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Blu-ray Reviews

HTF Blu-ray Review: Wanted



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#1 of 39 Sam Posten

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Posted November 30 2008 - 05:44 PM

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Blu Ray Title: Wanted
Disk Release Date: 2 December, 2008
Rated: R
Screen format: AVC Encoded 1080P High Definition, 2.35:1 Widedescreen
Studio: Universal
First theatrical release: 27 June, 2008
Previous releases on disk: Day and Date with Anamorphic Widescreen DVD
Director: Timur Bekmambetov
Starring: James McAvoy, Morgan Freeman, Angelina Jolie, Terrence Stamp, Thomas Kretshmann, Common
Sound Formats: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Length: 1 Hour, 50 Minutes
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French



Plot: 2/5
In Wanted, Wesley Gibson (McAvoy) is struggling with his boring life, one where everyone in it is or has taken advantage of him. His boss is a nightmare, his girlfriend is cheating on him with his best friend, and even his father walked out on him when he was just 7 days old. Wesley’s world is turned upside down when he is recruited by an agent of a secret fraternity of assassins and told that his father was one of the greatest killers of his lifetime but was gunned down himself just days before. The agent, Fox (Jolie), brings Wesley to meet Sloan (Freeman) the head of the fraternity and they convince Wesley to join, he has inherited his father’s gifts and even if he doesn’t use them, the killer, Cross (Kretshmann) will take down anyway. Wesley undergoes an intense and unusual training regimen, but prior to being given the go ahead to track down Cross he has to undertake a series of hits to test him out. These initial hits bring Wesley face to face with the reality of his new life and also introduces him to the backbone of the Fraternity, a series of looms which mysteriously generate the names of those who are targets. Oh, and I guess I forgot to mention that among Wesley’s powers are the ability to slow time and to curve the paths of bullets using only his mind.

Wanted is a terrific action film with great eye and ear candy. Where it fails is in the silliness of its general premise and the huge gap where any sense of moral quandary within Wesley should be. I can’t criticize it too badly as it is, after all ‘only’ a comic book adaptation (and the extras have some of the real comics brought to life through an interesting CG technology, and I found myself wishing they had completed THAT version of the film), and designed as a summer blockbuster, but the fact that these characters all seem perfectly at ease with taking killing orders from an unknown entity communicating via textiles didn’t really work for me.

Freeman of course is terrific and Jolie plays her part with uncharacteristic subtlety, but McAvoy seemed perfectly cast as the nebbish and thus I didn’t buy his transformation into an action hero.

Overall I’ve seen worse action films but I’m not in a huge rush to go out and play the video game or chomping at the bit for a sequel. If they go ahead and make that ‘motion comic’ into a feature film tho, give me a call!

Sound Quality: 4.5/5
Wanted is the very model of a major summer action film and the audio is first rate. While I’m surprised they didn’t spring for a 7.1 mix (ala Shoot em Up, a film that Wanted borrows from in many other respects) the 5.1 uncompressed DTS-HD does the job admirably and there are few films where bullets race around the room as well, and the car chase and other action sequences are likewise well done. Bass is solid but not really exceptional.

They even somehow got Danny Elfman to write the soundtrack, tho sadly the results are not as memorable as his best. Exceptions include “The Little Things” which is a lot more modern rock than what one would expect out of him, and “The Scheme”, “Rats” and “The Train” were pretty decent when listened to on their own but never given the room to breathe in the film itself.

Visual Quality: 4.5/5
Wanted is a very dark film but the blacks remain solid throughout with very subtle grain structure. It is moderately sharp and uses thin depth of field to good advantage in several instances, particularly in the CGI sequences which feature the action up front on top of out of focus planes to really add a nice sense of depth. The film uses earthy, dark tones throughout so colors never really get a chance to shine, however there are several detailed city scapes, explosions and sets which are simply jaw dropping in their detail. No complaints at all here, very solid and slick all around but not into the reference material level for me.

Extra Features: 4.5/5

Starting off there is a digital copy of the film on a second disk plus a number of U-Control features which will not go live until launch day, including ‘My Chat’. Other U-Control segments include the Motion Comic I have already mentioned plus a scene explorer which shows several segments from multiple tracks, including green-screen and story boards.

The bulk of the extras are in the traditional (and much appreciated!) menu selectable form! There is an extended version of one scene plus an entire opening sequence which was not used but is pretty cool. There are Assassin profiles for all of the fraternity members with interviews of the actors playing each part (beware of spoilers in these interviews!), there is an extended profile of how they made the bridges move since the train that Fox and Wesley run on top of was static, and two extensive and very well done looks at the practical and CGI effects within the film. Both are worth watching for sure. There are also interviews with the producers and with Mark Millar, creator of the Wanted Comic for Top Cow. Particularly interesting is Millar’s relating of the genesis of the story based on rumors his brothers told him. All told it’s a nice bunch of extras and I enjoyed many of them more than I did the film itself. At least the moral issues are considered here even if they aren’t touched on in the film (or the comic) itself.

