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"The Runaways" Blu-ray/Commentary Review

I've already covered The Runaways when it limped onto screens last April, so I'm just going to talk about the transfer and extras here.

The centerpiece is the feature commentary with Joan Jett, Kristen Stewart (who played Jett), and Dakota Fanning (who played Cherie Currie) and it's a disappointment as none of them are very talkative, mostly limiting their comments to how hot it was during the summer shoot and factual errors. Since Jett was an Executive Producer who was on the set at all times, why didn't she step in to straighten things out, like the fact that she says she NEVER wore leather pants like Stewart sports throughout the movie. (Might as well give her a boyfriend if you're going to take such liberties. Just goes to show that based-on-true-story biopics are less reliable than Wikipedia, such as The Social Network showing Mark Zuckerburg drinking appletinis, something he says he never had.) Fanning doesn't offer much and seems uncomfortable discussing her racier scenes.

Seriously missing from the commentary is Currie, whose book Neon Angel was the basis for the script, and toured doing Q&As. Heck a solo track with just her would've probably been nice. She does show in a 15-minute long making-of PR piece while Jett goes missing other than a couple of stills of her with Stewart. Odd.

The transfer looks good, but it's not a great showcase for Blu-ray due to the period-accurate Seventies look which goes for a darker, flatter contrast range and there is light grain owing to the Super 16mm film format. (Though it looked like digital cameras in the making-of. Had to look it up.) You could probably get a good enough look from the DVD if you aren't particular.

The one sorta neat thing exclusive to the Blu-ray is a feature called MovieIQ which Sony has reportedly been threatening to roll out for four years. Using BD-Live, it streams in trivia info and filmography info for most of the actors in the scenes and lists the soundtrack, offering to send you a playlist of the songs via email. (I didn't test this.)

One nifty gimmick is the ability to move this menu to your smartphone by browsing to a website and entering a five-digit code which then puts your phone in sync with the film's playback. I paused a few times for breaks and was watching at 1.5X playback speed and it kept up for the most part. It's superfluous, but a neat trick. The site's system requirements imply that this is iPhone/iPad only, but it worked on my Android EVO with Miren browser just fine.

The Bottom Line: Overall, while it's nice to have a bit better picture with Blu-ray and the added bell and whistle of MovieIQ, casual fans of the film would probably be satisfied picking up a used copy of the DVD.

One knock against Sony, though I've seen others starting to pull this crap as well: STOP PUTTING FORCED TRAILERS THAT WE HAVE TO MANUALLY SKIP PAST TO GET TO THE MENU!!! There are a half-dozen or so you are potentially looking at 15 MINUTES of ads before you're allowed to watch the movie. STOP IT!!!!


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