Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Gangs of New York: Remastered Blu-ray Review

Disc Size: 38.6 GB
Film Size: 33.5 GB
Film Rating: R
Region: ABCThe Video
Gangs of New York comes back to Blu-ray with a new 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 video presentation than the first time around. To say the difference between the old release and this new one is night and day would be an understatement.

All the issues from the original (dreadful excuse for a Blu-ray release) are gone with this new transfer. The original release featured edge enhancement, DNR, random blotches and green lines that plagued the image at times. These issues can no longer be found with this new Blu-ray release and the difference is quite astounding.

The previous presentation looked very waxy and very rough, almost like a terrible upconverted DVD. The new image actually looks like a film, featuring heavy but beautiful amounts of grain and depth. Black levels are also very solid and inky.

Miramax Home Entertainment has finally given Gangs of New York the high-def transfer that it deserves. The previous release was truly devastating and one of the worst Blu-ray releases on the format, now we get a visually impressive presentation that Blu-ray consumers can buy with confidence. 9/10.

The Audio
Miramax Home Entertainment decided to include a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track this time around, previously using a 5.1 Uncompressed PCM audio track. There was nothing wrong with the original audio track, but with a new release comes a new audio codec preference for the studio.

The track is pretty much identical to the previous one, although the DTS-HD Master Audio track appears to be a bit louder when compared evenly, something that is quite common with DTS tracks. Dialogue is presented in a very crisp and clear manner.

There are some heavy surround use moments which tend to be very aggressive, but dialogue never suffers. Surround use is not amazing but it is used quite often and in some strong ways. I don’t have anything to really complain about with the audio track, it certainly helps enhance the experience. 8/10.

The Extras

History of the Five Points (13:33) (SD)
Martin Scorsese and others discuss the historical facts and secrets behind the film.

Set Design (9:12) (SD)
Production Designer Dante Ferretti, Martin Scorsese and some of the cast discuss the importance of the sets and the process of creating them.

Exploring the Sets of Gangs of New York (22:31) (SD)
Martin Scorsese and Production Designer Dante Ferretti explore the sets of Gangs of New York.

Costume Design (8:00) (SD)
Costume Designer Sandy Powell, Martin Scorsese and others discuss the importance of all the costumes and the various stages in their creation.

Discovery Channel Special: Uncovering the Real Gangs of New York (35:09) (SD)
A behind-the-scenes documentary that focuses on characters in the film that make old New York seem like a modern Babylon.

U2 – “The Hands That Built America” Music Video (4:39) (SD)

Audio Commentary
with Director Martin Scorsese.

Trailer (2:33) (SD)

Teaser Trailer (2:34) (SD)

The exact same bonus features are ported from the previous Blu-ray release, which are ports from the previous DVD release. Everything is presented in standard-definition, which apart from the trailers are expected. This is a solid supplements package that will definitely please fans of the film. 6/10.

The Movie
Gangs of New York is Directed by the fantastic Mr. Martin Scorsese, a man who has made his share of modern classics throughout his career, but unfortunately Gangs of New York is not one of them. Don’t get me wrong, Gangs of New York is still a very strong film, but it would be an insult to say they compare to his best work.

Scorsese supposedly did a lot of research regarding the lifestyle and environments of early New York, something I am not very familiar to say what is right and what is wrong with accuracy. The biggest issue that I had with the film is the often changing pace of the film, and for a film of its length it gets a bit annoying and at times boring.

There are many scenes that I feel could have been totally left out and did not add much to the film except for its runtime. The performances were great in the film and they were recognized, with the film receiving 10 Academy Award nominations and won 2 Golden Globes for Best Director (Martin Scorsese) and Best Song (U2 – “The Hands That Built America”).

I do think the film is seen in a better light because it does come from such a respected Director, but had it been from anyone else, I don’t think the movie would necessarily have been as well received. The movie is a tad disappointing among many of Scorsese’s other films, but there are still many qualities that make this movie very enjoyable.

Daniel Day-Lewis is not loved by all, but I just love his work and the different types of characters that he brings to life on-screen. Gangs of New York is no different in which he plays the rival gang leader to Amderstam Vallon (DiCaprio). Cameron Diaz also provides a very strong performance that is nowhere near the level in which we usually associate the actress with (terrible comedies).
Perhaps I sound a bit too critical of the film itself, I did bring up the issues I had with the film, which really are not many. The film’s pacing is its biggest enemy, had certain scenes been taken out or shortened, we probably would have been in for an ever better experience.

Ultimately, what’s done is done. Martin Scorsese created a very respectable film that will always be remembered, mostly in good ways but also in some disappointing ways. The film definitely deserved a few of the Oscar nominations that it received, but I would not call this one a real Best Picture candidate. It’s a very strong and powerful film, but it does have some significant flaws in my opinion.

Gangs of the New York is a very interesting and very entertaining look of the 1860’s in New York, one which features top notch performances and some very memorable moments. The film is not something everyone will love, but at the end of the day I find many more good qualities than bad with this film. 7.5/10.

Blu-news Summary
This is the new definitive Blu-ray release, free of all the technical issues that was present on both domestic and import releases of Gangs of New York. The video presentation and audio presentations are very respectful with this release, and all the extras from the previous release are included. Gangs of New York: Remastered on Blu-ray is a ‘Must Own’ for fans and ‘Worth A Look’ to all others.

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