Chris Rock has a lot to be happy about, and why not? He's been able to infiltrate television, film and stand-up, making people laugh in every form of media he's ever dabbled in. I don't think there's a single person out there that can credit stand-up work, without giving props to this influential icon. I doubt there's anyone that's going to disagree with me on that, and if there is, then there's going to be a majority no matter where that person goes to tell them how wrong they are! The influence of Chris Rock has been felt and appreciated around the world, and to prove it, HBO took a pretty adventurous move with Chris Rock - Kill the Messenger. Rock performs at various venues across the world, and footage from each is cut together to make one, seamless performance. Once again, Rock blasts out the laughs while staying fresh and innovative!
Rock does a great job of relating to everyone with a lot of his material, but in every single show I see by this guy, there are always jokes that like to compare different races in our society. I don't think I'm going to get any gasps of realization from you if I point out that the nature of such jokes, are specifically of the black and white variety, and am I right? I thought so.
Chris Rock is so incredibly talented, he doesn't need to throw this kind of subject matter out in every mainstream performance he does. At least, that's how I feel about it. I guess if it ain't broke, it's not going to be fixed though, because Rock has had a legion of die-hard fans that wouldn't want him to ever change a single thing about his routine. However, I feel that things are a little different when it comes to his latest special.
The opening of this groundbreaking, multi-national seamless performance, discusses the political events of 2008. Barack Obama was the first major candidate in history that had a hell of a good chance at becoming the leader of the United States of America. It's a momentous event in history, and it doesn't matter if you're a republican, democrat, independent, or whatever! I won't discuss my personal political opinions or anything of the sort, but I can say that I certainly recognize the magnificence of what happened. I think it truly shows how far our country has come.
Discussing this significant event has a bit of irony attached to it. We all know that Rock has a tendency to use racial humor for a good deal of his jokes, but when Rock begins his show talking about the exciting prospect of a black man running for president under the promise of unity, it seems a little off to continue the show with the same sort of 'differences between black and white' mindset. That is pretty much the only qualm I had with this performance.
However, it doesn't matter if you agree with Rock about the presidential campaign or not. The most appealing aspect to every stand-up he's ever done, is the brutal honesty behind everything he's ever said, and Kill the Messenger is no exception! Chris points out that it's time for people like Flava Flav to get shot, because when a black man is running for the highest office in the land, there doesn't need to be one running around with a clock around his neck and a Viking helmet on his head! He pokes fun at McCain and his age, compares Palin to Michael Vick, and more. He even goes as far to say that Obama needs to get him a white woman for the first lady!
The real selling point of this show however, is just how deep Rock finally takes his insights on race, as well as the battle of the sexes. It's always been a part of his routine, but Chris doesn't hold anything back this time around
Want to know why black guys dig plump white chicks? How about when it's actually acceptable for a white guy to use the 'n' word? These aren't the only taboo subjects Chris tackles, there's much, much more.
It's not all about 'this compared to that' though. Rock also takes the time to explore certain events in pop culture that have made it so people have to watch what they say in public, and how people fail to understand that bad words aren't really bad unless the context paints it as such. This isn't exactly a breath of fresh air in the world of stand-up comedy, because it's a topic that's been done even by the late George Carlin a good many years ago. However, Rock puts a modern spin on it to keep the subject matter fresh. Rock continues his performance by talking about things in everyday life we can all relate to, such as loathing our jobs, sex, relationships, and more.
You may be wondering how it all comes together though, being that the entire show has been cut together from multiple shows across the globe. I assure you, it's not like watching a train wreck in stop motion every few minutes. The experience is absolutely seamless. When I heard this was the road that was taken for the production of Kill the Messenger, I was highly skeptical. I'm glad to say that my fears were put to bed rather quickly.
