Max Payne Blu-ray Review
Max Payne is presented in a widescreen 2.35:1 ratio and it's encoded into high definition using the AVC MPEG-4 codec.
Visually, this film is incredibly stylistic and bears more than a passing resemblance to Sin City. Whilst Sin City was good, the similiarities end there as this is far more beautifully stunning in almost every regard.
The blacks are as inky perfect as you could wish for and the contrast sets everything off to reveal killer levels of depth. If depth of image was not enough then no prisoners have been left when it comes to detail.
I could not see any evidence of digital compression, edge enhancement, noise or anything untoward. It's a beautifully clean and detailed image with just a slight hint of grain. The colours overall are de-saturated and the whole thing is made to look overly dark. Everything being misted by a blue overtone but the fleshtones retain naturality and come through as icy cold as you like.
It may appear devoid to some but that's its style. I can't account for everyone's tastes but one thing is for sure, technically this disc is an absolute stonker. It's a whisker from perfect, but it's reference nontheless.
There is seriously something wrong here. The movie is very poor, the video on the other hand is astoundingly excellent and the audio.....well oh my gosh....Fox have given you a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track that will rock the foundations of your house and the known world.
French and Spanish speakers are catered for by a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack but that's seriously not where you want to be. The lossless main soundtrack is the be all and end all and it's worth our European compatriots taking linguistic lessons to learn English for.
It's been a long time since I've had a soundtrack as rollickingly good as this. It's as ferocious and aggressive as a Rottweiler that hasn't been fed for a week. Every channel is pushed for all it's worth and you will be thrust into 360 degrees of aural nirvana in no time at all. I've never heard surround channels come so alive. From gun fire to ricochets the sense of envelopment leaves you whizzing around in blinding spells of dizziness and buried 6ft under. The action scenes are so immersive that you'll be left drowning, gasping for air in the midst of it all.
The LFE is a tour de force of utter brutality and has a life of its own but this down-mix was clearly done by a perfectionist. Nothing has been left to chance and never does the low end fidelity out balance or over power the overall mix. I can't stress enough how every channel in this mix fights for your equal attention.
Technically it's a hairs breadth from perfection. I'm not going to give it a perfect mark purely down to the fact the film itself really, really does not deserve it. For what it's worth though, this has to be considered reference material.
The main disc comes with five extras with only one animated feature being presented in High Definition. Fox have also given you an extra disc in this set which holds a Digital Unrated Cut of the movie.
Audio Commentary - John Moore along with Production Designer Daniel Dorrance and Visual Effects Supervisor Everett Burrell chip in to provide the commentary. Unlike some other commentaries there are very few pauses for breath here and you will be kept company with the sound of these guy's voices for most of the time. However, they aren't talking just for the sake of it and John Moore surprised me somewhat. He comments effortlessly on virtually every scene with technical comment and some real insight. It's clear that this guy talks a good game. This is by far the best extra on this disc and you could listen through the whole of it with no trouble at all. Mind you it's only available on the Unrated Version of the film.
Picture Documentary - Part 1 - (29min 1secs) - This is the first of a two part documentary style piece. Director, cast and crew make comments as you would expect but the whole thing feels like a very professionally put together reel. This is a cut above the norm and is accompanied by its own score. In many ways this extra is quite artistically done but it's only in Standard Definition. A little light on being informative perhaps but it's a pleasant watch nonetheless.
Picture Documentary - Part 2 - (29min 39secs) - No medals here for guessing that this is the ensuing part of the cast and crew interviews. Part two concentrates on the cast and crew more so and much of it has been filmed at serious moments in between shoots or in preparation of. The beauty of both of these extras is that whilst there is some joviality going on, everyone was caught at opportune moments for them to make some rather intelligent comments. Thankfully nobody plays up to the camera and it all feels a genuine fly on the wall experience.
Michelle Payne - Graphic Novel - (13mins 40secs) - A pseudo graphic animated HD feature that concentrates on the story of Max Payne's wife. In the movie you don't really understand why she was killed until quite late on. This comic strip goes into the events that led up to her death. Doesn't make for great viewing but it's been put together well enough.
Bonus View - Walkthrough & Cheats - If you have a Bonus View enabled player then you can switch this PiP feature on. Please note that it is only available in the Theatrical version of the film. At selected moments in the movie you will get a pop up frame that appears on the bottom right of the screen. It offers you the option to go into the 'behind the scenes' of where you're at. As the PiP frame appears the movie's audio automatically drops in or out and the PiP commentary takes precedent. If you don't wish to watch the film this way (it does become annoying after a while) you are actually also able to watch all the individual features selectively.
Trailers - Theatrical Trailers for Babylon A.D. and Mirrors presented in Standard Definition.
Digital Copy of Max Payne - All the extras are on the main disc but you do also get another disc in this set. This contains a digital copy of the Unrated Cut which you can download to your PC, Mac or Portable Device. You will need the authorisation code from inside the packaging to unlock it and you'll only be able to use this code once. Be wise how you use it in that case.
From all the trailers I had seen I was expecting (dare I say it) a seriously good movie. Well, if not good at least half decent? It appeared to have the stylisation of Sin City. The enemy appeared to have a bit of the supernatural about them and my appetite had been suitably whetted.
To say this was a disappointment is an understatement. Max Payne simply falls into the same vain as all the other video game to big screen adaptations, in that it's a quick-fix, cashing-in exercise, strum off a very lowly and shallow script. Why oh why do these films have to be made this way?
However, it would indeed be unfair to leave things as that. There are some redeeming features and when the action gets going, it really does get going. It's not enough to save it but what lifts the film and more so the worth of this disc set is how technically good it is.
The video aspects of this Blu-ray are astounding and the audio is a blistering powerhouse of an accompaniment that'll leave your spine tingling. Together, they drag this film out of the mire and into the realms of reference material.
Fox have taken this movie and given it the ultra-treatment as well as bundled a digital copy in there for good measure. On the face of it Max Payne sucks and he doesn't have a story to tell. The Unrated Cut gives you a further three minutes of blood and gore over the Theatrical version and you may as well give it the nod. Although for content, I would have said it's still a rental at best.
However, if there's ever been a movie that lacks substance but a Blu-ray worth buying, then it is undoubtedly this one. You'll be compelled to buy it purely to 'see' and 'hear' it and your system will probably thank you evermore.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £24.79
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