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Blu-ray Review HTF BLU-RAY REVIEW: Repo Men (1 Viewer)

Kevin EK

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REPO MEN

 

Studio: Universal

Year: 2010

Length:  R-Rated Version 1 hour 52 mins, Unrated Version 2 hours

Genre:  Science Fiction/Action

 

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

 

BD Resolution: 1080p

BD Video Codec: AVC (@ an average 30 mbps)

Color/B&W: Color

 

Audio:

English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (@ an average 3.5 mbps)(goes up to 5.0 mbps during action scenes)

Spanish DTS 5.1

French DTS 5.1

English DVS 2.0

 

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French

 

Film Rating: R (Strong Bloody Violence, Grisly Images, Language and Some Sexuality/Nudity)

                   Unrated Version (More of the Same…) 

 

Release Date: July 27, 2010

 

Starring:  Jude Law, Forest Whitaker, Liev Schreiber, Alice Braga, Carice Van Houten and John Leguizamo

Screenplay by:  Eric Garcia and Garrett Lerner

Directed by: Miguel Sapochnik

 

Film Rating:    2/5

 

 

My initial response to Repo Men while viewing it has been to note that it has an interesting cast, some nice production values (thanks to a lot of CGI extensions…) and that it’s fairly entertaining.  It’s also got some scenes of over-the-top gore, which the filmmakers haven’t decided whether to play for humor or serious shock value.  But hanging over the whole enterprise is a real feeling of familiarity.  The basic story follows Remy (Jude Law), a hired killer for an unscrupulous company that sells artificial organs (“artiforgs”) to patients for exorbitant prices and credit rates.  When the patient goes delinquent, someone like Remy shows up to forcibly extract the organ.  Initially, the film plays as a kind of dark comedy, partly recalling a classic Monty Python skit (“So, can we have your liver, then?”) that even gets played on a TV screen at one point.  But after this initial setup, the film suddenly u-turns as Remy is forced to accept an artificial organ himself and winds up on the run from his repo men friends, particularly Jake (Forest Whitaker).  And this is where the film gets very confused as to whether it’s supposed to be dark comedy or a serious statement.  There are several bracing action scenes, some of which involving almost complete mayhem onscreen.  There are also indications that the film is trying to turn Remy into a more serious character (we are shown his act of trying to write a memoir, and he muses about the philosophical implications of Schroedinger’s cat, etc.).  And, without spoiling things, the film takes on the tone of a Philip K. Dick story in its final act, and in its final moments, appears to at least be honest about the nature of the story it’s been telling. 

 

But make no mistake, you may have many, many feelings of déjà vu as you watch this film.  The cocktail served up here takes maybe two parts Brazil, three parts Philip K. Dick (Blade Runner, Total Recall, Minority Report), one part Vanilla Sky, one part Logan’s Run, a splash of Robocop, a dash of THX-1138 and perhaps one part Equilibrium, as well as the aforementioned Monty Python bit from The Meaning of Life.  And that’s not even getting into the many, many similarities between this film and Repo! The Genetic Opera, which would take an entire article on its own to examine.  I’ll leave it to the fans of that film (and its original stage play from the late 90s) to offer their own observations.  For myself, I can just say that as soon as I spent ten minutes thinking about the movie after it was done, it lost most of its appeal.  Again, the cast is an interesting one, but there is never the sense of true character chemistry between Whitaker and Law that one would need to understand how the story unfolds.  Both actors, who are normally quite good, appear to be trying to find the proper tone, which results in a feeling that they’re in separate movies while in the same scene.  It’s essentially a function of the director Miguel Sapochnik’s job, which appears to have gotten lost in the midst of getting the fight scenes and the CGI landscapes.  This isn’t to say that the movie is truly awful, or that it’s so derivative as to be unwatchable.  (For that honor, I tip my hat to Doomsday.)  It just isn’t anything that will stay with a viewer for very long, other than to be compared to earlier and better movies.  Fans of Jude Law and Forest Whitaker may want to rent this before deciding if it should belong in their collection.


Repo Men is being released on DVD and Blu-ray today.   Two cuts of the movie are included here:  the R-Rated theatrical cut, and an unrated version that runs another 8 minutes.  The unrated version includes additional gore, as well as the inclusion of scenes with an uncredited John Leguizamo.  The Blu-ray includes high definition picture and sound, and the usual functionality, including pocket BLU, BD-Live, D-Box and the My Scenes bookmarking function.  It also includes a few minutes of deleted scenes, a few of the inset commercials seen in the film and a brief visual effects assembly.  A scene-specific commentary is available for the film (it works on both cuts, with expanded discussion when the added scenes occur) and for the deleted scenes.  There is also some U-Control functionality for the theatrical cut, with PIP material popping up for much of the movie and some inset technical specs for the various artificial organs on display.  I noticed a bit of stickiness with what I think is the BD-Java aspects of this release, both when playing the disc on a PS3 and on my laptop, but I’m not certain if this is a glitch that affects more players.


