has an average rating of 6.2 on IMDb
1080p in AVC MPEG-4 on a 50gb disc
Dolby TrueHD 5.1 & Dolby Digital 5.1
are honoring to the late Bernie Mac
– 98 minutes
– Dimension (Genius Products)
Street Date: February 10th, 2009
This uses 31.2GB for the movie out of 34.2GB total.
Overall Verdict – Certainly Worth A Look
— Review written by: Justin Sluss —
The Movie Itself is Directed by Malcolm D. Lee who’s previous films include 2008′s “Welcome Home, Roscoe Jenkins” and 2002′s “Undercover Brother“. For this film he constructed one of the most memorable casts of any of his films to-date. When I start to mention the cast I have to sadly pause to take out time to remind folks that in August of last year (2008) two cast members both passed away — comedian Bernie Mac and musician Isaac Hayes. These two guys will both be greatly missed in the entertainment business.
The film’s plot revolves around this old soul band that was fronted by “Marcus Hooks” (played briefly by John Legend) and included “The Real Deal” which was a group of back-up singers by the names of “Floyd Henderson” (played by the late Bernie Mac) and “Louis Hinds” (played by Samuel L. Jackson). The soul group had a falling out with their lead singer who went his own way with a solo career as we see in the opening of the film. “The Real Deal” went their own way but only ended up releasing one album before disbanding.
Fast forward to 20 years later and we find the two living normal lives and long since forgotten about soul music. Floyd is a retired used car dealer and Louis is an ex-con working in a body shop as a mechanic. The two are both soon receiving news that their former band mate Marcus has passed away and are invited to perform in a reunion at his funeral which is to be held at The Apollo. First, Floyd must convince his ex-band mate Louis now to go on the road with him to attend this funeral and reunion performance. Floyd uses a little convincing in the finance department (or so he claims) to a friend who he hasn’t talked to in over 20 years because of a woman.
That woman we soon find out is the mother of one of their children and that is in no way a spoiler because I didn’t say which one of them is the father, so chill out. The woman the two “soul men” were fighting over was named “Odetta” and she had a daughter who the two find along their journey to The Apollo doing random gigs. The girl is in her twenties, 27 to be exact, named “Cleo” (played by Sharon Leal). The guys find out that she can really sing when they have her as a last minute replacment go on as their backup singer which attracts the attention of legendary Funk / Soul musician Isaac Hayes (portraying himself in one of his last roles).
Overall, in closing — “Soul Men” really has a great comedic sense to it, partially in thanks to the late Bernie Mac and his on-screen chemistry with the always great Samuel L. Jackson. This isn’t THE last film Bernie Mac was in but it was one of his last. I have to say the film itself has a really nice simplistic plot to it and great performances from our “Odd Couple” as they resembled, both Mac and Jackson. I know I’ll get some flack for saying this but I give this film a nice solid “4 Star Rating” out of 5.
Video Quality on this release is in full 1080p using the AVC MPEG-4 codec on a BD-50 (50 gigabyte dual-layered Blu-ray Disc) in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio. Now most of my regular readers will know I like to tell you what cameras and method were used in filming a motion picture or so forth but this is a case where I have to be vague in this department. All I know for certain is that this was shot on traditional 35mm film. The black level here is very solid throughout (refer to the screenshots above and below for reference) the film, the color palette is very vibrant and the fleshtones are accurate as well. The amount of definition / detail here, especially in close-ups, is really impressive and does deliver the film in a really nice visual style that obviously and honestly tops previous films that our Director here had done before. There’s really nothing here I found to complain about but then again I couldn’t find myself giving this too high of acclaim in it’s video rating. The film grain amount I found present was reasonable and the amount of detail and picture quality showed very little signs of use of digital filters such as DNR or EE. Overall “Soul Men” on Blu-ray Disc earns a nice “4 Star Rating” for video quality.
Audio Quality on this release is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Surround & Dolby Digital 5.1 @640kbps. You would expect a film about Soul music to be very lively in the 5.1 soundscape on both mixes and… you’d be very right. This has some nice rear channel use throughout the film, especially in the musical numbers which come through at times a little distorted at first but I think that’s to convey the two singers getting “back on their feet” (so-to-speak) in terms of performing, singing. The later performances sound really great with the vocals coming through the center channel nicely and bass hitting the subwoofer (.1 channel) quite well. This earns a respectable “4 Star Rating” for overall audio quality. I’d also like to mention that the dialogue is delivered very nicely here which is important, as the late Bernie Mac has some very funny lines you won’t want to miss.
