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HTF BLU-RAY REVIEW: THE TAKING OF PELHAM 1 2 3

Blu-ray Reviews

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#1 of 5 Timothy E

Timothy E

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Posted November 10 2009 - 11:28 AM

http://images.dvdemp...s/1489094.jpg"> THE TAKING OF PELHAM 1 2 3


Studio: Sony Tri-Star

Year: 2009

Rated: R

Film Length: 1 hour, 46 minutes

Aspect Ratio: 1080p High Definition Widescreen (2.40:1)

Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1, French DTS-HD MA 5.1, Spanish DTS-HD MA 5.1

Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese

Release Date: November 3, 2009

The Movie

The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 is a remake of the 1974 film (spelled "...One Two Three") starring Walter Matthau and Robert Shaw. Both versions are based on a novel by John Godey. (There was also a made for TV movie produced in 1998 starring Edward James Olmos, Vincent D’Onofrio, and Donnie Wahlberg.)

Pelham 1 2 3 is a subway train that inexplicably comes to a stop with a number of passengers aboard. Dispatcher Walter Garber (Denzel Washington) makes efforts to communicate with the train and learns that the passengers have been taken hostage by a group of terrorists led by Ryder (John Travolta). Ryder demands a ransom for the passengers and threatens to kill them all if the money is not delivered within a certain time. Garber and Ryder engage in a verbal game of cat and mouse until their conflict escalates into an inevitable physical confrontation.

This remake comes with an excellent pedigree of talent behind the scenes: the film is directed by Tony Scott (True Romance, Crimson Tide) with a screenplay by Brian Helgeland (L.A. Confidential, Payback). I expected to enjoy this film based on the talent in front of the cameras as well as behind them. Although this is an enjoyable, slickly-produced action film (with more action than the plot summary would lead you to believe), this remake still pales in comparison to the more subdued original film. The high point of the film is the verbal sparring that occurs between Washington and Travolta’s characters, which has been transferred over from the original novel and film. After setting up this game of wits between these two characters in the first half of the film, the remainder of the film sinks into a morass of action film cliches. The fast pace of this film really saves it because the story rarely drags even where it lacks realism (or the illusion of realism).

Video


The movie is in 1080p high definition in a 2.40:1 aspect ratio. The picture quality is excellent. Much of the film occurs in near darkness in subway tunnels, and there is a remarkable clarity in blacks and shadow details. Film grain is appropriately present and DNR and edge enhancement are minimal to non-existent. This is an excellent transfer overall and a viewer would be hard pressed to find any fault with it.

Audio


The English DTS-HD MA 5.1 tracks make excellent use of all speakers, with particularly good use of the rear channels, to create a terrific illusion of being in the middle of a subway tunnel with all of the ambient noises and echoes that you would expect to experience if you were actually there. Dialogue tracks are not overwhelmed and rendered inaudible by the audio mix as can be the problem in some action films.


Special Features


This BD is packed with a wealth of special features. Theatrical trailers for Angels and Demons and District 9 play automatically before the main menu. These trailers are also accessible in the special features, which also include trailers for other films including Moon, Boondock Saints 2, Blood: The Last Vampire, Black Dynamite, The DaVinci Code Extended Edition, Casino Royale, and Year One.

Two separate audio commentaries are available during the film, one with director Tony Scott and the second with screenwriter Brian Helgeland and producer Todd Black.


Featurettes include the following:

No Time to Lose: The Making of Pelham 1 2 3 (30:25): An interesting "making of" documentary featuring many of the lead actors and talent from behind the scenes.

The Third Rail: The New York Underground (16:15): Documentary about the New York Subway system with comments provided from the stars of the film.

From The Top Down: Stylizing Character with Danny Moumdjian, The Lab Salon (5:17): Featurette regarding hair style choices for the actors in this film.

Marketing Pelham (7:04): Features 3 different theatrical trailers for The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3.

BD Live Blu Ray players connected to the internet can access the movieIQ feature, which presents information about the cast, crew, production, and music during the movie via a pop-up window. The window takes up about one-third of the screen and the trivia will be of little interest to most viewers. Also included on BD Live players is the cinechat feature, which allows instant messaging to other friends watching the same film at the same time on their BD Live capable players.

A digital copy is also available on the second disc for transfer of a standard definition version of the film to a portable media device of your choosing (PSP, PC, Mac, or iPod).

Conclusion

This may not be the most engaging action film ever filmed but it is not the worst either. The battle of wits between Washington and Travolta’s characters is fascinating, even if it fails to go anyplace after awhile. The action set pieces succeed in jazzing up this film, even if you have seen these sequences before (and better) in other films. Still, this BD comes with near-reference quality video and audio, and kudos to the studio for the abundance of special features. The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 is a better than average action film but a film that could have been so much more.

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#2 of 5 Cees Alons

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Posted November 11 2009 - 12:15 PM

Timothy, thanks.
I missed this movie in the theater (also, because I hardly ever go there anymore), so I wondered how it is.
Based on your review, I think I will order it. Just prepare myself for that second half. /img/vbsmilies/htf/smile.gif


Cees

#3 of 5 Robert Crawford

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Posted November 11 2009 - 01:37 PM

I watched this in a movie theater and have been a fan of the original for 35 years.  With that said, I don't know how it pales to the original?  Though the basic plotline are the same, they're quite different in a lot of ways that I can appreciate as a film lover.  I received my BRD of it last week and will be watching it shortly as my viewing list is overwhelming me for the moment.:)

Anyhow, thanks for the review.




Crawdaddy

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#4 of 5 Timothy E

Timothy E

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Posted November 11 2009 - 03:12 PM



Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Crawford View Post

I watched this in a movie theater and have been a fan of the original for 35 years.  With that said, I don't know how it pales to the original?  Though the basic plotline are the same, they're quite different in a lot of ways that I can appreciate as a film lover.  I received my BRD of it last week and will be watching it shortly as my viewing list is overwhelming me for the moment.:)

Anyhow, thanks for the review.




Crawdaddy
My subjective opinion is that the remake pales in comparison to the original to the extent that the original's slower pace allowed the suspense to build in the story.  By contrast, the new film moves at a much faster pace, which is good in some ways since I like action movies as much as if not more than the next person, but at the expense of more character development and establishment of suspenseful mood.
Opinions will differ and I have no doubt that many viewers may prefer the new film to the original.  There are certain aspects of this film that improve on the original, in my opinion, but overall I still prefer the original.  (That fact may surprise me more than anyone else!)
I would be very interested to see how many of our members who have seen both films prefer one version or the other, and the reasons for their preferences.


#5 of 5 Robert Crawford

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Posted November 11 2009 - 09:07 PM

The word "subjective" is always a given when discussing film opinions which is why I asked you the question as to how the remake pales to the original.  IMO, the original is more of a crime movie while the remake is an out and out action film.  I actually think the remake has more character development for Travolta and Washington than the original does for Shaw and Matthau.  Certainly the pacing of each film is quite different, but I appreciate each film for what it is and really don't have a stated preference of either film because their differences are too great for a fair comparison, at least from my POV.  I do know that certain fans of the original have easily dismissed this remake and some even have refused to watch it.  To each his own.




Crawdaddy

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