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Studio: Wicked Pictures » Review by Don Houston » Review Date: 3/18/09

XCritic's Advice: Recommended

Bound (Blu-ray)

Wicked Pictures

Genre: Feature

Director: Michael Raven

Cast: Stormy Daniels, Voodoo, Roxy DeVille, Diana Doll, Marcus London, Jay Huntington, Tony DeSergio, Gianna Lynn, Randy Spears, Dave Cummings (non-sex only)

Length: 104:42 minutes

Date of Production: 2/20/2008

Extras: For many of you, the best extra will be the lesbian bonus sex scene from Predator II between Stormy Daniels and Penny Flame. It was short but presented in high definition using a 1080p resolution and the VC-1 codec, the video bitrate around three times the SD version I reviewed a few years ago (even if the audio clocked in with a 2.0 track and half the bitrate it had previously). The 28:43 minute long Behind the Scenes feature was, sadly enough, presented in SD (MPEG-2 codec) but as far as related extras are concerned, I enjoyed this one at least as much as most of the lame acting from the movie; clips of the scenes, cast & crew comments, and a decided focus on the in-house people all part of the usual program. There were also five photogalleries (four of them devoted to starlets and one for the show as a whole), and five trailers, the SD's extras truncated by NOT including the Outtake BDSM feature, the Star Stats, the DVD ROM content, or the extended sex scene mentioned by my colleague in her review. For the record, Wicked Pictures is not the only company that truncates extras from their SD titles to their high definition versions but it is troublesome given the added cost to get less and is rated accordingly.

Condoms: Yes

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Audio/Video Quality: Bound (Blu-ray) was presented in widescreen color as shot by director Michael Raven for Wicked Pictures, this high definition version using a 1080p resolution under the VC-1 codec. The video bitrate was not the highest I have seen, clocking in around 18.4 Mbps most of the time I bothered with it (dropping far below that on occasion), but the upgrade was immediately noticeable in the movie, such things as the beads of sweat on Stormy's brow, the light wrinkles around her eyes and the make up used to fill them, and even the minute details found in the backgrounds were impressively enhanced. Still, there was a lot of soft focus and visual effects employed that weakened some of the enhancements, the feature elements decidedly more important than the sex elements in the production from what I could see. The lighting was moody and atmospheric too, all standard issue Raven speaking to me and not surprising. The editing was better for the story than the sex but the porn aspects of the movie were again downplayed as fans of the director will already understand. The fleshtones were accurate though and even in the night scenes, the contrast ratio was better thanks to the upgrade, allowing some of them to work better than they had in the past. The audio was presented in 5.1 Dolby Digital English with a 384 Kbps bitrate and 48 kHz sampling rate, all standard issue for whatever version of the movie (though lacking the Spanish dub of the standard definition version from what I understand). The music was fitting and the aural effects decent but there was no doubt in my mind that no attempt was made to shoot the flick with a surround track, the 5.1 added in during post production. In short, the audio was the same from what I could tell with no upgrade to speak of.

Body of Review: Michael Raven is one of the most interesting directors at Wicked Pictures now that David Stanley is gone, his moody thrillers and dramatic features almost always scoring emotionally in the couples' genre of porn better than as stroke flicks like some of his peers. Rather than chase the market, he tries to offer movies you can watch with a loved one not heavily seasoned in adult porn watching (male or female), the usual bad acting and weak screenplay elements sometimes a bigger issue than others. A few weeks ago, I was sent a package of Blu-ray titles by the company after extended discussions on past failures came up, the goal being to gauge their improvement since the last time I checked them out. This time, the movie was Bound (Blu-ray), a showcase vehicle for lovely Stormy Daniels to display her abilities as a grieving widow upset by the passing of her kindly husband.

The back cover described the movie like this: "Lily's (Stormy Daniels) passionless existence comes to an end with the passing of her elderly husband. However, an unsatisfied need burns inside her. Enter Garrett (Tony DeSergio), his dominant persona leads Lily into erotic worlds of the forbidden and taboo, where she explores decadent fantasies that push her sexual limits. Will Garret please the insatiable? One thing is certain...they will both learn a lesson in sacrifice and what it means to be bound by love. Join award winning director Michael Raven and writer/performer Stormy Daniels as they guide you into the complex world of love and greed as they experience the dynamics of master and slave." Having read Ravyn's take on Bound last year, I thought she covered all the minute details regarding the standard definition (SD) pretty well, the title meriting additional consideration from my sweet friend a few times lists came up. Given the wealth of pictures and commentary she placed in her review, I'm not going to reinvent the wheel with this review. No, the purpose of this review is merely to provide an overview of the Blu-ray enhancements and how the rest of the production fared. In that sense, the movie did look better even if it had fewer extras, the result being a rating of Recommended. Diana Doll, Roxy DeVille, and yes, Stormy Daniels, all provided some strokable sex scenes here despite the condoms. The acting and screenplay were not the best I've seen from the company but it did earn some nods from me so I appreciate getting a belated copy to check out.

Summary: Bound (Blu-ray) by director Michael Raven for Wicked Pictures earned a rating of Recommended due to the ladies, the total package, and the manner in which it was enhanced. I would have appreciated a bit closer attention to detail and perhaps some unique extras if not the original package, but I can see why Ravyn enjoyed it so much, her love of the company's releases earned by their devotion to features with just enough twist and turns to boost them above the norm. In short, Bound (Blu-ray) might not have set the world on fire when it came out by aside from the press releases detailing the exploits of the cast & crew during the making of the production, it was a cute little title for the type of genre it aimed at addressing.

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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