RocknRolla Blu-ray Review
RocknRolla is brought to the smaller screen in it's original widescreen 2.40:1 ratio. The 1080P high definition encode is done using the SMPTE 421M video codec, better known as VC-1.
Given that this film was shot in HD you'd expect the transfer to be meticulously good. There is no evidence of enhancements going on, no ringing, no halos, no noise and everything is as expected; very smooth. However, the image may still not be all to your liking. For some unbeknown reason it has been overlaid with a brown sepia-toned colour effect. The best way to describe it is as the sort of brown tinge to an image that you would get with a Western movie. Whilst on the whole it doesn't spoil the movie it does of course play havoc with the colours. Everything takes on a muted tone and whereas the image should have sparkled, it simply doesn't.
That's not all. The blacks are not as deep as needed and combined with the contrast can appear a little washed out. Some of the indoor scenes struggle to get the balance right and surprisingly the level of detail is not that great either. You would have thought being filmed in HD would have captured pristine levels of detail by default but that's not the case with the end result on offer here.
It's a little difficult to grade this movie for it's video aspects. Whilst it is clear it's an impeccable transfer I can only assume the stylised effects were imposed through choice and design. It's not all that bad but there will be some that may not like it. Bearing all that in mind I'll still give it the benefit of the doubt.
You get the benefit of a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 lossless soundtrack but it's only in the English form. For the French, Spanish and Portuguese you'll have to live with Dolby Digital 5.1 I'm afraid.
It's a dialogue based film and as such everything comes directed from the centre and front channels. The increased resolution makes sure that all the voices sound impeccably crisp, clear and suitably audible. On the note of being audible I felt that the soundtrack as a whole was a little underpowered. It may require a cranking up of the volume knob to get the most satisfaction out of it. Doing this however does bring two problems and they revolve around the balance of the mix and the dynamics. The louder you go the more out of balance the effects and one off sounds become. It all felt a little too brash at times but given how enjoyable the movie is it's excusable.
There is of course action in the movie and it all gets some good LFE treatment. Thumps, thuds, car crashes and gunshots have a reassuring underline of quality about them at all times as does the guitar slung musical score.
I can't say that this is the greatest of soundtracks but it's certainly good enough to serve the movie for more than it's purpose.
The disc comes with four extras and the visual extras are presented in High Definition. An interesting and very welcome bonus with this set is that you get a Free Digital Copy of the film to use on your PC/Mac.
Commentary by Director Guy Ritchie and actor Mark Strong - I think it's quite important when doing a commentary that it has enough about it to hold peoples attention. Unfortunately, this one has been done pretty much off the cuff with a lack of preparation. Guy Ritchie and Mark Strong talk over each scene as if it's the first time that they've sat down and watched the film together. It isn't long before it becomes one guy talking to the other about what circumstantially happened on the days of the shoots. Mark is pretty much out of his depth. I think neither commentator feels comfortable doing this commentary and I doubt you would listen to this one all the way through.
Blokes, Birds and Backhanders: Inside RocknRolla - (15min 3secs) - If the audio commentary was disappointing then this extra is a little more on the positive side of things. It's more the usual type of stuff with the cast and crew talking about the film itself, the joys of shooting the and working with Guy Ritchie. It's also very well edited.
Guys Town - (8mins 32secs) - This is pretty much a follow on from the previous extra. Guy talks about London and how the city has inspired him to make the movies he does. He also talks about some of the film locations used on shoots and the incredible upward spiral of property prices in the city.
Additional Footage - (2mins) - There's one deleted scene for you to enjoy here called “Will you put the cigarette out?” Gerard Butler is exercising on a tread mill. I can't see why the scene was deleted as it's only 2mins long and could have easily been inserted to add a bit more fun.
Digital Copy of RocknRolla - The US version of this disc comes with a free DVD that allows you to transfer a digital version of the film onto your computer. You'll need Windows Media Player or iTunes to watch it as well as the authorisation code from the accompanying card inside. Although you are given the option of having the WMV or iTunes version I found that only the WMV PC version worked for me. NOTE When trying the iTunes version I was restricted with a warning saying that this it was only meant for US/Canadian distribution.
When Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels burst onto the scene in 1998 it set up Guy Ritchie as someone to really keep a look out for. It was such a witty comedy con that it made for a refreshing change at the time. Snatch then proved to be a good follow up but since then his directorial skills unfortunately became more than a little suspect.
Makes no bones about it Guy Ritchie is a one trick pony and in RocknRolla he goes back to exactly what made him standout in the first place. This film is a supercharged and slightly refined version of Lock Stock. Fans of the original will be pining over the material on offer here and I must say it hits all the spots and then some. The language is coarse, the lines are loaded with razor sharp wit and the story moves at 100 miles an hour. The film is based in contemporary London and although things maybe a little exaggerated at times, you'll still be able to relate to it. Anyone who's grown up in an urban jungle will certainly relate to virtually everything on offer in this film.
I really enjoyed this film and would have no doubt recommending it but if you're a fan of his earlier work then I would say this is essential viewing. The Blu-ray has a very good soundtrack as well as a good video output. However, there is a caveat on the video side that the stylisation may not be to everyone's liking and in some ways has interfered with what would have been nigh on a flawless transfer. Still, it won't ruin your enjoyment of the film but it's a point worth noting.
The extras are not great but the inclusion of a digital copy of the film is a bonus and will enable you to have a copy to watch on your PC. Why would you want it on your PC or laptop? Simple really, this film demands to be watched several times over. In fact, I've watched this film many times over in short succession already and have not tired of it at all. The dialogue and lines come at you so thick and fast that you will always find something new in this film and it'll bring a smile to your face every time. On that note alone a rental could never do this film enough justice so this one comes easily recommended as one worth buying.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £22.31
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