Note: The following is a review for the HD DVD version of Jack’s Playground 27, 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 substantially 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 Jack’s Playground #27 HD to get a better idea of what it looks like in this new form. Enjoy!
Audio/Video Quality: Jack's Playground 27 HD 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 grain at times but it was less pronounced here in HD, the comedy sequences by Rog and Gram all the more funny thanks to the enhanced resolution; Joey and Nick adding in the special effects and comedy bits to make it a better show than many available on the market. 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: Pirates has proven to be a breakthrough title for Digital Playground given the expense, the quality, and the ambition of the project alone (Heck, I even added pictures to the review so you know it must be good!), so other movies by the company's stable of contract director's are now getting even more attention than ever before. One of the most capable directors they have, Robby D., is so good that they generally have him act as cameraman when their others shoot a movie so it comes as no surprise that his Jack's Playground series has won so many accolades in the last few years. Today's review of Jack's Playground 27 HD shows that Robby hasn't lost his sense of humor as the show focuses in on a press conference about Jack's Playground 25. The controversy in question was how the show referred to Melanie Jagger as a pig and "fat chick", something I commented on when I reviewed the highly recommended release back in September. The gist of the comedy material between the sex scenes starred reviewer Roger T. Pipe and columnist Gram Ponante; smashing a computer monitor over how lame the series had been and then fussing about the pig comment. In all, I thought it was quite funny with Gram stealing the initial scene (smashing the computer with the baseball bat) and Roger getting the best lines in the various press conference scenes. Otherwise, the show has switched over to filming in HD format so it should start looking even better and here's a quick look at the stuff most of you care about; the sex:
Scene One: Aidan Layne, a small gal with all natural breasts and a "girl next door" look, was up first as she sold subscriptions to a free newspaper door to door. Scott Nails answered the door and one thing led to another so she had sex with him as part of an audition for a music video (the general premise of the series, even this far into it). She sucked him off well enough in the fancy living room, acting playful more than professional; using her hand to increase the friction and get him extra hard. He took her from behind as she called for him to "fuck that pussy" repeatedly. Initially, she didn't pump back or otherwise actively participate but she got better as the scene progressed and rode him with an increased tempo soon enough. She engaged in PTM (pussy to mouth) between positions and it ended with the population pudding going to her mouth. In all, it was not the best scene in the series but okay to watch a few times.
Scene Two: Austin Kinkaid, the sexy brunette featured on the front of the DVD cover on the right hand side, was up next as she auditioned for the series. After stripping off her clothes, the guys, including scene partner Scott Nails, gave her the firmness test (with Scott giving her crack the taste test too). He actually spent considerable time going down on her and she purred in approval. This led to her blowing him but she only took the top portion in, preferring to use her hand to cover the rest of the shaft, and they were bumping uglies in no time. She was another one that seemed to want him to do all the work until the final stages of the cowgirl position. Eventually, he rubbed out a load onto her face and upper torso but by this point in the show, I wasn't all that impressed (and her looking like a young Sydnee Steele sure didn't hurt my interest).
Scene Three: Annmarie Michelle, a cute brunette with an all implanted chest and strong legs), was up next with Kurt “Mark Hamill’s crackhead brother” Lockwood in the bedroom. She played a shy girlfriend for the scene and this led to my libido tuning her out in large part since a lack of proper tease in such a scene always weakens it for me. The oral by both of them was also kind of tame and the boning in her admittedly attractive pussy wasn't any better (at least until she took over in cowgirl). The pop shot was plentiful but unless you are attracted to semen, it won't save the scene for you.
Scene Four: McKenzie Lee, a lean brunette with braided hair (looking much like Tory Lane on the cover; even passing as her if you don't look closely), was up next in a blowjob scene with Scott Nails. Coming from England, it was easy to understand her snaggletooth smile, but Robby would've been better off keeping the camera away from her mouth (unless it was full of cock). She actually began to prepare for blowing Robby but Scott barged in and cock blocked him to take over. Had it been me, I'd have kicked his ass and sent him packing but then the thought of her teeth shredding my penis came into mind so I changed my mind. She gave good head and I only wished it was a full scene but one of the things you'll find out about the series is that it mixes things up a bit and you can't depend on anything too formulaic to happen. I did like how she worked out the load herself and didn't need him jerking off to completion.
Scene Five: Sofie Paris, the light haired gal on the left hand side of the front DVD cover, was up next as she modeled her blue jeans, pink top, and hot body to a pounding beat that needed fixing. I actually preferred the white short shorts she tried on more. This was one of the infamous tease scenes the series is renowned for and all she did was masturbate for the camera. Aside from some very weak lighting on the technical end of the show, she did display a great set of legs and a fine ass so I hope to see more of her in the future.
Scene Six: Tory Lane, the implanted brunette with braids on the middle of the front DVD cover (in the background), could've been McKenzie's long lost sister with how closely they resembled one another here. She claimed that she'd do anything to get into a music video and was soon proving this by having sex with Richard Raymond. He ate her out and she inhaled his shaft when her turn came around, proving to be the most orally talented gal of the show. She was a pretty solid ride during the vaginal but let him do the work in the anal portion of the movie, bothering me only a little that her ass blemishes were so prominent until they started covering them with their hands. The scene ended with some more oral by her (ATM) and a pop shot to her face and breasts.
Summary: Jack's Playground 27 HD rated highly for having a focused comedy theme this time but the all important sex was lacking in almost every case. Needless to say, this put a damper on things for those of us who might expect a porno to have great sex. The ladies were well chosen, the settings okay, and the series premise decent enough but the devil's in the details and that's where it fell short enough to barely rate a Rent It from me. I hope the series continues to improve on the filler comedy bits as it did here (I could see Roger and Gram doing a take off on the semi-retarded Jay and Silent Bob material from director Kevin Smith, for example) but the technical matters should be worked on and the passion of the ladies in the sex scenes should be the initial focus of any fixes before Robby gets too far off track. If you've never seen the series before, you'll find better volumes to get off with but I've seen worse than this one too.
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