(aka 'The Return of Superfly' or 'Tru Blu')

Directed by Ridley Scott
USA 2007

 

The new millennium has been rough on Scott: His epic-scale films—Black Hawk Down, Kingdom of Heaven—have been an honorable failure and a ridiculous mess, respectively, and his “smaller” pictures—Matchstick Men, A Good Year—have looked like leading-man showcases in which the leading men were annoying. With the true story of Harlem druglord Frank Lucas, Scott tries to balance the grandeur of his vision with a strong anchoring lead. Scott’s mastery of working big and Washington’s unstoppable screen charisma might make you want to overlook this huge, bold film’s flaws.

Lucas (Washington) rises to the top of the heroin trade in America using a combination of ruthlessness and a CEO’s eye for controlling costs. In the late 1960s, he has two grand ideas: If you eliminate the middleman, you can maximize your profit; and the presence of American troops in Southeast Asia provides a direct pipeline to the source of his drug supply. While Lucas builds a business empire, honest-to-a-scruple cop Richie Roberts (Crowe) goes on the hunt against drug dealers and corrupt cops. Eventually, Lucas comes to Roberts’s attention, and the game is on.

Crowe and especially Washington have the magnetism to hold our attention for two and a half hours, even when the script by Steven Zaillian (Gangs of New York, All the King’s Men) gets stuck on making a few big points over and over: Crime is just another version of capitalism; each man’s moral code contains contradictions. The flatness of the supporting roles is a suggestive failing; a better writer would have given us more than two interesting characters. Scott is good enough that he can even make Zaillian’s back-and-forth structure (Lucas, tick, Roberts, tock) feel profound rather than clunky, but all Scott’s skill and Washington’s flair can’t make up for the limitations of the script..

Excerpt from TimeOut Chicago located HERE

Posters

Theatrical Release: October 19th, 2007

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DVD Review: Universal (2-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC

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Distribution Universal Home Video - Region 1 - NTSC
Runtime 2:36:45 + 2:55:36
Video 1.78:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.93 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s 

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

Audio English (Dolby Digital 5.1), DUB: French (Dolby Digital 5.1) 
Subtitles English (CC), French, Spanish, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Universal Home Video

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1

Edition Details:

• Commentary with director Scott and writer Zaillian (on theatrical only)
Disc 2

• Deleted Scenes
• Making Of... (1:18:12) 


DVD Release Date: February 19th, 200
8
Keep Case
Chapters: 20

 

Comments:

Okay - we get two versions of the film (seamlessly branched) on disc one. There is the theatrical and an unrated extended cut version which starts with this caveat:

The theatrical is R-rated and the unrated simply shows about another 20 minutes more (without giving away spoilers - but it is essentially the very end of the film where a seemingly unnecessary extension of the conclusion is tacked on.) The image quality is pretty much all that you might expect from a modern film production. I expect the HD version will be superior - brighter (although the film has many dark moments) and have less noise (that is not overly pervasive anyway). Overall this SD edition certainly sufficed for me seeing this particular film. I don't know that an upgrade is necessary. The image is anamorphic, dual-layered, progressive and sports optional subtitles in English, French or Spanish. Audio is fairly buoyant and sounds pretty good with a fair amount of external speaker usage (gunshots, voices in crowds etc.). Good news is that I don't see excessive manipulation and the image is expectantly clean. I would say comparing to other new film-to-DVD transfers - this might be a notch below what some might expect from the image.

Supplements include a fairly sedate commentary from Scott and Zaillian. The film (theatrical) is a long one and the commentary really doesn't impart significant information considering the time-invested listening. I enjoyed Zaillian a bit more than Scott's inclusions but anyway it is there if anyone if a big enough fan of the film to desire indulging.  Disc 2 has two 'deleted scenes' (an alternate opening and 'Frank and Eva's Wedding'). There is also a significant 'Making of...' feature entitled "Fallen Empire: Making of American Gangster". This is almost an hour twenty minutes and has sound-bite input from many - including Ridley Scott, Denzel and Russell Crowe.

The film? - I was keen to see it but beyond the charismatic star power associated - the film is really no more than a run-in-the-mill gangster-crime saga. I don't feel either of the actors were put to any great tests of their talent(s) and Scott's directorial technique appears to be simply going through the motions with competence but no hinted flashes of brilliance. It did hold my attention for the entire film but this is far from a significant entry in cinema. If you prepare that you will be seeing nothing special - you may enjoy it more to some degree. The violence isn't gratuitously caked-on but it does have some moments that still shouldn't startle today's jaded audiences. The Hollywood fascination with the world of organized crime continues but this is no The Godfather.    

Gary W. Tooze

 



DVD Menus


Disc 2

 


Subtitle Sample

 

 


 

Screen Captures

 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 

 


 

 


 

 

 


 

 


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Distribution Universal Home Video - Region 1 - NTSC




 

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