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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze



The Taking of Pelham 123 [Blu-ray]


(Tony Scott, 2009)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Columbia Pictures + Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Video: Sony Pictures



Region: FREE! (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:45:55.349

Disc Size: 44,815,630,520 bytes

Feature Size: 32,421,120,000 bytes

Video Bitrate: 27.37 Mbps

Chapters: 16

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: November 3rd, 2009



Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 3608 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3608 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio French 2590 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2590 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio Spanish 2584 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2584 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio English 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio Catalan 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / Dolby Surround
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / Dolby Surround



English (SDH), English, Catalan, French, Portuguese, Spanish, none



• Movie IQ option

Commentary with Director Tony Scott
Commentary with Writer Brian Helgeland and Producer Todd Black
No Time to Lose: The Making of Pelham 123 (30:25 in HD!)
The Third Rail: New York Underground (16:15)
Marketing Pelham (7:04)
From the Top Down: Stylizing Character (5:17)
cineChat (chat with friends as movie plays)

• Previews including Trailer (7:04 in HD!)

Digital Copy





Description: Walter Garber (Denzel Washington) is a New York City subway dispatcher whose ordinary day is thrown into chaos by an audacious crime: the hijacking of a subway train. Ryder (John Travolta), the criminal mastermind behind the hijacking and leader of a highly-armed gang of four, threatens to execute the train's passengers unless a large ransom is paid within one hour. As the tension mounts beneath his feet, Garber employs his vast knowledge of the subway system in a battle to outwit Ryder and save the hostages. But there's one riddle Garber can't solve: even if the thieves get the money, how can they possibly escape?



The Film:

Tony Scott is a director who makes the trains run on time. Not just the specific subway cars of his efficient thriller "The Taking of Pelham 123," but the metaphorical trains of action movie pyrotechnics in general.

Though he's worked somewhat in the shadow of his more thematically adventurous brother Ridley, Scott has earned his Hollywood reputation as a shooter, someone who knows how to make things move like lightning on screen.

Collaborating here with stars Denzel Washington and John Travolta, Scott puts those talents to use in this crisp, effective New York subway hostage drama. It's not the kind of film that dominates at the Oscars, but "Pelham" is so professionally done you rarely have the luxury of taking your eyes off the screen.

Excerpt from Kenneth Turan at the L.A. Times located HERE



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

The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 looks very strong on Blu-ray. The transfer is thick and heavy - balancing nicely between over-saturation and textured grain. Of recent appearances this would be most similar to the 1080P look of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. There are deep rich pastels - with green and blue being prominent. Detail is not as notable a feature but, as typical with Tony Scott, the camera is quite kinetic with frequent jump cuts. Technically, this is very strong being a dual-layered disc taking up almost 45 Gig with the feature itself covering over 32 and the video bitrate moderately high. The grain is consistently thick shaping nicely to the image canvas. The film is very dark at times but blacks refrain from being crushed and there are a few intentional cinematographic effects of blurriness or shots through rain soaked windows. In the final tally this is a very impressive appearance that produces a marvelous presentation.















Audio :

The DTS-HD Master 5.1 track at 3608 kbps is as strong as the video. There are many aggressive moments in the film with gunshots and screeching subway train noises. Separation, bass, and depth are all supporting the film's effect noises exceptionally well. Harry Gregson-Williams' score is appropriately crisp with a strong balanced low end - effectively heightening the suspenseful action and thriller scenes of The Taking of Pelham 123. There are optional subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.



Extras :

Extras include not one but two commentary tracks. The first has a relaxed Tony Scott and the second has the writer Brian Helgeland and producer Todd Black discussing the production details of the film and how it differed from the original. After pressing 'Play' you have the immediate option to opt for Movie IQ which, if chosen, includes a small icon while the film runs which you can access to have filmic details and information displayed on screen. This only works if your player is connected to the Internet - ditto for the cineChat feature which allows you to chat to friends as the film runs. There are the standard featurettes all in HD - No Time to Lose: The Making of Pelham 123 runs 1/2 an hour and has input from many of the crew including director Scott, the writers, producers, Denzel and others. The Third Rail: New York Underground is 15-minutes long and talks about how important the mass transit system is to The Big Apple. Marketing Pelham talks about the salability factions of The Taking of Pelham 123 and From the Top Down: Stylizing Character discusses the hairstyling of the film for 5 minutes (eyebrows raise). There are previews and a lengthy trailer for the film - in HD!

NOTE: There is a Digital Copy available for use with your portable devices.



Even Tony Scott's excessiveness can't spoil this gripping story (based on John Godey's 1973 novel). Denzel is expectantly competent in his role but Travolta steals the show. The camera continues to love this guy's face and although there is never a fully clear shot of him in the first half - his intensely scary and intelligent character takes over the rest of the film. The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 borders on greatness - but remains an excellent suspense movie. The Blu-ray is close to flawless - it looks and sounds quite amazing and for those who can't get enough there are the commentaries and featurettes. We give this a strong endorsement - this is damn entertaining cinema. 

Gary Tooze

October 24th, 2009




About the Reviewer: 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 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 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:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze








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