By Chaz Lipp
Article first published as Blu-ray Review: Harold & Kumar Ultimate Collector's Edition on Blogcritics.
Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle (2004) clocks in at
just 88 minutes and boasts the most threadbare of plots. Harold (John
Cho) is an investment banker. His best friend Kumar (Kal Penn) knows
enough about medicine to get into the best med school, but simply
doesn’t want to. After getting high one night, the pair decides to go to
White Castle for burgers. After finding out their local one has closed
down, they spend the night trying to reach the next closest location.
Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay (2008) is a
rare comedy sequel that expands on the original’s concept and winds up
being much funnier in the process. Much like Porky’s II: The Next Day, the second Harold & Kumar ignores the four years that passed between productions. Guantanamo picks up directly where White Castle
left off, with our boys heading off to Amsterdam in pursuit of Maria,
Harold’s most desired female. Kumar packed a “smokeless” bong that
looks a little too much like a bomb and, in short order, air marshals
have apprehended them mid-flight. As the title makes plain, not only do
they get thrown into Club Gitmo, they manage to break out.
I’m not sure A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas is actually
a better movie than the second one, but I definitely found myself
laughing harder and more frequently. Even the unrated extended cut (the
first two are presented only in their extended versions) is leaner than
part two at 96 minutes, never wearing out its welcome. Christmas makes a great double-header with Bad Santa
for those who like their holiday viewing a bit sick and twisted. The
film was released in 3D and although there is a Blu-ray available in
that format, this one is strictly 2D. That means that plenty of shots
include items flying towards the camera that obviously don’t have the
same impact as they would with an added dimension.
White Castle is pretty easily the weakest of the trilogy in
terms of visuals. The 1080p transfer is fine for what it is, but the
image isn’t all that sharp. Detail tends to go AWOL during darker
scenes. The 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack has no problems.
Especially for a low-budget comedy, this is a detail-oriented mix. The
music sounds excellent and there is a fair amount of directionality. Guantanamo Bay
isn’t much better looking than its predecessor, but it offers a
suitably decent high definition transfer. There’s nothing wrong with it,
there’s just nothing especially interesting about it. The first sequel
also boasts a 7.1 DTS-HD MA mix. Being a somewhat more action-oriented
film, the surround channels are even better utilized.
A few chotchkies are included inside the tin lighter case. There’s a
set of six White Castle drink coasters and three scented air fresheners.
Anyone who already owns these three movies individually probably won’t
find these souvenirs worth the double-dip. But if you don’t already have
the trilogy, Harold & Kumar Ultimate Collector’s Edition is a good option.