Tower Heist Blu-ray Review
Tower Heist comes to UK Region Free Blu-ray complete with a superb 1080p High Definition video presentation in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.4:1 widescreen. Just shy of a perfect-10 it nonetheless offers up a brilliant presentation which should leave most fans extremely happy. Detail is excellent throughout, both on the close-ups and the longer shots, although, for some inexplicable reason (probably to do with the filming technique, rather than the transfer), sometimes the areas around the edges of the frame take on a slightly soft quality. It’s not the first time I’ve noticed this, and it does the presentation no harm, but you will likely notice it when watching the film. The palette is broad, offering up a wide array of vividly rendered colours, bolstered by the immaculately designed and decorated luxury Tower. Skin tones are warm and healthy, occasionally erring on the overly rich, but generally reasonably accurate. There’s no sign of any edge enhancement, excessive DNR or unwieldy noise, although there’s a hint of aliasing, particularly evident on a couple of the character’s outfits. Overall it’s an excellent video presentation, arguably reference quality, with just a couple of niggles that prevent it from achieving perfection.
The accompanying DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track is almost as impressive but does not quite edge its way into the demo quality category. Dialogue comes across clearly and coherently throughout, largely dominating the frontal array and having precedence over all of the other track elements. Effects are finely observed, from the New York bustle – both the heaving crowds and the eternal traffic – to the more subtle nuances of the smoothly running Tower machine. There’s a healthy atmosphere created for the majority of the movie, whether it’s when the gang have to prove themselves in the shopping centre, or when they get together to review their makeshift plans, but only occasionally do we get some truly lively set-pieces, including the first act chase scene and the grandstanding finale, which involve a fair amount of boisterous surround work, some decent separation and even an undercurrent of bass. The score is quite engaging, and often arguably the most prominently presented component of the track, allowing the surrounds yet more involvement and also giving us some underlying LFE punch which lends some weight to the proceedings. More dynamic observation, and more punchy material to play with and this could have easily been reference material.
Tower Heist comes to UK Blu-ray complete with a plethora of suitably engaging extra features, the high points of which include the Audio Commentary and, perhaps most surprisingly, the Alternate Endings, elements from which really should have been left in the final cut.
We get a full-length audio commentary with director Brett Ratner, editor Mark Helfrich and writers Ted Griffin and Jeff Nathanson who have a fair amount of fun reflecting on their creation. Generally favouring lightweight, amusing anecdotes over informative substance, at the very least that leaves the track feeling thoroughly engaging, if not wholly revealing.
There are two options here: a piecemeal Picture-in-Picture making-of track which really isn’t worth your time, since it only covers a small percentage of the film’s runtime, and a Music of Tower Heist Picture-in-Picture Trivia Track which, as you might have expected, relays information in regards to the songs and score used for the film.
Plotting Tower Heist offers up a far more satisfying 45-minute behind-the-scenes look at the film’s production. Split into 6 segments: The Ratner/Grazer Connection Parts 1-3; The Conspirators; Set Pieces; and The Car. Whilst not exactly weighty, there’s plenty of interesting background trivia here, with lots of cast and crew interview snippets breaking up the behind the scenes footage and, of course, frequent final film material.
Brett Ratner’s Video Diary gives us a 23-minute look behind the scenes at the project, which showcases the director in action, as well as lots of great moments with the cast – in character – attempting variations on their lines. Worth checking out.
Alternate Endings provide us with 2 different takes on the movie’s ending, not necessarily changing it, but instead adding to it. 15 Months Later is a brief but excellent reunion between the two main characters, and is a total riff on the 48 Hours movies. Perhaps more integral to the character arcs is Lester’s Bar, which rounds off the romantic angle played out in the movie but unresolved in the final cut. Apparently there were some financial disputes with regards to the ending of the film – Ratner wanted to shoot a new ending and Murphy wanted a lot of money to return and do that – so it never happened. Still, it’s unclear why Ratner did not use elements from both of these perfectly workable endings to make the theatrical ending better – perhaps 15 Months Later was too close to Ocean’s for viewers to see the 48 Hours references, but Lester’s Bar is much more satisfying than the original ending. Definitely worth checking out, perhaps even watch them immediately after the movie in order to fully resolve some of the story elements.
Deleted/Alternate Scenes total an extra 6 minutes, split into 9 fairly short scenes: Dead Fish Toto; Charlie Arrives Late; Charlie Invites Josh to Baby’s 1st Circus; Queen’s Girl; Fitzhugh Matlock; Blue Black; Charlie’s Speech; Happy Thanksgiving Mr. Attal; and Last Half Plea Bargain. There’s nothing here that is desperately crying out to have been left in the final film, but there are still some nice moments making this an extra worth checking out.
Gag Reel rounds out the extra footage, and the disc itself, with 4 minutes of reasonably funny, worth-watching-once goofs.
The package also includes separate DVD and Digital copies of the film.
Neither a thoroughly hilarious, laugh-out-loud comedy, nor an unusually stylish and witty crime caper; neither a straight-played, slick variation on the Ocean’s movies, nor a raucous comedy version of the same; Tower House treads a fine middle-ground, never devolving into sub-standard gross-out territory, but also seldom sticking its head above the parapet for long enough to stand out as a great production. Stiller is on fine leader-of-the-pack form, but it’s actually Eddie Murphy who walks away with all the prizes as easily the biggest reason to check this film out. In spite of his late-entry participation as just a supporting character, he’s on scene-stealing form and this is the closest to classic-era Murphy that we have come across in over a decade. It’s worth watching for him alone.
On Region Free UK Triple-Play Blu-ray we get excellent video, very good audio, and a decent selection of extras, including some of the best Alternate Endings that I have come across for any release; endings which should have been incorporated into the final cut. It’s a great package for fans to pick up, and this marks an easy rental for those who want an entertaining, amusing, occasionally even laugh-out-loud funny way to spend a couple of hours – there’s little to love here (apart from Murphy) but there is still quite a bit to like.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £19.99
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