 

VIDEO QUALITY   3 ½ /5

Repo Men is presented in a 1080p AVC 2.35:1 transfer that integrates the many, many bits of CGI with the live action footage without ever showing the seams or becoming cartoonish.  Flesh tones look accurate, which is a difficult trick on this movie due to the large number of shots where organs are removed from bodies, which necessitate the use of dummy mockups being comped in with the real actors.   For all that, the film strives for a moderately gritty look, particularly during the night exteriors at grungier locations, and the transfer succeeds in conveying that.   I should note that I am watching the film on a 40” Sony XBR2 HDTV. If anyone is watching the film on a larger monitor and is having issues, please post them on this thread.

 

 

AUDIO QUALITY   3 ½/5

Repo Men is presented in an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix for both cuts, along with DTS 5.1 mixes in Spanish and French for both cuts, and an English DVS track for the theatrical cut.  The DTS-HD MA mix makes generous use of the surrounds for music and atmosphere, and when the action kicks into high gear, the whole system is activated.  This is definitely a louder mix than you normally hear.

 

SPECIAL FEATURES      2 ½ /5

The Blu-ray presentation of Repo Men comes with the usual BD-Live connectivity, My Scenes functionality, and the pocket BLU app, as well as D-Box functionality.  There’s also the commentary track, the deleted scenes and commercials, the VFX assembly and, on the theatrical cut, the U-Control features.  This sounds like a lot, but I’m holding back about a point due to the stickiness I encountered with the U-Control materials.

 

Commentary with Miguel Sapochnik, Eric Garcia and Garrett Lerner – Both cuts of the movie include this scene-specific chat with the director and co-writers of the movie.   Some of their talk is informative, in terms of discussing how the coverage for some scenes had to be filmed at different times.  (A key reaction shot of Alice Braga was filmed without the other actors on a day when they were unavailable.)  And the discussion is augmented for the unrated cut to discuss the different shots and scenes added back in.  For the theatrical cut, the speakers note things that were adjusted due to the removal of those elements (like John Leguizamo).  Probably 90% of the commentary is identical between the two cuts.  My only issue here is that a lot of the discussion degenerates into back and forth giggling that wanders away from the movie at hand.

 

Deleted Scenes (480p, 8:38 Total, Non-Anamorphic) – Five deleted scenes are presented in non-anamorphic standard definition, including some scene extensions and added moments, but nothing particularly crucial to the film.   There is an option to listen to Sapochnick, Garcia and Lerner’s commentary for these scenes as they play.  The scenes may be viewed individually or via a “Play All” option.

 

The Union Commercials (480p, 3:30 Total, Non-Anamorphic) – Seven commercials at least partly shown in the film are included here in their entirety, presented in non-anamorphic standard definition.  Only the first two are actually for “The Union”, which is the company providing the pricey artificial organs.  The others are a variety of gag pieces that really show the Robocop influence, if anything. .

 

Inside the Visual Effects (1080p, 6:08) – About six minutes of visual effects assembly footage is presented here in 1080p, accompanied by the narration of Sapochnik and Garcia.  Most of this has to do with set and location extensions accomplished via greenscreen.  (Or in this case, green curtain)  Some of the material shows the on-screen integration of artificial body parts and dummy mockups with the real actors in various shots.  Near the end of this, a white room factory sequence is shown without the CGI enhancements, thus showing how small the actual space was, and therefore how much was added in Post.

 

U-Control PIP  – THIS FEATURE IS ONLY AVAILABLE FOR THE THEATRICAL CUT – At many points during the theatrical cut, there are PIP segments, including interview material with various principals and department heads, and on-set footage.  Some material is a discussion of the themes involved, and other spots do things like show off the cars used by the Repo Men for their work, or the stunts involved in a major fight.  

 

U-Control Artiforg Tech Specs– THIS FEATURE IS ONLY AVAILABLE FOR THE THEATRICAL CUT – Throughout the theatrical cut, there are plenty of opportunities for this inset feature, which acts as a mock commercial for the various artificial organs shown onscreen.  For example, if an a character is shown to have an artificial eye, the inset pops up, showing a model summary, some special features and enhancement, and a (pun-intended) eye-popping price tag.