Bonus Materials on this release are presented in both High Definition (HD) using AVC MPEG-4 and Standard Definition (SD) using MPEG-2 for video quality. Audio is in Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo @192kbps.
- Feature Commentary by Director Malcolm D. Lee and Writers Matt Stone and Rob Ramsey is obviously an audio track.
- “The Soul Men: Bernie Mac & Samuel L. Jackson” (9:30 – SD) focuses obviously on our two lead actors. This has the film’s Producer discussing how the film came to coming together and then goes into interviews with Mac and Jackson. The two real-life friends discuss wanting to work together and their approach at the film. This is really a must-watch supplemental material, glad this was included.
- “The Cast of Soul Men (7:42 – SD)” is a pretty self-explanatory titled featurette. It focuses on the entire cast though and not just Mac and Jackson. Co-stars like Sharon Leal who can sing beautifully if you remember her in “Dreamgirls“. Also featured in interviews are Affion Crockett, Samuel L. Jackson, John Legend, Jennifer Coolidge, Adam Herschman and the the late Isaac Hayes who did a cameo in the film as himself.
- “Director Malcolm D. Lee” (2:50 – SD) this self-explanatory title best describes it. You’ll get interviews with Producers and Cast members as well, all praising Lee obviously.
- “A Tribute to Bernie Mac” (7:26 – SD) is definitely nice to see included and worth a watch for the fans of the late comedian. Bernie passed away in August of last year (2008) and completed work on this film, “Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa” and the upcoming film “Old Dogs“. Looking back on his career, he really had a wonderful stage presence and seemed to genuinely have been a nice guy as well as loved what he did for a living. This features the Director Malcolm D. Lee discussing working with Mac as well as Mac‘s career. We also get some interview footage of Bernie that would appear to have been taken in promotion for the film. This is very much worth the watch and it’s sad to think that he is no longer here to make us laugh, he’ll truly be missed.
- “A Tribute to Isaac Hayes” (4:03 – SD) a.k.a. “The Black Moses” a.k.a. “The Man” is also included as this was one of his last roles in a motion picture as well before he passed away last August (2008) along with co-star Bernie Mac. Isaac Hayes was best known to my generation as the voice as “Chef” formerly on the show “South Park” and known to most other generations as the musician who did the theme song to “Shaft“. Director Malcolm D. Lee, co-stars Bernie Mac, Samuel L. Jackson, Sharon Leal and Adam Herschman all do interviews and discuss the late Hayes.
- “Boogie Ain’t Nuttin’: Behind-The-Scenes” (2:31 – SD) shows Bernie Mac and Samuel L. Jackson actually in the recording studio laying down their vocal tracks for the songs in the film. Yes, you read that correctly. They actually did sing their own parts in the film. This wasn’t the first time Sam Jackson had sung in a film if you remember “Black Snake Moan” — the other Snake film he did. This is pretty damn cool to see how they did sing their own parts.
- “Bernie Mac At The Apollo” (4:17 – SD) has Bernie Mac warming up the crowd before the taping of a performance for the film at Shreveport, Louisiana from March of 2008 and introduction from Director Malcolm D. Lee and interview with the late comedian. Lee speaks very highly of how Mac would handle an audience, be it a comedy performance audience or film extras. This follows up into a clip of Bernie doing stand-up to the crowd of extras. This isn’t at The Apollo but it resembles one of his performances in his stand-up days on the set of what was supposed to be The Apollo.
- Theatrical Trailer (2:25 – HD) is presented in Hi-Def but sadly not in 5.1 — either way it’s great to see here, especially in Hi-Def non-the-less.
In closing, the bonus materials we get here are decent in amount as well as runtime but nothing too over-the-top. They obviously focus for the most part on this being one of the last films that the late Bernie Mac and Isaac Hayes were in and pays tribute, which is totally understandable as well as appropriate. Fans of the lateBernie Mac especially will be pleased with what they get here as we get a little bit of behind-the-scenes stand-up from him in some featurettes.
Blu-ray Disc packaging:
NOTE: The full-sized 1920×1080 files are in a .PNG file format and uncompressed. Bare with the slow loading times, keep in mind these files are at least 1MB (1 megabyte) in size each.