The Devil's Own Blu-ray Review
PictureThe Devil's Own blasts onto your screens at 2.40:1 using the MPEG-4/AVC codec, at 1080p and although this is a good enough presentation, clean and few encoding errors it's never going to open those slack jaws. The print itself is in good shape with no sign of drop-outs, shake, dirt or blemishes so we're on to a good start. Close up detail in the faces, the pores and the iris of the eyes for instance is exemplary; look at the opening shots of young Frankie sitting in his kitchen after his father has been murdered for instance. Detail is again on good form showing the extensive decay of Northern Ireland's society; from the burnt out rusting cars to the crumbling brick and stonework. It is in these early scenes that there is a definite sense of 3-dimensionality, and there's a good pop to the visuals on screen. Once the action moves to the US though this is toned down somewhat. Yes there is still detail to be seen and at times this detail stretches into the distance; Frankie and Sean on the bridge over the freeway for instance, but this level of depth is not continued for the whole of the feature.
Close-ups though still remain as detailed, again with flesh tones coming across well, detail in the Ford's family house from the dining table to the basement. Equally the colours used throughout this second and final act are more vibrant than the muted tones of Northern Ireland, more vibrant and certainly stronger in depth. All of the colours used show no sign of bleeding
Whites are crisp and rarely bloom but in one or two scenes you can see them creep over the borders of adjacent objects. Some figures set against these brighter scenes also exhibit some edge enhancement and although it's never intrusive you do notice it when it's there. On the lower scale blacks are pretty much spot on, adding to the shadow detail. The basement corners and the junk which reside there are easily identified, similarly the showdown between Frankie and bar owner come arms dealer Billy Burke (Treat Williams) at the deserted warehouse has good depth of field and adequate detail. Again the shadow areas in Burke's bar and back office come across well with
the blacks never being crushed.
This is an adequate transfer and on the whole looks good indeed but it does let itself down by some blooming, enhancement and inconsistent depth or the lack of it.
SoundAs well as an Itaalian Dolby Digital 5.1 TrueHD track and a number of standard Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks, the English track on offer is the full blown TrueHD variety. At times it's a subtle track with nothing other than the fronts to keep your attention. On other occasions the track bursts to life, the surrounds kick in, your sub goes low and these sequences bring you into the film; invariably these moments are reserved for the action intensive scenes; the shoot out at the start, the warehouse showdown, the choppers meandering through the Northern Irish skies.
LFE use in the above mentioned scenes is tight and well controlled, perhaps not as deep as it could have been but not a stretch off it. Its use is handled well again for the rotor blades and the encompassing gunfire, from the initial deep crack of the small explosion to the whip of ricochet as the bullets stream around your surround field. Surround use is again in use in the busy U.S. Streets predominantly from traffic as our anti-hero wanders over bridges or Ford's cop chases down a prophylactic stealing thief. The opening track from The Cranberries, God be with You widens the front stage considerably with the strings, flute and bodhran all easily distinguished. James Horner's haunting score at times is almost lifted from Braveheart but really only whilst the action is set on the Emerald Isle. Apart from that his score again adds depth to the frontal stage.
Dialogue is always crisp and strong, if you can defocus on Pitt's Oirish accent, and the uttered word is firmly rooted in the centre channel. On the odd occassion there is some vocal panning and some of the action is taking place off screen. Additional panning between the fronts during the busy U.S. streets or some steerage between front and rear as a train passes are timely and transparent, never feeling forced. Like the video before it this track does the job well, but throughout I felt it just lacked a certain depth, didn't quite add to the ambiance which I felt the film demanded, other than that there's really little to fault.
ExtrasAll that is included on this disc is a couple of trailers for CE3K and The Jane Austen Book Club. as such this receives the big fat zero from me.
VerdictThe video transfer is good enough but not as good as other examples, the audio does its job but again could have been better and there's a distinct lack of extras. So this disc if not all that it could have been and really this sums up the film for me as well; it could have been so much more, it had so much potential which was simply wasted.
Ford and Pitt are good enough actors but here they are simply treading water, Alan Pakula has achieved far greater heights than this simple one dimensional thriller and his untimely death now of course means we will never see if he was again capable of reproducing the heights he attained in the 70s and 80s.
If you can steer past Pitt's somewhat forced Irish accent then I sure you'll be in for an enjoyable enough Saturday evening, it doesn't tax the brain too much and is relatively light viewing. A rental at best.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £17.99
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