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DVD Reviews

HTF REVIEW: The Italian Job (2003) Special Collector's Edition (Highly Recommended!)

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#1 of 30 OFFLINE   Scott Kimball

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Posted September 28 2003 - 06:53 AM

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The Italian Job - Special Collector's Edition (2003)

Studio: Paramount

Year: 2003

Rated: PG-13

Length: 110 minutes

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1, Anamorphic

Audio: DD 5.1

Subtitles: English
Release Date: October 7, 2003

The Italian Job (2003) is not really a remake of the 1969 film... that would suggest a retelling of the same story. Well, yes... there is a traffic jam in this film... and there are those adorable Minis... and there’s something about stealing gold... but aside from these familiar features, the story and tenor of this film is completely different from the original. The 1969 version was rated “G” and was full of British humor. This film is darker, more serious (though there are a few chuckles), and - aside from the opening in Venice, the whole thing is American. The two films are from an entirely different mold.

The 2003 version opens with a heist of a safe full of gold, and a never-before-seen speedboat chase through the canals of Venice. Kinda gets your attention right off the bat.

Charlie Croker (Mark Wahlberg) leads Steve (Edward Norton), computer expert “Naptser” (Seth Green), wheelman “Handsome Rob” (Jason Statham), bomb expert “Left Ear” (Mos Def), and safecracker John Bridger (Donald Sutherland) in the Venice caper, only to be double-crossed by Steve - who makes off with the loot.

Charlie and crew, back in the states, enlist the help of a beautiful safecracker named Stella (Charlize Theron) to re-steal the gold, using techniques from their caper in Venice, a huge traffic jam in Los Angeles, and the help of a fleet of Mini Coopers.

There’s really not much more to it than that. This is a caper film... not deep on plot... and not built for over-analysis - just sit back and enjoy the ride. It’s a fun and slick caper film made from the same mold as The Score and Ocean’s Eleven. We get a little more detail on the “tech-behind-the-caper” than the original 1969 version of the film - which was out more for fun than for anything else.

F. Gary Gray (The Negotiator) directed this slick, action-packed caper film, and he delivers the goods. This film is scripted by Donna Powers and Wayne Powers, based on the original film written by Troy Kennedy Martin.

The Video
The film is 2.35:1 and the transfer is anamorphic. The picture is bright, clean and sharp, with excellent shadow detail. Colors are well-saturated and look beautiful. The film exhibits some grain in some of the darker scenes as a result of the original photographic process. No evidence of dust or scratches is present. With the exception of a bit of edge enhancement (very minor), I have no complaints. This is a beautiful transfer.

The Audio
The DVD includes an English Dolby Digital 5.1 track, as well as English Dolby Surround and French 5.1 surround. My comments here are, of course, pertaining to the English 5.1 track.

The front soundstage is very open and active. Dialog is always crystal clear. Sounds regularly pan across the speakers when the content on-screen dictates. Bass response is strong, and in the case of some of the music, too strong for my taste... of course - some people like that sort of thing. If I recall, I had the same impression at the theater. LFE is used to very good effect for sound effects, delivering a room shaking experience. While the surrounds are very active in some scenes, the volume seems a bit lower than I would expect at times. Surrounds are sometimes used for ambience, as well - but at other times they fall completely silent - except for a slight hiss which surfaces from time to time, but definitely doesn’t belong there. This isn’t a disaster... you have to have your ear to the speaker to hear it. How did I hear it? I was making sure my surrounds were working during one of the scenes where there was a complete absence of ambient surround sound.

Now, keep in mind that this type of evaluation is purely subjective... and overall, I think it is an exceptional mix.

Special Features
The special features are not anamorphic.

