Fletch appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Due to some avoidable mistakes, this was a problematic transfer.
On a superficial level, sharpness seemed acceptable, but a closer look revealed issues. Wide shots tended toward softness, while close-ups lacked real detail. That occurred mainly due to the use of too much digital noise reduction, as that technique smoothed out definition.
No jagged edges or shimmering occurred, but I saw quite a lot of edge haloes throughout the movie. These ranged from mild to heavy and created consistent distractions. The image eliminated most source flaws – I noticed a couple of specks - but tended to wobble in a noticeable manner.
With a resolutely natural palette, the colors of Fletch seemed passable. They seemed a bit heavy but weren’t bad in the greater scheme of things. Blacks were dark and tight, while shadows appeared decent. Though a few low-light shots could be a bit murky, the flick usually presented adequate definition through its shadows. Despite a few good elements, this transfer suffered from too many issues for a grade above a “C-“.
Although Fletch comes with a DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, you shouldn’t get too excited about that prospect. The results seemed decidedly low-key and didn’t do much to open up the soundfield. The movie’s score provided the best use of the various channels, as the music showed decent stereo imaging and spread to the rears to a mild degree.
Otherwise, this was essentially a monaural mix. The effects stayed heavily focused on the center channel and rarely expanded to the rest of the domain. Actually, I find it hard to recall any movement in the sides or rears; other than the music, this track basically remained bound to the front center speaker.
Audio quality never excelled but seemed fine. Speech was concise and distinctive, with no edginess or other distractions. Music showed good range and definition. The synth-heavy score offered nice reproduction across the board. Effects were also clear and reasonably accurate, though they didn’t boast great dynamics. I didn’t think the track impressed, but it sufficed for a product of its era.
How did the Blu-ray compare to the DVD from 2007? Audio remained fairly similar; the lossless DTS-HD MA mix had a little more pep but not a lot.
Visuals were a mixed bag. While the Blu-ray offered superior definition, it suffered from so much noise reduction and edge enhancement that it couldn’t be viewed as a real improvement.
The Blu-ray reproduces the DVD’s extras, and featurettes come to the forefront. Just Charge It to the Underhills: Making and Remembering Fletch goes for 26 minutes, 34 seconds and comes hosted by disc producer Jason Hillhouse as he pursues his “inner Fletch”.
Despite this quirky set-up, most of “Charge” goes down the standard path and we hear from a mix of movie participants. These include screenwriter Andrew Bergman, producers Alan Greisman and Peter Douglas, first assistant director Wolfgang Glattes, editor Richard Harris, associate producer/production manager Gordon Webb, and actors M. Emmet Walsh, Larry “Flash” Jenkins, George Wyner, Richard Libertini, Dana Wheeler-Nicholson, and Tim Matheson.
We learn of the project’s origins and development, adapting the book for Chevy Chase, the cast and performances, director Michael Ritchie’s impact on the set, improvisation, editing and deleted scenes, favorite segments, and a few other production memories.
I’m not wild about the framework Hillhouse uses for “Charge”, but it manages to provide a good recollection of Fletch. Though it obviously suffers some due to the absence Chase, other big names in the cast and late director Ritchie, it gets into the nuts and bolts with reasonable clarity. This becomes a pleasant and informative show.
From John Cocktoastin to Harry S Truman: The Disguises fills four minutes, 54 seconds includes comments from Douglas, Greisman, Bergman, Jenkins, Matheson, Webb, Wheeler-Nicholson, hair stylist Bunny Parker and makeup artist Ken Chase. We get notes on changing Chevy Chase into the movie’s various characters adopted by Fletch. It’s a short piece but one that offers decent details about these aspects of the flick.
In addition to the film’s trailer, we get the two-minute, 37-second Favorite Fletch Moments. This is just a montage of snippets without comments of any form. It’s not very interesting.
Although I wouldn’t deem Fletch one of the best flicks to star a Saturday Night Live grad, it remains amusing after more than two decades. It throws out a fairly interesting story and more than enough good laughs to earn our affection. The Blu-ray comes with mediocre audio and supplements as well as flawed visuals. I like the movie but this becomes a semi-shoddy release.
To rate this film, visit the DVD review of FLETCH