-

Jump to content



Photo
- - - - -

HTF BLU-RAY REVIEW: Gangs of New York

Blu-ray Reviews

This topic has been archived. This means that you cannot reply to this topic.
15 replies to this topic

#1 of 16 OFFLINE   Matt Hough

Matt Hough

    Executive Producer

  • 11,266 posts
  • Join Date: Apr 24 2006
  • LocationCharlotte, NC

Posted June 22 2008 - 08:27 AM

http://static.hometheaterforum.com/imgrepo/3/31/ronsreviews_covers_1845112.jpg">

Gangs of New York (Blu-ray)
Directed by Martin Scorsese

Studio: Miramax
Year: 2002
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 1080p VC-1 codec
Running Time: 167 minutes
Rating: R
Audio: PCM 5.1 English; DTS 5.1 English, French
Subtitles: SDH, French
MSRP: $ 34.99

Release Date: July 1, 2008
Review Date: June 22, 2008


The Film

4/5

Martin Scorsese’s sprawling, overambitious Gangs of New York is an eye-opening, psyche-numbing experience. This lengthy tale of gang crimes and rampant corruption in New York City during the second year of the Civil War scores points for enlightening viewers on facets of American history hitherto unknown, but its very ambitiousness is partly its own undoing. Even at over two and a half hours, there isn’t enough time to cover adequately the many components that made up the fetid breeding ground for hatred, prejudice, and revenge that was New York City of this period in history.

The gang wars of the 1860s involved a number of rival groups representing many cultures and nationalities, but the reigning criminal kingpin of the Five Points area of New York was William "Bill the Butcher
The central story of revenge in the screenplay by Jay Cocks, Steven Zaillian, and Kenneth Lonergan is bodacious and completely absorbing, but the writers have also woven into their scenario the notoriously corrupt regime of Boss Tweed and his Tammany Hall compatriots along with the rising outrage in New York City over the country’s first draft which eventually resorted to dragging immigrants off of arriving ships and signing them up for military duty in the Union Army all the while allowing sons of the wealthy to buy their way out of conscription for $300. As fascinating as these simultaneous occurrences were in the history of New York, the film can’t help but seem overstuffed with plots and focuses which even a master director like Martin Scorsese has a hard time gathering together into a single unforgettable experience. There are sequences in this movie which rank among the greatest ever directed by this über-talented man (the nerve jangling knife welding exhibition with Day-Lewis and Diaz is one such example), but as all of these plots run headlong into one another at the film’s climax, it’s a resultant cacophony of violence and horror whose effect seems lessened somewhat by its very complexity. A film about this little known multi-day riot over the draft is entirely warranted, but it doesn’t get its due here.

Scorsese has rounded up a formidable array of acting talent for his central roles, and they’re all remarkably well cast and perform the challenging roles with dazzling dexterity. Daniel Day-Lewis may not be top billed, but his riveting “Bill the Butcher” is among his career high points, and he‘s definitely the best thing in the movie. A vicious man who speaks with reason and solemnity, he’s the most dangerous kind of psychopath, and Day-Lewis‘ every appearance lifts the film from any torpor it may have settled in during some less interesting sequences. The blossoming love affair between DiCaprio and Diaz doesn’t hold much interest though their individual performances certainly are commendable. DiCaprio as a man of action doesn’t quite ring true, however. (He did far better work for Scorsese in their next film together, The Aviator.) Jim Broadbent makes a determined scalawag of Boss Tweed, and John C. Reilly has some very effective moments as Constable Happy Jack. Also winning points for their masterly skullduggery are Henry Thomas as Amsterdam’s best friend Johnny and Brendan Gleeson as Walter "Monk" McGinn, a warrior who doesn’t care which side he fights on as long as he gets paid.

Gangs of New York was nominated for ten Academy Awards in 2002, but was shut-out at the awards ceremony by the more deserving wins for films such as Chicago, The Pianist, and Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. The film has remarkably involving sequences with some of Martin Scorsese’s most sweeping direction. The film’s period has been captured to perfection with the looks and sounds of a city teeming with life but with a growing sense of becoming recklessly out of control. It’s a shame that in its striving to include as much of the unknown history of the time within its boarders, the movie exhausts itself and somewhat lessens its notable achievements.


