Fred Claus appears in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray disc. Though not stellar, the visuals satisfied.
Sharpness was usually fine. Some softness interfered with a few wide or interior shots, but these usually brought us nice delineation and accuracy.
No shimmering or jaggies appeared, but some light edge haloes cropped up at times. Print flaws remained absent.
Colors kicked to life when appropriate, mainly during perkier Christmas-oriented scenes. At times, the palette remained intentionally drab, but when the movie needed brighter tones, they came across with nice vivacity.
Blacks appeared fairly deep and dark, while shadows seemed reasonably smooth and clear. This never became a great image, but it seemed more than satisfactory.
The film’s Dolby Digital 5.1 soundfield focused mostly on the front spectrum, and music presented the most prominent element. The score showed good stereo imaging, and we got some general ambience most of the time. Some action scenes added pizzazz to the package and used the surrounds, but I didn’t find a whole lot to impress me here.
Audio quality was fine. Speech sounded distinctive and natural, without edginess or other issues. Effects didn’t have much to do, but they were acceptable for what they offered.
Music appeared reasonably full and rich. There wasn’t enough here to merit a grad above a “C+”, though, so don’t expect a memorable soundtrack.
How did the Blu-ray compare to the DVD version? Audio was identical – literally, as both discs shared the same Dolby Digital mix. I docked the Blu-ray some points because the format should provide a lossless option.
On the other hand, visuals offered radical improvements. The DVD provided shockingly bad picture quality, whereas the Blu-ray looked quite good. The Blu-ray easily topped the ugly DVD.
The Blu-ray repeats the DVD’s extras and adds exclusives. Also on the DVD, an audio commentary from director David Dobkin offers a running, screen-specific piece that looks at the movie’s opening and its tone, visual choices and effects, cast and performances, characters, story, and the tale’s development, shot design, sets and locations, music, and a few other production specifics.
I may not care for the movie, but Dobkin offers a pretty good little of Fred Claus. He covers a nice array of subjects and does so in a concise manner.
Of course, a bit of the usual praise and happy talk emerge, but Dobkin never overindulges in these areas. Instead, he delivers an enjoyable and informative view of the film.
Another repeat from the DVD, 13 Deleted Scenes fill a total of 25 minutes, 30 seconds. As expected, these offer a mixed bag. Some of them are pretty good, while others seem less endearing. Actually, I was surprised how many I liked, a fact that increases my suspicions that Fred Claus would’ve worked better as a short program.
No, that doesn’t mean I think these clips should’ve been presented in the final cut of the flick. It’s already too long, so another 25 minutes of footage would’ve made things worse. However, when these shots are seen in isolation, they’re reasonably entertaining.
A little of Fred goes a long way; when the segments are removed from the full package, they prove reasonably entertaining much of the time. Fans will definitely want to give them a look, though I could live without the three barely different introductions to “DJ Donnie”, as only the music he dances to changes.
The remaining extras are new to the Blu-ray, and these begin with the eight-minute, 59-second Pause for Claus: Elves Tell All. Hosted by “Willie the Elf”, it features the cast in character as they discuss the operation at the North Pole. It’s actually moderately amusing, mainly due to the talents of the actors.
During the nine-minute, 27-second Sibling Rivalry, we hear from Dobkin, producer Jessie Nelson and actors Vince Vaughn, Paul Giamatti, Elizabeth Banks, John Michael Higgins, Frank Stallone, Stephen Baldwin, and Roger Clinton. They discuss the competition between Fred and Nick as well as cast/performances and the notion of sibling conflict in general. A few decent nuggets emerge but it’s mostly fluff.
Meet the Other Claus lasts 13 minutes, four seconds and features Dobkin, Giamatti, Vaughn, Nelson, Higgins, Richardson, Banks, producer Joel Silver, production designer Allan Cameron, and actors Bobb’e J. Thompson, Rachel Weisz, Miranda Richardson, and Chris “Ludacris” Bridges. “Meet” offers an overview of cast/characters/story along with sets/locations, and Doblin’s impact on the production. A few nuggets emerge but not much substance shows up in this puffy reel.
Under Vince and Paul Fireside Chats, we get five snippets with a total running time of four minutes, 10 seconds. They reply to some inane questions, but their chemistry and wit make the clips fun.
A music video shows up as well. Ludacrismas features Ludacris – obviously! – and just plays the song over movie clips. Skip it.
With a stellar cast and a clever concept, Fred Claus could’ve been a winner. Instead, it offers an experience so insipid and banal that it made me long for the relative pleasures of a mediocrity like The Santa Clause. The Blu-ray offers generally good picture with average audio and supplements. The premise and stars might tempt you to check out Fred, but don’t give into that temptation - avoid this lump of coal.
To rate this film please visit the DVD review of FRED CLAUS