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Contract Star HD-DVD (HD DVD)

Studio: Digital Playground » Review by Don Houston » Review Date: 12/30/07

XCritic's Advice: Recommended

Note: The following is a review for the HD DVD version of Contract Star, a flagship title for Digital Playground that was released in standard definition DVD years ago to heaps of praise, garnering various award nominations in numerous categories from industry juggernaut AVN. The content of the movie was the same and the extras barely modified to include HD DVD trailers that show off the higher resolution of the titles that are either out or about to come out in the popular new format. The quick version of the review is that the show looks and sounds better but it always looked pretty good so it's value as a double dip will depend on your wallet.  I suggest you check out this Trailer for Contract Star to get a better idea of what it looks like in this new form.  Enjoy!

Contract Star HD-DVD

Digital Playground

Genre: Feature

Director: Robby D.

Cast: Jesse Jane, Evan Stone, Jenaveve Jolie, Eric Masterson, Tommy Gunn, Teagan Presley
Non-sex roles by: Cody Bangs, Nick P., Edgar P., Val Pacino

Length: 87.5 minutes

Date of Production: 8/7/2004

Extra's: The best extra by far was the 17:28 minute long Behind the Scenes feature shot by "Cousin Nick P." and Joone. It had all the major cast and crew goofing off or getting ready for their scenes, with some nice footage of both Jesse Jane and Teagan Presley. The shots of Teagan in her booty shorts alone were worth checking out but Jesse’s exuberant nature added to the appeal too. There was also the usual photogallery, biographies and trailers to shows like Pirates II, Island Fever 4 HD, Babysitters HD, Pirates HD, Jesse Jane: Sexual Freak HD, Jack's Teen America 3 HD, Island Fever 3 HD, Hush HD, Jack's POV HD, and Cockasian HD.

Condoms: Some

-- sponsored by --

Audio/Video Quality: Contract Star was presented in the usual 1.78:1 ratio widescreen color it was shot in by director Robby D. for Digital Playground using a full 1080p resolution and the AVC/MPEG-4 codec to provide a substantially improved picture from the SD version that came out long ago. Digital had the foresight to shoot using the latest technology and their back catalog is only now being released in HD-DVD (Blu-Ray starting next year) so expect a lot of improvements as the company becomes more handy with the new formats. This is one of those times when the HD treatment enhanced the picture enough to merit a double dip by true fans of the ladies though it was far from “6 times the quality” the format offers according to advertising promoted by the format developers. Still, the slightly rough look of the project added some charm to the feature and while Robby has certainly become more competent in shooting HD flavored porn, the composition of the shots always favored the ladies. The grain of the original and compression artifacts were minimized and the resolution was great enough that what once looked like solid colored walls could now be seen to have some texture to them (and holes). The BTS looked poor by comparison but in the feature, the fleshtones were accurate and the blacks almost as solid as some of Robby’s latest works. There was still some aliasing on Teagan’s fishnet top in the fourth scene but it was less pronounced here in HD. The audio was presented with the upgraded 5.1 Dolby Digital + and the improvements were slighter here with little separation between the speakers in most cases, but some added clarity of the vocals all the same. As time marches on, porn audio tracks have not marched along as much as their mainstream counterparts, an area that I note with increasing frequency, but some of the hiss I got when I turned up the SD version to high levels was not as obvious so the dynamic range was enhanced as well as the thump of the bass; most of which I believe were added in post production.

Body of Review: Those that follow feature porn at the major companies know that each employs a means of locking various hotties into working for their company only known as a contract. These contract gals get the benefit of being promoted endlessly, being placed on box & magazine covers, booked to do television (like the Howard Stern show and others), music videos and otherwise have favorable terms with regard to what sex they'll have with whom in their limited number of movies. They also get paid a lot more per scene than average with their end of the bargain fairly easy to accommodate. From time to time, the gals end their contracts and move on to other things although rarely on openly hostile terms. After all, no matter what any spin doctor says, the company is shelling out the money and risk, especially in an age when the consumer is increasingly fixated on seeing newer and newer gals, not the same old women (with few exceptions). One of the leading companies subscribing to the contract system is Digital Playground, having propelled itself ahead of the majority of the competition by wisely selecting a stable of gals that all addressed different needs; balancing out the ladies who only do other women with the vixens that jump anyone short of porn reviewers, to those that freely do anal as a means to get off. Just like the comedy feature field is ripe for someone to poke fun at reviewers, several years back, Robby D. joined forces with talented Joey Pulgadas to make a cute send up to the contract system with Contract Star. The movie follows the exploits of Evan Stone and Eric Masterson as they seek to win a small fortune (to them) by providing their employer, a well known company patterned after Digital Playground, with the next contract gal. The silly angle of the show was that the guys were required to act like Mexican's (as were the gals) but only the most politically correct of you will find the parodies offensive since they were so exaggerated. If this sounds good to you, read the following breakdowns of the scenes by cast and action:

