Burke & Hare appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. This was a perfectly decent SD-DVD presentation.
For the most part, sharpness seemed fine. Some light edge enhancement didn’t help, and artifacts made the image a bit messy at times, so wide shots tended to be a little off. Nonetheless, the movie usually offered pretty good definition. Shimmering and jaggies didn’t become an issue, and source flaws remained absent.
Colors weren’t much of a concern in this fairly monochromatic affair. Given the nature of the story, I didn’t expect dynamic hues, and the film tended toward a subdued gray look much of the time. What colors we found seemed decent but unexceptional. Blacks tended to appear reasonably deep, and shadows looked acceptable; some low-light shots were a little dense, but this didn’t become an issue. All in all, this was a reasonably good image.
Though not especially ambitious, the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Burke seemed satisfactory. A few action/scare sequences brought the track to life in a more active manner, but these were infrequent. Instead, the mix usually focused on general environment, and that side of things worked well. The audio used the speakers in a natural manner that created a good soundscape.
Music also featured nice stereo imaging, and the surrounds contributed to the ambience. The back channels didn’t have a lot to do, but they added to the film’s aura. The whole package connected together in a reasonably involving manner.
Audio quality was positive. Music showed nice range and clarity, while effects offered good accuracy and punch. The smattering of loud scenes showed solid definition, and they lacked distortion. Speech was also concise and natural. Nothing here dazzled, but it achieved its modest goals.
We find a mix of extras here. These include Interviews with cast and crew that occupy a total of 57 minutes, 17 seconds. This section breaks into 11 clips that feature director John Landis (12:20), producer Barnaby Thompson (4:13), writer Nick Moorcroft (1:52) and actors Simon Pegg (9:06), Andy Serkis (6:56), Isla Fisher (3:50), Jessica Hynes (6:22), Tom Wilkinson (3:32), Tim Curry (4:21), Ronnie Corbett (1:53) and Christopher Lee (2:52). Across the various pieces, we learn about the original story and its development into this tale, cast, characters and performances, sets and locations, costumes and period details, working with Landis, and other film details.
With so much footage on display, one might expect a lot of information about the film’s creation. Expect disappointment, as the interview clips lack a lot of depth. The segments from Landis, Thompson and Moorcroft work the best, as they give us the strongest concrete data. The actors’ notes tend to be fluffy EPK material.
Behind the Scenes runs 23 minutes, 47 seconds and shows raw footage from the set. We view a mix of sequences and watch different aspects of the shoot. I enjoy this sort of material and appreciate this glimpse of the production.
A collection of Outtakes goes for two minutes, 42 seconds. It provides a quick collection of mistakes and laughs during the shoot. Expect a pretty forgettable blooper reel.
10 Deleted Scenes fill a total of 11 minutes, 13 seconds. We find “Extended Opening” (2:00), “Not Your Usual Executioner” (0:17), “Ungrateful Swine” (0:36), “Body in the Barrel Extended” (0:38), “Burke’s in a China Shop” (1:20), “Money Back Guarantee” (1:07), “An Opportunity” (2:41), “Knox’s End of Term Speech” (1:10), “1828’s Answer to the Paparazzi” (0:38) and “Nicephore Complains” (0:46). Most of these offer basic exposition or added gags and are superfluous. “Opportunity” would’ve been useful, as it helps explain the presence and narrative for a character, but otherwise, these scenes didn’t need to be in the final flick.
The disc opens with ads for Flypaper, Vampires, Saint and Dead Hooker in a Trunk. We also find a trailer for Burke.
Burke & Hare takes a famous historical tale and turns it into a pretty mushy comedy. The combination of a good cast and an interesting story allow it to remain reasonably watchable, but it’s too scattered and limp to be better than mediocre. The DVD offers acceptable to good picture and audio along with a few decent supplements. Maybe someday John Landis will direct another satisfying movie, but this doesn’t mark a return to form.