Overall: 3.5/5 (not an average)

Once again slick styling, a hot leading lady, tons of effect work and a screaming soundtrack collide without really taking a satisfyingly original story along for the ride. The sad thing is that those complex issues are really well integrated into what little of the comic we get to see in this package and have been apparently jettisoned as unnecessary for summer fare. It’s a shame but not surprising.

Ultimately what drives the success of a film like this is not whether it disappoints those who are looking for a little substance to back up the style but whether it brings the goods in the action end of things and on that front there is little room for complaint. The bullets whiz, cars fly with ballet like precision and ultimately crash in satisfying thunks, and the bad guy gets confronted. In those terms Wanted is a success, and action fans will surely consider it worthy of at least a rental.

Worth noting is that this is Timur Bekmambetov’s first Hollywood vehicle, he is best known for the Russian films “Night Watch” and “Day Watch”, both of which I’ve got on order and should be seeing soon. It’s clear that he is a rising star and possessed of the drive and genius needed to make films the way he wants to make them, and this is a good first effort for him given this new level of show. He’s definitely a talent we should be hearing a lot more from.

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#2 of 39 Jrf2

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Posted November 30 2008 - 06:57 PM

For me, this was the biggest guilty pleasure of the summer (well, let's not go into Speed Racer...) and I'm glad Universal is treating this well. Sounds like a great package! Thanks, Sam!

#3 of 39 Carlo Medina

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Posted November 30 2008 - 08:01 PM

Hey Sam, great review.

I'd like to ask if you know whether or not the video content is the same with this and the Collector's Edition? Is the only difference the packaging and additional print material (i.e. am I not going to miss out on video extras by only purchasing the standard BD)? I can't tell if this is a one or two disc BD...

Thanks!

#4 of 39 Sam Posten

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Posted November 30 2008 - 11:56 PM

They don't send me the collector's edition but my experience has been that the standard edition disks are usually just packaged in with the goodies, standard sleeve case and all. I did see the CE at Amazon but didnt check it out, I'd start there!

Sam

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#5 of 39 Carlo Medina

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Posted December 01 2008 - 03:42 AM

Thanks Sam, I'm checking around and the info is confusing. Amazon has the regular BD as a 1 discer (says No. of discs: 1) but Blu-ray.com says it's a 2-discer. Judging by the internet pics I've seen of the Collector's Edition it looks like there are 2 discs plus all the printed swag. It seems that sites are really confused over the specs of both sets.

Was the BD they sent you [which sounds like the regular BD release] a one or two discer? That I think will answer my question.

#6 of 39 Sam Posten

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Posted December 01 2008 - 07:22 AM

1 BluRay disk, 1 DVD that seems to only have the portable file on it and nothing else. Those typically are locked till street date, an irritating reality...

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#7 of 39 Chuck Mayer

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Posted December 01 2008 - 01:31 PM

I'm pretty sure that I am going to buy this turd.

Can't help it.
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#8 of 39 Ron-P

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Posted December 01 2008 - 03:36 PM

Blind buy for me tomorrow, looking very forward to watching it. As long as it delivers over the top action I'll be happy.
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#9 of 39 Mike Frezon

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Posted December 01 2008 - 04:31 PM

Thanks for the review, Sam! this is one of the few summer flicks I made sure to get to this year. It was a lot of fun! Posted Image

Quote:
Originally Posted by Carlo Medina
I'd like to ask if you know whether or not the video content is the same with this and the Collector's Edition? Is the only difference the packaging and additional print material (i.e. am I not going to miss out on video extras by only purchasing the standard BD)? I can't tell if this is a one or two disc BD...

Carlo: To answer your question, check out THIS THREAD which has all the details.

There are single-disc releases (both OAR & MAR). All the LE releases (SD & BD) have two discs. The Collector's Gift Sets have the following:

Quote:
The limited edition 2-disc versions and collector’s sets include a digital copy of the film. Perfect for holiday gift-giving, the deluxe collector’s set features collectible packaging pierced with a bullet, creating a shattering effect to the outer case. Fans will also enjoy the gift set’s photo book of assassins, collectible postcards and acrylic frame motion 3-D film cell.

Posted Image

There's Jessie the yodeling cowgirl. Bullseye, he's Woody's horse. Pete the old prospector. And, Woody, the man himself.Of course, it's time for Woody's RoundUp. He's the very best! He's the rootinest, tootinest cowboy in the wild, wild west!


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#10 of 39 Sam Posten

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Posted December 02 2008 - 01:17 AM

Thanks for that info Mike!

Sam

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#11 of 39 Mike Frezon

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Posted December 02 2008 - 01:34 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam Posten
Thanks for that info Mike!

No problem, Sam! It was all still fresh in my mind from when I was researching this week's RoundUp.

