(aka 'The Return of Superfly' or 'Tru Blu')
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.
Theatrical Release: October 19th, 2007
DVD Review: Universal (2-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC
|DVD Box Cover||
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|Distribution||Universal Home Video - Region 1 - NTSC|
|Runtime||2:36:45 + 2:55:36|
Average Bitrate: 5.93 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s
|Audio||English (Dolby Digital 5.1), DUB: French (Dolby Digital 5.1)|
|Subtitles||English (CC), French, Spanish, None|
with director Scott and writer Zaillian (on theatrical only)
• Deleted Scenes
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.