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Blu-ray Review: No Reservations

Posted on Thursday, February 21st, 2008 10:38 AM. Last Updated on Friday, May 16th, 2008 9:23 AM by Scott Jentsch

Front Cover ArtworkNo Reservations
Blu-ray
Warner Home Video
104 minutes

List Price: $35.99 (Check Price at Amazon.com)

Available 2/12/2008

Rated PG

Additional Movie Details

 TheatricalThis Disc
Video Format:
35mm 1080p VC-1
Aspect Ratio:2.35:1 2.35:1
Audio:

Dolby Digital

Dolby Digital

 DTS 
  SDDS 
 Other: BD-25
BDMV

Disc Contents

  • Movie
  • Extras
    • Emeril Live (45 mins - SD)
      Episode of the Emeril Live TV show where Aaron Eckhart and Abigail Breslin join Emiril in making pizza and other dishes featured in the movie.
    • Unwrapped (23 mins - SD)
      Episode of the Food Network TV show where host Marc Summers goes behind the scenes and interviews the cast and crew.

About the Movie

Catherine Zeta-Jones is top chef Kate, who has control of her life and especially, the kitchen in the restaurant where she works. Even though she has been ordered into therapy by her boss, she's comfortable with the ordered life she has. That is, until she loses her sister in a car accident and her niece (Abigail Breslin) comes to live with her. As she's dealing with her new reality in her personal life, her professional life is also turned upside down when a new sous chef (Aaron Eckhart) enters her kitchen with a zest for life and for food that threatens Kate's ordered existence. Can she handle these changes, juggle her personal and professional life, and perhaps find that there is room for love? That's what this romantic movie sets out to explore.

How Does it Look?

Kate, Nick, and Zoe

The enhanced resolution of the high definition Blu-ray format is definitely being used in this movie! Catherine Zeta-Jones is radiant in this role and the food looks good enough to eat! The lighting used in the movie works perfectly, whether we are in a busy New York restaurant kitchen or the living room of Kate's apartment eating safari food under a candlelit canopy with Kate, Nick, and Zoe. While there aren't any "wow" moments that could be used as demo material, there are also no artifacts or problems that I could see of any kind.

How Does it Sound?

Romance movies tend not to be very dynamic, as the emphasis is on the relationship of the major characters and their dialogue. While this movie doesn't disappoint in that the dialogue is always easy to understand, I found myself wishing that I would be more immersed into the environments of the movie. With active settings like a busy New York restaurant and the entry of an elementary school, I would have liked to have heard more coming out of the surrounds and giving me more of a "you-are-there" experience.

That might be me just wanting to get the maximum use out of my surrounds, or the fact that I had just recently watched Pixar's excellent Ratatouille, where the sound mix is much more active and dyanamic. That's a small nit to pick however, and I think the lack of any lossless audio soundtrack is evidence that the studio was not emphasizing the sound in a movie that concentrates on the relationships in the story instead.

Extras

I like to see the theatrical trailer included with movies, so I'm disappointed that they omitted one on this disc. The difference in video quality between the feature and these extras is quite jarring, as the video in the Emeril episode is full of interlacing artifacts and it doesn't scale well. The Unwrapped episode is a little less problematic, but maybe that's because one's expectations are lowered so far during the previous video that the difference isn't as jarring.

That said, the Emeril episode was fun to watch. While it would have been nice for Catherine Zeta-Jones to be there as well, perhaps such an appearance wasn't her cup of tea, or perhaps the set would have been far too busy with so many people up on stage. I've never seen Emeril's show before, and I might have to check it out (only in HD, of course).

The Unwrapped episode is a little less interesting, because you've seen this kind of thing before. A host interviews various people involved in the production, you get a few clips or tidbits from the movie, and the obligatory back-patting of crew members and cast to other crew members and cast. What's interesting in a very minor way is that in both of the extras included on this disc, Aaron Eckhart is wearing the same sweater and shirt; almost as if both shows were taped on the same day or the wardrobe people just liked seeing him in the same outfit.

Other Aspects

Like so many other Blu-ray discs that I have watched, this disc does not support bookmarking, which allows you to mark particular scenes for future reference. This feature is also convenient when watching a movie in multiple sittings, so that you can come back to where you left off. Most Blu-ray players (and HD DVD players before them) do not auto-resume a movie if you turn it off and/or eject the disc, but fortunately the auto-resume feature on the PlayStation 3 does work properly with this BDMV-formatted disc. 

Conclusion

This movie worked for me. With any romantic movie, one has to want the principal characters to get together and enjoy watching them figure out how to get there. On that level, I think the movie succeeds, even if the tone continues to change through the course of the movie. While that could be a criticism, I think it's actually a strength, because real life isn't cut and dried, where a person only has to deal with one challenge at a time. Kate experiences change on multiple levels, and she has to figure out how to "make her own recipe" for life. Guys will like watching Catherine Zeta-Jones, girls will like watching Aaron Eckhart, and Abigail Breslin's character doesn't distract the tone in such a way that makes her presence unwelcome.

Because of the lack of any good extras, I recommend renting this movie first. If you find yourself a big fan of the story and you want to see it from time to time (good romance movies are worth having around), then find it at a discount through Amazon or similar retailer.

A movie like this doesn't require HD to enjoy, but HD makes the movie more enjoyable. Until Blu-ray players become affordable enough to have in multiple locations in our homes or the movie studios figure out some way to provide us with the ability to watch the Blu-ray disc in a flexible manner, you may want to consider whether the SD DVD is a more worthwhile purchase for you. I would probably be willing to pay list price for this movie if it contained both the Blu-ray and SD DVD versions so that I had that flexibility.

Recommended Reading

Don't just take our word for it, check out these resources for more reviews of the movie and of the disc.

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