Always Bet on Black
Returning to the modern noir-inspired roots of his early classics, writer/director Shane Black delivers the goods in fine form with The Nice Guys.Likely best known now for his work on the hugely successful but surprisingly divisive Iron Man 3 (whose back to basics approach was a breath of fresh air), Black was also the writer behind the superior scripts that likely helped make movies like Lethal Weapon 1 and 2 into all-time classics, and otherwise potentially throwaway action thrillers like The Last Boy Scout and The Long Kiss Goodnight into sharply witty, immensely memorable and often vastly underrated gems. His directorial debut Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, went on to be better received on the home formats, and likely The Nice Guys will follow suit (it's a shame, given the now-moot talk of a sequel, that it wasn't a bigger success at the Box Office) whilst his blockbuster big hitters like Iron Man 3 and the upcoming, promising, The Predator help him make the big bucks that will hopefully keep the studios happy.The Nice Guys sees Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling playing against type – Crowe as the thuggish enforcer, whilst Gosling plays a bumbling alcoholic PI – and making for typical Black-style mismatched partners. His 70s homage/satire tale of a dead adult actress, a missing girl, some hired assassins, and a big conspiracy is on-point throughout, and seldom misses a beat. Whilst it may not quite – on first viewing – appear to be as much of an all-time classic as some of his early greats, it comes damn close, and it may well be that time and repeat viewings will only see this move up in his oeuvre. As it is, there are some fantastic, razor-sharp laughs; a solid, unpredictable story that plays with genre tropes; and a pitch-perfect partnership between Gosling and Crowe. It's Black doing what Black does best, and doing it damn well.
Picture QualityDespite its intentionally dated period setting, The Nice Guys shines on Blu-ray
Presented with a strong 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video rendition, framed in the movie's original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.40:1 widescreen, The Nice Guys celebrates the Seventies in style, with impressive detail lapping up the nuances of the rich and often garrish setting, from the wrinkles on the faces of our bedraggled leads to the creases in their outfits. The colour scheme handles the vibrant tones well, retaining strong black levels that deliver striking shadow detail and hold up during all of the dominant night sequences. There is a little softness around the edges, but nothing too frustrating, and with no overt digital anomalies, this remains a largely excellent presentation.
Sound QualityThe Nice Guys also delivers the goods on the aural front
The accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is a thoroughly engaging affair, immersing you in the seventies vibe whilst delivering Black's trademark dialogue with fine precision and keen prioritisation across the front and centre channels. Effects range from car chases and crashes to thundering gunshot booms, and even the odd explosion, disseminated with discrete observation through the surround channels and with LFE impact, whilst the score – a fine blend of memorable original scoring and era-specific song tracks – keeps the pace and authenticity maintained for the duration.
ExtrasThe UK Blu-ray release of The Nice Guys boasts the same short and fluffy Featurettes from Warner's US counterpart - Always Bet on Black and Worst. Detectives. Ever – as well as the original Theatrical Trailer and an Alternative Theatrical Trailer, but also sports an 11 minute selection of welcome exclusive Cast Interviews and a Photo Gallery, rounding out a solid if unexceptional collection of extra features.
Blu-ray VerdictBlack is back and on fine form
Although it may take a couple of years and a few repeat viewings for it to ease in perfectly amongst the writer/director's greats, The Nice Guys remains one of the best and funniest movies of the year, showcasing immense chemistry from the two leads and strong promise for the touted sequel which – if this great little Blu-ray release is bought by enough people – may just happen. Get. It. Now.
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