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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

 

Road To Perdition [Blu-ray]

 

(Sam Mendes, 2002)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Twentieth Century Fox

Video: Dreamworks Video

 

Disc:

Region: 'A'-locked (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:57:03.391

Disc Size: 48,524,943,683 bytes

Feature Size: 34,864,054,272 bytes

Video Bitrate: 31.45 Mbps

Chapters: 24

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: August 3rd, 2010

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 4606 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 4606 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio French 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio English 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps / DN -4dB

 

Subtitles:

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

 

Extras:

• Optional introduction by Sam Mendes (1:18 in HD!)
Commentary track by director Sam Mendes

• "A Cinematic Life: The Art and Influence of Conrad Hall" (26:39 in HD!)
11 deleted scenes with optional Mendes commentary (22:16 in SD)
"The Making of Road To Perdition" (25:04 in SD)
"The Library: A Further Exploration of the World of 'Road to Perdition' (explores creative process and historical inspirations for the film in an interactive format)
Theatrical trailer (2:52 in HD!)

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: Two-time Academy Award winner Tom Hanks in “one of his best performances” (Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times) stars as Michael Sullivan, a father fighting to keep his only son from traveling the Road to Perdition. Directed by Oscar winner Sam Mendes (American Beauty), this towering motion picture achievement has been acclaimed by audiences and critics alike.

Also starring Academy Award winner Paul Newman and Oscar nominee Jude law, Road to Perdition weaves a mesmerizing tale of a father and son bound together by tragedy and betrayal. On an unforgettable journey of honor, vengeance and redemption, they confront overwhelming odds – and forge an indestructible bond. Hailed for the powerhouse performances of its stars and the stunning impact of its story, Road to Perdition is an electrifying experience that will stay with you for a lifetime.

 

 

Directed by Sam Mendes and based on the graphic novel by Max Allan Collins and Richard Piers Rayner, the Depression-era crime epic ROAD TO PERDITION stars Tom Hanks as Michael Sullivan, a quiet hit man who is duty bound to Mafia boss John Rooney (Paul Newman). The mobster's close bond with Sullivan, however, leads Rooney's jealous blood son, Connor (Daniel Craig), to orchestrate a tragic series of events that results in Sullivan on the run with his 12-year-old son, Michael Jr. (Tyler Hoechlin). Soon an unscrupulous crime photographer/assassin named Maguire (Jude Law) is sent after Sullivan and his son, and Sullivan must decide on a course of action as young Michael comes to terms with his father's violent way of life.
Meticulously directed by Mendes and brilliantly photographed by Conrad Hall, each scene of ROAD TO PERDITION has the composition of an expertly rendered painting. Making effective use of rain, snow, and shadows, the filmmakers create a cinematic world that's as dark, cold, and unforgiving as many of its inhabitants. But the film also allows for glimpses of emotional warmth, particularly in Sullivan's relationships with his son and Rooney, his surrogate father. In these roles, the respective actors create complex characters that resonate even in their restraint; Hanks is outstanding as a man of action with little time for words, while newcomer Hoechlin creates an unsentimental portrait of a confused boy, and Newman once again proves why he's a screen legend. And, in a strikingly unflattering role, Law makes the most out of his screen time as a creepy, parasitic hit man. Even in its harshest moments, however, Mendes never fails to remind the audience that ROAD TO PERDITION is a film about fathers and sons; and this is what elevates it from an atmospheric gangster movie to a truly astonishing work of art.
 

 

 

The Film:

The year is 1931, and dapper immigrant mobsters are running an icy America with big guns and deadly honour codes. You know, the stuff of cinematic pearls since time immemorial, and the canvas on which Max Allan Collins and Richard Piers Rayner painted their graphic novel (posh comic book).

