Hamlet 2 appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Expect a watchable but inconsistent transfer.
For the most part, sharpness was fine. Some mild edge enhancement showed up, and that left wide shots as a bit less defined than I’d like. Still, the majority of the movie demonstrated acceptable to good delineation. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, but a few source defects showed up along the way. This meant a smattering of small specks.
Colors looked good. The desert setting meant a fairly sandy palette, but the disc translated the hues in a positive manner. The scenes with brighter tones demonstrated nice clarity. Blacks were a bit muddy, and shadows seemed slightly opaque. Overall, this was a decent presentation, but a few too many drab scenes materialized to leave this as anything worth more than a “B-“.
Don’t expect a whole lot from the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Hamlet 2. Most of the chatty movie manifested a limited soundscape, though a few scenes opened up as the flick progressed. The parts of the musical broadened pretty well, and we also got some surround usage from a thunderstorm and some environmental elements. None of these created a particularly interesting soundfield, but the material made sense for the story.
Across the board, audio quality was fine. Speech seemed acceptably natural and concise, with no edginess or other concerns. Music seemed fairly full, while effects demonstrated good clarity and range. Of course, they did little to tax my system, but they replicated the audio well. While the track was too subdued to impress, I thought it was perfectly acceptable.
When we move to the disc’s extras, we open with an audio commentary from director/co-writer Andrew Fleming and co-writer Pam Brady. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific chat. They discuss cast and performances, sets and locations, a few production design and editing notes, some story issues, and general movie-making topics.
While the synopsis above includes a good mix of subjects, in reality, Fleming and Brady usually just chitchat in a semi-comedic way. Honestly, this often feels like a breakfast conversation between a married couple. “Good eggs today, honey.” “Thanks – I added paprika!” “Tastes good!” The track seems pretty banal and often consists of little more than praise. A few decent tidbits emerge, and it’s not an unpleasant affair, but it does seem tedious much of the time.
One Deleted Scene lasts three minutes. It shows more of the tension in Dana’s home life. It also sets up later events in his relationship with his wife. It actually would’ve made sense in the final cut, as it allows those developments to seem more logical; the actions in the released version come out of nowhere.
Next we get a 15-minute and 35-second featurette called Making Number 2. It provides notes from Fleming, Brady, producers Aaron Ryder and Eric Eisner, and actors Steve Coogan, Catherine Keener, David Arquette, Joseph Julian Soria, Melonie Diaz, Skylar Astin, Phoebe Strole, and Michael Esparza. The show looks at he project’s origins and development, cast, characters and performances, aspects of the script and story, the musical within the movie, sets and locations, and the movie’s tone.
Don’t expect much more than the average promotional featurette here. While the commentary didn’t include a ton of information, it gives us a lot more than we get from “Making”. You’ll find a few mildly funny bits from Coogan in character but not much else.
Something unusual arrives via. Oscar Winner Vs. High School Drama Class. In this one-minute and 10-second clip, we compare the movie’s stage performance of Erin Brockovich with the actual film. It’s a fun extra.
Sing Along with Hamlet 2 covers two songs: “Raped in the Face” and “Rock Me Sexy Jesus”. This feature shows the scenes from the movie and includes subtitles with the tunes’ lyrics. “Sing Along” uses Coogan-portrayed Einstein and Jesus heads to point out the appropriate words. That makes it wackier, but it’s not especially interesting otherwise.
A few ads open the DVD. We get clips for Burn After Reading, The Office, Slap Shot 3: The Junior League, Blu-Ray Disc, Death Race and Milk. No trailer for Hamlet 2 appears here.
Broad, cartoony and only occasionally funny, Hamlet 2 offers an exercise in intermittent cleverness. Unfortunately, we find such erratic entertainment that the whole package disappoints. It probably would work better as a skit or a short program, as it just can’t fill 92 minutes with quality material. The DVD provides decent picture and audio as well as mediocre extras. This isn’t a bad movie or release, but it doesn’t do much for me.