Whenever there is a situation like this where you've got six different concurrent new releases of one title, confusion is bound to abound! Posted Image

There's Jessie the yodeling cowgirl. Bullseye, he's Woody's horse. Pete the old prospector. And, Woody, the man himself.Of course, it's time for Woody's RoundUp. He's the very best! He's the rootinest, tootinest cowboy in the wild, wild west!


HTF Rules | HTF Mission Statement | Father of the Bride

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#12 of 39 Sam Posten

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Posted December 02 2008 - 03:29 AM

True, but the way I figure it that's 5 more different skus than normal that will eventually be put on closeout prices =)

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#13 of 39 Carlo Medina

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Posted December 02 2008 - 07:21 AM

Well that second disc appears to be the same Digital Copy for both the BD and the CE. I was in Best Buy looking at the CE packaging and the sticker on it didn't tout any new video features, only the print swag, so I picked up the regular BD. Thanks for everyone's help!

#14 of 39 Ron-P

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Posted December 02 2008 - 05:50 PM

Saw this for the first time tonight on Blu, fantastic. The A/V is top notch and the film is one hell of a fun ride. Loved it.
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#15 of 39 OliverK

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Posted December 03 2008 - 12:37 AM

Wanted has gotten a stunning transfer and the audio wasn't too shabby either - well done Universal Posted Image

The plot is let's say something of an acquired taste, but that transfer was so good that I consider to watch it again, it simply looks that good.

#16 of 39 Southpaw

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Posted December 04 2008 - 02:14 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron-P
Saw this for the first time tonight on Blu, fantastic. The A/V is top notch and the film is one hell of a fun ride. Loved it.

Agreed. Anyone that doesn't give this puppy 5 star audio score has a messed up sound system. (Sam?)
The train scene is my new favorite demo material.
I actually wouldn't score PQ as high as AQ. I thought some scenes looked soft compared to others. Check out the opening pharmacy scenes compared to shots of Sloan later on.

#17 of 39 Ron-P

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Posted December 04 2008 - 03:01 AM

I noticed that soft scenes as well. I'm guessing that had to due when and how those shots were filmed, not with the transfer itself. But yes, the audio is 5 star in my book, simply amazing.
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#18 of 39 Todd smith

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Posted December 04 2008 - 04:24 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Southpaw
Agreed. Anyone that doesn't give this puppy 5 star audio score has a messed up sound system. (Sam?)
The train scene is my new favorite demo material.
I actually wouldn't score PQ as high as AQ. I thought some scenes looked soft compared to others. Check out the opening pharmacy scenes compared to shots of Sloan later on.

Wow. Quite a cocky comment I would say. I would not give this audio track 5 stars. 4.5/5 would be my vote. While the entire track is very solid and there is nothing to complain about, I did not think any aspect of the sound was realy standout either. I can think of atleast 20 scenes from various movies that I would throw on to demo before the "train scene".

And before you claim I have a messed up sound system......Dual PB13's and a 12/2 Ultra eq'd with a SMS-1 in a fully enclosed 12 x 17.5 room. 7.1 JBL setup with dual buttkickers attached to a mini riser which my couch sits on. Calibrated with AVIA. Room treated with bass traps and first reflection traps.....etc......Is this sound system "messed up"? Or maybe it is that we all hear things a bit dif and what impresses the hell out of you does not neccessarily impress me as much and the other way around.

What is it exactly that you like so much about the audio that demands a 5 star rating "in your opinion"? I think Sams review is right on. Bass in particular is very solid, but nothing exceptional. I have heard much more powefull and detailed bass than this movie.

#19 of 39 Mike Frezon

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Posted December 04 2008 - 05:13 AM

Hmmm. I wonder who's being "cocky?!?"

Posted Image

There's Jessie the yodeling cowgirl. Bullseye, he's Woody's horse. Pete the old prospector. And, Woody, the man himself.Of course, it's time for Woody's RoundUp. He's the very best! He's the rootinest, tootinest cowboy in the wild, wild west!


HTF Rules | HTF Mission Statement | Father of the Bride

Dieting with my Dog & Heart to Heart/Hand in Paw by Peggy Frezon


#20 of 39 Todd smith

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Posted December 04 2008 - 05:17 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Frezon
Hmmm. I wonder who's being "cocky?!?"

Posted Image

Maybe I came across a bit rough as well, but I cant stand comments like "anybody who doesnt rate this puppy 5 stars has a messed up sound system". WTF is that? Just because we dont all think this is a 5 star audio presentation does not mean we have equip issues. Everyone hears things dif and we all are more impressed with certain aspects of sound compared to others. We all have dif opinions which is ok and just because we dont agree with each other does not mean we have euip issues. That is ridiculous. Just because some people dont agree with the tracks that I hold as reference material does not mean they have a messed up sound system, you know? Posted Image





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