Video Quality

3/5

The film’s 2.35:1 theatrical aspect ratio is captured in a 1080p transfer using the VC-1 codec. Sad to say, what you’ve read is true about the look of this film on Blu-ray. It’s been processed within an inch of its life so that all grain is gone and contrast has been dialed up to being slightly too hot giving the features of the actors a slightly waxen look that robs them of some detail and character. The picture is super sharp, but you can see edge enhancement often as a result of the processing. Color is rich, and blacks are stupefyingly deep, and many may actually enjoy this “video” look for the movie, but while I didn’t exactly despise it (hence the video score above), I didn’t think for a second that it looked like film. An added note: even with all of the processing, they still managed to miss some dirt specks that are still present in the image. The film has been divided into 24 chapters.

Audio Quality

4/5

The PCM 5.1 track (6.9 Mbps) is an effective complement to the on-screen visuals. There are some impressive instances of directionialzed dialog that give the audio an alive quality and some good use of the surrounds for ambient effects through the lengthy running time of the movie. LFE gets a little bit slighted, though. I was expecting much more bass than the soundtrack delivered given the mob fights and the use of gun weaponry in the movie. Obviously, there is low bass present, but not to the degree I anticipated.

Special Features

4/5

Martin Scorsese contributes one of his irrefutably interesting audio commentaries. The director has much to say about the period and his own work for decades to get it captured on film, and as always, his commentaries are enthusiastically delivered. He doesn’t speak non-stop; there are gaps between segments of his commentary.

Documentaries from the previous sDVD edition of the movie have been ported over to this Blu-ray release. However, they’re mostly in 4:3 and always in 480i.

“History of the Five Points” makes for a nice overview of the period giving us the ethnic makeup of the district, the history of Irish immigration to America, the era of Boss Tweed, the entertainment of the period, and the gangs that made up the region. This featurette runs 13 ½ minutes.

A featurette on the set design for the movie features production designer Dante Ferretti discussing his previous work with Scorsese, the research that went into designing the sets, and the building of the sets in Rome. Many of the principal actors are also present to praise the lavishness of the sets and their feeling of authenticity. This piece lasts 9 minutes.

Director Martin Scorsese and production designer Dante Ferretti explore the sets in a fascinating 22 ½ minute tour of the full sized sets constructed for the film. Many of Scorsese’s comments here are repeated in his audio commentary, but seeing the sets as he talks about them and their references to real-life New York City locations make this the most interesting featurette on the disc.

Costume designer Sandy Powell discusses the 7,000 costumes (3,000 of which had to be specially built) used in the production of this epic film. Several of the main actors also comment on the clothes they wear in the movie.

Discovery Channel Special: “Uncovering the Real Gangs of New York” is the 35 minute episode from the series detailing the truth behind the fictional characters who are the focus of the movie. Clips from the film are also woven into the documentary's narrative.

U2 Music Video: “The Hands That Built America” is the 4 ½ minute music video featuring the band performing their Oscar-nominated song from the movie. Clips from the film are interspersed with the band filmed in black and white and sepia.

2 theatrical trailers, each running for 2 ½ minutes, complete the bonus selections offered on the disc.

Also on the Blu-ray are previews for Blu-ray releases of No Country for Old Men, There Will Be Blood, Gone Baby Gone, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Smart People, and Step Up 2 the Streets.



In Conclusion

4/5 (not an average)

Gangs of New York is a very good but not great Martin Scorsese picture. (I much preferred his next two outings: The Aviator and The Departed). It’s a huge movie with great actors delivering some of their best-ever screen work, but my recommendation before you buy the disc is to rent the film if you’re curious to see how the processing will affect your enjoyment of the picture.

This film is another in the series of Blu-rays where Disney offers a $10 rebate for upgrading from a sDVD version of the film. See the coupon contained in the package for further details.


Matt Hough
Charlotte, NC

#2 of 16 OFFLINE   Vern Dias

Vern Dias

    Stunt Coordinator

  • 142 posts
  • Join Date: Apr 27 1999

Posted June 23 2008 - 12:53 AM

3 outa 5 with a ton of EE? More like 1 outa 5 when compared to other BD. Even 2 outa 5 would be a stretch on this title. Comparing BD to standards set by DVD is not valid IMHO. Even with the warning on the processing, many people are gonna not read the fine print.

