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Blu-ray Reviews

HTF BLU-RAY REVIEW: The Town



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#1 of 7 OFFLINE   Cameron Yee

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Posted December 15 2010 - 06:59 PM

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The Town
Release Date: December 17, 2010
Studio: Warner Home Video
Packaging/Materials: Two-disc Blu-ray "ECO-BOX" with slipcover
Year: 2010
Rating: R
Running Time: 2:05:00 (theatrical) / 2:33:00 (extended)
MSRP: $35.99

  THE FEATURE SPECIAL FEATURES
Video 1080p high definition 16x9 2.40:1 High definition
Audio DTS-HD Master Audio: English 5.1 / Dolby Digital: French 5.1 Spanish 5.1 Variable
Subtitles English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese Variable

The Feature: 4/5

The Boston neighborhood of Charlestown bears the dubious honor of producing more bank robbers and armored car thieves than anywhere in the world. When a heist goes down in the Boston area, authorities immediately scour the Charlestown community for suspects.

Their assumptions aren't wrong in the latest headliner - a daytime bank robbery in the Cambridge area, executed by Charlestown natives Doug MacRay (Ben Affleck), Jim McCoughlin (Jeremy Renner), "Gloansy" Magloan (Slaine) and Desmond Elden (Owen Burke). The job is almost problem-free, but Jim's violent, impulsive side leads to a brutal beating of the bank manager (Victor Garber) and their taking hostage the assistant manager, Claire Keesey (Rebecca Hall). Used only as a bargaining chip should they confront the police, they let her go as soon as they've gotten away, but the traumatic experience doesn't end quite so quickly for Claire.

Learning that she lives in Charlestown and fearing she's working with the FBI - specifically dogged special agent Adam Frawley (Jon Hamm) - Doug follows her to find out what she knows. But unexpectedly they meet face-to-face, and a moment of vulnerability resulting from her recent experiences opens Doug's eyes to not only the effect of his choices but also the possibility that his own life could be different. The closer he gets to Claire, the less he wants to do with the life he's known, but leaving it behind is effectively foresaking the only family he's ever had. And some of them don't intend to let him go away so easily.

"The Town" - adapted from Chuck Hogan's novel "Prince of Thieves" and Affleck's second directorial effort - inevitably brings to mind the film "Heat" and, to a lesser extent, Affleck's own "Good Will Hunting." Unlike the former film, however, a romantic relationship takes center stage as opposed to a dualistic one between a cop and his robber. So by comparison, "The Town" is more conventional and less thematically complex, though its action sequences seem to keep up pretty well, both in their technical execution and dramatic scope. What "The Town" does undeniably well, however, is capture the personality of a community and the deep entrenchment of a generational lifestyle. It's for this reason that "Good Will Hunting" comes to mind, though this time it's Affleck in the lead role as a man slowly realizing his life can be more than what he's made it. That he's shouldered both responsibilities as lead actor and director - with neither person's work obviously suffering - is impressive. It certainly whets the appetite for what is yet to come out Affleck's surprising - but altogether encouraging - second act.

"The Town" on Blu-ray includes an extended version of the film that runs 28 minutes longer than the theatrical cut. Much of the additional material consists of character developing moments, though none are admittedly (even by Affleck himself) necessary. In particular I didn't care for the love triangle between Agent Frawley, Claire and Doug, even as toned down as it was compared to what was in the novel. The rest of the scenes are interesting in their own way, but re-integrated into an extended cut frankly isn't the best way to view them. Fortunately, the disc does include a feature that indicates which are deleted scenes, in case you're like me and never saw the film in theaters.


Video Quality: 4/5

The film is accurately framed at 2.40:1 and presented in 1080p with the AVC codec. Black levels are consistently stable and inky and contrast generally shows the full range of values with no signs of compression, though the image can a look a little too opened up in some darker scenes. Colors are nicely saturated with consistently warm and accurate flesh tones. Fine object detail is also quite good, holding up in both close ups and wide shots, with no signs of excessive digital noise reduction measures. Some scenes appear to have some digital sharpening applied, however, giving them an "edgy" quality with some noticeable haloing. The effect tends to be more pronounced in wide shots, and perhaps earlier in the film than later.

