Help! Blu-ray Review
In 1965, there was no MTV, VH1 or YouTube. Music was primarily heard for the first time on the radio or maybe during a live performance on the Ed Sullivan show. So when I say that The Beatles’ HELP! Is just a shameless excuse to show several music videos, I’m not necessarily being insulting. Movies like this were really the only way to bring videos to the general public and if you go into the film excited to see a few music videos, you’ll be in for a treat. But if you go in wanting to see a quality musical or a rock-u-mentary of some sort, you’ll be sorely disappointed.
The basic “plot” of HELP! is that Ringo has been given a sacrificial ring that he can’t remove. When an Asian cult finds out Ringo has the cherished ring, they try to go after him and decide that Ringo must be sacrificed. It’s up to John, Paul and George to protect and save him. And hey look; music videos. Much like their TV special MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR, HELP! is often silly, unfocused, cheesy and in general, not very good. But what it does have is a lot of Beatles music, which makes the film a worthy addition to any Beatles aficionado. There are some redeeming qualities, mostly found in the humorous bantering between the band mates. In 1965, The Beatles got along well and that shines through in HELP!
As with everything Beatles related, there’s plenty of trivia and inside gags to look out for. The Beatles’ were famously experimenting with drugs during the film’s production, which is clearly noticeable throughout the film. Compare this to their incredible A HARD DAY’S NIGHT film and the difference is night and day, even though the films were barely filmed over a year apart. The film has its fans, but for me, it has always been a case of overkill with The Beatles. At this point in their career, Beatlemania had hit obnoxious proportions and this was a way for the band and record labels to cash in. In 1965, The Beatles could have made a movie with the four of them sitting in a room drinking coffee and it would have been a smash hit. The soundtrack for HELP! is kind of a transition album for the band as they made their way from light hearted boy band to their more serious stuff they showed on ‘Rubber Soul’ and ‘Revolver’.
The Beatles A HARD DAYS NIGHT is still one of the best rock movies ever made, but they could never duplicate that success on the big screen. HELP! is a very lighthearted attempt to showcase some of their new songs and in that regard, the film is a success. I’ll take every opportunity I can to soak up The Beatles in high definition, but this is one of those releases that’s best saved for true fans of The Beatles.
HELP! BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: HELP! has never looked so good and this is a noticeable upgrade over its DVD counterpart.
Audio: One of the biggest debates among fans of The Beatles is whether or not to remaster all of their songs in a surround soundtrack as opposed to their original mono recordings. Count me on the side of remastering. So I loved being able to hear some of their classic songs in 5.1 DTS-HD surround.
The Beatles in HELP! (29:35): We get some nice behind the scenes footage as well as some interviews about the film. It’s a nice featurette.
The Restoration of HELP! (11:27): No mention of the Blu-ray transfer, but we do get some information about what the team went through restoring the film for the DVD release.
A Missing Scene (3:57): A deleted scene that fits in line with the rest of the film as far as tone.
Memories of HELP! (6:26): Some crew members discuss the film and their memories of The Beatles.
Theatrical trailers, artwork and lobby cards