The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 Blu-ray Review
PictureI find that recent Tony Scott movies always look pretty outstanding on Blu-ray, whether it be Déjà Vu or Man on Fire, and Pelham is no exception. The over-processed, over-saturated, fast-edited, MTV-styled imagery has 'Look at me! Look at me!' written all over it, and Blu-ray's superior High Definition presentation definitely showcases Scott's showboating well. Detail is excellent, with no softness (except for those intentionally blurred shots as seen when Travolta looks through the train windows), and no unintentional grain - though of course Scott's style of over-saturation has lots of inherent side-effects. The colour scheme is also typically broad, with the neon and low-lit train tunnels offering a nice counterpoint to the brightly-lit glass-offices of the train management department, each juxtaposed with the pretty averagely sunny New York exteriors. Black levels are generally very good indeed - with perfect shadowing and excellent tunnel sequences and overall this is a superior presentation of a movie that is both perfectly suited to High Definition and also a good example of what the format can do.
SoundAs with Scott's visual flair lending itself to High Definition video presentation, his talent for overwhelming, over-the-top soundtracks works well with the capabilities of Blu-ray. Dialogue is given precedent - as this is (at least initially) a very conversational thriller - and is never swamped by the action, or the score, however invasive it can be at other times. Effects are well done too, acutely observed when it comes to atmospherics - trains rumbling and screeching, the bustle of New York traffic or the whipping of the helicopter blades overhead - but the noisier gunshots and crashes really get through to you, bringing your living room to life. It is an all-encompassing and very atmospheric effort, and if you throw into the mix the kind of abrasive rock-twinged techno score we have come to expect from Scott's modern movies, you're in for a suitable ear-bashing. The dynamics are spot-on, and the sporadic bass is impossible not to notice. Overall this is a stellar aural rendition to accompany the superb visuals.
ExtrasWe get a fair few decent extras to accompany this release, not least two solid Commentaries. The first, with the Director Tony Scott, delves into the origins of the project, casting the all-important duo at the heart of the film, and the difficulties experienced shooting in the specific settings. He tends to be a little too optimistic about the distinguishing his interpretation from the original, but this is still a solid listen for fans of the film. The second track provides offerings from both the screenwriter Brian Helgeland and the Producer Todd Black. The writer further details the tactics he employed to differentiate this from the original, which is interesting even if you don't always agree that it had the chosen effect, but the Producer often takes the dialogue in a different direction, instead looking at things like the set design, the quality of the production and the hard task they had to keep the movie engaging using such stagnant locales.
No Time to Lose: The Making of Pelham 1 2 3 offers an insightful half-hour look behind the production, also looking at updating this classic for the modern generation, as well as the technological advances, the character design and realistic approach the actors took to playing their requisite parts. With plenty of interview snippets from the key cast and crew members this is well worth checking out.
The Third Rail: New York Underground takes a further quarter-hour to look specifically at the challenging setting, looking at the real subway system and the carriages used and modified for the production. There's also a 5 minute Featurette dedicated to the hair styles of the cast members, specifically tailored for their particular characters. I'm not really sure this deserves its own featurette, let alone a mention. Finally Marketing Pelham gives us the Trailers for the film. We also get that utterly worthless CineChat function (catering for those who don't want to actually watch movies together) as well as the MovieIQ option for those too lazy to connect to imdb. Oh, and there's a digital copy for your Ipod.
Verdict2009's version of The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 is a perfectly enjoyable, sometimes thrilling, sometimes dramatic movie. The high points include seeing the ever reliable Denzel Washington, in an a-typical role, facing off against a suitably psychotic John Travolta, on unusually good form. On the flipside the film is, frankly, fairly redundant, pandering to those who can't be bothered to watch classic 70s thrillers. Still, if you haven't seen the original, you will no doubt find this pretty original and pretty exciting. Coming to UK Region Free Blu-ray we get everything the American's got: amazing video and audio (the Director Tony Scott certainly has a flair for filming material that looks good in Hi-Def) and a decent set of extras to round off the disc. Fans would be advised not to hesitate in a purchase. As for newcomers... well the stubborn film buff in me would strongly suggest you seriously consider checking out the original first. The realist knows that this new flick is infinitely more accessible for modern generations. So, in light of that, for those who do just want to skip the 70s version, I can safely say that this film and this release will not disappoint.
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