SRP $89.99 2.35:1/1.78:1 LPCM/DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 BUENA VISTA

BUENA VISTA has released the "KEVIN SMITH 3-MOVIE COLLECTION" on blu-ray.  The "JAY AND SILENT BOB STRIKE BACK" was previously released on blu-ray, and it is the same exact release as before. However, Smith's debut film, "CLERKS" features both the theatrical and "first cut" of the film, and they're both quite different and well worth watching for comparison. "CLERKS" is one of those great indie films that makes one feel inspired about the power of an indie movie, and why they need to be honored, when done right.  Focused on a small, industrial located type convenience store, the "Quick Stop," it's clerk, Dante, and the various customers and passer-bys he must contend with, the humor is both outlandish, offensive(to some), and hilarious! Dante and his friend, Randal(also a clerk at a local videostore)are both miserable in their no-future jobs, and having to deal with the generally troublesome, unappreciative, bizarre customers that patron or loiter around their business.

No matter what the viewer's career status in life, it's hard to imagine anyone not being able to relate to the struggles of these two.  The language and raunchiness that permeates the film will certainly turn off various viewers, but the film sets its pace and content style early on, so it'll be easy for viewers to decide if "CLERKS" is for them or to be avoided. For those new viewers choosing to stay on, it's well worth the journey. The mood and atmosphere of the film have a lot to do with the film's overall appeal, and Smith attempts and succeeds in creating a comedy that is daring, unapologetic, and even refreshing!

The dialogue is wittily crafted, and even when loaded with cursing, there's a point to what's being said, further defining its characters, rather than just being there for shock value. And, underneath everything, there's a genuine warmth, yes "warmth" to to the film, making it a great selection to view, depending on the family in the room, during the holiday season.

BUENA VISTA has provided the correct 1.78:1 aspect ratio for this 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 blu-ray.  Being that it was shot on an extremely low budget, there's only so much high-def can do for this image. Still, none of the artifacts and problems plaguing the dvd, have been carried over.  Sure, there are signs of print damage and grain is really noticeable throughout, but the image at hand is notably superior to any dvd we've viewed. Helping the black and white image even more are inky blacks and perfect whites. It's the best image possible from the source material, and generally impressive, in spite of limitations.

BUENA VISTA has provided a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix.  Could a lossy mix do anything to benefit the source material. Yes and no. "CLERKS" is a dialogue driven film and the lossy mix offers better clarity over the dvd in this respect. The original soundmix was apparently never mixed all that well, so balance and volume control can be problematic here. However, surrounds are surprisingly  more immersive than the dvd mix, and bass, while overdone in spots, is deeper.

Fans of "CLERKS" will love the extras provided. In addition to the two cuts of the film, and audio commentary from the laserdisc, all of the extras from the 2004 dvd release have been carried over. A picture-in-picture commentary, although only in standard resolution, for the first cut version, is every bit as good as the one for the theatrical cut, and not to be missed.  Additionally, an animated scene, written for the film, but never shot, is the only HD extra provided.

Also included in this collection, is the "not-to-be-missed" "CHASING AMY." Written specifically for a then "unknown" Ben Affleck and Joey Lauren Adams, "CHASING AMY" feels like one of the most honest relationship films ever made. A romantic comedy, "CHASING AMY" never feels like it's compromising its authenticity for the masses. The performances and dialogue are terrific. While some have heavily criticized the direction and Smith's overall input on various angles, such criticism is missing the forest for the trees. "CHASING AMY" looks, breathes and basks in its independent light!

Affleck plays Holden, a comic book penciler, whom, with fellow comic artist "Banky,"(played brilliantly by Jason Lee) meet Alyssa at a comic book convention. Holden is smitten with Alyssa right away, and saddened after finding out she's a lesbian.  Still, the two forge a warm friendship, and Holden, throwing caution to the wind, tells Alyssa he's really in love with her.  While one hopes for the two to actually work out, Holden's continuous jealousy of her past relationships catches the best of him, making for tense, authentic dialogue as various revelations brought out. Various other relationships are also put to the test, with moving, honest feeling outcomes. "CHASING AMY" has its share of great laughs, but ultimately, it's just a very honest film about love and relationships.

"CHASING AMY" should not be missed! It also holds up extremely well with repeated viewings, making it easy to recommend for any film lover's blu-ray collection.

Made on a low budget by Hollywood standards($250,000), the variety of grainy and dimly lit shots aren't enhanced on this 1080p/VC-1 transfer. Further distressing is the fact that grain looks worse than on the Criterion dvd counterpart. However, colors are more stable in this transfer, and contrast is notably better than the dvd.  Some scenes look better than the dvd, and others worse. It's a mixed bag.

BUENA VISTA has provided a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix. Surprisingly, especially in comparison to the "CLERKS" blu-ray mix, what's presented here, is less impressive and generally dull. While the all important dialogue is intelligible throughout, it's not notably better than the standard mix found on the dvd. Minor distortion pops up occasionally with effects. Surrounds are restrained, and much less impressive than what was offered with "CLERKS," a film made on a drastically lower budget.

Not a bad mix, but nothing here benefitted by DTS-HD Master Audio, and that's a shame.

Deleted scenes, outtakes, and the trailer are presented in standard resolution. While the great commentary offered on the Criterion dvd isn't carried over, an equally entertaining and "new" commentary is provided and shouldn't be missed!

"TRACING AMY" offered, in HD, is a fantastic documentary tracing the film's development, challenges, production, and assessment. It's every bit as intriguing as the film!

"WAS IT SOMETHING I SAID" is another great, "don't miss" extra, featuring Smith and Adams, as they discuss the film, it's raw, honest approach and ending, their relationship and its demise. It's fascinating!