Watching Chris Rock perform his material in the same exact way throughout multiple shows is awe inspiring. The editing team could have taken their pick from any show to fill the time, and it wouldn't have mattered. Rock is a true showman, and watching him put the same smile and same little nuances in every little joke as he performs them across the world proves it. He's not a loose performer that just kind of goes with whatever the audience gives him, and I'm sure everyone already suspected that. After all, he didn't get as far as he did in his stand-up career by not being professional! Actually seeing how dead on he always is because of this innovative idea however, is simply something to marvel at. Not only does it prove how fine a comedian Rock is, it shows just how universal his jokes are, and how diverse the audiences he's been able to relate to are.
If you're a fan of Chris Rock, or even just stand-up comedy in general, then there's no reason you shouldn't check out the latest from this icon. It isn't just a stand-up comedy event, it's a non-stop ride of hilarity that's been carefully pieced together to show off the talents of the man himself, as well as the diverse kind of audiences he's been able to acquire throughout his career. This is one of the best stand-up performances of the decade, and you shouldn't wait for yourself to see why!
The video is presented in an anamorphic 16:9 ratio, and it looks pretty darn good. The image is sharp and clean, skin tones seem to be accurate, and there's plenty of detail that can be seen in close-up shots of Chris. There doesn't appear to be any nasty edge enhancement or interlacing to distract you from the experience either.
The only aspect about the video that I can comment about is a bit of macro-blocking that's going on in background. Rock's backgrounds are blue, purple, or a dark shade of red, depending on which venue he's performing at. There's a lot of shadowing in the background, so they tend to block up a bit. This is pretty hard thing for many DVD's to handle however, and besides, the macro-blocking isn't really that bad considering.
Overall, this is a very nice looking transfer, just as Chris Rock deserves for such a creative idea for this special.
Unfortunately, the audio department isn't as impressive as the rest of the package. All we're given is Dolby Digital 2.0, and don't get me wrong, it sounds just fine. However, there are so many stand-up specials that actually put out a full 5.1 track so the viewer at home feels like they're actually in the audience, that it's just incredibly unfortunate that this wasn't given the attention it deserved.
The version of this release I received to review was the three disc set. The HBO performance itself is available as a single disc release as well, but die-hard Chris Rock fans may want to shill out the extra money for this set.
The most noticeable additions to this set are the full length shows that were used to craft the piece that eventually aired on HBO. That's one hell of an extra, if you ask me! Here's the breakdown of what you can expect on each disc:
Disc 1 - HBO Original Show
Disc 2 - New York Performance from Harlem's world famous Apollo Theater, as well as a digital copy of the HBO Original Show as well. It's nice to see they didn't resort to creating a coaster disc just for the digital copy! That's using your head!
Disc 3 - South Africa Performance from Carnival City Casino, London Performance from Carling Apollo Hammersmith, and Conversations with Chris Rock.
Conversations with Chris Rock - This is only a 5 minute extra that follows Rock around as he's travelling from show to show. He tells us what it's like to perform in such large venues across the globe, and what it all means to him.
Although having the actual full length shows that were pieced together to make the HBO Original Show itself is fantastic, such a unique idea could have had more behind the scenes stuff. There probably could have been a documentary about the biggest tour Chris Rock has ever done, or perhaps even a lengthier interview with Rock talking about his material and how he feels about it.
There's no doubt about it, Chris Rock slays every audience he gets in front of. This particular act may follow the differences between race and relationships as most of his shows do, but the true strength this time comes from examining the similarities in life we can all relate to. Perhaps I may be looking too deep into this, but as much as his material at times can seemingly divide an audience, there's a bigger message here when you take a closer look. There are so many ways our cultures divide us all, as is apparent by Rock's routine, but there are so many things that every single one of us have to listen to and deal with, that we're really much more unified than people give our species credit for. I would recommend this for everyone. You have multiple full length performances in a nice anamorphic picture here. It's just too bad there aren't any meaty extras other than that. I highly recommend this as a stand-up release alone, but with stereo sound and few worthy extras on top of it all, I can't in good conscience give a higher rating. That's not to say the content itself isn't worthy of it, that's for sure!