Aloha (Blu-ray)

September 8, 2015 8 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton and Matt Malouf

Plot: What’s it about?

Aloha fell victim to the massive Sony hack that included several leaked emails and many personal exchanges that should’ve never been seen by many. That’s sadly what can happen in today’s high tech world. With this particular movie, the then Co-Chair of Sony entertainment, Amy Pascal had less than kind words to say. Stating that the movie made no sense, among other things. Needless to say, this didn’t bode well for Aloha as the film not only bombed in theaters, but failed to garner much love from critics or audiences. One of the many complaints was the casting of Emma Stone who in this movie is supposed to be of Chinese and Native Hawaiian descent. I’m also wondering what happened to Writer/Director Cameron Crowe. He’s made such great films like Jerry Maguire, Almost Famous and Say Anything. He’s clearly fallen off with such recent efforts as Elizabethtown and We Bought a Zoo. Sadly, Aloha doesn’t earn back my trust in Crowe. Who knows? Maybe all hope isn’t lost, and he’ll return to the quality films he once made. However, that seems highly unlikely as of now.

The film stars Bradley Cooper as Brian Gilcrest. He’s a military contractor who teams up with a pilot Allison Ng (Emma Stone) to stop a satellite launch. There’s more drama as his former girlfriend Tracy (Rachel McAdams) further complicates things. Tracy is now married with children, but it’s clear there may still be something between her and Brian. We also get an annoying turn from Alec Baldwin as Brian’s Captain who insists he doesn’t screw up the mission. The biggest complaint I heard from critics was that the film was meandering. Boy, is that true. There are so many different angles thrown at us that it’s hard to get too involved since we’re constantly jerked around. While I don’t think the film is quite the disaster that its reputation would have you believe, there’s still little to recommend here. The cast give it their all, but the elements just don’t add up here. Aloha tries to be too many things at once, but ends up failing at them. The plot is overly complicated and the characters were annoying. Skip it. The cast (Especially Cooper) has done far better work than this.

Video: How’s it look?

Generally speaking, any movie set in Hawaii is bound to look good in HD and this is certainly the case with Aloha. The 1.85:1 AVC HD image (it’s nice to see the image fill up the entire screen, by the way) is nothing short of spectacular. The vegetation and wildlife in some of the scenes seems to burst off the screen. Flesh tones are a bit on the baked side, but considering the filming locations I’m sure that the cast was hard-pressed to avoid the sun. There’s a fine layer of grain as the movie was shot on “old fashioned” film as opposed to digitally, so it gives the film a nice, classic look.  Black levels are strong as is contrast and putting aside the content of the movie, this is one fine-looking transfer.

Audio: How’s it sound?

Most any movie directed by Cameron Crowe is bound to have a good soundtrack. Aloha delivers in this regard and though not as robust as some newer films, it delivers the goods nonetheless. The DTS HD Master Audio mix is alive with sounds, surround effects and a very active front stage. While there’s no marquee event that stands out, this is just a good-sounding track that’s strong from beginning to end. Vocals are rich and pure, very strong throughout, and the surrounds are used just enough to increase the atmosphere. It’s a nice, thorough, mix.

Supplements: What are the extras?

Perhaps Sony knew that once the emails leaked out, the film would face an uphill battle on the home video front as well, so the disc is pretty loaded with supplements. A majority of the supplements are exclusive to the Blu-ray (according to the back of the box), but the Blu-ray version only contains the Blu-ray. In essence, if you’re looking to pick up the DVD you’ll be missing out on the lion’s share of the extras. That said, let’s move on…

DVD Extras (DVD not included in the Blu-ray version)

  • The Untitled Hawaii Project: The Making of Aloha Documentary – Clocking in nearly as long as the film itself, this documentary pretty much tells all regarding the making of the movie. It’s clear that thee was more to this than met the eye, but unfortunately the final product wasn’t indicative of this doc. Fans will really get a kick out of this, however.
  • Gag Reel – Hijinks on the set, though a few with Baldwin are pretty humorous.

Blu-ray Exclusives

  • Audio Commentary – Writer/Director Cameron Crowe really doesn’t have a lot to prove when it comes to filmmaking, but his commentaries are always nice, thoughtful and full of details. He’s delivered more of the goods here with some history of the film, the casting, the shoot and about 10,000 other little things here and there. Like the documentary, it’s a nice addition for fans of Crowe or the film itself.
  • Original Opening for Aloha – Nearly 20 minutes that gives us some insight into Bradley Cooper’s character as well as a couple of faces you might recognize along the way. Featuring optional commentary by Crowe, this does help explain a few things.
  • Alternate Ending: Iridium Flares – Again, Crowe’s commentary is optional and this is actually a nice little scene that I thought have remained in the film. Still, its inclusion here is most welcome.
  • The Awe of Space – Crowe explains the film and its use of space.
  • Ledward Kaapana: Music is Everything – Crowe is a big fan of music and when Leeward Kaapana appeared in the film and performed, it was beyone Crowe’s belief. Relive that joyuss experience here.
  • Uncle Bumpy – The improvisational scene with Cooper, Stone and “Uncle Bumpy” has its origins here. Learn the backstory of this unique character.
  • Mitchell’s Film – Jaeden Lieberher’s film appears in this supplement, well two minutes of it.
  • Deleted Scenes – Two in all with optional commentary by Crowe.
  • Photo Gallery – Over 200 HD images are included, some are so beautiful it takes your breath away.
  • Previews – Trailers for other Sony films.

The Bottom Line

With such bad advance buzz, it seems easy to pick on Aloha. Truthfully, I wish this was a case of a film proving us wrong, but it’s not. There are just too many elements here that don’t work, and it leaves little hope that Cameron Crowe will make a strong comeback any time soon. Skip it.

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