Matchstick Men DVD Review

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by AVForums Feb 1, 2004 at 12:00 AM

    Matchstick Men DVD Review
    SRP: £15.99


    Framed at 2.35:1, this anamorphic widescreen transfer does its job admirably. Much of the film has a natural, almost bleached out tone, with good usage of contrast and shadows, and I'm pleased to say that the video side of the party is able to hold it's own. The print is as clean as one would expect from a movie less than a year old, with nigh a scratch or speck of dirt in sight, and this is reinforced by solid blacks which remain free from compression artefacts and other gremlins. Detail is consistently good - see Cage's pinstripe jacket during the first con, crisp and sharp but with not a sign of edge enhancement - and even in the dark scenes there is fine detail to be seen.

    Colours are generally solid, with natural looking skin-tones and no sign of blooming (with a single exception, when we see a red neon sign in the background of one scene), and edge enhancement, meanwhile, is pleasingly unobtrusive. It's there if you look for it, particularly on the opening credits, but one would be hard-pressed to really notice it (and besides, you'll be too wrapped up in the movie itself to pay any attention).

    Overall this is a good video presentation: it won't win any awards, but it does its job admirably.
    Matchstick Men Picture


    The sound presentation (Dolby Digital 5.1) is thoroughly average and functional. Making good use of the front soundstage, dialogue comes through the centre channel cleanly throughout the running time, which is reassuring as the film is mainly driven by the characters interacting with each other. Effects placement is sporadic, with little use of the surrounds, resulting in a predominantly front-dominated soundtrack; occasionally they do spark into life when called for by the musical score. LFE, too is sparse: there is the occasional rumble but overall even the weakest subwoofer will be in snooze mode.

    As I say the sound is nothing remarkable; functional is the name of the game, and as such it is a successful sound mix.
    Matchstick Men Sound


    At first glance the extras look thin on the ground; a documentary, a commentary and a single trailer. Starting with the documentary - “Tricks of the Trade”, this is broken down into 3 parts - “Pre-Production”, “Production” and “Post Production”. The first two run for almost 30 minutes each, whilst the last is 20 minutes, and all three are of a suitably high quality. Covering every aspect of the film - from script, sets, casting, shooting - these offer a fascinating insight into the making of Matchstick Men, and are definitely a worthwhile watch; for me the “Post Production” documentary is the most enjoyable, where we see moments of the initial screening where Scott decides he's not happy with the score, a family and friends screening where he discusses the plot twist with everyone and various other aspects of the release - it's fascinating stuff.

    Next up we have a commentary, which is really two separate commentaries edited together: we have a function - though no less interesting for this - commentary from Ridley Scott and also an entertaining two-way banter between the two writers, brothers Ted and Nicholas Griffin. Again, the commentary is a quality one, but from a personal point of view, I always find them a bit of a moot extra when there's a quality documentary on offer (though to be fair the commentary is still welcome.)

    Rounding off the package we have the theatrical trailer, which is presented in anamorphic widescreen, framed at 2.35:1.

    Overall this package is pleasing in that there's no promotional rubbish to wade through: low in quantity they maybe, but there's certainly plenty of meat on the bones of these extras.
    Matchstick Men Extras


    An interesting movie, which is good but can't seem to nudge “great” territory, Matchstick Men is backed up by a solid DVD presentation. It's nothing to set your system on fire, but it does exactly what it needs to. Recommended.
    Suggested retail price when reviewed: £15.99

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