‘The Town’ arrives on UK Region free Blu-ray with a very acceptable 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 transfer framed in the widescreen 2.40:1 aspect ratio. It would be wrong to describe the picture as ‘beautiful’ or ‘handsome’ as it was never the intention to make it look anything other than gritty. There’s no other word that adequately describes it. The colour palette is generally of a darker nature, which is a reflection on the use of directional lighting on interiors so we get good deep blacks. A blue tint was added to many scenes by using tungsten balanced film with daylight light sources and contrast has been raised slightly. A thin veneer of film grain completes the effect that complements the immediacy and ‘street’ feel of the piece. The image has an impressive sharpness which is most noticeable on wide exteriors and there’s quite a lot of detail on show. The transfer has succeeded in communicating the director’s intention in an effective way.
The audio on ‘The Town’ comes in a DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround flavour which will really give your set up a good shakedown during the car chase and gunfight sequences. There’s a real sense of threat as handguns, machine guns and shotguns go off in your living room and you are caught in the middle of it all. The screeching of tyres and shattering of windscreens keep you on your toes thanks to the excellent use of panning from the surround speakers. A general ambience throughout keeps you immersed in the Boston environment. I have to admit to some trouble making out the dialogue in places such as the scenes where MacRay meets his former druggie girlfriend in a bar. The combination of mumbling and the Boston accent proved a real challenge to my ears as they struggled to tune in. Apart from that, the mostly centre weighted dialogue was quite intelligible. Be kind to your neighbours during the loud action sequences.
The disc submitted for review was a single Blu-ray disc pre-production sample containing the following bonus material. The movie review was based upon the Theatrical version, with the Extended cut being watched afterwards.
Extended Edition - We are given the option of watching the Theatrical version (125 mins) or Extended version (153 mins) and there’s a further option to have an icon pop up to let you know that you’re watching the extra material as the movie plays. The extended version stretches out scenes with extra dialogue and action, as well as providing us with alternately shot scenes and whole new sequences. I felt that the new material, while giving us more background on characters, slowed down the pace of the whole movie and the Theatrical version is much more tightly cut – providing a greater feeling of satisfaction from the end product. The Extended cut gives more time to the love story element as well as to balance out the exposure given to the FBI team, in an effort to be more even handed. The Theatrical version is the better movie.
Director’s Commentary - Ben Affleck flies solo here with a very interesting and entertaining commentary where he takes us through the process of adapting the story for the screen as well as providing some insight into the influence that other movies of the genre had on his production. He tells us of real life incidents that he drew upon as research for the robberies as well as how he used parallels from his own family life for some character motivation. He lets us know that the Theatrical Cut is his preferred choice and that the Extended Cut has been provided for fans of the movie to enjoy. This is a very intelligent piece that doesn’t get too bogged down by the technicalities of film making so should suit a general audience interested in some background to the film. The commentary covers both Theatrical and Extended versions.
Ben’s Boston Focus Points - Here we have a series of mini featurettes that can either be watched as prompted pop ups (Focus points) while the movie plays or chosen directly from the menu as standalones. Individually, the shorts are:
Pulling Off the Perfect Heist (HD, 3 mins) - An FBI Consultant and Ben Affleck discuss the meticulous planning and execution of Boston Bank robberies against a backdrop of filming the movie.
The Town (HD, 5 mins) - A look at Charlestown, breeding ground for Bank robbers, with cast and crew.
Nuns With Guns: Filming in the North End (HD, 5 mins) - The Director & Stunt Co-ordinator discuss the challenges of driving big cars very fast down narrow streets while firing guns.
The Real People of The Town (HD, 3 mins) - Director Affleck tells us he talked to a lot of local people as research on Charlestown and included real people rather than actors in many scenes.
Ben Affleck: Director & Actor (HD, 8 mins) - The cast and crew say nice things about the actor and star.
The Cathedral of Boston (HD, 7 mins) - We hear of the excitement for cast and crew of filming in Fenway Park baseball stadium, home of the Red Sox, for the big finale set piece.
‘The Town’ comes to UK Region free Blu-ray with a very acceptable 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 transfer framed in the widescreen 2.40:1 aspect ratio. The dark colour palette, raised contrast and hint of grain lend a gritty feel to the sharp image. The DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround track will rock your system during the car chase and gun battle sequences. An Extended edition of the movie is included together with a director’s commentary and a brace of mini-featurettes. Ben Affleck stars and directs this modern day heist movie set in a suburb of Boston. A well made movie with nods to many others of the genre, it makes for an entertaining night’s viewing.
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