South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. For better or for worse, the disc accurately replicated the original material, and for the most part, it looked pretty good.
It's rather difficult to really assess the quality of the picture simply because the source material was so crude. Although one would assume that Parker and Stone had a bigger budget for the film than they normally receive for the show, not much of a difference showed up on screen. Other than some nice computer-animated effects for scenes in heaven and hell, the film relied on the exact same style and quality of animation that we see on the TV program. To be honest, I though that was a good thing. Although the show's animation is terrible, to improve upon it much would be a huge distraction and not really make any sense, especially because some of the series' charm comes from the simple cut and paste look.
Still, because Uncut never looked very good, it could be tough to evaluate the quality of the film's image. Overall, I thought the disc offered a fairly accurate representation of the intended look. Everything about it appeared flat and lacked much detail, but that's due to the crudeness of the material.
Sharpness was consistently solid and distinct; nothing leapt off the screen, but I witnessed no concerns related to softness, and the image seemed adequately defined. Moiré effects and jagged edges presented no concerns, and I detected no signs of edge enhancement. Print flaws remained minor. I saw an occasional speckle or bit of grit, but these popped up only a handful of times throughout the film, so they stayed firmly in the background.
Colors seemed decent but plain for the most part. Again, the computer imagery seen during the hell sequences presented a more vivid image, but overall, the hues were appropriately flat and bland. Black levels appeared reasonably deep and dense, while shadow detail was clear and logically opaque. Ultimately, Uncut won’t qualify as demo material, but it seemed to offer a fairly good picture based on the original material.
Uncut offered a pretty good Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix. It's not a tremendously vivid mix but it did pretty nicely for itself. The quality of the sound was simply terrific; voices always sounded clear and natural - well, except for Kenny, of course - and effects seemed accurate and well-defined. The music appeared especially strong, which was important since Uncut was really a musical. Dynamic range was great - check out the thumping but clean bass during the brief rap version of "Uncle Fucka" - and it always sounded very smooth and lively.
As far as the soundstage went, it's good but nothing special. The music made nice use of the front channels and provided an active stereo mix that also offered some filler in the rear. Effects seemed fairly lively in the front as well, with some occasional good split surround usage. The rears were most active during the war scenes at the climax and in some of the hell segments, but they're a little quieter than they probably should be. Still, the quality was strong and the activity level of the various channels was good enough to rate an "B."
How did the picture and audio of this Blu-ray compare to those of the original 1999 DVD? I thought the Blu-ray offered some improvements but nothing amazing. As I mentioned earlier, the crude nature of the visuals meant that they’d never look especially great. Actually, a few of the CG sequences offered terrific definition, but the standard cut and paste animation remained lackluster. I thought the Blu-ray was a better presentation, but not by a big margin.
While not packed with extras, the Blu-ray does throw in some new components. The original DVD included nothing more than two trailers. This disc provides those – one teaser, one theatrical – as well as another theatrical ad and a music video. “What Would Brian Boitano Do?” by DVDA lasts two minutes, 45 seconds and just mixes TV show clips with the band’s punk take on the song. It’s pretty annoying.
The biggest attraction here comes from an audio commentary with writers/directors/actors Trey Parker and Matt Stone plus a rotating cast of others. Along the way, we also hear from animation director Eric Stough, storyboard supervisor Adrien Beard, co-produce Anne Garafino, and producers Bill Hader and Vernon Chatman. During this running piece, we get lots of anecdotes but not a whole lot of specifics.
And that’s fine with me, as the result remains consistently entertaining. We hear about battles with Paramount and the MPAA, musical numbers, the Oscars, and a mix of other subjects. Does any of this give us a great examination of the filmmaking process? No, but I don’t care; it’s a fun, interesting piece.
South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut is a disc I'm happy to have in my collection. While it's definitely not for everyone's taste - you might not want to trot it out when the family come to visit - it certainly will satisfy anyone who enjoys rather irreverent and gleefully crude comedy. The disc provides good picture and audio as well as a very enjoyable audio commentary.
If you just care about watching the movie, you’re probably fine with the prior DVD; the Blu-ray doesn’t exactly excel in terms of visuals or sound. However, it’s still solid in both departments, and the audio commentary definitely adds value.