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Film Goes to 11, Blu-Ray goes to 6
on 24 February 2010
Given Amazon are lumping all versions of Spinal Tap together for review purposes: just to be clear, this is about the 25th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray only.
There's little point reviewing the film "This Is Spinal Tap": it's enough to say it's both a cinema and rock'n'roll classic that's spawned hundreds of catch-phrases ("Hello Cleveland", "It's one louder", "This much talent", "Lukewarm water" etc) and inspired any number of later comedy films and TV shows (notably the most famous fake-documentary style TV show, The Office).
The Blu-ray is the best looking version of the film it's possible to get although hardly a showcase for the Blu-ray format given the use of hand-held camera and 16mm film stock (used to create the documentary feel of the film). There's still plenty more visible detail than any previous DVD version, not to mention an incredible quality upgrade from old VHS versions which will be how most Tap fans saw the film in the first place, so the upgrade is worthwhile for devoted Tap-heads.
The Blu-Ray, like the 25th anniversay DVD version, is packed with extra features which are both a blessing and a curse. The trouble is that while the quantity of material is good, some of the features are simply incomplete, frustratingly so. "The Return of Spinal Tap" is only the first 50 minutes of the 110 minute feature (available in full on DVD) which isn't even an edited highlights version, it simply ends mid-scene and doesn't even include the end credits. Likewise the "Live Earth short film and performance" doesn't actually include the short film Tap made for Live Earth and is just the first 6 minutes of their live set, again ending abruptly in a fairly bad edit. As an illustration of the lack of care applied to the disc: if you selected scene 11 on previous DVD versions, you went to the "amp that goes to 11" - the chapter settings on this version has messed that up!
A quote from the film goes "there's a thin line between stupid and clever": while the film is clearly way over on the positive side of that thin line, the total Blu-ray package is in danger of crossing over to the other side.