Colombiana - Unrated Blu-ray Review
Colombiana hits the US with the same high quality video as the UK released that followed it, coming to Region A-locked US Blu-ray with a very good 1080p High Definition video presentation in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1 widescreen. Stylistically, the film is not unlike most of the other EuropaCorp productions, offering up a heavily over-saturated vision of the world that is often dominated by sun-bleached gold, yellow and brown – normally determined by the location. Detail is very good throughout, allowing us to lap up every inch of detail on Saldana’s often scantily-clad body, almost every pore on her face, and distinguish the very hairs on her head, with no signs of edge enhancement, no drifting into softness, and no extreme DNR usage. Defects and damage are non-existent – as you would only expect from such a modern, glossy production – and it’s generally an impressive image. The colour scheme, as noted already, often favours the more oversaturated Tony Scott school of cinematography, with Colombia having a distinctly sun-drenched look of exaggerated yellows, which are nicely juxtaposed with some of the cool-blue dominated stealth scenes in the middle of the film – the beautiful clear blue of the swimming pool making for an excellent centre-piece. Blacks are strong and allow for solid shadowing and the fine sheen of grain that pervades the piece gives it that suitably filmic look. 3D pop is also evident in a couple of scenes, although perhaps not as much as one might have liked, but overall this is still a very strong, demo quality video presentation.
Things are much the same as the UK release in terms of audio. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track also delivers the goods, particularly in respect of the more action-driven elements of the film. Dialogue comes across clearly and coherently throughout the piece, given enough room to breathe over the frontal array wherever appropriate, but the dialogue really isn’t all that important an element in the proceedings, which are dominated instead by bombastic effects sequences and a totally forgettable but perfectly suitable score that adds further bass-driven weight to the production. The surrounds get a fair workout from both of these elements, and the rears frequently pick up on some of the smaller atmospheric touches, with the LFE channel making the most of the explosions, RPG shots and often thundering gunfire, whilst also humming along in the background to accompany the score. It’s not quite as dynamic and engulfing as some of the better-designed soundtracks, often crafted for unquestionably better movies, but it is still, just about, a demo quality affair that is a little bit more precise than the usual blunt force trauma offering that accompanies this kind of b-movie actioner.
Oddly, whilst this disc does sport the Unrated cut of the film, as a result it appears to have lost the Picture-in-Picture Track which adorned the UK Theatrical Cut Blu-ray release. Now, I doubt anybody loves the movie quite enough to warrant owning two copies, but it is certainly frustrating to find that there is no definitive edition out there. Thankfully fans should take some solace in the fact that, although the US release does not have this PiP track, it does cover much of the same background material in the form of a variety of Behind the Scenes Featurettes, some of which were not included on the UK release.
Colombiana: The Making of
First up we get the same 25-minute Featurette which chronologically follows the story, taking us through a number of different stunts and on-set occurrences, whilst deconstructing the image using split screen effects work and effects. There’s lots of behind the scenes footage, narrated using far too much plot and character exposition – things you would know from watching the film. It’s nice to hear from the cast – including Zoe Saldana herself – as well as see some of her stunts being performed but actually the most interesting part of this offering is the comparison between the footage shot and the final product, most notably in the colour tones: realistic video footage in normal lighting conditions is often turned into golden hued super-saturated imagery.
This 10-minute companion Featurette explores Cataleya’s story arc, with Zoe Saldana (and the child actress) on board to talk about what they brought to the role, and what brought them to the role.
Continuing the look at the characters, and, more importantly, the cast who comprise them, is a further 12 minute offering. Here we get to look at all the key players, including Saldana again who talks about how original her character is (um, didn’t Besson base it on Mathilda from Leon??), how they were recruited for the film and what they brought to the table.
Training a Killer
We get 6 minutes focussing specifically on the fight choreography, mostly as employed by Saldana’s assassin, with the actress herself once again on board to help guide us through the piece.
Take the Ride
Finally this last 8 minute Featurette explores the style of this movie, and its international locations and vibe.
There are also a bunch of Trailers which play on disc startup but which are also accessible (in one long montage) through the main menu, including previews for the unnecessary Straw Dogs remake, the disappointingly tame Del Toro ‘horror’ Don’t be Afraid of the Dark, the Dead Calm-with-a-twist film Retreat, the surprisingly fun Attack the Block, another lacklustre Johnny Depp film – The Rum Diary – and one of the, in my opinion, best films of 2011: Drive.
EuropaCorp, French action-thriller director-turned-writer/producer Luc Besson’s mini-Studio, was set up with the sole intention of delivering movies like The Transporter, Taken and From Paris with Love – solid, stylish, entertaining b-movie actioners that seldom stand out as exceptional but also seldom disappoint action fans. Colombiana, however, looks to be the exception to the rule, odd perhaps when you consider that this started off as arguably Besson’s dream project: a sequel to his best movie, Leon. Unfortunately, the loose connections soon fall by the wayside, the movie drifting too far into the realms of implausibility (and even impossibility), failing to establish any kind of coherent plot, and ending up as little more than an extended montage of many of the key scenes from Besson’s 50+ film history. Each one of these ideas has been realised better before, and, as a result, Colombiana feels like a lacklustre rip-off, little more than an ineffective greatest hits compilation, complete with a new cast who find it understandably hard to flesh out their wafer-thin characters. I expected more from Besson – not a great deal more, as I’m normally quite content with his Transporter-like outings, but more than this (and certainly more from a once-sequel to Leon), and I also expected more from Saldana, who tries her best with the material on offer, and does ok in the action department, but still feels like she is taking a step back, rather than a step towards being a more bankable lead.
On Region A-locked US Blu-ray we get a technically near-identical release to the Region B UK variant, although it’s only the video and audio that are the same, with the cuts of the film being different, and the extras also varying. This US release has the advantage of an Unrated, marginally longer cut of the film which has a couple of minor changes across the film’s runtime that will not make or break the film in the viewer’s eyes, but do make it a slightly better version nonetheless. Unfortunately, the downside is that the US release doesn’t have the Picture-in-Picture track that adorned the UK Blu-ray’s Theatrical Cut. Overall, though, the release to pick up is the US one, as it has the most complete cut and, frankly, it’s better to sacrifice the PiP track in favour of this uncut variation. I’d be surprised if there are many out there who love the film enough to own both versions but, if there are, then at least you know where you stand now in relation to what you need to complete your action collection.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £24.79
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