5 documentary featurettes:
Pedal to the Metal: The making of The Italian Job
This is primarily about casting. There are interviews with director Gray and the entire cast (except for Norton) talking about how well they all worked together, etc. Following are notes on shooting on Hollywood Boulevard and in the tunnels, and sets re-creating the tunnels in a large aircraft hangar.
Putting the Words on the Page for The Italian Job (05:48)
Interviews with Donna and Wayne Powers, screenwriters of The Italian Job.
The Italian Job - Driving School (05:37)
The actors did almost all of their own driving stunts, and driving school was mandatory. Interviews with the cast of drivers and director Gray tell us all about the process of learning stunt driving. We also “sit in” with the actors on part of a class taught by Steve Kelso. Interesting is the interplay between Theron and Statham.
The Mighty Minis of The Italian Job (05:39)
Discussion of the Minis as characters in the film includes comments by Gray, producer Donald DeLine, executive producer James Dyer, and cast members. They all seem to love these cars. 32 custom made Mini Coopers were used for the film. A 24 hour body shop was on-hand for overnight body repairs. Three Minis were designed to run on electric motors for shooting in the subway tunnels, where operation of combustion engines is forbidden. This is an interesting piece on the cars.
High Octane: Stunts from The Italian Job (07:52)
Discussion by Gray and DeLine on how stunts and practical effects were used whenever possible, and use of CGI was almost completely avoided. The boat chase in Venice posed several challenges, including the fact that there are strictly enforced speed laws in the canals. Special permission was needed to make a wake. Statham, who had never driven a boat before, had to pilot a boat at high speed in the canals. The “Truck Drop” sequence is also discussed. Finally, the helicopter stunt is discussed... a scene I had assumed was done with models was done with the real thing. Amazing.

Deleted Scenes

There are six deleted scenes:

“Golf Course”
“Staples Center”
“Stella Escapes Police”
“Left Ear Stuck in Traffic”
“Left Ear Breaks a Window”

The first of these scenes shoots for comedy and misses the mark. It’s easy to see why it was deleted. It runs for a few minutes, and is painful to watch for the entire duration.

The rest of the scenes are snippets from the Mini chase.

The second, third, fifth and sixth of these scenes concentrate on the idea that “Handsome Rob” is too injured to drive, and “Left Ear” has to take over - but he doesn’t know how to drive a stick. Another shoot and miss for comic relief here. The film is better without them. While one or two of these scenes might have worked, the concept didn’t, so they were likely all cut for continuity.

The fourth is a scene that lasts well under a minute. It’s not a bad clip, but it does nothing to advance the chase. My feeling is that it was cut for pacing.

Theatrical Trailer
The original theatrical trailer is included.

Final Thoughts

I loved this film... I thought is was one of the best of the summer of 2003 (of course, that statement alone isn’t much of a compliment...) It works very well for what it is. The performances are, for the most part, very strong. The direction is solid, and the editing is tight. Just sit back, and enjoy the ride.

Paramount has done a respectable job here, with a great picture, excellent sound, and some pretty thorough special features.

If you liked this film in theaters, you’ll want to pick up this DVD. If you didn’t see the film, pick it up anyway. It’s a great ride.

Highly Recommended!

#2 of 30 OFFLINE   oscar_merkx


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Posted September 28 2003 - 07:12 AM

I still have to see this one as TIJ 2003 has just been released here in the UK.

Let you guys know what I think of it when I see it

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#3 of 30 OFFLINE   TomWoodward


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Posted September 28 2003 - 07:20 AM

I thought it was pretty good on the whole, especially the last thirty minutes or so - very slick. I wasn't so keen on the cheesy flashback sequences though, felt very out of place. Performances were pretty good too, definately Jason Statham and Seth Green that steal the show. Charlize wasn't bad either :b
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#4 of 30 OFFLINE   Bill J

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Posted September 28 2003 - 07:22 AM

Great review. The Italian Job is still the best film I have seen so far this year, so I'll definitely be buying the DVD. Do you remember if the subtitles during the Venice scenes are burned in?

#5 of 30 OFFLINE   josh4040


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Posted September 28 2003 - 08:05 AM

Already ordered both jobs on amazon can't wait! Nice reviews.

#6 of 30 OFFLINE   Herb Kane

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Posted September 28 2003 - 09:34 AM

Nice reviews for both versions, Scott. I plan on picking up both. Herb.
My Top 25 Noirs:

25. 711 Ocean Drive (1950), 24. Odds Against Tomorrow (1959), 23. Desperate (1947), 22. Pushover (1954), 21. The Blue Dahlia (1946), 20. The File on Thelma Jordon (1949), 19. He Ran All the Way (1951), 18. The Asphalt Jungle (1950), 17. The Killing (1956), 16. I Walk Alone (1948),...

