed up to par for a recent film.
A few concerns connected to sharpness occurred. At times the movie became a bit soft and indistinct. However, it usually remained reasonably concise and accurate. I saw no jagged edges or shimmering, but a little edge enhancement occurred. Source flaws never appeared during this clean transfer.
Colors could be a little pale but they usually seemed fine. Most of the movie exhibited fairly solid tones, though the slightly flat ones created some distractions. Some of this appeared to be connected to visual design, as the tones brightened when Andy became more fashionable. Blacks seemed fine, while shadows were acceptable. Low-light shots could be a bit muddy, but they were adequate across the board. Though Prada always remained decent, it never seemed much better than that.
Given the subject matter, I anticipated little from the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of The Devil Wears Prada, and the mix matched my expectations. The soundscape usually remained modest and focused on gentle environmental information. Not much activity emerged from this subdued piece, as it stayed with light ambience much of the time. A few scenes – New York streets, a storm in Florida – added some kick at least. The surrounds lacked much involvement and never stood out as anything noticeable beyond what I just mentioned.
Audio quality was positive. Speech seemed natural and crisp, with no edginess. Effects were clean and accurate, while music sounded smooth and concise. Low-end response was perfectly adequate. This was a more than acceptable mix for a low-key movie.
A decent roster of extras fills out the disc. We open with an audio commentary from director David Frankel, producer Wendy Finerman, costume designer Patricia Field, screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna, editor Mark Livolsi, and director of photography Florian Ballhaus. All of them sit together for this running, screen-specific chat. They cover sets and locations, cast, characters and performances, story issues, musical choices, script and the adaptation of the novel, editing and cut scenes, a few visual choices, and clothes.
Lots and lots about clothes, as a matter of fact, which makes sense given the movie’s focus. We get a full accounting of all the different outfits worn in the flick, but the commentary doesn’t wind up as little more than a dull regurgitation of designers. Those moments are informative since they include insights into why the various styles were chosen, and we get many other good glimpses of the production. I especially like the notes about how Streep remained somewhat “in character” during the shoot, as she’d keep herself aloof from the others. The commentary covers the appropriate subjects well and provides a nice overview.
Five featurettes follow. These start with The Trip to the Big Screen, a 12-minute and two-second melange of movie clips, behind the scenes materials, and interviews. We find notes from Frankel, Finerman and McKenna. The show looks at how Frankel came onto the project as well as adaptation concerns and the development of the script. We hear about the flick’s tone and characters and where the filmmakers took both. We already hear a little about these subjects in the commentary, but we get different thoughts about the various issues here. That allows “Trip” to offer a good synopsis of script and story topics.
During the six-minute and 24-second NYC and Fashion, we hear from Finerman, Frankel, Field, and actors Emily Blunt, Stanley Tucci, Meryl Streep, and Anne Hathaway. The piece examines the outfits worn by the movie’s characters, the flick’s general sense of fashion and its use of New York as a location. Though fairly glossy and fluffy, we get a decent look at the choices made in this brisk and reasonably interesting short.
A closer look at the costume designer pops up in Fashion Visionary Patricia Field. This eight-minute and 45-second piece includes comments from Field, Frankel, Hathaway, Streep and Finerman. We get info about how Field got into fashion and the movies as well as her role on Prada. At times the show feels like a fluffy tribute to Field – with a title like “Fashion Visionary”, that becomes tough to avoid – but there’s more than enough good content to make it worth a look.
Getting Valentino goes for two minutes, 53 seconds and features Frankel, Finerman, and fashion designer Valentino Garavani. We learn how the filmmakers managed to lure Valentino into helping with the flick and doing his cameo. It’s a quick but concise view of the subject.
For the last featurette, we find the two-minute and 36-second Boss from Hell. It presents Frankel, Hathaway and Tucci. This is a glorified trailer that recaps story and characters in a general manner and throws out a few tales from anonymous folks about their real-life difficult bosses. It’s not very interesting.
15 Deleted Scenes fill a total of 21 minutes and 35 seconds. One of the more interesting shows Andy’s interview with human resources that led her to Runway, and we also get a funny formal introduction between Andy and Nigel. There’s also more of Andy as she acclimates to the job and deals with various pressures there. A fair number of these offer minor extensions to existing scenes. Some come across as bland filler, but there’s actually quite a lot of good material on display here.
We can watch these with or without commentary from Frankel and Livosi. They offer some notes about the scenes and let us know why they didn’t end up in the final cut. Interestingly, Frankel relates that he never saw many of these, as Livosi dropped them before they ever made it to the director’s desk. The guys provide very useful information.
A Gag Reel runs five minutes and eight seconds. It includes a lot of the usual mistakes and giggles bot not anything particularly memorable other than some funny ad-libs from Tucci and Streep.
Finally, we get some Trailers and TV Spots. In addition to the theatrical ad for Prada, we locate a trailer for The Illusionist, TV promos for In Her Shoes and The Family Stone, and a piece for the Prada soundtrack.
The Devil Wears Prada emerged as a left field hit, and the movie occasionally becomes sassy and provocative enough to warrant its success. Unfortunately, too much of the flick concentrates on its dull protagonist and takes us away from the character we really want to follow: Meryl Streep’s cool, calculating Miranda. When the film leaves her, it sags. The DVD presents fairly lackluster picture and audio along with a few tasty extras highlighted by a good audio commentary and interesting deleted scenes. Overall, this ends up as a fairly average release for a sporadically entertaining film.