Blu-ray Disc REVIEW
Release Date: AVAILABLE NOW
Film Rating: /
Starring: Jason Statham (Chev), Amy Smart (Eve), Jose Pablo Cantillo (Verona), Efren Ramirez (Kaylo), Dwight Yoakam (Doc Miles), Carlos Saz (Carlito)
Written by: Mark Neveldine & Brian Taylor
Directed by: Mark Neveldine & Brian Taylor
Poison in his veins. Vengeance in his heart.
I gotta hand it to Lionsgate/Maple Pictures for er, cranking out some fine product on Blu-ray as of late. Not only am I impressed with their commitment to releasing new titles day-and-date with DVD, I’m also impressed with the level of quality of their 2007 releases.
Lionsgate/Maple Pictures had a bit of a high-def dry spell for a bit. They delayed many Q4 titles until 2007. The result is better quality discs. Lionsgate/Maple Pictures titles are now including uncompressed PCM 7.1 audio, “out of movie” experiences, HD content for special features and utilizing 50GB discs. I’m sure the list of goodies will keep growing in the future.
Crank is no exception. It features all of the above plus a cardboard slipcase that’s been popular on DVDs for so long. You don’t like that standard blu-case? The slipcase is the answer, and is the first I’ve seen on any high def title (Saw III also includes a slipcase).
Directed by two extreme sport camera operators, Crank is a frantic film about a professional hitman named Chev. He’s been poisoned by a personal enemy of his and is given very little time to live. The poison slows down his heart and the only way to stay alive is to keep his adrenaline pumping by moving quickly and using as many stimulants as possible. Chev is ‘cranked’ for the whole movie and with the little time he has left alive, he’ll try to have revenge on his enemy as well as say one last goodbye to the woman he loves.
VIDEO QUALITY: 5/5
The video quality of Crank is stunning to watch. This movie was shot with HD cameras at 1080/24p and it looks absolutely awesome. If you want to view a clean and naturally sharp movie to watch and demo this is a title I’d recommend! I can’t call it a film…or can I?) The image of the raw HD footage is occasionally altered dramatically for storytelling effectiveness. You’ll notice this with blown-out whites (a look quite popular these days) and heavily altered colours. On the flipside, other scenes show an image that looks almost untouched: the super-detailed noise-free image most of us have been craving to see in HD. Unlike so many other HD-recorded movies we’ve seen, Crank’s image isn’t softened so much to give it a “film look” – it stays hyper-detailed just as the action demands. Whatever changes have been made to the HD footage it’s very acceptable. At one time I was afraid to think what movies would look like shot on HD video instead of film…I always thought I wouldn’t find it acceptable, but Crank has convinced me that there is nothing to fear.
Since its shot in HD, the movie tends to have a lot of wild shots that could never be done using 35mm cameras. One of the directors goes to the extreme of recording a lot of footage by holding cameras while on rollerblades. On a big screen its freakin’ wild and it’ll pull you right in to the smallest pebble in the middle of a street.
Compression artefacts and edge enhancement are absent. The theatrical aspect ratio is 1.85:1. This Blu-ray disc appears to be transferred from the HD source. The aspect ratio is the photography’s native 1.78:1. Could this mean the end of the Academy Standard??
AUDIO QUALITY: 5/5
My wishes have been answered!! Like The Descent, the default audio option on Crank is uncompressed PCM 7.1 surround. That ensures that no matter what, the user will never need to select the higher resolution audio option. It’s delivered by default. Considering that the home theatre market is making a shift to using HDMI as the default connection, this will never pose a problem. I think it’s assumed that many new home theatre customers purchasing Blu-ray players will also be purchasing receivers with HDMI inputs giving easy access to the uncompressed PCM.
For those of us left behind in the old world of compressed audio and outdated receivers, we must go into the disc’s setup menu and select Dolby Digital 5.1 EX or else we’ll be greeted with PCM 2.0. Let me make my opinion clear here: that’s perfectly ok! I’m perfectly fine with the higher resolution option being the default because like all who have heard uncompressed PCM surround, there’s no going back to lossy audio and staying satisfied. The unfortunate thing about Sony Pictures discs (also having uncompressed audio) is that their high-res audio must be selected in the menu and the default goes to lossy audio. So Lionsgate/Maple Pictures scores big points in my book.
Since I haven’t upgraded my surround processor yet (but plan to this year), I listened to the Dolby Digital 5.1 EX surround track. As expected, it’s just as crazy as the video. Since the beating of the heart is important in this movie, sounds of the heart pump throughout and go down in Hz in all channels. This is a very active soundtrack and it utilizes the full 6.1 sound field very creatively. Punk, metal, and rap dominate the music soundtrack…as well as a bit of head banging to the “Achy Breaky Heart” country hit. …funny.
Dynamic range and the onslaught of realism in the audio won’t disappoint. This will be a title I’ll be revisiting in the future once I’m PCM equipped…if I can call it that… By the way, the uncompressed PCM is 7.1. The 7th channel is a duplicate of the 6th for 7.1 processors/speaker setups.
TACTILE FUN!! /
TACTILE TRANSDUCER ON/OFF?: ON
SPECIAL FEATURES: 3/5
This disc includes the Cranked out-of-movie mode allowing the viewer to watch the movie as well as a HD window that can appear on any part of the screen showing interviews with the directors and on the set footage. It’s a great feature and I find it much more exciting than audio commentaries (something I’ve become a bit bored with lately, but still have plenty of value).
The rest of the features, all HD (but vary in HD/SD) have the directors sitting in their chairs all casual (Taylor having his hat over his eyes most of the time = annoying!) and each feature is self explanatory, but here’s a quick breakdown:
One last interesting feature is Crank: The Family Friendly Version. Should you want to show this movie to your little ones (or see it aired on public TV) this is the mouth that has been washed with soap version. All of the bad language has been eliminated and substituted with more tasteful dialogue. This isn’t a different edit though; all violent and sexual graphic images are still intact here so I wouldn’t be showing this to a Grade 2 class as an afternoon movie. This is just a different audio option in Dolby Digital 2.0 surround.
IN THE END...
Crank up the video projector. Crank up the sound. Cranked is a good trip until you hit the pavement.
February 02, 2007.