It's this emotional exploration of the gangster myth that Yank-fixated Brit Sam Mendes was drawn to after his blistering debut, 'American Beauty'. 'Perdition' translates as 'damnation', and with wry whimsy is also the name of the elusive Midwest town planned as sanctuary for enforcer Michael Sullivan's young son, desperate to find love in his cold-blooded father.

This is a moody, pristine study of paternal woe, localised to an Illinois chapter of the mob run by Newman's ageing patriarch, a man tormented by a trigger-happy dolt of an heir, Connor (Craig, slimeballing with relish). His is the devilry that rips apart Sullivan's life, sending echoes up to Chicago, in the form of a slick Stanley Tucci as real-life Capone general, Frank Nitti. Gangsters are the ultimate dysfunctional family.

Excerpt from Ian Nathan of Empire Magazine located HERE

 


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

For the most part the image quality on the Blu-ray of Road to Perdition is quite good - certainly eclipsing the previous DVD.  There is some strange softness at times that I can't nail it down and noise exists in some of the darker sequences. Grain is prevalent and reasonably consistent (not too blocky) giving an even texture to the presentation. Daylight scenes showcase a bit of the film's depth, however, Road to Perdition has a lot of darkness and the cinematography never abuses the shadow usage but it is nice to see the subtleties and the 1080P pick up these markers so well. In the, optional, introduction director Sam Mendes states how he was not a supporter of the new format but was blown away by the end result with every drop of rain in the Hanks/Newman dramatic conflict later scene was readily visible via the HD rendering. Aside from vibrant blood colors are never heavily used in the film. I'm not dissatisfied with the way Road to Perdition looks but my expectations may have been a bit higher but it certainly the transfer seems to showcase the original gritty appearance. It is an expertly framed film and I doubt we will see it looking any better for your home theater enjoyment.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

The lossless DTS-HD Master 5.1 at a mammoth 4606 kbps has guns sounding like canons and it also supports the more subtle aspects of the track. It can be so incredibly powerful that I was conscious of, and slightly feared, the aggression through my speakers. When you've got the volume level correct the experience was a highly immersive one. Thomas Newman's score runs beside the film supporting the action and the HD audio delivers it with decent depth. There are optional subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked although it is available in region 'B'.

 

 

Extras :

Some of the Blu-ray supplements are duplicated from the 2003 DVD including the worthwhile commentary track by Sam Mendes. He is an intelligent director and his insights are very informative. The 11 deleted scenes with optional Mendes commentary running over 20-minutes are also ported over as is the 25-minute "The Making of Road To Perdition". New is a brief introduction by Sam Mendes (just over a minute). We are given the option once you press 'Play' to access it. I found the "A Cinematic Life: The Art and Influence of Conrad Hall" enjoyable and informative it traces the roots of this impressive cinematographer - he passed on not long after the completion of Road to Perdition. He worked on such films as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), Marathon Man (1976), Searching for Bobby Fischer (1993) and Mendes' own unforgettable American Beauty (1999). Also new is 'The Library: A Further Exploration of the World of 'Road to Perdition' where you can interactively explore text on the creative process and historical inspirations for the film. It's a bit laborious but the information imparted is good. Lastly there is a 2.5 minute theatrical trailer in HD. It's nice to see the new extras although the commentary seems the most viable for further appreciation of the film.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
Not surprisingly I had a typical HD-experience - meaning that I enjoyed the film much more on Blu-ray than I remember doing so with the DVD (which was my first viewing). Everything was far more impacting - especially the visceral effect of the violence and subtly bonding with the Michael Sullivan (Hanks) character only through his eyes. Road to Perdition is like a gangster film thrown on it's side with equal parts brutality and under spoken humanity at its core but Mendes tackles the narrative with a furtive style that really works efficiently. If this was 50 years older - it would easily be considered part of the Noir cycle. The Blu-ray elevates the impact of the film to a far more dynamic level and this works to establish a mesmerizing effect on this reviewer. We strongly recommend. 

Gary Tooze

July 29th, 2010

 

 


 

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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