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Branded (2012) Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
  • Audio Codec: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit)
  • Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish
  • Subtitles Color: White
  • Region: A (Region-Locked)
  • Rating: R
  • Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
  • Digital Copies: N/A
  • Run Time: 106 Mins.
  • Studio: Lionsgate
  • Blu-ray Release Date: January 15, 2013
  • List Price: $29.99

Overall
[Rating:2/5]
The Film
[Rating:0.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:1/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(All TheaterByte screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:0.5/5]

This odd and completely ridiculous sci-fi drama from writers/directors Jamie Bradshaw and Aleksandr Dulerayn aims to be some sort of parable about our modern consumerist society and its marketing-driven mind control over our behavioral patterns. Set in what feels like an alternate version of our present society, it takes clumsy aim with thinly veiled references at fast food giants (“The Burger” is an obvious reference to global giant McDonalds, even stealing the chain’s red and yellow color scheme), fashion trends, and appetites for junk food fueled by Madison Ave. executives’ secret back room machinations.

The focus of the film is on Russian marketing genius Misha (Ed Stoppard) who’s employed by the eccentric American spy-cum-ad executive Bob Gibbons (Jeffrey Tambor) to work his Stalin-inspired marketing wizardry on pushing Western brands in the brave new free market, capitalist world of Russia. Along the way, Misha helps Bob’s daughter Abby (Leelee Sobieski) produce a new reality makeover TV show for Russian television. Unbeknownst to either of them the show is being used clandestinely by a cadre of fast food giants to redefine beauty in the world as “fat” not “thin” because their sales have been sliding. When the subject of the makeover show, a relatively attractive yet portly young lady, slips into a coma and dies after her first round of plastic surgery, public outcry has the exact effect the executives wanted. Then comes the punchline as Misha and Abby are the scapegoats and the beef in The Burger fast food chain and others is secretly dosed with something (maybe) that makes people crave more and more. Now fat is in and thin is out. Years pass, Misha is living in seclusion somewhere in Russia, where Abby finds him to drag him back to civilization, but a ritual involving a cow and its blood allows him, and only him, to be able to see the weird ad-creatures springing from and driving people’s desires.

The film is so absurd – I haven’t even mentioned the terribly straitlaced narration that spells everything out, like we really needed it – that it boggles one’s mind how Branded ever saw release. The dialogue is nonsensical, and so is the story – if there really is one here. The first half of the film is almost tolerable in a strictly “this is bad socially aware sci-fi” sense, but once the cheap CGI creatures start sprouting from people’s heads like Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons and taking over the city like it’s a Ray Harryhausen film, I gotta call “bullshit!” This one belongs in the nearest trash bin.

Video Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

Branded was shot on 35mm and arrives on Blu-ray in an AVC/MPEG-4 1080p transfer from Lionsgate. While the image is basically free from source damage, as one would expect from a film of such recent vintage. With that said, the image here is far from perfect. It does look rough in some spots, showing heightened levels of grain, softness, and even a little posterization. Black levels aren’t as deep as we’d like them to be, but shadow details are good. Colors are reserved as well, so nothing really leaps out at you in this transfer.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4/5]

The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/16-bit) soundtrack is average for a film such as this. There are some hints of clipping in the dialogue in louder passages while the balance of the mix doesn’t quite place you in a perfect circle of sound.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:1/5]

A commentary and two theatrical trailers are included, but none of it is necessary, just like the film itself.

The supplements:

  • Commentary with writers, directors, producers, Jmie Bradshaw and Alexander Doulerain
  • Theatrical Trailer 1 (2.35:1; 1080p/24)
  • Theatrical Trailer 2 (2.35:1; 1080p/24)

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:2/5]

Branded is a jumble of social ideas poorly constructed in some absurdist sci-fi manifesto about communism=marketing=consumerism and, obesity? Hell if I know. Skip it. Don’t even think about.

Additional Screen Captures

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BestBuy.com:
Branded - Widescreen Subtitle Dts - Blu-ray Disc

Purchase Branded on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Branded

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

[amazon-product]B009XTF8GK[/amazon-product]

BestBuy.com:
Branded - Widescreen Subtitle Dts - Blu-ray Disc

Purchase Branded on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Branded

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:2/5]
The Film
[Rating:0.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:1/5]


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1 COMMENT

  1. Thank you for posting your review of Branded, Bradon! I just watched Branded last night on the recommendation of a friend that I work with at DISH. Shortly before walking out of my office, I went online and ordered Branded to download to my DISH Hopper DVR so that the movie would be ready to watch when I got home. Branded certainly had its faults, but there was a lot to like about this movie. The creatures were very interesting. But in the end I find it ironic that a movie that preaches the evils of advertising wouldn’t have been seen without said advertising.

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