Scene One: Jesse Jane, the porn star equivalent of a nuclear bomb that has set the world afire in the last couple of years, was proudly displayed on the front cover as the feature gal for good reason. Her scene with the mighty Evan was nothing short of great. She's come a long way since she first started in porn (initially having looked great but performed somewhat tepidly) and this rematch between the two showed me how much her skill has grown since they did it in Beat The Devil. Jesse was all over him and energetically blew him after he went down on her in a passionate embrace. The actual screwing was hot too with Jesse pushing back and taking a far more active role than she had previously done in various positions. Fans will be pleased to note that she did PTM (pussy to mouth) with a fervor reserved for the limited few that love doing it and the resulting extra oral on her part (using her hand to jerk him off at the same time) was fiery beyond anything she'd done in the past. With a titty fuck and pop shot to her abdomen, the scene ended but I really enjoyed it a lot. Jesse has now come full circle in this sense and no one will be able to question her skill again. Whew!

Scene Two: Jenaveve, a lean brunette portraying a stripper at a club, gave Eric a bit of action herself. This was one of two scenes with a noticeable condom and her implant scars didn't work for me but the action was still pretty warm and her tease dance very fulfilling for me. Personally, I would've loved to have seen her dance some more as her moves set her apart from a lot of her peers as she slinked about in a sexy white dress (acting, for the most part, exactly like every stripper I've ever known with her smell of money). They did oral and vaginal sex with some interesting camera angles helping to enhance her look for me. It ended when she jerked him off (usually referred to as a "happy ending" in strip club parlance) with a funny scene ending too. For the most part, she was the only cast performer that could pass herself off as Hispanic.

Scene Three: Jesse Jane, still looking great in a sexy white dress, took care of Tommy in his office as part of an audition for the role. Her eye contact during the oral was solid and once again she displayed that her skills have greatly improved (proving the first scene was no fluke). Her roots showed more this time but I defy anyone to notice the first few times they watch the scene as she seemingly enjoyed the sex as much as I did watching her in action. It ended with a facial and her continuing to pump out some more semen as she licked him clean. While the chemistry levels weren't quite as solid as her work with Evan, the energy levels were high and her passion for penis just as good. As a side note, Tommy's imitation of Joone was pretty funny too.

Scene Four: Teagan Presley, Digital Playground's newest contract star, was displayed on the front cover in the secondary position, slightly behind Jesse and on the right side. Anyone that has watched gonzo porn this year will have seen or heard of this little sweetie from Houston, TX as she's done just about everything possible in the hardest of hardcore movies. A bit leaner than Jesse, the gal appeals to a different part of me than her and the contrast will likely appeal to others as they watch her in action. She had a scene with Eric on a couch that started with him mining for gold in her sweet pussy with both his fingers and tongue before she returned the favor. I'm not going to lie to you and suggest this was her hottest performance or that she did all the circus act sex she has done in the past but it did make a nice transition to her new days as a contract performer with her displaying at least some of the energy that got her hired in the first place. Her hip grinding was reminiscent of Ginger Lynn in her heyday and her all natural body is going to continue pleasing men for a long time (although I've gotten the impression that an implant operation is in her future; I hope I'm wrong though). This scene also ended with a facial after the condom was removed and the humorous story material at the end of it (Marvin and Edwin?!?) was silly but funny.

Scene Five: Jesse Jane, and Teagan Presley, were the last up with a blazingly hot lesbian scene where they started out by wearing the same red outfits they had on the front DVD cover. To say the two looked better in the movie than the cover (which is not typically the case with porn) would be an understatement as each provided enough eye candy to get a guy off before the sex actually started. The two licked and rubbed each other, with a bit of spanking to boot although fans may be disappointed to learn that neither went down on the other; something all lesbian scenes should have in my opinion. In any case, the gals used some cool glass toys on one another (I wonder how much they'd go for at auction?) and provided some nice energy in this scene billed as the first time the two worked together. I have to also give kudos to whomever decided to have Teagan bend over the desk as she plowed Jesse since she has the perfect body to do so (and I do mean PERFECT!).

Summary: For Jesse's scenes alone (all THREE of them!!!), I'd have rated this one as at least Recommended, but Teagan was well worth watching too. The humor was decent (Robby seems to be able to pull off comedy better than most in porn) and the production values were a nice improvement over the majority of what's on the market. All of the gals looked good though and while I think it may be a while before Teagan finds her niche at the company, I think her contract will prove a very good business move by all concerned. She adds a bit of spice that Jesse has yet to show (Teagan's hardcore past) but their roles were certainly reversed in this movie. Contract Star certainly managed to impress me with all it had to offer, although I'd have appreciated a bit more sex in the feature since the running time was under 90 minutes. Regardless, it was a great way to see both Jesse and Teagan together and I hope future outings will be even more explicit. As an update for the HD version of the movie, the enhancements did add something to the mix, particularly the visual elements, and now that Teagan is actively self employed, this blast from the past certainly takes on a whole new meaning. I loved her booty shorts hugging that curvy, perfect ass of hers but this is the Teagan of old so many of her fans may appreciate her in HD even more.

You can email me with questions at Houstondon @ hotmail.com if you have any constructive criticism of the review too. :) Also you can follow me on twitter @HoustonDon

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