PictureThe movie may disappoint, but the good news is that the video transfer on this Region 1 edition is sublime. Featuring an anamorphic widescreen transfer and framed at 1.78:1, we are treated to a wide variety of colour palettes as the richness and varied tones of Mexico are brought to life with stunning clarity. Colours are bold and striking, yet never overblown, and there is plenty of fine detail on offer. Edges are crisp and clean, though they suffer from occasional haloing that will be visible on large displays, and black levels are suitably solid whilst retaining a good level of detail. Pleasingly, too, compression artefacts are absent, and there's nigh a single scratch or spec of dirt to be seen - the Mexican vistas and large swathes of sky remain solid and clear at all times.
Perhaps one of the reasons why the transfer is so strong is that it was filled in Digital Hi-Definition video, and those who saw this at the cinema may have already spotted the discrepancy in the aspect ratio, for on it's theatrical run Once Upon A Time in Mexico was framed at 2.35:1. The 1.78:1 ratio is director approved though, and it's down to personal preference as to which you might prefer. Regardless of this, we have almost reference quality visuals.
SoundPresented in 448kbps Dolby Digital 5.1, the sound mix here is executed with plenty of gusto, which marks it as a good - though not spectacular - audio experience.
The front soundstage dominates proceedings, with good left to right steering and a reasonable level of clarity that is to be expected. Some of the guitar playing sounds wonderfully clean and vibrant, whilst dialogue is always clear and locked largely to the centre channel. When the action kicks in the whole room comes alive with aggressive split surround effects coming into play; everything is executed reasonably well, with a satisfying low-bass kick to many scenes (though it's also a little light in places too), though it's worth noting that the surrounds remain quite quiet during the more ambient scenes, which is a little disappointing.
Overall this is a functional soundmix. It's certainly not a memorable one, but neither is it particularly poor. Which is rather like the movie itself...
ExtrasFirst up are two commentaries, a general one from Robert Rodriguez and one on the sound design which features isolated sounds from the soundtrack. Both are excellent, and if you've heard the Desperado commentary then you know what to expect from Rodriguez, who offers up a lot of information on the shooting of the movie with his usual enthusiasm. The sound design soundtrack is excellent also, which will no doubt please the surround-sound buffs amongst us.
Next up are 6 short featurettes, all of which are informative but by far the strongest is the “Film is dead: an evening with Robert Robriguez” which is filmed lecture on HD vs Film by the man himself: it's compelling viewing, especially for videophiles. A nod must also go to the “Ten Minute Cooking School” featurette, which is an entertaining piece where Rodriguez explains how to cook the slow-roasted pork dish which appears several times during the movie.
Next up are 8 deleted scenes which are largely passable and rounding up the package is the tradition static filmographies. I must also mention that there are several movie trailers contained on the disc, all of them presented in anamorphic widescreen and featuring 5.1 sound mixes.
Overall this is a competent package, with little in the way of the usual promotional puff that pads out most discs.
VerdictA disappointing movie with an average soundtrack; otherwise this DVD presentation can't be faulted.
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