Monday , May 20 2024
A mildly humorous and generally entertaining horror flick.

Blu-ray Review: Jennifer’s Body

Jennifer's Body is a reasonably entertaining horror movie that was unfairly dumped on by critics and moviegoers in general. Diablo Cody wrote the screenplay the same year as she wrote her breakthrough screenplay for Juno. That film, despite Cody's Oscar win, was subjected to a considerable backlash which may have had an adverse effect on the overall reception of Jennifer's Body. Cody was criticized harshly in some circles for her indulgent, overly wordy dialogue that was often quirky to a fault. But as far as slightly satirical, featherweight fright flicks are concerned, Body is certainly no worse than many more commercially successful examples of the genre.

Adding to the indifference is the fact that Megan Fox, billed as the film's primary star, has been overexposed in the press. She's quite literally underexposed in the film itself; don't go into it expecting to see any nudity from Fox. The lack of T&A coupled with Fox's generally limited acting ability adds up to a ho-hum presence throughout. My recommendation is to see it instead for the terrific Amanda Seyfried. From her work on the HBO show Big Love to movies like Mama Mia!, Seyfried is one of the most exceptional young actresses Hollywood currently has to offer. Most of Jennifer's Body focuses on her anyway, so much so that she emerges as the film's true star.

Seyfried plays Needy Lesnicki, the best friend of Fox's Jennifer Check. Jennifer is the extrovert of the two friends. Needy has a steady, very serious relationship with a respectful boyfriend. But Jennifer is always looking for trouble by pursuing much more casual engagements, sometimes with complete strangers. A night of partying with a Satanic rock band leaves Jennifer possessed by the devil. She presented herself to the band as a virgin, which was quite inaccurate. Their ritual therefore misfires badly, leaving Jennifer intent on killing all the men she encounters.

The movie is full of plenty of amusing moments, mostly involving the general apathy of all the teen characters. After a club burns to the ground, many of the high school students are simply impressed that Needy was able to witness the destruction — never mind the death toll. Needy is driven to the edge of sanity as she watches her one-time idol transform into a flesh-eating demon. While none of this often derivative material results in a riveting classic, as a trashily tossed off genre exercise it manages to work.

Jennifer's Body makes excellent use of Blu-ray's capabilities. The 1080p AVC MPEG-4 encode looks truly stellar. There are lots of dark, shadowy scenes but the blacks are consistent and free of any visual noise. Colors are bold and vibrant throughout. The picture is flawless, in my estimation. As for the audio presentation, it easily matches the standard set by the visuals. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track sounds full-bodied and quite enveloping. The dialogue is crystal clear and always front and center despite a fairly active soundscape. The subwoofer gets a solid workout during any scene with lots of music. And the "scare" effects are effectively jolting.

The special features package is somewhat of a mixed bag on this Blu-ray edition. The movie is presented in both its original theatrical cut as well an unrated version. The unrated version of the movie doesn't differ much, if at all, in terms of blood and guts. As is often the case, this alternate cut of the movie is unrated simply because the studio had no reason to submit it to the ratings board. Luckily, there are two commentary tracks included; one for the theatrical cut and one for the unrated cut. Director Karyn Kusama is joined by writer Diablo Cody for a very interesting running discussion of the theatrical release. Kusama flies solo for the unrated version's track, which is a very limited commentary. She comments only on the scenes that were altered from their original version.

Beyond that, the disc is loaded with the usual slew of deleted scenes, gag reel, and behind-the-scenes featurettes that clog up so many releases in the DVD/Blu-ray era. Only the hardest core fans of Jennifer's Body are likely to be intrigued by most of this material. The most enjoyable and informative piece is a 25-minute interview entitled "Life After Film School With Diablo Cody." Three film students interview Cody, who is an interesting enough subject to make this worthwhile. A second disc containing a digital copy of the film is included. With such superb Blu-ray presentation, this release is easily recommendable to fans of the genre. Keep your expectations relatively low and focus on the strong work by Amanda Seyfried. There are worse ways to kill a couple hours.

About The Other Chad

An old co-worker of mine thought my name was Chad. Since we had two Chads working there at the time, I was "The Other Chad."

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