Live by Night Blu-ray Review
Once Upon A Time In Florida
Live by Night marks the fourth directorial effort from Ben Affleck, who also writes, co-produces and stars in the piece, and whilst a refined mobster flick, it doesn't reach the heights of his previous efforts.Perhaps its the overly familiar source material from prolific crime author Dennie Lehane (Shutter Island, Mystic River and even Affleck's impressive directorial debut, Gone, Baby, Gone), which offers up very little new to the gangster genre that hasn't been done already in everything from The Godfather to Goodfellas; from Scarface to Once Upon a Time in America. It often feels Bugsy-lite and even the recent Boardwalk Empire covered this very period better. So Lehane's period tale of a young bootlegger outlaw whose illicit love leads to him falling into a cycle of violence that sees him slowly rise up the organised crime food chain to become a big player in his own right, is - beyond the steamy locations - really nothing new.Even Hillcoat's flawed Lawless, with a similar outlaw bootlegger premise, put a different spin on the familiar gangster rise-and-fall, but Affleck is hampered by the generic limitations of the source tale, imbuing the narrative with visual splendor, lavish period detail and a game cast of interesting players (who all appear to be on better form than Affleck himself, drowning under the weight of the writer/director/actor/producer hats) but struggling to otherwise go places we haven't been before. It's a refined, worthy effort, peppered with some noteworthy sparks of innovative action, but it still feels somewhat hollow, and is undeniably derivative, all of which sees otherwise good ingredients make for a marginally unsatisfying whole.
Picture QualityLive by Night reaches UK shores courtesy of Warner Bros, who deliver it on a Region Free Blu-ray complete with a spectacular 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation framed in the film's original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.40:1 widescreen.
The striking cinematography laps up impressive detail at close-up and mid-range levels, whilst the broader, epic vistas show fine texture even at a distance. The streets come alive with fine nuances and flourishes, rewarding the period setting with a warm, authentic look. It's a fabulous looking picture.
The disc has a fabulous looking picture
The colour scheme is skewed in all different directions - given a muted tone almost throughout but still rich and vibrant nonetheless, making the most of the golden edge to the sepia-infused sequences and holding true on the colder, almost monochromatic Boston streets. Black levels are near-perfect, remaining deep and rich and rounding out a fabulous presentation.
Sound QualityThe accompanying soundtrack is also exceptional, a Dolby Atmos affair, with an already tremendous Dolby TrueHD 7.1 core, making it curious that there is the additional option of playing with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track, should you so desire. Although engineered differently, there's very little between the latter two when played through the same 5.1 setup, leaving it an odd addition to pack the disc out with.
Nevertheless, there's no complaints here, whichever track option you choose, with an engulfing mix that plops you down in the heady Boston period environment, slinging bullets at you from a variety of weapons and angles, and perforating your living room walls in the process. Cars further craft and engage street cacophony, whilst the bars are rich with music and bustling heaving bodies. The suitably vintage score further refines the proceedings and all of it seldom leaves the surrounds with a moment's pause from action, nor lets the LFE disengage from the atmospheric proceedings. Even before the Atmos enhancement, this is a top draw track.
The Dolby Atmos object-based soundtrack is exceptional
ExtrasLive by Night comes on a feature-packed disc, brimming with some interesting extras, headlined by an Audio Commentary by director/star Ben Affleck, who is joined by his Director of Photography and also the Production Designer, who all offer an informative, technically proficient accompaniment which reflects on just how much went into the lavish production.
The disc is brimming with some interesting extras
A quartet of Featurettes deliver the majority of the rest of the meat, with The Men of Live By Night and Angels with Dirty Faces: The Women of Live By Night, looking at the characters and actors/actresses that play them; In Close Up: Creating a Classic Car Chase looking behind the pivotal action sequence; and Live by Night's Prolific Author looking behind the works of Dennis Lehane.
There's also a quarter hour of Deleted Scenes including an Alternate Opening to round off the disc.
Blu-ray VerdictOtherwise good ingredients make for a marginally unsatisfying whole
The UK Blu-ray release of Live by Night is certainly exceptional, delivering superb, rich video and myriad excellent audio options, as well as a hearty selection of extra features. Fans of the film, and of the genre, should consider it a decent release.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £14.99
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