Bound Blu-ray Review

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Femmes Fatales

by Casimir Harlow Aug 18, 2014 at 8:26 AM

  • Movies review


    Highly Recommended
    Bound Blu-ray Review
    SRP: £19.99

    Bound Blu-ray Review

    Stylish and daring, tense and atmospheric, Bound was one hell of a directorial debut, securing the Wachowskis' their Matrix gig by impressing studios in spite of a restrictively low budget.

    Showcasing many of the basic ideas and stylistic elements that they would perfect in The Matrix (including bullet-time), it's almost a shame that Bound will mostly be remembered for its controversial and undeniably explicit lesbian sex scene (here rendered in its uncut form).

    The reality is that this superior modern noir tale is essentially a classic genre entry with merely the traditional male counterpart character exchanged for a woman, which is why it worked so superbly as a lesbian-protagonist thriller which didn't fumble around in a bid to focus on the lesbian angle, instead playing it out exactly the way it would have been had this been a traditional man/woman role.
    With standout performances from a game cast - perhaps career highs for Gina Gershon, Jennifer Tilly and Joe Pantoliano, with the latter making a strong lead impression in what was his debut outing - and a sharp script, combined with a superbly atmospheric score, the credit still ultimately lies with the Wachowskis.

    They deliver the goods in terms of taut, minimalistic-but-stylistic tension, trading in mood and sexuality and some precisely choreographed shots that are now simply iconic. Whilst still ultimately a low-key affair, Bound exceeds its boundaries, becoming a modern genre classic and remaining eminently enticing even almost twenty years on.

    What is Bound Blu-ray Picture Like

    Bound What is Bound Blu-ray Picture Like
    Arrow once again deliver the goods on this Region B-locked UK special edition of Bound (you’ve got to feel sorry for those region-restricted), boasting a very impressive 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 widescreen; all minted from original source elements under a newly-restored transfer.

    Detail is strong and thorough, offering up excellent facial observations, focus on fine objects, clothing weaves and background textures – the classic set-up shots, which often feel like a camera passing over the still image, are immaculate. There’s a very light softness to the piece, which feels like a stylistic choice more than any problem with the transfer, and the newly-minted, newly-remastered job certainly stands out from the crowd. Edge enhancement is non-existent, DNR application is not excessive, and there are no noticeable digital defects – artifacts, banding, blocking or crush – with a fine layer of suitably filmic grain pervading the piece.

    This is easily the best that the movie has looked in the near-20 years since release, another fantastic job from Arrow.

    The colour scheme has frequently been stylistically toned down to an almost monochrome backdrop, with mainly the exposed skin, lipstick and blood standing out as striking, vibrant and bold. But the colours are still treated with wonderful respect, with rich mahoganies, crimsons, healthy, tanned skin tones, and unreservedly strong blacks. In fact, that’s one of the most impressive elements in the presentation – the black levels. The film is steeped in shadow – true film noir – and yet also perfectly lit, and only the most well-designed and carefully mastered presentation could cope with these kinds of black levels. Thankfully, it does, rendering every little bit of shadow detail across every single sequence. Outstanding.

    How Does Bound Blu-ray Sound

    Bound How Does Bound Blu-ray Sound
    The accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track – and alternative uncompressed PCM 2.0 track – both deliver the goods too, offering up strong aural elements in a precise and punchy fashion. Dialogue gets clear and coherent recognition across the array, dominating the fronts and centre channels where appropriate, with only one or two brief words or lines feeling of slightly variable quality, and nothing particularly detrimental standing out.

    With a couple of freshly-minted lossless offerings to enjoy, the movie never sounded this good either.

    Effects range from some thunderous gunshots, breaking glass, howling police sirens, roaring TV sets, screeching tyres, pummelling body blows and screaming gangsters, to quieter flourishes like squelching blood under foot, finger-lopping, creaking and so forth, with plenty of atmospheric flourishes, even if the newly-minted multi-channel HD offering does still feel like a front-focussed affair.

    The score pervades the piece with omnipotence, thundering us through the more tense, dramatic moments with power and presence, and affording the film some added aural weight and style; classically noir in tone, and totally engaging throughout. The LFE element provides further punch, whether for the louder effects or, more obviously, the deeper score undertones. Overall this is a strong and impressive offering, almost matching up to the video counterpart.

    Bound Blu-ray Extras

    Bound Bound Blu-ray Extras
    Arrow have further pulled out all of the stops on the supplemental front, providing not only the already-available Commentary and Featurettes, but also a bevy of newly-commissioned star Interviews and a hefty Retrospective Featurette to boot.

    First up we get the original Audio Commentary with Writers/Directors the Wachowski siblings (although they were both still brothers at the stage of the recording), who are accompanied by the main trio of stars – Jennifer Tilly, Gina Gershon and Joe Pantoliano – as well as Editor Zach Staenberg and Consultant Susie Bright. Then there are also the two original US and International EPK Production Featurettes.

    Arrow have once again pulled out all of the stops on the Extras front.

    The new stuff starts with a 30 minute Modern Noir: The Sights and Sounds of Bound Documentary, which has Bill Pope, the Director of Photography and Don Davis, the Composer, joined by the Editor to reflect upon the production. They discuss how the Wachowski’s had already finished their Matrix script but couldn’t get backing until they’d proven themselves on a movie first; how they brought style and innovation to most every sequence, showing hints of what was to come in The Matrix; and how the cast were put together, before dissecting the shoot, the cinematography (that was almost black and white), the score (with Morricone nods), the controversy over the sex scenes and the reservations over the violence.

    Then we get a trio of lengthy, newly-recorded quarter-hour Cast Interviews (although the girls’ contribution is half an hour, featuring both of them) starting with Femme Fatales, which features Gershon and Tilly reflecting on this major film in both of their careers, talking about how Tilly was (mis)cast as the butch Corky at first, back when Linda Hamilton was (mis)cast as the sultry Violet; Hail Caesar! Has Joe Pantoliano look back at this breakthrough for him, talking about how he never thought he’d get the role; and Christopher Meloni pops up in Here’s Johnny!

    The disc is rounded off by a series of Theatrical Trailers and TV Spots and a Stills Gallery, as well as the usual Collector’s booklet featuring articles on the film by James Oliver. There’s also the trademark reversible sleeve (although the new artwork isn’t quite as imaginative as some of the Arrow titles and there’s unfortunately no Steelbook alternative).

    Is Bound Blu-ray worth Buying

    Bound Is Bound Blu-ray worth Buying
    Oozing style and sexuality, this impressive directorial debut from the Wachowski's is a marvel of low budget innovation, sharp scripting and taut direction, with standout lead performances and superb chemistry between the two femmes, bringing us a superior modern film noir.

    Stylish and compelling, Bound continues to impress - almost 20 years on - thanks to Arrow's excellent remastered Blu-ray release.
    With stunning remastered video and punchy HD audio, as well as a typically thorough selection of newly-commissioned extras, this new Arrow release is surely a must-have for fans of the film, a great entry for Arrow collectors and a welcome blind buy for those interested in the genre. Certainly it provides the definitive release for this movie. Highly recommended.

    Suggested retail price when reviewed: £19.99

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