Vern

#3 of 16 ONLINE   TravisR

TravisR

    Studio Mogul

  • 22,009 posts
  • Join Date: Nov 15 2004
  • LocationThe basement of the FBI building

Posted June 23 2008 - 03:08 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vern Dias
Even with the warning on the processing, many people are gonna not read the fine print.
And that would be the fault of the reader.

#4 of 16 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

Ronald Epstein

    Studio Mogul

  • 39,954 posts
  • Join Date: Jul 03 1997

Posted June 23 2008 - 03:36 AM

This is a favorite of mine but I may just skip it due to the
fact that DNR was applied to it.

I'm out here at a software show in Vegas and if there is one
thing I am going to drive home to these studios is that they
have to stop this practice of removing grain and detail from
the picture.

Honestly, I'd rather watch this film again on DVD if it is as bad
as what has been reported in this review and the opinions of others.

Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner

 

gallery_269895_23_10043.jpg Click Here for the latest/hottest Blu-ray Preorders gallery_269895_23_1316.jpg Click Here for our complete Blu-ray review archive

gallery_269895_23_773.jpg Click Here for our complete 3D Blu-ray review archive gallery_269895_23_992.jpgClick Here for our complete DVD review archive

gallery_269895_23_7246.jpg Click Here for Blu-Ray Preorder Release Schedule gallery_269895_23_3120.jpg Click Here for forum posting rules and regulations


#5 of 16 OFFLINE   Dave H

Dave H

    Producer

  • 5,276 posts
  • Join Date: Aug 13 2000

Posted June 23 2008 - 03:50 AM

I've never seen this movie (and I'm a fan of Scorcese). I'll give it a rent.

Ron, good to hear about hammering the issue. I just sent off a letter to Fox today regarding their recent war titles and DNR.

#6 of 16 OFFLINE   Yumbo

Yumbo

    Screenwriter

  • 2,243 posts
  • Join Date: Sep 13 1999

Posted June 23 2008 - 07:37 AM

Ron,

Could you also please press the Region coding (on BR) issue?
A clear policy/timeline - it's frustrating as an importer having to manually check whether a title is region free or not.

Fox/MGM = no sale altogether.

#7 of 16 OFFLINE   Bradley-E

Bradley-E

    Screenwriter

  • 1,019 posts
  • Join Date: Nov 11 2003

Posted June 23 2008 - 12:13 PM

It is surprising considering it is a Scorsese picture. He is an activist in keeping film pure and intact. I'm wondering if he knows Disney botched up the transfer. Perhaps a letter writing campaign to Martin Scorsese would be the best way to let Disney know it is not right.

#8 of 16 OFFLINE   Marc Colella

Marc Colella

    Screenwriter

  • 2,607 posts
  • Join Date: Jun 19 1999

Posted June 23 2008 - 12:58 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bradley-E
It is surprising considering it is a Scorsese picture. He is an activist in keeping film pure and intact. I'm wondering if he knows Disney botched up the transfer. Perhaps a letter writing campaign to Martin Scorsese would be the best way to let Disney know it is not right.

If he never knew to being with that Disney released GONY on Blu-Ray, I'm sure he must know by now. So either he doesn't care enough to check the transfer out for himself, or he did check and is happy with it.

He doesn't seem to have a problem with the DVD transfer afterall.

The reality is that most director's don't care and are more concerned with getting a cut of the profit.

#9 of 16 OFFLINE   Walter Kittel

Walter Kittel

    Producer

  • 4,743 posts
  • Join Date: Dec 28 1998

Posted June 23 2008 - 02:12 PM

I was really hoping (as I'm sure everyone else was) that this release would correct the deficiencies of the DVD release. This title went from a must have to a must avoid. *sigh*.

- Walter.
Fidelity to the source should always be the goal for Blu-ray releases.

#10 of 16 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

Ronald Epstein

    Studio Mogul

  • 39,954 posts
  • Join Date: Jul 03 1997

Posted June 25 2008 - 01:51 AM

Quote:
Ron,

Could you also please press the Region coding (on BR) issue?
A clear policy/timeline - it's frustrating as an importer having to manually check whether a title is region free or not.

Yumbo,

Spoke to Fox yesterday about your concerns.

Let me put this...uhm...delicately...

They are not changing their region code policies and will
be applying or continuing to apply BD + to their releases as well.

In other words, there was no sympathy being shown to fan
requests. It's my guess that the studio, in its own right, wants
to protect their assets.

Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner

 

gallery_269895_23_10043.jpg Click Here for the latest/hottest Blu-ray Preorders gallery_269895_23_1316.jpg Click Here for our complete Blu-ray review archive

gallery_269895_23_773.jpg Click Here for our complete 3D Blu-ray review archive gallery_269895_23_992.jpgClick Here for our complete DVD review archive

gallery_269895_23_7246.jpg Click Here for Blu-Ray Preorder Release Schedule gallery_269895_23_3120.jpg Click Here for forum posting rules and regulations


#11 of 16 OFFLINE   Yumbo

Yumbo

    Screenwriter

  • 2,243 posts
  • Join Date: Sep 13 1999

Posted June 25 2008 - 07:46 AM

Thanks Ron,

No surprise with Fox. BD+ I can understand, but region coding will simply lose them sales (from ANY region).

Please check with other studios on their policies.

ps. is it true that new locked titles will be re-issued unlocked after 1 year?

#12 of 16 OFFLINE   Roogs Benoit

Roogs Benoit

    Stunt Coordinator

  • 61 posts
  • Join Date: Mar 14 2002

Posted June 30 2008 - 05:37 AM

I'm just trying to get this clear. The track is as the director created. 6 channel PCM 24 bit identical to the printmaster created on the dubbing stage. But because the LFE wasn't over done and exaggerated like you anticipated (did you see this in a theater?) you give it a 4 out of 5.
There is a harsh reality to the fact that the room doesn't shake during the mob fights and that's because there are people fighting and there is no truck or train to shake the ground.
I'm anticipating rave reviews from bass heavy, overdriven surround mixes weather you can hear the dialog or not.
BTW, not many guns shake the ground when fired at 95dB SPL.

Roogs

#13 of 16 OFFLINE   JonZ

JonZ

    Lead Actor

  • 7,793 posts
  • Join Date: Dec 28 1998

Posted July 03 2008 - 02:54 AM

UGH!
So disappointing.


I love this film, and was really looking foward to the bluray.

Im actually angry that this film got such a lacking release - for the second time. Posted Image

#14 of 16 OFFLINE   Rachael B

Rachael B

    Producer

  • 4,637 posts
  • Join Date: Jun 05 2000

Posted July 07 2008 - 04:56 PM

Well, I rented the BD. I had a miraculous religious experience. I had no idea that the film's cast were all haloed angels, hal-le-lou-yah! More than once I'm sure I saw the Pope in a piece of meat at Bill's House Of Meats too. I'm truly moved not to buy a copy of a film I'd like to own. Can you say special edition or remix.....I can wait.
Rachael, the big disc cat is in real life Dot Mongur, Champion of the International Pacman Federation. You better be ready to rumble if you play Jr. Pacman with me. This is full contact Pacman and I don't just play the game, I operate it!


#15 of 16 OFFLINE   Ed St. Clair

Ed St. Clair

    Producer

  • 3,320 posts
  • Join Date: May 07 2001

Posted July 08 2008 - 12:46 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rachael B
Well, I rented the BD. I had a miraculous religious experience. I had no idea that the film's cast were all haloed angels, hal-le-lou-yah! More than once I'm sure I saw the Pope in a piece of meat at Bill's House Of Meats too. I'm truly moved not to buy a copy of a film I'd like to own. Can you say special edition or remix.....I can wait.
Why spend all that time, travel, & $$$ on:
period sets
period location
period costumes
&
period speech
when it all is going to look like it was just made on a computer (and not a very good one) anyway & not NY/NY back-in-the-day.
What a waste!
Movies are: "The Greatest Artform".
HD should be for EVERYONE!

#16 of 16 OFFLINE   Dave Mack

Dave Mack

    Producer

  • 4,665 posts
  • Join Date: Jan 28 2002

Posted July 14 2008 - 10:33 AM

Interesting. Josh Z from HighDefDigest posted a comparison review of the French and the US BDs. Definitely a different master used but still has similar problems. Also a link to a French sites with screen comps...



Blu-ray Review: Gangs of New York (French Import) | High-Def Digest


Gangs of New York : Match Blu-ray France - USA


Posted Image
French

Posted Image
US


Posted Image
French

Posted Image
US


Taken from comparison site and simply cropped by me for Closeup.


Posted Image
french



Posted Image
US


Back to Blu-ray



Forum Nav Content I Follow