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Dominic Sena
Brad Pitt, Juliette Lewis, David Duchovny
Writing Credits:
Tim Metcalfe

A journalist duo go on a tour of serial killer murder sites with two companions, unaware that one of them is a serial killer himself. MPAA:
Rated R/Unrated

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English DTS-HD MA 2.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 117 min. (Theatrical)
118 min. (Unrated)
Price: $34.93
Release Date: 3/5/2019

• Both Theatrical and Unrated Cuts
• Interview with Director Dominic Sena
• Original 1993 Featurette
• Original 1993 Interviews
• Trailer & 3 TV Spots


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-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Kalifornia: Collector's Edition [Blu-Ray] (1993)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 21, 2019)

At the ripe old age of 27, Brad Pitt enjoyed his cinematic breakout via a small but memorable role in 1991’s Thelma and Louise. Though he followed this with some more traditional “leading man” characters, Pitt demonstrated a willingness to take on more challenging parts via 1993’s Kalifornia.

Brian Kessler (David Duchovny) and his girlfriend Carrie Laughlin (Michelle Forbes) plan to write a book about serial killers. As part of their research, they intend to drive around the US to the sites of these atrocities.

Eager to get help with travel costs and driving, they recruit assistance via a “ride-share”, and this introduces them to Early Grayce (Brad Pitt) and his girlfriend, Adele Corners (Juliette Lewis). This turns into an issue, as ex-con Early comes with his own violent tendencies.

All four of the film’s leads enjoyed good careers after Kalifornia, though Forbes seems like the odd-woman-out. A look at IMDB shows that she’s worked consistently across the last 25 years, but unlike the other three, Forbes never became a genuine star.

Duchovny would earn that status via TV’s X-Files, but his fame existed in the future when he shot Kalifornia. Actually, the movie hit screens precisely one week before X-Files premiered, so the two came out virtually simultaneously, but it took Duchovny a few years to earn true celebrity.

As for the other two, they both seemed on a similar plain circa 1993. Like Pitt, Lewis enjoyed her breakout role in 1991, as Martin Scorsese’s remake of 1962’s Cape Fear earned her success and an Oscar nomination.

Her first and only Oscar nod – as of 2019, at least. While Lewis encountered success in subsequent years, she seemed to peak in the early-mid 90s.

Of course, Pitt turned into by far the biggest star of the bunch. While it’s interesting to view the film through the prism of all four leads’ careers, because Pitt became the only “A-lister” of the gang, it seems most intriguing to see his work and place it in perspective.

As I’ve mentioned in other reviews, I always respected Pitt for his refusal to take the easy path as an actor. With his looks and charisma, he easily could’ve pursued nothing more than “romance novel” style roles ala 1994’s Legends of the Fall.

He didn’t, and Kalifornia shows Pitt’s willingness to pursue unglamorous parts. For someone with obvious leading man appeal, Early offers a radical left turn, as he presents a dark, ugly character.

In theory, at least. In reality, Pitt plays the part with such cornpone, redneck gusto that Early never feels threatening.

Instead, both Early and Adele feel like little more than broad Southern stereotypes. Pitt and Lewis portray the characters in such a Hee-Haw manner that it feels easy to view Kalifornia as satire.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem accurate, as I don’t believe director Dominic Sena intended Kalifornia to offer parody. Sena created dozens of music videos until he made his feature film debut with Kalifornia.

Surprisingly, Sena wouldn’t direct another movie until 2000’s Gone In 60 Seconds, a flashy action flick. That seems like a much better fit for Sena than a seedy thriller like Kalifornia, and that mismatch feels evident as I watch the 1993 movie.

As presented here, it feels like Kalifornia should probably follow a genuinely dark path ala Silence of the Lambs or Pitt’s later classic Se7en. If Kaliforia doesn’t go that way, it should pursue a weirder David Lynch vibe.

