Moist von Lipwig is a con man and a charlatan—and he loves every minute of it. From confidence tricks to far-reaching financial fraud, von Lipwig revels in hoodwinking, fleecing, and otherwise ripping off the citizens of Ankh-Morpork. When the law finally catches up to him, the city’s shrewd leader, Lord Vetinari (Charles Dance), offers von Lipwig a choice: he can take over the derelict post office . . . or suffer a painful death.
The reluctant postmaster finds himself in charge of thousands of undelivered letters, commanding a charmingly deranged staff of misfits, and at odds with corrupt businessman Reacher Gilt (David Suchet), who will stop at nothing to crush his competition. Along the way, he falls under the spell of the icy Adora Dearheart (Claire Foy), much to her chagrin. In this delightful adaptation, Moist von Lipwig needs every ounce of his considerable charm and cunning to restore the post office, trounce Gilt, and win Adora’s affections.
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.
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.