 

ISSUES WITH U-CONTROL – I need to note again that while playing this disc in a Sony PS3, I encountered some issues with the U-Control functionality.  The issues have to do with some kind of Java freeze-up that happens after the U-Control is activated.   For example, I turned on the Tech Specs for a scene and was able to see the various aspects of the inset specs for the artificial organ in a scene.  But when I tried to deactivate the function, it would not shut off.  Further, I could not access the pop-up menu, the chapter menu, or the main menu.  The only way to stop the program was literally to stop the disc and start over.  I had an identical issue when checking the PIP segments a day later.   In a possibly related issue, while testing the disc on a new Sony Laptop (the F114FX), the disc consistently froze up when I tried to press the stop button, forcing me to close the program.  I’m curious if anyone else is having these issues, as this may not be a problem for other players.

 

BD-Live - The more general BD-Live screen is accessible via the menu, which makes various online materials available, including tickers, trailers and special events. 

 

My Scenes - The usual bookmarking feature is included here.

 

pocket BLU– The usual additional Universal Blu-ray functionality is here for those viewers with iPhones and the requisite applications.

 

D-Box– D-Box functionality is included for those viewers with this ability in their home theaters.

 

The film is subtitled in English, French and Spanish.  The usual pop-up menu is present, along with a complete chapter menu, which also displays the various U-Control markers, provided you can get them to work properly.  When the disc is first put in the player, you will randomly receive trailers from BD-Live.  On one occasion, I was shown trailers for Greenberg, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, The Kids Are All Right and The American.  On another occasion, I got the general Universal Blu-ray trailer.  And on other occasions, I was just presented with the main menu screen without any trailers.  The first screen you encounter will ask you to select which version of the film you wish to view. 

 

 

IN THE END...

Repo Men is a derivative but somewhat entertaining film, boasting some nice visuals and some occasionally bracing moments of onscreen mayhem.  The Blu-ray includes a good high-definition transfer of the picture and sound, as well as some special features that may interest fans.  There may be some Java issues here, but again, those may also just be limited to the type of equipment I have been using to review the disc.  Fans of Jude Law and Forest Whitaker may well wish to rent this title before thinking about a purchase.

 

Kevin Koster

July 27, 2010. 

 

Steve Christou

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"Just me and my little knife! Snip snip - slice slice... can you believe it?"


Saw the film, not great, but I enjoyed it. Will get it on Blu eventually, no rush.
 

Ron-P

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Blind (spontaneous) buy today while at Target today. Looks like a fun, action movie...my favorite type of film.
 

Paul.S

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I'm getting surround back channel audio. It's not receiver processing: 7.1 analog out from an Oppo BDP-83 to Denon 3803. I'm curious about whether this is a mislabeled 6.1 or 7.1 track. If anyone who is bitstreaming to an HDMI receiver that illuminates a separate 6.1 or 7.1 light when decoding one of those tracks could chime in with what their AVR is displaying for this title, I'd appreciate it. I've done some quick Googling and looked at a couple other BD reviews and they all say 5.1.
 

Paul.S

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I figured it out: It's yet another quirk of the DTS Essentials decoder in the Oppo. It's giving me surround back via analog on all of my DTS-HD MA BDs (even on those with 5.1 tracks).
 

Kevin EK

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Thanks Paul. I was trying to figure out the problem you were having. I had only noticed the 5.1 DTS-HD MA mix without anything past that. Other discs that have 7.1 mixes pop up as such both in the PS3 I have, and in the Denon receiver. I haven't had an issue with a 5.1 mix popping up as a 7.1 mix.

 

My primary issue with this release from a technical standpoint remains the stickiness of the U-Control materials. I still don't know if this was just a BD-Java glitch or what the problem is - I only know that it forced me to stop the disc both in the PS3 and in a Sony laptop.
 

Paul.S

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I didn't experience with the BDP-83 the U-Con issues you describe.

 

However, that you experienced issues on two different playback devices underscores my long-held (since back when I had two different Tosh HD DVD players and watched a ton of HD DVDs) belief that studios are doing too many things on high def packaged media because they can--not because they should--in the name of "interactivity" and arguably wooing the gamer/Facebook generation. There is very little that is picture-specific amongst the artiforg specs and PIP vid content. One shouldn't be "forced" to watch the movie in order to see this supplemental content, especially if wonky Java or other interoperability issues are going to jam up playback even on the mighty PS3.

 

If U insists upon presenting supplemental content PIP in conjunction with the movie, it should also be available a la carte via direct, traditional presentation as a menu selection. In other words, string together all the Jude Law interview bits and other content presented as PIP here and call it, say, "Interviews with cast and crew about making the film" and make it a menu choice that you can select and watch all at once. At least nowadays compared to the early U-Con days on HD DVD, you can go to the chapter selection, see which ones have U-Con content and go to them directly. But at each segment's conclusion, its back to the menu to select the next. "Tedious, Clarice--very tedious."
 

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