Columbia’s Superbit Deluxe version of Punch-Drunk Love is presented in the film’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1, with anamorphic treatment and an entire, extras-free platter in which to strut its stuff. With their Superbit collection, the studio’s intent is to provide viewers with the absolute best video and audio transfers available by maxxing out the bitrate on the disc. So far, it appears that the studio has succeeded, as the general consensus seems to be that the transfers are consistently top-notch and very high quality … and the transfer for Punch-Drunk Love is no different.
The film was very crisp and detailed throughout, with nary an instance of softness of breakup noted and the film looks as sharp and clean as one would expect from such a recent release. Cinematographer Robert Elswit has teamed up with Paul Thomas Anderson to create a visually striking film (heck, just look at the opening sequence) that was very pleasing on Columbia’s DVD and in turn, the viewer’s eye. The film uses a lot of filtering and extreme hues to help tell its tale, as Punch-Drunk Love varies wildly from dark and gloomy to bright, stark, and cheery and Columbia’s transfer reproduces all these instances very faithfully. Colors were accurate and natural and never bled or looked oversaturated at any time, with consistently natural-looking fleshtones. Black levels were absolutely solid and allowed for excellent shadow detail and delineation and a very film-like appearance.
Flaws were minor and were relegated to some slight grain in some of the darker scenes, as well as some shimmer and ringing in a few areas as well. I also noticed an occasional white spot/flake on the print, but they were definitely gone as quickly as they were noted and were of the non-distracting variety. Other than that however, the transfer and the corresponding master print, seemed to be in great shape.
While the studio has had better transfers in their Superbit line, Punch-Drunk Love looks grandiose and fans of the film will be very pleased with the studio’s efforts. This was a very nice looking film.
Columbia has given Punch-Drunk Love two very well done audio transfers – one in Dolby Digital and one in DTS – and while I didn’t expect much from the film in the way of sonic activity, I was pleasantly surprised at Columbia’s results. For a drama, the film contained a very active mix that kept you engaged for a good portion of the film.
As far as the Dolby Digital and DTS tracks are concerned, I didn’t notice a whole heck of a lot of difference between the tracks, although I preferred the DTS option over the Dolby Digital one. As is usually the case, the bass seemed a bit more deep and forceful in the DTS mix and everything just comes across as a bit more open, spacious, and full.
Punch-Drunk Love contains a very expansive soundstage that opens up even the simplest of movements within it, as I’ve never heard simple things like footsteps, passing trains/cars/cabs, and pencils rolling across desks sound so good. The front surrounds displayed some really nice separation and every effect came across as crystal clear and distinct. Rear surrounds were engaged in some of the more active sequences and the studio did a really nice job of making many of the quieter sequences quite ambient and engaging as well. While not a balls-out assault on your home theater setup, the film still managed to take advantage of each and every opportunity presented to it aurally and the results were quite pleasing.
The film contains a very interesting and percussive score from Jon Brion that adds brilliantly to the peculiarity of the film itself. It sounded very rich and did a really nice job of dancing around your surround setup and engaging each and every one of your speakers at some point during the film. Overall, the track exhibited excellent dynamics and fidelity, with very crisp sounding highs and a firm and forceful low-end. Dialogue was crisp and distinct at all times and harshness or edginess were never an issue, as everything was clean and intelligible.
Columbia has also included an English Dolby Surround 2.0 track, as well as English and French subtitles.
As with most Superbit releases, extras aren’t really the thrust of the package and that’s no different with Columbia’s release of Punch-Drunk Love. Using the first disc for the film only, Columbia has added the few extras provided on a disc all by themselves. (As a funny aside and in true PT Anderson flair, the extras all come with optional Korean subtitles!)
Blossoms and Blood (12:02) starts things out and this supplement is nothing more than a montage of film clips and Jeremy Blake imagery set to Jon Brion’s score. There’s not a whole lot to learn here, as the supplement serves as nothing more than a fancy music video. The supplement is presented in widescreen and Dolby Digital 5.1.
Follow are twelve Scopitones (“First”, “Harp Finger”, “Punchy Doorbell”, “Mysterio”, “Boy Businessman”, “Healthy Choice”, “He Needs”, “Lena”, “Come and Get Me”, “Exit Love Story”, “Wamanalo Walk”, and “Sissy Lake’s Love”) that run on average around 10-15 seconds each and serve as more examples of Jeremy Blake’s interesting work in the area. Columbia has included a –PLAY ALL- feature for the pieces as well.
Three Theatrical Trailers are followed by a Mattress Man Commercial (0:51) that “stars” Philip Seymour Hoffman as the character he played in the film. Kinda funny, but too short to be really engaging.
Next up are two Deleted Scenes (“Sisters Call” - 7:18 and “Are You From California?” – 2:23) that are a nice addition to the set, but don’t really add a lot to the story in the end. This is followed by Art (2:42), a selection of artwork from the film that again, shows Jeremy Blake’s influence. This bit runs as a slideshow that can only be controlled by using the –FF- or –PAUSE- buttons on your DVD remote.
Finishing off the extras is a really nice 12-page Insert Booklet that features more of Jeremy Blake’s artwork. (Are you catching a trend here?)
Why Columbia felt the need to generate a second disc to put less that 30-minutes of material on is beyond me. However, I’ll take something over nothing any day and what the studio has included is much appreciated. Not exactly the mother lode that fans may be expecting, but seeing as it’s very doubtful the film will be revisited on DVD for some time, it’s the best we’re gonna get as far as supplements are concerned.
Punch-Drunk Love is the type of romance that could only come from the universe that someone like PT Anderson lives in and he gets a surprisingly good and miraculously restrained performance from one of the most annoying actors of the day, Adam Sandler. At its core, Punch-Drunk Love introduces us to two odd, lonely, and entirely transparent people who simply can’t believe that they’ve found someone who loves them unconditionally – something we can all relate to.
Columbia’s Superbit Deluxe version of the film is quite nice where it counts – audio and video – but is lacking at best in the supplements arena. Fans of PT Anderson or the film itself should pick this set up the second that it streets and for those of you unfamiliar with Anderson, or those of you expecting a “typical” performance out of Sandler, you might want to rent this one first. (I can just see the disappointment on some poor teenaged girl’s face when she picks this one up expecting a run-of-the-mill Sandler flick!)