- BD-50 Blu-ray Disc
- 1080i/MPEG-4 AVC
- English: 2.0 Stereo PCM
- English: 2.0 Dolby Digital
- English SDH
- Terry Pratchett video introduction
- Audio commentary with director Jon Jones
- Cast, crew, fan interviews
- Deleted scenes
- Blooper reel
- Image galleries
Exclusive HD Content
- Picture-in-picture audio commentary with director Jon Jones
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Terry Pratchett’s Going Postal (Blu-ray)
Acorn Media / 2010 / 185 Minutes / Unrated
Street Date: September 20, 2011
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Reviewed by Aaron Peck
Thursday, September 22, 2011
Terry Pratchett, author of the wildly successful Discworld novels, has had his work adapted to the screen many times over, with varying amounts of success. Sometimes they come across too corny, other times the filmmakers are able to portray the subtle sarcasm and wit contained in his books. 'Going Postal' is one of the latter adaptions. It focuses more on the subtle way Pratchett skewers society, rather than just focusing on the weirdness of the Discworld in general. While I'm still waiting for an adaption of the Terry Pratchett/Neil Gaimen book "Good Omens," 'Going Postal' will have to do.
For those of you not in the know, the Discworld is a fictional fantasy world created by Pratchett wherein he sets most of his novels. The world is actually shaped like a flat disc, and floats through space propped up on the backs of four elephants who are in turn standing on the back of a giant turtle. Just by that description you know the kind of story you're in for. Pratchett usually goes for the absurdist humor, but it works. His world is so zany and nutty anything can happen at any time. That's half the fun. If you've read the Discworld novels you'd know that the world has grown up through time from something that resembled medieval times to Victorian London – at least that's how the author explains it in the brief introduction he gives before the movie.
'Going Postal' is actually quite ripe for the times, even if it wasn't meant to be. With the U.S. Postal Service on the brink of financial ruin, the story hits home even more than it was supposed to. See, the Discworld post office has long been shutdown. It's been put out of business by the Clacks, a primitive communication system that involves sending messages via levers and lights from towers propped high above cities. It's like a mix of a very early Internet and the telegraph system. The Clacks are the way everyone communicates. There's no need to send letters… or is there?
Moist Von Lipwig (Richard Coyle) is a con man. His biggest, and most lucrative scam was forging fake bonds and then selling them back to the bank for huge profits. It was a victimless crime Lipwig thought. Well, after the bank went belly up, Lipwig was finally arrested and sentenced to hang. That is until Lord Vetinari (Charles Dance) gives him a stay on his execution and sentences him to restart the postal service. If he's successful he lives, if not, then it's back to the gallows. Vetinari doesn't do this because he likes Lipwig, rather he hates the owner of the Clacks, Reacher Gilt (David Suchet), and would like to see him put out of business. Lipwig accepts under duress, of course, and sets about trying to put the postal service back on the map. His conman skills come in handy when he's trying to convince people exactly why they need an outdated system of communication. It's more personal. More intimate, and more reliable that the dreadful Clacks that are always getting bogged down with messages.
What results is a funny and heartfelt made-for-TV movie. The production not only follows the hilarious exploits of a man trying to restart the post office, but it also gets down to the nitty-gritty of the story.how Lipwig's swindling actually did hurt people. He learns the hard way that he wasn't committing victimless crimes. Far from it.
I enjoyed 'Going Postal.' One of the better Terry Pratchett adaptions out there. They've done a brilliant job here recreating the city of Ankh-Morpork. Yes, some of the practical effects, like the Gollum costumes, are a bit iffy in quality, but that's to be expected on a lower budget. However, they make up for it in the overall quality of the adaption and the dead-on depictions of Pratchett's characters. Pratchett fans should get a kick out of 'Going Postal,' but I think they'll all agree that we need more worthwhile adaptions of his work.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
'Going Postal' is a British TV production which is brought to Blu-ray by Acorn Media. The two-episode movie runs 185 minutes. The entire movie, and features, are housed on one 50-GB Blu-ray disc. It comes complete with a slipcover, which features the same artwork as the cover art.
