Inside Man Blu-ray Review
'Inside Man' is presented in widescreen 2.35:1 with 1080p coding.
'Inside Man' is a pretty dark movie with the majority of the scenes taking place in the semi-darkness of the bank. Luckily shadow detail is very good indeed, with plenty of detail visible through the gloom. The palette has a very weighty feel about it and appears very realistic with regards to skin and colour tonality. The contrast ratio is very bold and boasts some very solid blacks. Detail in general is very impressive and aspects such as the gilded door of the bank, clothing detail and the various news broadcasts used throughout (which bring updates on the robbery), are crystal clear. Facial close-ups can be stunning on occasion, with Owen's pock marks and Washington's pencil moustache standing out with sharp definition. Even the oversaturated/high contrast interrogation scenes looks spot on in this release. As is to be expected from such a recent release there was no evidence of print damage noted.
All of the scenes exude a depth that is very impressive indeed. Prime examples include long shots of the bank's vault and some of the scenic shots of New York City. Although not containing any standout examples of that 3D pop factor, the entire presentation does have a very realistic quality and can be very impressive at times. Grain is present to varying degrees throughout and always adds to the realistic nature of the movie rather than becoming a distraction. Overall this is a highly polished transfer and a huge improvement over the previous DVD releases, which seemed to highlight some of Lee's visual flairs (such as the interrogation sequence) as slight flaws rather than as artistic choice.
'Inside Man' comes packed with a dts HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track.
When this movie was originally released there was a serious issue noted with the surround mix. At approximately 93 minutes into the feature the audio from the right surround channel completely dropped from the mix. As this was a fault with the mastering process Universal quickly reissued new copies of the disc. The new discs can be distinguished by the red background on the rear of the BD casing, the old release had a black background. I checked my review copy, which has the red background, and all seemed fine with the right surround channel at the 93 minute mark.
Dialogue throughout is crystal clear (which is a crucial factor in this dialogue heavy movie) and front separation is impressive. This is particularly evident during the action segments where the subwoofer comes into play in conjunction with the fronts to really widen the soundstage. The surrounds are used rather sparsely but there are some nice ambient effects such as the buzz of printers in the police headquarters and the echoes of voices during the interrogation scene, which seep from the surround channels. There are also some nice subtleties audible such as the interference as one of the hostages removes his hearing aid.
The score by Terence Blanchard has been given a serious boost via the uncompressed dts HD Master Audio track. Right from the opening number (the very catchy and very Bollywood; “Chaiyya Chaiyya”) it's evident that the score has been given special attention in the mastering process. It sits perfectly in the mix with deep bass and solid treble and really lends itself to the production. Rolling bass, twinkling effects and a multitude of musical instruments are audible and perfectly mixed throughout. There's decent surround bleed and Blanchard's varied composition produces a nice, wide soundstage.
All in all this is an impressive surround track with the score filling in for the moments of aural inactivity. It's clear that the track has been carefully mixed but it could have been a bit more active at certain junctures and lacked in really low end bass.
As this is a Universal release the extras on this disc, aside from the Blu-ray live feature which offers the usual slew of 1080p trailers, are a direct port from the DVD release. The commentary featuring Spike Lee is also included. This commentary was made on Lee's forty ninth birthday and gives some great insight into the making of the movie. Lee imparts wisdom into various camera techniques and gives all the actors involved in this production the high praise they deserve. There are a few periods of inactivity but these are not intrusive enough to break the overall flow of Lee's commentary. Overall a very worthwhile and interesting commentary track, featuring lots of trivia on the making of 'Inside Man'.
Deleted Scenes - Here we have a collection of five deleted scenes which didn't make it into the finished product. “Frazier Goes to Work” - this scene features an extension of the interrogation sequence, it's similar to the one from the movie with a few additional segments. “No Woman No Cry” - a reference to Marley's classic and explanation about the meaning of the song. “Darius Compliments Frazier” - Darius and Frazier discuss their respective positions and the possibility of working together in the future. “News Reports” - a collection of fictitious news reports on the hostage situation at twenty exchange place. “Dalton Speaks on Case's Sin” - a slight variation on the scene in the movie where Dalton reveals the real reason for the robbery. Most add character expansion but there's nothing here that really adds to the main presentation.
“The Making of Inside Man” (SD 16:9 10mins) - A short feature on how the movie was made. Spike Lee and Brian Grazer (producer) provide insight into how the movie was conceived and brought to the silver screen. Washington, Foster, Wilson and Plummer all give their thoughts on the movie. Lee gives his opinions on each of the cast and behind the scenes and rehearsal footage are also included.
“Number 4” (SD 16:9 10mins) - Lee and Washington speak about 'Malcom X', 'He Got Game', 'Mo Better Blues' and 'Inside Man'; the four films which they have collaborated on together. Although short, this feature gives good insight into the chemistry that the two have and also features plenty of trivia regarding the aforementioned movies.
'Inside Man' marks Spike Lee's 26th feature presentation and possibly his most commercial to date. It also marks Lee and Washington's forth collaboration. The movie, in a change to Lee's normal subject matter material, involves a bank robbery and a resultant hostage situation. Clive Owen is strong as the wily bank robber who locks intellectual horns with a NYPD hostage negotiator and detective, an impressive as always Denzel Washington. With an intricate and tantalising plot and strong support from Jodie Foster, Christopher Plummer and Willem Dafoe, 'Inside Man' is a highly stylised and entertaining crime drama, which contains some complex twists to ensure that the presentation feels “fresh” and draws the audience right into the core of its multi-layered plot.
Both the audio and video presentations offer a significant step up from previous DVD releases. The video presentation is very realistic and the audio mix creates a nice wide soundstage and contains some nice subtitles. The score plays its part in keeping the action ticking along and provides very adequate filler during moments of aural inactivity. The extras, although disappointingly ported wholesale from the DVD release and run a little on the short side, do contain a couple of interesting features and a commentary track from Spike Lee. All in all this is a very worthwhile package.
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