Heat Blu-ray Review
PictureHeat brings gritty crime to Blu-ray with a decent 1080p High Definition rendition in the movie's original theatrically broad aspect ratio of 2.4:1 widescreen. Detail is generally excellent throughout, the picture razor-sharp, yet with no signs of edge enhancement or other digital defects. Softness is not apparent, but there is a fair amount of noticeable noise - all of the intentional variety - which has been used to give this crime drama a suitably gritty feel. The colour scheme is typical Mann, a muted, blue-dominated palette that favours indoor or night-time sequences, and whilst the palette is perfectly rendered here, it is distinctly CSI New York in its style, so don't expect anything Miami here. Black levels allow the predominant night scenes to survive intact, although they are far from perfect, often pervading the picture and leaving far too many shadows cast - the contrast levels feeling like they were set slightly low. This is clearly the best that we are ever likely to see from this movie, and it is fitting that they respected the Director's vision and didn't try and clean it up and over-process this rendition, but - correspondingly - nobody is ever likely to use this to show off their equipment with. That said, it's going to get enough viewing as it is, and plenty of people will use it to show off their taste in movies.
SoundI remember the thunder of Heat at the cinema, right from the first act sequence (which was very similar in score to the recent Dark Knight opening robbery scene), and honestly it has never been shown the proper respect in the home cinema realm. The relatively recent special edition DVD was pretty good but the Dolby TrueHD track that we get with Heat's bow on Blu-ray is definitely the closest that we have to the invasive excellence of its theatrical rendition. Dialogue is perhaps the only dubious aspect - a criticism often levelled at Mann's movies as, apparently, he has some hearing issues - which does mean that you will occasionally reach for the volume control, but this is a reasonably price to pay for the aggressiveness of the rest of the track. Effects range from the ambient atmospherics, superbly observed from the rears, to the more obvious action sequences which bring powerful gunplay right into your living room. Whether the oppressive opening scene or the latter massive police ambush, Heat makes sure you take notice of every one of the hundreds of rounds fired across the screen, and brings in some significant bass to ram the point home. Enormously absorbing, Heat's amazing score (not just Goldenthal's original scoring, but also the chosen tracks by Moby, Passengers, Brian Eno and William Orbit) really adds massively to the movie itself - as is the case with any true masterpiece - and finally gets some decent presentation here on Blu-ray, with what is overall, a quality soundtrack.
ExtrasAlthough the recent 2-Disc SD-DVD release did sport a fair few 'new' extras, it is still a shame that they did not pull anything new out of the bag for this masterpiece's Blu-ray debut. Well, nothing apart from Mann's tinkerings. First up we get a Commentary from Mann himself, who not only Directed the movie but also wrote it. He has a hard task in trying to keep going for 3 hours, and you will probably have a hard task sitting through it all, let alone surviving the many uncomfortable silences when you wonder when he is going to chip in again, but there is plenty of information here. Is it material that you won't learn by watching the other featurettes? Well, that's debatable, but fans will want to hear it from the horse's mouth as he discusses his inspiration behind the piece, the real-life detective and the criminal he was tracking, getting the piece made as a decent movie, and editing it to perfection. There's plenty more, but you'll have to trawl through the 3 hours to find it all.
The rest of the video extras are shamefully not presented in HD, another disappointment for this release. We get 11 Additional Scenes, some of which really should have been left in - particularly the one 'double the worst trouble' moment that you can glimpse in the original trailer. They offer more insight into the characters, and more screentime for the great legends, but considering this is a perfect movie as is, it is no huge loss that these were cut - and only a bonus that we finally get to see them here.
There are also several Documentaries, all looking at various aspects of the production. The main Making-Of Documentary totals the best part of an hour, and is split into three segments - True Crime, Crime Stories and Into the Fire, basically looking at the origins of the script, getting the film greenlit, and filming it, respectively. True Crime looks at the real-life stories of a Chicago cop and the criminal he was pursuing which were used as the foundation for the story, Crime Stories then goes on to look at how Mann had been trying to get the script greenlit for decades, and how it eventually got made with a decent cast and budget, and Into the Fire looks at how they did the action sequences in the movie, from the locations to the firearms training, shooting the pivotal standoff downtown heist and putting it all together in post-production. With cast and crew interviews, and plenty of revelatory information, this is a solid Documentary offering.
Pacino and DeNiro: The Conversation looks at the on-screen showdown between these two greats, taking ten slightly fluffy minutes to look at this clash of the titans, how it was set up to be great and the pivotal conversation scene between them.
Return to the Scene of the Crime takes us back to the LA locations used 10 years earlier for the movie, and we spend 12 minutes with the Location Manager and one of the Producers, who discuss the locations chosen and Mann's style of filmmaking. Finally we get three Theatrical Trailers which offer up a glimpse at some of the unused footage mentioned above, and actually offer quite a good promotion of the movie.
VerdictHeat is in my top 3 films and has been for nearly fifteen years now. It is an exercise in perfection, a multi-faceted crime epic that succeeds in bringing together two of the greatest actors of all-time in what is surely a clash of acting titans, and giving us a beautiful character study, quality scripting, superior direction, memorable action sequences and thrills throughout its 3 hour runtime. Immensely quotable, with arguably Oscar-worthy performances from an ensemble cast of familiar faces, Heat finally makes it to Blu-ray with a perfectly decent but unexceptional US Region Free release. Video and Audio are very good, arguably the best we have seen or heard from this movie, and the Extras at least included everything from the previous Special Edition SD-DVD even if they do not offer us anything more. All the fuss over Mann's new cut, and - frankly - it is barely noticeable. It is a shame that he didn't leave well alone, however, as the movie was perfect already. Still, it's nonetheless an all-time classic, and deserves to be in every movie-lover's collection.
“There is a flip side to that coin. What if you do got me boxed in and I gotta put you down? Cause no matter what, you will not get in my way. We've been face to face, yeah. But I will not hesitate. Not for a second.”
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