H D - S E N S E I

A view on Hi-def DVDs by Gary W. Tooze

 

Introduction: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 7500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction. So be it, but film will always be my first love and I list my favorites on the old YMdb site now accessible HERE.  

Gary's Home Theatre:

Samsung HPR4272 42" Plasma HDTV
Toshiba HD-A2 HD-DVD player (firmware upgraded)

Sony BDP-S300 1080p Blu-ray Disc Player (firmware upgraded)
Sony DVP NS5ODH SD-DVD player (region-free and HDMI)

Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

Gary W. Tooze

 

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ALL OUR NEW FORMAT DVD REVIEWS

 

 

Lucky Number Slevin [Blu-ray]

 

(Paul McGuigan, 2006)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Studio: MGM

Video: Weinstein

 

Discs:

Region: 'A'

Feature Runtime: 1:49:55

Chapters: 18

Feature film disc size: 34.09 Gig

One dual-layered Blu-ray

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: November 18th, 2008

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p

 

Audio:
English: TrueHD 5.1, English (Dolby Digital 5.1), DUB: French (Dolby Digital 5.1)

Subtitles:
Feature: English, Spanish, and none
 

Supplements:

Feature commentary by director Paul McGuigan

Feature commentary with actors Hartnett , Lucy Liu and writer Jason Smilovic

Conversation with Hartnett and Lucy Liu (14:27) in HD
Deleted scenes with optional commentary by director Paul McGuigan (12:00) HD
Alt ending (8:00) HD
Making of... (13:19) HD
Trailer (2:05) HD

 

Product Description: Set in the New York underworld where nothing is as it seems, Lucky # Slevin is an action-packed, "fun-as-hell roller coaster ride" (Venice Magazine). When down-on-his-luck Slevin (Josh Hartnett) stumbles into a running feud between the city's most feared crime bosses (Morgan Freeman and Ben Kingsley), he ignites an all-out war. Tracked by a mysterious assassin (Bruce Willis) and distracted by his flirtatious neighbor (Lucy Liu), Slevin must try to cheat death by turning the tables on the gangsters. "If you take the best parts of Pulp Fiction, The Usual Suspects and The Professional, what you get is Lucky # Slevin" (Shawn Edwards, Fox-TV)....

 

 

 

The Film:

"Lucky Number Slevin" is too clever by half. It's the worst kind of con: It tells us it's a con, so we don't even have the consolation of being led down the garden path. The rug of reality is jerked out from under us in the opening scenes, and before long the floor is being dismantled. Crouched in the dark, I am resentful. Since the plot is irrelevant and the dialogue too mannered to be taken seriously, all I'm left with are the performances and the production design..

 

 


The performances, to be sure, are juicy. A team of A-list actors do their specialty numbers, and it's fun to see pros at work. The movie begins with a man in a wheelchair (Bruce Willis) telling an inexplicable story to a stranger in an airport lounge. An empty lounge, which immediately labels the scene as dubious at best, fantasy at worst. The story involves the story of a fixed horse race, and there is mention of the Kansas City Shuffle. It is not clear exactly what the Kansas City Shuffle is, but Willis observes that you can't have one without a body. This is not what you want to hear from a stranger in an empty airport lounge...

Excerpt from Roger Ebert at the Chicago Sun Times located HERE

 

Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.

This came out in the, now defunct, HD format but this must be a new transfer as it is larger than the capacity of an HD disc. The Blu-ray image looks 'acceptable' for Lucky Number Slevin. It has moments of solid depth but tends to appear a bit flatter than we can come to expect from this new format for the majority of the film. I'm more inclined to blame the cinematography or the intended 'look' with many scenes showing extensively bright background lighting. I found it detracted from a more polished modern appearance. But detail is quite strong but not pristine, as are colors and contrast. Noise and grain exist (the latter more so in the dampened black and white flashback sequence than the color). Yes, I don't have issue with the transfer itself, at all, and expect it gives a good representation of the film. The image is fairly smooth and totally blemish-free. Technically it is dual-layered with the feature size being a strong 34.1 Gig. I don't see evidence of DNR or edge enhancements. In fact I'd have to say the VC-1 encoded image is acceptable and the Blu-ray image looks very good at times. Hopefully, the screen captures below will give you an idea of what it will look like on your system. It's pretty consistent and solid - most won't be displeased.

 

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

Below Capture shows nudity and sexual activity - mouse over to see - scroll away to avoid.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio & Music:  
I don't have the SD-DVD to compare to but the TrueHD 5.1
option has some decent separation to it. Lucky Number Slevin is fairly dialogue driven but there are moments with gunshots, punches and similar violence that come piercing sharply out of the rear speakers. The mix is very competent with, sparingly utilized, effects bouncing around the room with distinct clarity when called upon. The original music by J. Ralph and Wendy Rene's track, "After Laughter (Comes Tears)", came through fairly tight. There is an option for a French DUB and a standard 5.1 English Surround option. There are optional subtitles offered in
English, or Spanish.

 

Extras:
Strong supplements with two, reasonably lively, commentaries - one, more placid, by director McGuigan and a second with actors Josh Hartnett , Lucy Liu and writer Jason Smilovic. I preferred the lighter, latter one, but both give production details that some may find illuminating. All the rest of the extras are in 1080 resolution - a 15 minute conversation with Hartnett and Lucy Liu where we learn a little more about this pair of performers. There are some deleted scenes with optional commentary by director Paul McGuigan and an alternate ending running about 20 minutes in total. Nothing important or consequential in my opinion. There is a very good 13 minute Making of... with more interviews focusing more of the performances and character development. Finally we get an HD Trailer running about 2 minutes. Weinstein has given us some solid extras here and they are quite worth investing the time to watch (and listen) to them.

 

 

Bottom line:
I probably watch far too many films not to get jaded about stuff like this. It had a, kind of, refreshing edge to it - great star appeal but the plot direction was so very Hollywood with an over-abundance of trying so hard to obtain an aura without an inkling of more earnest character development. It was crafted reasonably well and I admit to being entertained - it just seems like the well is running quite dry for thrillers like this and throwing a truck-full of star power at it doesn't make it great - but this is good enough to watch, I think. No one should be disappointed with this competent
Blu-ray - for hi-def it looks okay and sounds even better. I believe, film included, that
there enough reasons to indulge and many will get a kick out of Lucky Number Slevin looking and sounding this good.

Gary Tooze

November 7th, 2008

 

 

 





 

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