Election appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The movie came with a mediocre transfer.
Sharpness was generally positive. Wider shots demonstrated softness, and the image never looked especially concise, but it showed reasonable delineation. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, but light edge haloes cropped up occasionally.
Source flaws were a bigger concern, especially early in the film, as the opening shots suffered from specks and marks. The rest of the movie came across as cleaner, though a smattering of defects still materialized. The transfer could – and should – have been significantly cleaner than it was.
Colors tended to be lackluster. The movie went with a natural palette, but I thought the hues veered in the direction of drabness and rarely showed much vivacity. Granted, I didn’t expect this tale to feature bright, dynamic tones, but I thought they should’ve been livelier.
Blacks were acceptably dark and deep, while shadows were a bit muddy. Low-light shots offered acceptable clarity but weren’t particularly strong. The image lacked the positives to rise above a “C+“.
Somewhat more successful was the film's Dolby TrueHD 5.0 mix. As I'd expect from this kind of movie, it's a pretty unassuming track, but it complemented the picture to an acceptable degree. The front soundstage offered a decent amount of depth. It lacked a tremendous amount of spatialization but it still placed sounds across the three front channels. While the rear speakers didn't get much of a workout, they did contribute to the overall effect and they even featured some well-placed split surround images on occasion.
The quality of the audio was always fine. Dialogue sounded natural and concise; I noticed a few slightly edgy lines, but nothing serious marred the speech. Music showed decent range and delineation, and effects – a pretty minor aspect of the track – were clean and clear. Nothing special stood out here, but the audio was adequate for this sort of flick.
How does the Blu-ray compare to the 1999 DVD? For reasons unknown, the audio changed from 5.1 to 5.0, but that didn’t cause problems. This was such a subdued mix that the absence of a dedicated LFE channel seemed largely irrelevant. The DTS-HD MA audio was a bit fuller than the Dolby Digital track from the DVD, but the mix’s nature meant the improvements seemed minor.
As for the picture, it showed the step up one expects from Blu-ray but suffered from restrictions. I suspect the Blu-ray used the same transfer from 1999, so the upgrades came from the format’s higher resolution and nothing else. This made the Blu-ray more satisfying but not as good as it could be.
Election includes one supplement: an audio commentary from director Alexander Payne. During this running, screen-specific chat, Payne discusses how he came onto the project, the script and the adaptation of the source novel, themes and symbolism, locations and sets, cast, characters and performances, deleted scenes, music, production design, and costumes.
When I initially reviewed the DVD back in 1999, I didn’t think much about the commentary; I felt it was slow-paced and lacked much depth. I guess the last 15 years have shown me some really bad commentaries, so this one looks much better by comparison. Really, my only minor complaint comes from the moderate amount of dead air, as Payne goes silent a little more often than I’d like.
Nonetheless, Payne covers most of the movie, and he offers a lot of good notes. He goes over both production specifics as well as more introspective topics, so he balances out the chat well. I still wouldn’t call this a great commentary, but it’s a good one with quite a bit of useful information.
A barbed look at high school politics, Election provides an amusing and tart affair. Complete with good performances and clever situations, it provides an entertaining ride. The Blu-ray offers mediocre picture and audio along with a mostly good commentary. I like the movie but would prefer a better executed Blu-ray.
To rate this film, visit the 2008 review of ELECTION