A slick and thoroughly watchable movie
The Iceman Blu-ray ReviewYou'd be forgiven for thinking that Ariel Vromen's rather banally titled “The Iceman” is some 80's action nonsense that barely saw the light of day, but despite its unimaginative and slightly off-putting title, it turns out to be a devastatingly grim tale of a family man with an insatiable appetite for blood. It is the true story of Ritchie Kuklinski -AKA- The Iceman; a mob hitman who, over the course of almost four decades, killed more than 100 people in cold blood.
The way he weaves it certainly holds the attention, and though there were aspects of Kuklisky's life that I found deeply interesting, Vromen never lingers too much on these areas, almost as if he's actively managing your connection with the man, never allowing you to be drawn in too far, forever putting years between the audience and Kuklinsky - just as the audience are at their most vulnerable, Vromen skips to the next decade. It's clever and it's subtle.
One area in which The Iceman excels is that it has an absolutely brilliant cast, especially Michael Shannon, in the lead role - It's Shannon's capabilities as an actor that make us stop wondering why someone has decided to tell this tale and effectively glorify a person whose crimes were so abhorrent, instead, he sucks us into his breath-taking performance with little more than a furrowed brow and thick and slow voice. Vromen uses Shannon brilliantly and for that he should be applauded. He has managed to conjure a slick and thoroughly watchable movie. When the din of the classics that preceded it hush for the briefest moment, you'll find that The Iceman certainly has something to say that's well worth listening to.
The Iceman Blu-ray Picture QualityPresented here with a glorious 16:9 filling 1.78:1 aspect with an excellent AVC encoded transfer, The Iceman looks just about as good as you could have hoped for.
The image is clear and sharp, with no signs of any edge enhancement or other fudgery that would be unwelcome. Fine object detail is good, and textures look rich and very realistic.
The blacks are at times every so slightly washed out, and I would have put this down to the fact that Vromen decided to add a touch of sepia tone to the darker scenes if it weren't for the fact that at times there's noticable greyness where it should really be black in outdoor scenes. Nothing to get too fizzed up about though. That being said, shadow detail doesn't suffer for it at all, and contrast isn't pushed very hard at all. Daylight scenes present a very bleak image at times, especially in the earlier scenes in the movie where the director has given the image a deliberately washed out feel. It works really well and coupled with the production design which, by the way, is absolutely excellent, I don't think I've ever felt as convinced I was watching footage from the 1970's. Overall the brightness of the image adds to the realism. It's a clever little turn that the director pulls off in that he decided to grade each sequence in the movie separately and based on their respective eras. Very nicely done. Colours do seem a little "pinky" throughout, but again probably deliberate.
Overall it's a great looking image in which the close ups on Shannon's terrifying face is where you'll probably find the most impressive detail on show here. You canmake out individual pores on the mans skin, see the glistening on his eyes and every angered tremble in his cheeks. It looks great. And very frightening. A good job in matching stylistic decisions with great looking material.
Overall it's a great looking image
The Iceman Blu-ray Sound QualityThe DTS HD Master audio 5.1 track does exactly what it says on the tin. Dialogue is clear and precise, and sound effects feel balanced and natural. There's a lot of crispness to the high frequencies which is nice, and when the sub kicks in, most for the soundtrack, the depth is clearly rich and solid. There's mostly ambiences going on in the surrounds, but their use is pretty sparse - no big deal for this particular type of movie though. As I mentioned, sub use is pretty sparse aswell, with it mostly being employed to add richness to the score which plods along ominously in the background. Sub is also used on occassion to punctuate the crack of the gunshots.
On the whole the audio presentation is nicely balanced, and nicely presented. It never puts a foot wrong.
The Iceman Blu-ray Extras
Behind the Scenes - An 8 minute featurette of behind the scenes footage with interviews with cast and crew, including the director himself who briefly discusses why he wanted to make this particular movie.
Ariel Vromen - 8 minutes of interesting insight into the directors motivations behind making the movie.
Ehud Bleiberg - 10 minute interview with the producer who discusses casting and general production.
Michael Shannon - 5 minutes on set with Michael Shannon discussing the story and the man, Richard Kuklinsky
Winona Ryder - Spend 5 minutes with Winona discussing Michael Shannon and the movie.
Chris Evans - 3 minutes with Chris Evans discussing his character, Mr. Freeze.
Some very interesting interviews if that kind of thing floats your boat.
Is The Iceman Blu-ray Worth BuyingThe artistic integrity of this movie remains intact despite the content being of a questionable moral nature. The movie is tight, bold and strong, and the themes are that of violence and love and the duality between the two for the main protagonist, Richard Kuklinsky. Some brilliant perfoprmances should see this movie raise eyebrows in awards circles, and it most certainly would not be out of place as a contender for many of the major awards out there, but given Vromens' relative freshman standing in Hollywood, it's likely it'll be overlooked.
The review disc I was given was complete, but without a cover. The video presentation boasts a great image and some nice touches from the director and his production design team, the audio track is solid too. On the whole, I'd say this one is most definitely worth picking up if you like a gritty and engaging story acted out by some of the absolute finest actors working at the moment. Thoroughly recommended.
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