Rounders Blu-Ray Studio: Miramax, Distributor: Lionsgate Running Time: 2 Hrs Rated: R 1080P AVC-MPEG4, ecnoded at an AWBR 35.9Mbps DTS-HD 5.1 Audio, 2 English Audio Commentaries It’s no secret that everyone has a list of the “10 Greatest Films”. We make them based on decade, genre, all time, and more. The 10 Greatest films, however, often don’t include films that I wouldn’t consider “GREAT” but I would sit down and watch in a minute every time I catch them on the dial. Rounders is that kind of film. Rounders entered a category for me of films that I enjoy it every single time I see it, and if I haven’t seen it in a while, I can pop it in and enjoy the story. “Rounders”, as we learn from the extras and the film is a term used for people who make their living based on poker, moving game to game, scratching out a living based on the cards. There are high rollers and small timers, and the film manages to effectively give us a good look at both. Mike McDermott (Matt Damon), is a small time better who, we discovered has turned his life away from cards to get a law degree. After things went wrong in a poker match – and he lost everything – he commits to his girl to change his life around and to become the man she wants him to be, and the man he also believes he wants to be. When he gets word that his old friend Worm (Edward Norton) is about to get out of prison, Mike discovers that it’s just too easy to fall into old habbits, and bailing out friend. And the absolute rush of winning is just something that’s hard to pass on. The film features some fantastic performances from Matt Damon, Edward Norton, Martin Landau, John Turturro, John Malkovich and Famke Jannsen. This is a film that uses an ensemble cast to truly great effect, and the characters are completely enjoyable. I remember when this first came out people complaining about Malkovich’s character being “too over the top”, but I have to admit, watching it on the Blu-Ray, I enjoyed the hell out of it and found that his scenes were great stuff a megalomaniac character played over the top and it still works. Rounders as a film is one that had quite a few detractors when it came out; I would not be one of them. Is it a perfect film? No. Would it be in my Greatest list of anything? No. But it is a film that I could watch numerous times and enjoy every single time. And there is something to be said for that. Video Quality 4.75 / 5 It’s awfully hard to ask more of a release then the presentation provided here. Rounders is encoded in AVC-MPEG4 at a AWBR of 35.9Mbps. Let me put this simply: that is a stunningly high bit rate for a movie such as this, and it shows. Blacks are deep and full; small details are exquisite and presentation is as near flawless as you could expect. Keeping in mind the source material, this is probably one of the best presentations I’ve seen put into a main film that isn’t a blockbuster. Hell, there are blockbusters that aren’t getting this kind of AWBR, and definitely not this kind of presentation. The film is sharp, detailed with no noticeable signs of artifacts or DNR. I was very impressed with how this disc looked. The source itself isn’t reference quality, but the transfer is damn good. Audio quality 4.5 / 5 I have said repeatedly, I evaluate audio in relation to a film. You don’t have to have big explosions or effects to get a high audio rating from me, you just have to present the film in the way that really represents what a theater experience should be. Rounders is presented in DTS-MA 5.1, and while a dialog heavy film, the dialog is crisp and clear. Ambient sounds from poker chips to money counters to just the background noise of the city street effectively fills the room and really gives this an open feel. There is very little use of LFE, but this film doesn’t really need it; instead, it pays off with the small punctuations that give you the feeling that the casino, streets and alleyways are alive. It’s a very effective audio mix. Extras 2 .5 / 5 It’s very hard to rate the extras on a film like Rounders because there aren’t many and some are minor – but a few are incredible. Audio Commentary with John Dahl, David Levien (Writer) Brian Koppleman (Writer) and Edward Norton. A lot of audio soundtracks have a tendency to not pull me in. I’ll note them, and then move on. I actually listened all the way through to both audio commentaries and found some points interesting. There are some good discussions here about the choice of dialog, comparisons to other films and what inspired some scenes. Audio Commentary with Professional Poker Players – This was kind of a let down. I was hoping for a lot of information, talking about the methods that the players use and the existence of the underground game scene as shown in the film. That doesn’t really happen here. There is too much giggling and laughter, jokes that we don’t get the whole story on, and too much information that just doesn’t work. It’s a mixed bag. Behind the Scenes Special – SD 480I, MPEG2 – this 5 Minute special just shows the behind the scenes of the film. Inside Professional Poker – SD 480I, MPEG2 – this is a 5 minute look inside the poker world. Frankly, it’s too brief to be much more than a glib “people play poker” Champion Poker Tips – all in SD, and broken up into a set of clips about 3 minutes each. This is one of the most frustrating uses of menus imaginable. Load time for each title was at times frustrating, and you must return to the menu after each 1-2 minute clip. This frustration meant I barely flipped through them. Once I watched two and realized the advice is largely ridiculous or intended for people who have either never gambled or may have a comprehension problems, I lost interest. Also included are trailers, Good Will Hunting, Everything Must Go, Hussein Overall 4.5/5 As I said, this is one of those films I return to often because I find that I love the film. The BluRay presentation of the film itself is exceptional; this is easily the best presentation of the movie I have ever seen, and their high bitrate means that there wasn’t a lot sacrificed. Sometimes I look at a bluray with a main title at a lower bitrate – let’s say 23Mb or below, and mediocre extras and I think: they would have been better served chopping the extras and giving the film every bit they could just to say they had presented it that way. In the same way that SuperBit became a tag for DVD. Well, Rounders falls into that category. The extras aren’t special, but it’s hard to feel cheated because the main movie is presented in a way that it’s hard to doubt that serious effort was paid to making it look good. In the end, I will watch a main movie far more then I will ever watch the extras, so I find this choice a good one, and it’s easy to forgive the extras on this disc in light of what I get on the other end. For reference, this was viewed using: ArcSoft TMT5 / Oppo BD-83 for comparison Denon 4810CI AVR Receiver Samsung 52" LED HDTV Screen shots are illustrative and may vary based on your playback device/type.