'Going Postal' is presented in 1080i, and frankly, you can tell. Many of these British television shows are presented in 1080i on Blu-ray. Sometimes it's a negligible difference, other times the difference is noticeable. This is one of those times.
On the whole, the entire image looks flat. Especially during nighttime scenes, where crushing shadows take over and flat blacks wreak havoc on the overall picture. They obscure faces, textures, and objects, adding no discernible depth to the image. Close-ups reveal a fair amount of facial and textual details, but they also reveal flaws in the poorly crafted Gollum suits. The CG used here is understated so it's not called into question by the defined optics of the HD image.
Blacker nighttime scenes feature a bit of errant noise that isn't anywhere to be found during the daytime scenes. The visuals are disappointing at times yes, but most of the time they're slightly above average in their depiction of detail, color, and contrast.
'Going Postal' has only been given a 2.0 stereo PCM sound mix. This is a bit disappointing, because although the mix is lossless, there are plenty of scenes that could have been improved had there been a full-fledged 5.1 mix. The fire in the post office, for one. Fire burning in every direction, wood beams falling from the ceiling and all we have is a measly two front speakers to convey the action.
Dialogue is always clear though, which is nice. Directionality is limited, but voices are placed in either speaker depending on the location of the characters on screen. Panning effects aren't as smooth as they would be with the help of a center speaker, but when a crossbow arrow flies through the frame it travels from left to right without much hindrance.
There's nothing technically wrong with 'Going Postal's 2.0 lossless audio mix, but the movie really could have benefitted from a more substantial presentation.
- Terry Pratchett Introduction (HD, 5 min.) – This intro is given by the author before the film starts. You're allowed to choose, before it starts playing, if you want the intro to play. I suggest you do. Pratchett is funny, but also gives some much-needed cursory information about the story and the Discworld for people who may be new to his storytelling.
- Audio Commentary – Director Jon Jones is the lone commentator here. I must say, this is one of the blandest commentaries I've ever heard. Much of it is full of "umms" and "uhhs" as Jones stumbles through the movie not really sure what to say next. Like they just plopped him down for this commentary without him having any time to prepare what he was going to say. He gives some slightly interesting info about how the Clacks were made and the idea behind them – being a 16 bit communication source – but his delivery is so bland it's hard to pay much attention.
- Interviews (SD, 51 min.) – A load of interviews are included here. Even though they are promotional in nature they go pretty in-depth where making the movie is concerned. Pratchett's interview, which is first, reveals a lot of enjoyable information about where he came up with the idea for the book, how he came up with the idea for the Clacks, and his writing process. Other interviews include the director, producer, costume department, make-up, the fans, and the cast.
- Deleted Scenes (SD, 6 min.) – Not much here. Only six short deleted scenes, many of which are filler or short transitional scenes anyway.
- Image Galleries (HD) – There are three galleries included: "Storyboards," "Props," and "Set Drawings."
- Bloopers (SD, 4 min.) – Standard mess-ups, laughing actors, and prop malfunctions. The door falling down is actually pretty funny..
- Picture-in-Picture Audio Commentary (HD) – So, this is a pretty redundant and unnecessary feature. Get this! This is the same exact audio commentary as the one listed above, the difference? Now we get to see Jones stumble over his words. To make matters worse it's like he's watching the movie off to the side on a computer so his eyes are constantly wandering around trying to watch the movie. It's irritating. The PiP feature adds nothing to the commentary. Same old commentary as above, this time with boring visuals.
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This is one of my favorite Pratchett adaptions. The longer runtime gives you an opportunity to get to know and love the characters. With its length you get the feeling that they were able to keep most of the situations and plotlines from the novel. The video presentation is slightly above average in terms of quality but I simply expected more out of the audio. This is worth a look though if you're interested.
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