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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Animal Factory [Blu-ray]

 

(Steve Buscemi, 2000)

 

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Phoenician Entertainment

Video: Arrow Video

 

Disc:

Region: FREE (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:34:31.916

Disc Size: 28,906,375,912 bytes

Feature Size: 24,459,958,272 bytes

Video Bitrate: 28.81 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Transparent Blu-ray case

Release date: November 28th, 2017

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit
Commentary:

LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), none

 

Extras:

Interview with critic Barry Forshaw covering Eddie Bunker's varied career (20:50)
Audio commentary by novelist/co-writer/actor Eddie Bunker and co-producer/actor Danny Trejo
Theatrical trailer (1:13)
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Jacob Phillips
FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Collector's booklet containing new writing on the film by Glenn Kenny.

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: Troubled youth Ron Decker (Edward Furlong, American History X) is sentenced to a ten-year stint in the notorious San Quentin State Prison for a drug-dealing conviction. Inexperienced in the ways of prison life, he s taken under the wing of Earl Copen (Willem Dafoe, To Live and Die in LA), an experienced con with the entire prison in the palm of his hand inmates and guards alike. But as Ron grows increasingly cocky in his privileged role as Earl's confidant, is he in danger of biting off more than he can chew with some of the jail's more volatile inhabitants?

Based on the semi-autobiographical novel of the same name by Eddie Bunker (Reservoir Dogs,) Animal Factory was Steve Buscemi's (Lonesome Jim, Interview) second stint in the director's chair and sees him marshaling a formidable ensemble cast, including Bunker, Danny Trejo (Machete) and Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler), for a powerful and sincere account of the men caught up in the penal system and the deals they cut with each other, and themselves, in order to survive.

 

 

The Film:

Based on the hardboiled novel by Edward Bunker - a real life villain turned writer/actor who Buscemi met shooting "Reservoir Dogs" - it stars Edward Furlong as fresh-faced dope dealer Ron, who's banged up for a ten year stretch in a ferocious state penitentiary.

With his youthful good looks, Ron's destined to become somebody's punk. But he's saved from this fate by old-hand Earl (Willem Dafoe), who takes the new kid under his wing.

Attracted to Ron's keen intelligence and wide-eyed innocence, Earl's desire for a platonic relationship means the youngster might just be able to do his time without getting his cherry popped.

Excerpt fromBBC Films located HERE

Edward Furlong plays Ron Decker, a 21-year-old kid from a comfortable background, who receives an excessively harsh sentence for minor drug trafficking and finds himself in prison – the ‘Animal Factory’ of the title. Realising his good looks could be something of a liability, he soon ingratiates himself with prison fixer Earl Copen (Willem Dafoe) and finds himself taken under his wing as Copen becomes his mentor and protector.

The prison society is well-portrayed and the relationships between Copen and the various people who help him out (including Seymour Cassel as a prison worker) are believable and often humorous. There are also a number of memorably nasty scenes (one involving the imaginative use of a toothbrush as a deadly weapon) that serve to emphasise the sudden brutality of the prison environment and elicit sympathy for the main characters.

Excerpt from ViewLondon located HERE

 

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

This is the another Arrow Blu-ray release that is being simultaneously released in both region 'A' (US) and 'B' (UK). It is the exact same transfer, extras etc. in both Europe and North America.

 

NOTE: As Michael Brooke informs us on Facebook in regards to Day of Anger: 'As the producer of Arrow's release, I can confirm first hand that the UK and US discs are absolutely identical: we only paid for one master, so there's no doubt about this at all! Which means that no matter which package you buy, the discs will play in any Region A or B setup (or Region 1 or 2 for DVD - and in the latter case the video standard is NTSC, to maximise compatibility). The booklets are also identical, but there are minor cosmetic differences on the disc labels and sleeve to do with differing copyright info and barcodes, and the US release doesn't have BBFC logos.' Animal Factory is the same situation.

 

Animal Factory gets a 1080P transfer to Blu-ray from Arrow Video.  It sneaks into dual-layered territory and has a supportive bitrate for the 1.5 hour feature. There is an inherent softness in the image and it can look a shade waxy but I don't see this as DNR. It is in the 1.85:1 frame.  It has a few frame-specific marks - and they are large enough to be noticeable. I have a feeling that despite being only 17-years old - that the source has been partially compromised. This Blu-ray is still very watchable and consistent just not reaching the heights of the format's presentation capabilities.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Arrow use a linear PCM stereo track at 2304 kbps (24-bit.) There are aggressive instances and a score by John Lurie (the Jarmusch films Down By Law, Stranger Than Paradise, Mystery Train). Some may recognize Harry Dean Stanton singing I Hope I Never Get Too Old (To Rock N' Roll) and Jake La Botz's This Ain't the Way I Come Up (But It's the Way I'm Going Down) and Lay Down the Bottle. It all sounds clean but fairly unremarkable. There are optional English subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'B'-locked.

 

Extras :
I really enjoyed the audio commentary by novelist/co-writer/actor Eddie Bunker and co-producer/actor Danny Trejo - especially Trejo who was in and out of jail and prison in California, in the 60s, and is pretty open talking about it and how he got into film. It's quite good. There is also a 21-minute interview with critic Barry Forshaw covering Eddie Bunker's varied career past as a repeat offender and as author and screenwriter of Animal Factory as well as films Straight Time (1978), Runaway Train (1985) and others. There is also a theatrical trailer. The package has a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Jacob Phillips and the first pressing purchases get a collector's booklet containing new writing on the film by Glenn Kenny.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
Animal Factory is a super prison flic with a great cast, plenty of tension and the predictable conflicts of being 'inside'. It has the usual themes of survival, bonding and hope. I was very entertained.  The Arrow Video Blu-ray exports the film in a consistent 1080P transfer and the commentary, and interview, add value. If you are a fan of this genre or Bunker's other films this is a no-brainer purchase. Absolutely recommended!  

Gary Tooze

December 7th, 2017

 

 


 

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
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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