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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze


Public Enemies [Blu-ray]


(Michael Mann, 2009)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Universal Studios

Video: Universal Home Video



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

Runtime: 2:20:04.020

Disc Size: 45,940,992,250 bytes

Feature Size: 37,283,346,432 bytes

Video Bitrate: 25.56 Mbps

Chapters: 20

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: December 8th, 2009



Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: VC-1 Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 3687 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3687 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS Audio French 768 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit
DTS Audio Spanish 768 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit
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
DTS Express English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / 24-bit
DTS Express English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / 24-bit



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



Feature commentary with director Michael Mann
U Control:
Interactive Timeline
Picture in Picture
Larger than Life: Adversaries (10:19 in HD!)
Michael Mann: Making Public Enemies (20:52 in HD!)
Last of the Legendary Outlaws (8:44 in HD!)
On Dillinger's Trail: The Real Locations (9:48 in HD!)
Criminal Technology (9:39 in HD!)
D-Box Motion Control
iPhone and iPod Touch APP: Virtual Remote & Keyboard
Mobile-to-Go: add exclusive bonus features to your device to enjoy anywhere, anytime
BD Live:
Gangster Movie Challenge
My Chat
My Movie Commentary
My Scenes Sharing
Digital copy (which expires at the end of the year)





Description: No one could stop John Dillinger and his gang. No jail could hold him. His charm and audacious jailbreaks endeared him to almost everyone -- from his girlfriend Billie Frechette to a public who had no sympathy for the banks that had plunged the country into the Depression. But while the adventures of Dillinger' gang -- later including Baby Face Nelson and Alvin Karpis -- thrilled many, J. Edgar Hoover made Dillinger the first Public Enemy Number One and sent in Melvin Purvis, the dashing "Clark Gable of the FBI." However, Dillinger and his gang outwitted and outgunned Purvis' men in wild chases and shootouts. Only after importing a crew of Western ex-lawmen (newly baptized as agents) and orchestrating epic betrayals -- from the infamous "Lady in Red" to the Chicago crime boss Frank Nitti -- were Purvis, the FBI and their new crew of gunfighters able to close in on Dillinger.



The Film:

"I rob banks," John Dillinger would sometimes say by way of introduction. It was the simple truth. That was what he did. For the 13 months between the day he escaped from prison and the night he lay dying in an alley, he robbed banks. It was his lifetime. Michael Mann's "Public Enemies" accepts that stark fact and refuses any temptation to soften it. Dillinger was not a nice man.

Here is a film that shrugs off the way we depend on myth to sentimentalize our outlaws. There is no interest here about John Dillinger's childhood, his psychology, his sexuality, his famous charm, his Robin Hood legend. He liked sex, but not as much as robbing banks. "He robbed the bankers but let the customers keep their own money." But whose money was in the banks? He kids around with reporters and lawmen, but that was business. He doesn't kid around with the members of his gang. He might have made a very good military leader.

Johnny Depp and Michael Mann show us that we didn't know all about Dillinger. We only thought we did. Here is an efficient, disciplined, bold, violent man, driven by compulsions the film wisely declines to explain. His gang members loved the money they were making. Dillinger loved planning the next job. He had no exit strategy or retirement plans.

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.

Shot primarily with HD cameras the look of 'Public Enemies' tends to divide audiences. On the positive - Blu-ray is probably giving as direct a translation of the theatrical appearance as possible. Many filmmakers are leaning to HDCAM for its ease of use and production versatility but there are some definite drawbacks. What I notice most is how it handles light. Brightness, usually natural sourced from the sun, produces glare that some have termed 'videoy'. Of course, it is 'video' but it harkens back to a cheaper, older, television-like appearance. Other than those instances, and there aren't that many, this Blu-ray looks quite strong with outstanding color and healthy detail in close-ups. Contrast doesn't play with light sources as well as film can but black levels are deep and rich. The long film has some very dark scenes and the Blu-ray rendering picks up most of the subtleties but there are some very few instances of ugly noise. Reporting a greater sense of realism there are scenes with very little artificial light that look quite unique considering the extensive action that follows.  Technically the disc is dual-layered with the feature covering over 37 Gig using the VC-1 encode and we have a decent video bitrate in the mid 20's. It was interesting to see and this definitely looks closer to 'film' than I have seen from other HDCAM to Blu-ray.



















Audio :

The DTS-HD Master 5.1 track at 3687 kbps 5.1 is flawless. Thompson sub-machine gun conflicts are exceptionally loud and punchy with each shot sounding like a canon - almost too aggressive. More subtle effect sounds drift to the rear speakers in car chases and nightclub scenes. The marriage with the HDCAM makes for an interesting link to the robust, well-defined, audio. Elliot Goldenthal's score is supportive without overtaking the narrative. It sounds crisp enough with solid range and depth. There are optional subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.



Extras :

The supplements such as the informative Mann commentary, with occasional gaps during the 2 1/3 film's running time, and hour's worth of featurettes will appear to duplicate the simultaneously released DVD - but there are a plethora of Blu-ray-related bells and whistles (you know, those things that most don't bother with). As for the featurettes - I enjoyed the historical perspectives, as in Criminal Technology, on guns, cars and Hoover - as well as the production examinations. Mann, Depp and plenty of others give intelligent input. Universal have really gone to town with the disc authoring in regards to things like the U Control: where one can explore an Interactive Timeline or use the Picture in Picture abilities of the Blu-ray. This also includes D-Box Motion Control, the iPhone and iPod Touch APP: Virtual Remote & Keyboard, Mobile-to-Go: adds exclusive bonus features to your device to enjoy anywhere, anytime - but untested by this reviewer till the official release date. This package is also BD Live functional requiring your player to be hooked up to the Internet. You can do a Gangster Movie Challenge game, utilize the 'My Chat' , 'My Movie Commentary' and 'My Scenes Sharing' functions. Lastly one gets a Digital copy that actually has an expiration date for the end of this year. This seems an incredibly abundant package of supplemental material.


I was most blown away by Depp - who continues to support the claim that he is one of the best actors working today. His chameleon-like ability is subtle enough to be forgotten until you start to wonder why this is so much like the 'Dillinger' films of yester-year. His mannerisms, facial expressions and even the pace of his dialogue are, in itself, an homage. It's uncanny - I have no idea how he does it. It's almost impossible not to think of the old gangster films that Public Enemies directly harkens back to. I enjoy Christian Bale but Depp does such a stupendous job you tend to forget the other characters. The film holds up like a bio-pic but drifts to Mann's excellent penchant for the action genre. Bouncing back and forth it tends to weaken both factions. Still there is a lot of good here with a purposefully paced film experience that I am sure I will revisit. This is one film you may definitely wish to own on Blu-ray for it's direct relationship to the theatrical intent. The HDCAM look may have its imperfections but the sensory impact is no less visceral supported by an intense audio track. The film, simply on its own merit, even without the extensive Blu-ray disc dynamics, is absolutely recommended! 

Gary Tooze

December 1st, 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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