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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Gangster Squad [Blu-ray]


(Ruben Fleischer, 2013)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Warner Studios

Video: Warner Video



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

Runtime: 1:52:54.809

Disc Size: 33,753,360,045 bytes

Feature Size: 23,456,919,552 bytes

Video Bitrate: 20.64 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Standard Blu-ray case inside cardboard slipcase

Release date: April 23rd, 2013



Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 2233 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2233 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-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 Portuguese 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB / Dolby Surround
Commentary: DTS Express English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / 24-bit



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



Commentary with Director Ruben Fleischer

Play Movie with "The Gangland Files" PiP
15-chapter "Focus Points" (46:28 in total)
- The Set-Up
- The Real Story
- Brolin on O'Mara
- One Continuous Long Shot
- Fashion of the 40s
- Ryan & Emma Reunited
- Emma Stone on Grace
- The Real Mickey Cohen
- Ryan Gosling on Wooters
- The Real Gangster Squad
- The Real Locations
- Nick Nolte on Chief Parker
- Inside Slapsy Maxie's
- Ryan & Emma on the Set
- Bringing Back Gangsters
- Park Plaza
Then and Now Locations (8:03)
Rogues Gallery: Mickey Cohen (46:44)
Tough Guys with Style (4:55)
• 9 Deleted Scenes (20:19)

DVD of the Feature included with Special Feature; Tough Guys with Style





Description: Los Angeles, 1949. Ruthless, Brooklyn-born mob king Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn) runs the show in this town, reaping the ill-gotten gains from the drugs, the guns, the prostitutes and - if he has his way - every wire bet placed west of Chicago. And he does it all with the protection of not only his own paid goons, but also the police and the politicians who are under his control. It's enough to intimidate even the bravest, street-hardened cop - except, perhaps, for the small, secret crew of LAPD outsiders led by Sgt. John O'Mara (Josh Brolin) and Jerry Wooters (Ryan Gosling), who come together to try to tear Cohen's world apart.


An elite police squad fights to save the city of Los Angeles from a power-hungry East Coast mobster in this gritty police-detective film set in the 1940s, and based on Paul Lieberman's seven-part Los Angeles Times series "Tales From the Gangster Squad." Sean Penn, Josh Brolin, and Ryan Gosling star in a film directed by Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland), and featuring Nick Nolte, Michael Peņa, Emma Stone, and Robert Patrick.



The Film:

We first meet the villain as he snarls into the camera, and the narrator tells us this is Mickey Cohen - as everyone in the audience thinks, "No, actually, that's Sean Penn." This is the challenge any well-known actor assumes when he takes on a character role, but Penn provides so much psychological detail that Cohen becomes fascinating - evil to the point of demonic, but also tense, bitter, resentful, bottled up and strange.

Excerpt from the San Francisco Chronicle located HERE

The movie is based on the life of gangster Mickey Cohen, who was born in Brooklyn but considered it his manifest destiny to take over Los Angeles. He was 35 in 1949 when the story takes place, but remember those are mob years. Sean Penn, 52, looks like he added five pounds above the neck for the role. (I believe the technical term for this is “godfathering.”)

Meanwhile, police chief William Parker, then 44, is played by Nick Nolte, now 71. So let’s assume that the film’s historical accuracy, though it’s based on a non-fiction book by Paul Lieberman, is going to be tangential at best.

Sergeant John O’Mara (Brolin) is a decorated soldier who fought the good fight in the Second World War, and he’s sickened by what’s going on in Hollywood. The crime rate also bothers him, so when Parker approaches him about setting up an unofficial get-Cohen squad, he jumps at the chance.

Excerpt from The National Post located HERE

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

Gangster Squad comes to Blu-ray from Warner looking as clean and crisp in 1080P as you might imagine. Outside of the pre-credit opening, the film is devoid of excessive style (a few slow-motion sequences) and relies on the straightforward shots with impressive art direction establishing the timeframe. Aside from some minor teal-leaning this Blu-ray has an impressive feel with no flaws. It frequently has an intentional earthy aura draped over the pastel color scheme. There is some depth and detail, notable in close-ups. This Blu-ray provides a great presentation.



















Audio :

As you might be able to guess - there are a lot of aggressive sound effects even beyond gun-play, including wolves, electric drills, raging fires and explosions. The audio transfer is in a DTS-HD 5.1 surround at 2233 kbps. It appears to easily handle the depth and adds some subtly crisp rear speaker separations. The score is composed by Steve Jablonsky (who's credits include The Island and Transformers) and supports the period feel pretty solidly. There are optional subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.


Extras :

Aside from a feature-length commentary with director Ruben Fleischer and the ability to play the film with a Picture-in-picture window of "The Gangland Files" pop-up notes, there are over 2 hours of video extras, including the 45-minute, 15-chapter "Focus Points" that deal with subjects such as 'Brolin on O'Mara' and 'The Real Mickey Cohen', 9 deleted scenes, 10-minutes ion the changes of the L.A. locations from then 1949 - up to present day, there is also a 45-minute historically-based piece entitled 'Rogues Gallery: Mickey Cohen'. Frankly, there is more here than most will want to indulge in - but I can see the film appealing to a certain niche and they will appreciate the overkill of supplements especially the deleted scenes and background of Cohen.



Unlike the unanimous panning of every critic I read about Gangster Squad - I kinda liked it. I agree that much is one-dimensional - I believe this was intentional to mimic its vintage genre. There is little depth to the characterizations - the actors had flat dialogue to deliver and much of the art direction eclipses the narrative. Purposefully? Maybe, maybe not - but as soon as I accepted this and stopped expectations of a glossier script - I began to enjoy the film. Penn and Brolin are fabulous and Gosling, who plays a sort-of Doc Holiday roll - was the correct choice for the minor romance angle. There are similarities to De Palma's The Untouchables - but this is more fantasy-myth and less realism. Sure - it's almost ugly in its violence, but that is in line tailing the realism of the homage. I'll admit it is not for everyone, but if you are less picky, a Penn and/or Brolin fan - there is a lot to appreciate here, IMO. It is not dissimilar to a bad, or melodramatic, 'B' Noir. The Blu-ray produces a solid 1080P image and cracking audio. Extras will appeal to the fans and we can encourage the less-picky to give it a spin - you may be as pleasantly surprised as I was. 

Gary Tooze

April 10th, 2013

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 5000 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.

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
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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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