PictureCropped from it's theatrical ratio of 2.35:1 to a more home theatre friendly 1.85:1 and coded at 1080P using the MPEG-4 codec, the picture quality on this Blu-ray disc is up there with the other releases that Sony have graced us with recently. Purists amongst us may well be outraged by the cropping of the picture from the directors original vision, but it really doesn't make much difference here. There are no vast landscape shots to be spoiled or crowd scenes where an extras finest hour has been ruined because he's been cut off the end. The worst that's going to happen here is the picture will be missing a piece of white prison wall.
Sony has attempted to set the benchmark in consistency in the last few films I have had the privilege to review of theirs. Time after time I have been impressed by the picture quality of their Blu-ray releases - and I'm pleased to report that felon keeps that trend going.
Colours appear to be muted slightly to give the impression of a dull and bleak world. But the prisoners wear bright yellow and orange coveralls - these stand out well against the white walls and there's no bleed or fizz anywhere to be seen.
The film is shot in a kind of fake documentary style in some scenes - and that makes the consistency of the high quality suffer somewhat. In those scenes, there's a lot more grain than normal and this could well be mistaken for video noise. Along with edge enhancement, video noise is only noticeable by its absence. The picture is pin sharp in the non-documentary shots and detail levels are high.
Black levels are good - but again suffer at the hands of a hand held cameraman. I can't remember to many dark scenes in the film where black levels would made to suffer as there is always some kind of light on set.
Once again, this is another fine effort from Sony.
SoundThe only track that is available to those of us that have English as our first (and only in my case) language is a lossless Dolby TrueHD track. Due to the nature of the film, this is never going to set your home cinema system on fire - but it is adequate to task.
Val Kilmers character tends to mumble his words and at times his dialogue is a little difficult to hear - but that's the only major flaw I could find.
The surround channels are used sporadically whenever trouble starts in the yard - but other than that, they are pretty lifeless.
The .1 LFE channel is also used sparingly and your subwoofer may well emit the odd low frequency thump as a fist pounds into yet another face - but again, it's nothing to write home about.
It's the not the kind of film you should use to demo your system to your mates - but then again, this isn't the type of film you would use either. It's neither restrained nor in your face - but is just about right to get the story across.
ExtrasThis UK release of felon contains the same extras as the US release that came out in the summer - namely not very much...
The Shark Tank: An Inside look At Felon (13.01 HD) is a short featurette introduced by the director. It's an interesting piece detailing how he went into prisons to meet the gang members for his research. Me? I would have just rented Ross Kemp On Gangs - but you have to remember that his primary role in Hollywood is as a stuntman...
Trailer for Men In Black and Close Encounters Of The Third Kind round up the extras package for this disc - apart from the Blu-ray Live content - which wasn't live at the time of writing this review.
VerdictFelon isn't a movie that's going to be enjoyed by everyone. Because it takes place in a prison, don't think that what we have here is another Shawshank Redemption - far from it. It's brutal, violent and sickening at times. Personally, I think I'll re-visit it one day when it's gathered enough dust and see if I agree with my own review - but I won't rush to do it.
Blu-ray wise, we have a decent enough picture and soundtrack but neither was ever going to be demo quality. Both however are up their with Sony's recent releases - and that's not a bad thing.
The extras are a little light on the ground to say the least - but what there is an interesting enough vignette that will wrap the viewing up nicely.
Rent this first as a kind of toe dipping exercise before you commit to a full blown purchase - it's not going to be everybody's cup of tea.
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