Great performances make an unmemorable story into a memorable film
American Hustle Blu-ray Review
Although it has an anti-climactic punch-line and is undeniably a little flabby around the middle, David O. Russell's engaging caper-style crime drama still oozes authentic 70s styling and boasts a plethora of memorable performances.It's just a shame that, for all the glitz and glamour, and showstopping scene-stealing, the cast appear to have been given complete free reign to basically improvise their way through the entire film, largely removing any obvious need for script, story and cohesive plot
These guys are acting their asses off for Awards, in a film which simply doesn't have the payoff required to win any in its own right - it's no wonder that, despite 10 Nominations, it didn't secure any actual wins. Perhaps the Academy finally came to their senses once they realised just how lightweight the end result was.Despite its shortcoming, the film is still a never-less-than-enthralling con flick. Indeed, it probably owes a great deal more to the classic Redford / Newman film, The Sting - or, more recently, the Ocean's movies - than it does to that last, great, De Niro / Scorsese collaboration, Casino, with which it unfortunately drew so many misguided early comparisons. Yet, ultimately, this is a film which does not cater for successive repeat viewings; any lasting impact devalued by the fact that it doesn't appear to take its actual story all that seriously.
After all, if it doesn't, then why should we?
American Hustle Blu-ray Picture QualityAmerican Hustle hits UK shores with a stunning 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation in a 2.40:1 aspect ratio that easily matches up to its US counterpart. Detail is excellent throughout, with impressive fine object precision, skin texturing, clothing weaves, and background detail making the well-framed shots stand out both for close-ups and broader vistas. All this without any signs of digital defects - no excessive banding, blocking or crush, no invasive edge enhancement, and no untempered DNR application. A tangible layer of healthy filmic grain pervades the piece, leaving it looking suitably of the period but it's clear to see that, behind this, there's undeniable clarity resounding throughout.
Colourful and vibrant, the 70s have simply never looked this good.
The colour scheme is expectedly period too, with several more adventurous tones, particularly in terms of attire. Across the spectrum, however, the colours are rendered beautifully and accurately, right up to and including the black levels which allow for excellent shadow detail and show no signs of crush. Indeed there appears to be simply nothing to fault with this impressive video presentation, which earns itself not only demo and reference standard acclaim, but also lands that elusive perfect-10 score.
American Hustle Blu-ray Sound QualityThe accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is almost as impressive, boasting punch and precision as it delivers an oftentimes electrifying mix of sharp dialogue, fine ambient observation, and jazzy, funky and disco beats. The fusion leaves you immersed in a consistently atmospheric arena whose high points involve bustling parties and fantastic, familiar song tracks, but which does not let go even during the quieter moments.
Never sounded this good either!
Dialogue is given crystal clear presentation across the fronts and centre channels, capably handling an array of accents and into nations, as characters spit, chew, mumble or shout their words as required. Effects are myriad, but mostly add to the heady atmosphere, eschewing bombast in favour of thick ambience, and coming off no less impressive as a result. The soundtrack really stands out though, frequently, when stylistically intended, sweeping over the rest of the proceedings and dominating the array, bringing the LFE with it for some heavy support. All in all it's a largely excellent track, both demo and reference in standard.
American Hustle Blu-ray ExtrasAlthough it's the same as the US release, the UK disc doesn't really offer anything substantial in the form of extras. About 22 minutes' worth of Deleted Scenes and a quarter-hour Making-Of make this far from bare bones, but after you've watched everything once, you'll find yourself wanting more - a commentary or some more in-depth material would have surely been top of the list?
Is American Hustle Blu-ray Worth BuyingAmerican Hustle celebrated its victories a little too early perhaps, revelling in the Oscar buzz before ultimately falling flat. It's a good, at times very good, film, but it rides high on rich performances and lacks any true depth or sense of substance beneath, leaving it more of a 70s-set Oceans movie than a contender for the Goodfellas / Casino mantle.
Whatever you think of the Hustle, it looks and sounds spectacular on UK Region B-locked Blu-ray.
Superior video and audio make this a must-have purchase for fans of the film, even if the extras are a little insubstantial. Those curious should definitely give it a rental to investigate whether or not you think it deserves a permanent place in your collection.
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