Audio Quality: 3.5/5
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix is a bit of a disappointment. Though the dialogue is consistently crisp and well-balanced - notwithstanding the sometimes unintelligible Boston accents - surround activity is fairly reserved and LFE and mid-range frequencies have a thick, sort of muddy quality. The limitations are most pronounced in the finale shoot out, robbing the scene of some of its excitement. If the film were strictly a dialogue-driven piece the audio presentation would be fine, but since the movie has some significant action set pieces it's reasonable to expect more.


Special Features: 3/5
The extras are surprisingly thin considering the film seemed to be fairly well received. What does exist is reasonably thorough, though the absence of a theatrical trailer is rather curious.


Audio Commentary with Director Ben Affleck: Providing commentary for both the theatrical and extended versions, Affleck is sometimes quite candid about where he thinks he fell short in the storytelling or directing. Less time is spent on his acting work by comparison, as he focuses instead on technical details or his experiences at the helm of the production.


"Ben's Boston" Focus Points (30:25, HD): Viewed with the feature through branching or together as a group, the featurettes include:

  • Pulling Off the Heist (2:51): Inspiration for how the bank robbing scene was put together.
  • The Town (4:57): Background on Charlestown and its community.
  • Nuns with Guns: Filming in the North End (4:52): Behind the scenes of the armored car robbery shoot.
  • The Real People of the Town (3:06): A look at some of the Charlestown citizens who were cast as extras and supporting players.
  • Ben Affleck: Director and Actor (7:34): Cast and crew talk about their experiences working with Affleck.
  • The Cathedral of Boston (7:03): A look at what it took to shoot in Fenway Park.
DVD: Watch the feature presented in 2.40:1 anamorphic standard definition video and 384 kbps Dolby Digital 5.1 audio (English only). Subtitles in English SDH, French and Spanish.


Digital Copy: Incorporated into the DVD "Combo Disc" and compatible with Mac and Windows. Offer expires December 15, 2011.


BD-Live: At the time of review, there was no exclusive content related to the feature.


Recap
The Feature: 4/5
Video Quality: 4/5
Audio Quality: 3.5/5
Special Features: 3/5
Overall Score (not an average): 4/5

Warner Home Video turns in a fine video presentation but somewhat disappointing audio presentation of Ben Affleck's thoughtful heist movie. The special features package is on the thin side, though what is provided is reasonably thorough in detailing the production experience.


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#2 of 7 OFFLINE   Robert Crawford

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Posted December 15 2010 - 07:45 PM

Thank you for your review as I think this was one of the best films of 2010.  I should have my BRD by Friday for a weekend viewing.






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#3 of 7 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted December 15 2010 - 11:43 PM

I thoroughly enjoyed this film as well.  Looking forward

to this on Blu-ray.


 

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#4 of 7 OFFLINE   Parker Clack

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Posted December 16 2010 - 01:07 AM

Cameron:


Excellent review as usual. I look forward to seeing this film.



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#5 of 7 OFFLINE   TravisR

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Posted December 16 2010 - 01:34 AM

This movie is rock solid and has a good chance at a Best Picture nomination. The performances are all very good and between this and Gone, Baby Gone, Ben Affleck has proven that he has some real talent for directing.



#6 of 7 OFFLINE   Brett_M

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Posted December 16 2010 - 05:32 AM



Originally Posted by TravisR 

This movie is rock solid and has a good chance at a Best Picture nomination. The performances are all very good and between this and Gone, Baby Gone, Ben Affleck has proven that he has some real talent for directing.


Agreed.  I especially hope he revisits the characters from Gone, Baby, Gone -- the rest of the books in that series by Lehane are thrilling and there is room there for another visit to Dorchester, I think.


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#7 of 7 OFFLINE   James_Kiang

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Posted December 16 2010 - 06:44 AM

I'll be picking this up tomorrow for my wife (I enjoyed it a lot as well).  Only decision is whether to give it to her now or as a Christmas present.  For some reason I am hearing Michael Scott's voice in my head saying, 'That's what she said'...:)