Kalifornia occasionally flirts with the latter vein. In addition to the campiness of the Pitt/Lewis performances, we get quirky touches like a parole officer with a hook for a hand.

Heck, Duchovny even appeared in a few episode’s of Lynch’s TV series Twin Peaks. While I don’t love Lynch’s style, I could see it as a fit for this material.

Unfortunately, Sena lacked the ability to give Kalifornia either the darkness or the weirdness that might suit it. Instead, he paints the film as a glossy, superficial piece that never gets to the heart of its material.

Sena robs Kalifornia of any potential impact. Without a convincing tale on display, we fail to invest in the characters or the events.

As such, the movie feels limp and lackluster. Kalifornia might deserve a look as a time capsule of its stars’ early days, but it doesn’t succeed as a movie.

The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio B/ Bonus C+

Kalifornia appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Though not great, the image seemed more than satisfactory.

Sharpness was largely positive. A few interiors appeared a little on the soft side, but the majority of the movie came across with good accuracy and delineation.

I noticed no issues with jaggies or shimmering, and the image lacked edge haloes. With decent natural grain, I didn’t sense any intrusive digital noise reduction, and print flaws were absent.

Colors seemed adequate. Kalifornia went with a low-key, amber-influenced palette, and the hues appeared fine within those choices.

Blacks were fairly dark and tight, and shadows showed largely appropriate clarity, albeit a little on the dim side. I felt the transfer held up pretty well.

I also thought that the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Kalifornia worked nicely, as the soundfield maintained a reasonably active and engaging affair. During the film’s quieter scenes, the forward channels dominated. They showed good stereo imaging for the score and also offered realistic ambience.

Not surprisingly, this movie kicked to more involving auditory life during its occasional action scenes, and those offered positive use of all five channels.

The elements seemed appropriately located and they blended together nicely. The surrounds added a fair amount of unique information and meshed together in a pleasing way.

Audio quality appeared solid. Dialogue came across as natural and warm, while music seemed bright and vibrant, as the score presented clear highs and tight low-end.

Effects packed a good punch, so those elements appeared distinct and vivid. They lacked problems related to distortion, and they demonstrated deep bass response. Overall, the soundtrack of Kalifornia worked well.

This two-disc package includes two versions of the film. In addition to the theatrical edition (1:57:27), we get an Unrated Cut (1:58:15).

How do the two differ? The Unrated Cut adds a little more violence and extends a sex scene. Don’t expect substantial differences, as the extra 48 seconds doesn’t allow for many alterations.

Both discs include the same smattering of additional supplements, and we find an Interview with Director Dominic Sena. During this 24-minute, 36-second chat, Sena discusses how he came to the project, story/characters, cast and performances, cinematography, and related production elements.

Overall, Sena offers a nice discussion of the topics – and he even explains why the movie’s title uses a “K” instead of a “C”! Sena’s conversation works so well that I wish he’d done a full commentary.

In addition to one trailer and three TV spots, we get two components from the era of the film’s theatrical release. An Original Featurette goes for five minutes, 22 seconds and presents notes from Sena and actors David Duchovny, Juliette Lewis, Brad Pitt and Michelle Forbes.

Should you expect the “Original Featurette” to give us anything more than the usual promotional piffle? Nope – it’s perfectly forgettable.

Finally, a compilation of Original Interviews spans two minutes, 35 seconds. We hear from Pitt and Lewis as they discuss their roles and performances.

They don’t tell us much but they throw out a couple decent notes. I’m curious to know how Shout cleared the music rights for this clip, though, as it includes snippets of hits from U2, Prince and John Mellencamp.

If nothing else, Kalifornia offers a historical curiosity, as it shows a bunch of stars early in their film careers. Unfortunately, the movie itself falters and offers a limp stab at a thriller. The Blu-ray brings generally positive picture and audio along with a handful of supplements. Despite a potentially interesting story, Kalifornia fails to excite.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2.6666 Stars Number of Votes: 9
4 3:
View Averages for all rated titles.

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