#7 of 30 OFFLINE   Kevin. W

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Posted September 29 2003 - 02:26 PM

Picked my copy up on Thursday past. Didn't see this one in the theaters. The movie wasn't bad, little slow in the middle but a nice kick in the end. Sure would like a Mini. Beautiful cars. Kevin

#8 of 30 OFFLINE   Greg S

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Posted September 30 2003 - 04:56 AM

Loved this film. This is a must buy for me and the wife. We will definitely be doing a movie night for the showing of this one. Thanks for the review. Greg

#9 of 30 OFFLINE   John-Miles



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Posted October 06 2003 - 02:38 AM

I have a question, I heard a rumor that this movie was re-released in theatres because they put an alternate ending on it, is this true? and can we see this ending on the DVD or is it comming in a special edition?


#10 of 30 OFFLINE   Jeff Adams

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Posted October 06 2003 - 03:35 AM

I loved this movie, easily one of my favorite of the summer movies. I have not seen the original so am looking forward to picking up both tomorrow.
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#11 of 30 OFFLINE   Nelson Au

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Posted October 06 2003 - 03:42 AM

Just curious, does anyone know if this film and the 1969 original will be packaged as a set and sold together? Maybe Costco , they often have packages or other retailer? Nelson edit: Opps, just saw that the Coupons section lists a gift set at Best Buy, but the Best Buy list no details, just shows the 1969 version. Anyone know details?

#12 of 30 OFFLINE   Jim-M


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Posted October 06 2003 - 04:09 AM

[quote] I have a question, I heard a rumor that this movie was re-released in theatres because they put an alternate ending on it, is this true? and can we see this ending on the DVD or is it comming in a special edition? [quote]
It's my understanding that they re-released it because they felt it got overlooked in the first go round. It had finished around the $90 million mark and they wanted to nudge it up over $100 million which they achieved.

#13 of 30 OFFLINE   gregstaten


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Posted October 06 2003 - 04:45 AM

Nelson - they are definitely available as a set. I received the set last week and they were shinkwrapped together as one package with a cardboard wraparound. -greg

#14 of 30 OFFLINE   Nelson Au

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Posted October 06 2003 - 04:47 AM

Thanks Greg for the info on the package set!

#15 of 30 OFFLINE   oscar_merkx


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Posted October 06 2003 - 05:58 AM

Just saw this in the theaters and absolutely rocked.

I loved how they used Pink Floyd's Money in the opening scene.

Easily my favorite of the year so far.

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#16 of 30 OFFLINE   Tim Glover

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Posted October 06 2003 - 06:09 AM

Missed this in theaters, but for $14.88 at Fry's this seems like a good blind purchase...and with all the + buzz too.

#17 of 30 OFFLINE   MikeM



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Posted October 07 2003 - 09:57 AM

Hmmm...I was disappointed with the video transfer. I noticed quite a bit of edge enhancement, and black levels seemed way too high. Colors too weren't as vibrant as I'd expect from a 2003 film.

#18 of 30 OFFLINE   Bill J

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Posted October 07 2003 - 04:41 PM

[quote] I have a question, I heard a rumor that this movie was re-released in theatres because they put an alternate ending on it, is this true? and can we see this ending on the DVD or is it comming in a special edition? [quote] I think you are mistaking it for 28 Days Later (which had an alternate ending). The re-release version of The Italian Job was exactly the same as the original.

#19 of 30 OFFLINE   Ken Seeber

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Posted October 07 2003 - 06:08 PM

There is a fun easter egg on the disc as well.
Go to the special features menu and highlight "Pedal to the Metal: The Making of The Italian Job." Press the up arrow key to reveal the silhouette of a Mini Cooper. Press enter to see an extended outtake of Seth Green improving a scene.

#20 of 30 OFFLINE   CraigK


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Posted October 07 2003 - 06:15 PM

Compared to other heist films like THE SCORE, HEIST, and OCEAN'S ELEVEN...this one was a huge disappointment, considering all the praise on this forum.

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