A classic film, in good shape.
Get Carter Blu-ray Review
Initially forgotten through poor promotion, but retrospectively reappraised as one of the greatest films of all time, Mike Hodges’ 1971 crime classic Get Carter changed the face of gangster films forever.Up until that point, gangsters had been generally portrayed in cinema as either dumb or farcical – or both – and both then-rising star Michael Caine and debut director Mike Hodges were keen on providing a different spin on the genre, with cold violence and gritty realism the name of the game. Due to his star status at the time many were surprised that Caine would agree to portray the amoral anti-hero lead in this production, but the celebrated Cockney actor was very much personally interested in the role.
Co-producer Caine brought his working class background and early experience of criminal acquaintances to the production, noting that Carter felt, to him, like the person that he could have become had he chosen a different path. Stripping Carter of any residual decency, he championed the coldest, most gritty depiction that they could go for, with superior results. Hodges furthered this realistic style, using longer shots and natural lighting throughout which, combined with the bleak North England setting, gave just the right aesthetic.Looking back on the production now, it was just a perfect confluence of elements: a strong story based on a well-regarded source novel; a driven new director with a clear vision; a star-on-the-rise actor ready to do something different; a sharp, authentic documentary style thanks to acclaimed cinematographer Wolfgang Suschitzky; and a superior film score by Roy Budd – held together by that classic main theme.
The end result is one of the greatest films of all time, featuring one of Caine’s strongest – and most atypical – performances. It set the standard for no end of revenge thrillers that would follow suit, from The Long Good Friday to The Limey. Although audiences at the time were shocked by the gritty style and taken aback with Caine’s vicious antihero, now these have become defining features of the genre.
If you haven’t yet seen this superior crime classic, then now’s the time to correct that mistake.
What is Get Carter Blu-ray Picture QualityGet Carter reaches UK shores complete with a strong 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.78:1 widescreen. Shot with a gritty, grainy style, it’s immediately apparent that they’ve thankfully kept the healthy grain structure intact, and therefore the finer detail of the image beneath has also been preserved. Certainly skin detail, clothing weaves and background textures are frequently impressive, and there are no significant digital issues that become apparent – perhaps a hint of artifacting but no overt edge enhancement, and certainly no unruly DNR application.
Get Carter was never going to look stunning, largely due to its gritty style, but this is certainly the best it's ever looked.
The colour scheme is expectedly dour, reflecting the North England Newcastle location with muted tones dominated by muddy browns and dull greys. Skin tones also look authentically reproduced, the skies are as cloudy as you would expect them to be, and even the sea often looks more grey than blue. Still, the colours are well resolved, and black levels are surprisingly good.
As stated, Get Carter was never going to look perfect, something which becomes more evident when the film is not in motion. This doesn’t look like a new HD scan, which perhaps could have improved things somewhat, and it does boast the aforementioned sporadic compression artefacts as well as some intermittent softness that is acceptable but far from ideal, but it is still the best shape that this movie has ever been in.
How Does Get Carter Blu-ray SoundThe accompanying lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0 mix certainly does justice to the film’s original mono track, offering depth, clarity and fidelity, breaking free of the inherent limitations of the source material.
Effects are well-presented and, despite the obvious lack of ‘range’, they are still delivered in an authentic, warm fashion, clinically observing all of the finer nuances of the film’s natural atmosphere and comparatively unusual setting. It’s the score, of course, which stands out as the absolute zenith of the track, and this is clear right from the get-go when the main theme kicks off. Haunting and evocative, it’s never sounded better.
Technically, Get Carter has never sounded better either.
Now to the bad news. We get what looks to be the same lossless audio track as the US release not long ago, which comes with a dubbed soundtrack. Now, before things get out of hand, it should be made clear that the dubbing is merely a brief segment of dialogue at the very beginning, lasting less than a minute. It was done, according to the director, because the accents were labelled as too heavy to understand. The dialogue was redubbed, and the lines were rewritten. The UK DVD of Get Carter, released back in 2000, sported the original soundtrack, sans dubbing, but the same is not the case for the lossless accompaniment provided here. It’s not a deal-breaker, really, and most fans will (hopefully) prefer to own Get Carter in HD in a marginally flawed form than not at all.
Get Carter Blu-ray ExtrasAfter all this time waiting for Get Carter to be brought out in High Definition it’s a shame that they didn’t even bother porting all of the extras across too. Indeed, between the audio discrepancy, and the loss of the Isolated Audio Score, some fans might choose to hold out for a double-dip at some point in the future, but the reality is that this seems unlikely and you’re probably better off just keeping your old DVD and still making the upgrade for the significantly improved video and audio.
We lose the Isolated Score but retain the Commentary, unfortunately gaining nothing new.
And at least the disc hasn’t been stripped clean, and we still get the informative patch-job Commentary featuring separately recorded interview segments from Director Mike Hodges, Star Michael Caine and Cinematographer Wolfgang Suschitzky, who provide some detailed and involving background information into the production, from the original novel to the atypical setting, from the realistic style of photography to what Caine brought to the table in terms of personal input.
The disc is similarly rounded off by a trio of ‘Trailers’ which actually comprise the International Theatrical Trailer, a ‘Trailer’ for the main score theme and a brief Caine introduction to one of the film’s showings.
Is Get Carter Blu-ray Worth BuyingAfter all this time waiting for Get Carter to be brought out in High Definition it’s a shame that they didn’t even bother porting all of the extras across too. Indeed, between the audio discrepancy, and the loss of the Isolated Audio Score, some fans might choose to hold out for a double-dip at some point in the future, but the reality is that this seems unlikely and you’re probably better off just keeping your old DVD and still making the upgrade for the significantly improved video and audio.
A great film gets a solid HD release, benefiting from improved video and audio, but failing to bring all of the old extras across, let alone offer new ones.
There's definite value in making the upgrade to this release. The film has simply never looked or sounded this good and, even if there's that annoying intro dub, it largely does not detract from your overall enjoyment of the film. Unfortunately the loss of the Isolated Score means we're left having to keep the old DVD release but, on the whole, the good still easily outweighs the bad.
This is still a must-have film and thus, considering it's the best we've got, a reluctant must-have release.
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