An excessive exercise in excessive excess
The Wolf of Wall Street Blu-ray Review
Too much money, too much drugs, and little by little it becomes mundane.Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio must be two of the most powerful, bankable filmmakers in Hollywood. Between them they managed to secure $100 million to tell a story about stock brokers over a 179-minute runtime and all carrying a Studio-hated R-rating. It paid off too. The film has recouped its budget - and plenty more - as packed theatres proved once again that these two are Box Office gold.
Yet for all the tremendous performances and painfully hilarious moments, The Wolf of Wall Street is yet another test of sheer endurance; ultimately an unpleasant movie about unpleasant individuals doing unpleasant things. For three hours. Best Actor territory this may well be (although DiCaprio was arguably considerably better in Scorsese's underrated masterpiece, The Aviator), but Best Picture territory this was not. Based on a true story, Scorsese's film is an exercise in pure excess.It pushes the boundaries of everything - full-frontal nudity, orgies, drug use, profanity - hell, it's about one full-frontal male nudity shot away from being slapped with the dreaded NC-17 rating (and had to be cut heavily to avoid that!). I'd have said its one snorting-cocaine-out-of-somebody's-asshole shot away from such a rating, but they managed to keep that shot in, somehow. Yet after three hours of following these people, nothing new happens.
There are no character arcs, no significant developments. In fact there's very little character study at all. This is basically just 3 hours of DiCaprio doing drugs, screwing prostitutes and living like a rock star, all on other people's money; an important issue which the filmmakers choose to utterly ignore. These are scumbags. Narcissistic, sociopathic, money-driven, drug-addicted f**kers, to borrow from the movie's own common parlance. And spending three hours in their company for what is basically one long party, is just tiring after a while.
The Wolf of Wall Street Blu-ray Picture QualityThe Wolf of Wall Street hits UK Region Free Blu-ray complete with a stunning 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.40:1 widescreen.
Unsurprisingly for a Scorsese film it is a superb-looking production, and, right from the outset, you know that this is going to be demo material.
Detail is excellent throughout, impressing us with clinical skin textures, authentic clothing and fabric weaves and finely-crafted background flourishes. All this with no signs of any softness, nor of any digital defects: no invasive edge enhancement, no unruly excess DNR application, no banding or blocking or any other issues. The colour scheme is broad and vibrant, and whilst skin tones don’t quite look as realistic as the rest of the palette – skewing a little too orange to be regarded as ‘healthy’ – this is a minor, stylistic niggle, rather than anything wrong with the presentation. Black levels are rich and strong, allowing for superior shadow detail, and rounding off a near-perfect video presentation that is certainly demo quality through and through.
The Wolf of Wall Street Blu-ray Sound QualityOn the aural front the stomping lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 is every bit as impressive, drawing you into the frenetic fury of the piece and providing a totally immersive accompaniment which abounds with both precision and punch.
Dialogue comes across clearly and coherently – the shouts and screams, the mumbles and whispers – all presented clinically, disseminated across the fronts and centre channels. Effects are myriad, and whilst there’s nothing overtly bombastic, Scorsese pays fine attention to the smallest of elements: from the opening rear-view snort of cocaine to the clink of ice in glasses; from the ringing phones to the screech of tyres and slam of car doors – the master filmmaker uses the least obvious suspects to punctuate his piece, and it works exceptionally well.
Wild excess has never looked or sounded quite this good.
It’s the score, however, that reigns supreme over the rest of the track, sweeping you up in the chaos at every stage, bringing the LFE channel for its entourage, and delivering some stomping, perfectly-chosen numbers to emphasise the crazed hustle of these money-mad psychos. With such acute sound design, and such overwhelming presence, there’s no doubt that this is a reference track through and through.
The Wolf of Wall Street Blu-ray ExtrasPerhaps somewhat surprisingly the US release only got a single Featurette as an extra, the 17 minute Featurette, The Wolf Pack. The UK counterpart boasts a little more, but not enough to make up for the elements that are so obviously missing – aside from the missed opportunity of providing a decent Commentary or Documentary, where’s the famous Extended Cut or, at the very least, the extensive Deleted Scenes that must have been stripped from that cut to make the Theatrical Version?
What we do get, aside from the aforementioned Making-of Featurette, is the additional Running Wild Featurette and an interesting Round-table discussion between the filmmakers. Still, it does leave you wanting more, and wondering whether there’ll be a double-dip somewhere down the line.
Is The Wolf of Wall Street Blu-ray Worth BuyingWatch Goodfellas or Casino for similarly-themed but far better Scorsese biopics, or The Aviator for a far better Scorsese/DiCaprio biopic which also addresses excess and ambition, but does so with depth and understanding rather than comparatively shallow cartoon escapades that entertain through humour but are utterly devoid of humanity.
It’s tiring enduring three hours of watching wolves in action – wantonly glorifying greed, without remorse, for the entire duration – particularly when the filmmakers appear to assume that their core audience are just a bunch of sheep.
Still, if you love the film, this Blu-ray is a must-have purchase.
Excellent video and demo audio, as well as an extras package which marginally improves on the US counterpart, leave this Region Free UK Blu-ray release an easy choice for fans who enjoyed the film. Everybody else, it’s definitely worth a rental, but blind buys should be for Scorsese/DiCaprio completists only and, even then, it’s not rewarding top tier work from them, other than in its technical proficiency.
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