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Buffy The Vampire Slayer

review by Zach B.


Rated PG-13

Studio: Fox

Running Time: 86 minutes

Starring Kristy Swanson, Donald Sutherland, Paul Reubens with Rutger Hauer and Luke Perry

Written by Joss Whedon

Directed by Fran Rubel Kuzui

Retail Price: $19.98

Features: Featurette, Theatrical Trailer, TV Spots, Fox Flix Trailers

Specs: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby Surround 4.0, English Dolby Surround, English Closed Captions, English Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, Scene Selection (30 Scenes)

Released: Septembr 4th, 2001

Long before "Buffy The Vampire Slayer" was a critically acclaimed, Nielsen charged show on the WB network and now the UPN, it was a critically panned, box office bomb released in the summer of 1992. While Joss Whedon, the man behind both, has essentially created two different types of "Buffy" mediums. While in addition to the action the show features, it actually is down to earth in problems and situations teens may come across as far as their social life. Here... it's somewhat mindless and a lot less thoughtful.

The film follows the stereotypical, boy-obssed and typical air-headed Buffy (Swanson). She's a high school cheerleader, popular and just everything that fits that stereotype. However, when a mysterious man named Merrick (Donald Sutherland) tells her true destiny, that she must fight off and kill vampires, Buffy is dumbstruck and doesn't really buy into it all until she witnesses the unimaginable and unthinkable. That's when she chooses to accept her destiny and, uh... madness and vampire violence kicks in.

While the television show, as I mentioned, deals with things that teens can relate into some aspects, the film is more a rip on stereotypes that are featured and have been featured in so many films and shows about Los Angeles high school students. The emptiness and typical obsessions... though I felt there could have been more focus on that. While Whedon didn't direct the movie, through his writing, we can see the wildly different directions he took with the television series. Still, the characters here are fairly interesting, let alone some snappy dialogue and the fun that is featured. Kuzui's direction also fits rather well, and she creates some pretty good shots that feature a fair amount of detail and feeling.

The acting in the film is pretty perfect and all the actors fit the character personas. Swanson makes a fine Buffy, while Perry makes a suitable love interesting. Paul Reubens (PEE-WEE!) is pretty funny and shows off some of his character acting skills, while Rutger Hauer and a young David Arquette are actually pretty fun. Though I believe Donald Sutherland steals the show in his role, and brings a good deal of dignity to it. Why he did this movie is beyond me.

Fans of the show have probably seen the movie, and some have probably just been too turned off by the negative things. In either case, it's a fun flick to watch when there's not much to do or you're bored. It's not the greatest vampire flick or satire of all time, but the time zooms right by.

Presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, the "Buffy" transfer is rather poor and needs more cleaning up. Night scenes struggle, while fuzziness is apparent in many shots. Black levels are pretty good, and detail is simply decent. Color saturation and fleshtones are also decent. Blemishes, nicks, scratches and pieces of dirty are also on the print, not to mention grain. Nothing earth-shattering here, and it seems a print was taken and then just down converted to this disc.

It's not a full 5.1 mix, but the 4.0 Dolby Surround English mix is rather poor. There's not much surround use, where there really could have been considering the music and action scenes. I think a subwoofer would have helped, plus an additional channel. The sound isn't in great shape either, as I heard some distortion and hiss in some scenes which can get rather annoying. It's a shame, considering the material and what could have been. English subtitles, English closed captions and Spanish subtitles have been thrown in, plus a rather weak Dolby Surround mix.

Not much here. A commentary from Whedon would have been nifty or some comparison of this and the show, but it's just standard marketing materials. A fluffy Feautrette with on the set interviews from Swanson, Sutherland, Perry and yes, a young Hilary Swank! Behind the scenes footage and clips are also included. It's your fun, standard Fox featurette. It's fun because it's much older.

There's the 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen Theatrical Trailer (despite the movie being filmed in 1.85:1) and two channel sound. The transfer is dirty. There also two TV Spots.

Rounding it out are some Fox Flix Trailers: Batman: The Movie, Bedazzled, Big Trouble In Little China, The Legend Of Hell House and "Young Frankenstein."

It's not the TV show, but "Buffy The Vampire Slayer" is still a pretty fun movie. While the extras, transfer and sound mixes are disappointing, the retail is cheap, so fans of it should check it out.

(3.5/5 - NOT included in final score)




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