Blu-ray
Give it a Rent
3 stars
Amazon
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Overall Grade
3 stars

(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)

The Movie Itself
4 Stars
HD Video Quality
3.5 Stars
HD Audio Quality
4 Stars
Supplements
1.5 Stars
High-Def Extras
0 Stars
Bottom Line
Give it a Rent

RockNRolla

Street Date:
January 27th, 2009
Reviewed by:
Review Date: 1
June 4th, 2009
Movie Release Year:
2008
Studio:
Warner Home Video
Length:
0 Minutes
MPAA Rating:
Rated R
Release Country
United States

Editor's Notes

Please welcome Aaron Peck to High-Def Digest. Aaron has been covering and reviewing films for various web and print outlets for the past four years. He was film critic for The Utah Statesman at Utah State University. He has also covered the Sundance film festival for Blogcritics.org, where he has written numerous DVD and Blu-ray reviews.

The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take

'RocknRolla' is a subtly over-the-top British gangster flick starring Gerard Butler of '300' fame. It would be almost impossible to describe the story in the space allotted for this review, but here goes:

The seedy underbellies of England and Russia collide as a British gangster named Lenny Cole (Tom Wilkinson) tries to cheat a shifty Russian millionaire by selling him illegal land for a soccer stadium. The Russian millionaire is in turn trying to cheat Lenny, but let's Lenny borrow his "good luck" painting as a sign of good faith. Inside the Russian organization, more cheating is going on as a sexy accountant (Thandie Newton) is cheating her boss by hiring people to steal the money he is using in transactions. One Two (Gerard Butler) is a well-known British thug with a small crew, ready and willing to take on any job as long as it's illegal. After all that, throw in one of Lenny's relatives, a supposedly dead rockstar, who steals the "good luck" painting, and you've got more plotlines than you can count.

The characters and the painting pinball around London as their paths crisscross. It's not really about the money, or the painting, but about getting to know the characters. They're interesting people who are given interesting dialogue. Like Tarantino's 'Pulp Fiction,' where we don't actually care about the contents of the briefcase, the most enjoyable part of the movie is listening to the conversations between the characters.

'RocknRolla' never becomes a full blown action film, and it never really digresses to such a point that it just becomes a batch of witty conversations spliced together. It lies somewhere in between. There's enough action to keep the viewer interested, and the story moves along fast enough that you won't lose interest, but it does slow down at times to give us some deep insight into these characters. How and why they feel the way they do. What makes them act in certain ways, and why most of them are indeed just plain insane.

In short, after the failure of 'Revolver,' 'RocknRolla' is a welcome return to form for director Guy Ritchie.

The Video: Sizing Up the Picture

'RocknRolla' is presented in a 2.40:1 aspect ratio, with a 1080p VC-1 codec. The transfer is decent, but it does have some some odd problems. The color palette has been intentionally drained and replaced with a very stylized, soft-focus look. Much of the movie appears to have a slight sepia tone. Blacks appear average at best, as with the enhanced color palette the blacks lose contrast and often appear as dark grays. Since the transfer is devoid of any other defects, this contrast discrepancy seems to be the result of the director's choice for a softer, stylized color palette.

'RocknRolla' was filmed digitally. The transfer is free of edge enhancement and macroblocking. Skin textures, clothing patterns, and intricate London area brick-work really stand out. It's always nice to see a High-def film that handles brick-work well, none of those pesky aliasing lines were detected.

The daylight scenes yield more areas of rich color, all of which appear bright and vibrant. There's a striking scene, exemplifying the stunning contrast during daylight scenes, where Gerard Butler's character is running down a set of train tracks as an assailant chases him. Even though the scene is shot in daylight, he's surrounded by gray, dingy archways. Everything in the scene appears as some shade of gray, but the contrast of Butler's skin tones pops off the screen. It's subtle, but an interesting and fun effect.

How they got this nearly two-hour long film, and a couple HD extras to fit on one single layer disc is quite amazing. Perhaps the digital master made for some smooth and easy compression.

The Audio: Rating the Sound

'RocknRolla' packs a solid punch with its 16-bit Dolby TrueHD track. There's an interesting array of sounds packaged together here.

First off, and most importantly, is the dialogue, which is presented cleanly in the front channels. Even with all the hustle and bustle of London and the thumping soundtrack, which uses some deep bass, we can hear each conversation clearly. There are a few action scenes that will test your system. A violent car wreck and sprays of machine gun fire make use of the front and back channels. The machine gun fire is of particular enjoyment. It's like you're standing in the middle of a fire fight with bullets whizzing by your head on all sides.

If there's one thing wrong with the 'RocknRolla' soundtrack, it's with conversations in cars, which seem somewhat muted and not as clear as the other dialogue in the film.

The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff

  • Deleted Scene (SD, 2 min) - Only one deleted scene is provided here, with Butler's character One Two jogging on a treadmill while spouting out expository dialogue that reminded me of the over-analyzed nonsense that went on in Richie's 'Revolver.' It's a good thing the scene was cut, because it added nothing to the finished product.
  • Blokes, Birds, and Backhanders: Inside 'RocknRolla' (HD, 15 min) - This is just a glossy, sorry excuse for a making-of featurette. Fifteen minutes of fluff, most of it just clips from the movie and recapping the incomprehensible plot. There are a few cast and crew interviews, but nothing of substance. There's no real behind-the-scenes interest. Pure EPK.
  • Guy's Town (HD, 8 min) - Another missed opportunity to create a quality special feature for the audience. Only eight minutes devoted to showing us some pretty interesting parts of London. A real in-depth piece could've been done here, but instead it feels thrown together and half-assed. There are even clips from the aforementioned making-of featurette thrown in here to take up time.
  • Audio Commentary - Guy Ritchie and actor Mark Strong, who plays Archy in the movie, sit down for this commentary. They have very the type of wry senses of humor that the British are known for, which makes for an enjoyable commentary during the first half of the movie, even commenting on the porno magazines that Ludacris carries around with him. But, the second half of the commentary heads downhill when it seems Ritchie runs out of things to say about the movie and instead starts repeating lines of dialogue with the actors onscreen.

HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?

Aside from a Digital Copy, there is no exclusive content for this release.

Final Thoughts

'RocknRolla' is a fun, fast-paced film with a sense of style. It's packed full of pithy dialogue and insane characters. The movie is filmed using some interesting cinematography, which adds to its classy style. Extras are disappointing. If you're going to get this Blu-ray, you're going to get it for the movie and the fairly strong audio/video quality it provides. This one is probably best kept as a rental.

Technical Specs

  • Blu-ray
  • BD-25 Single-Layer Disc

Video Resolution/Codec

  • 1080p/VC-1

Aspect Ratio(s)

  • 2.40:1

Audio Formats

  • English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
  • English Dolby Digital 5.1
  • French Dolby Digital 5.1 (Dubbed in Quebec)
  • Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1

Subtitles/Captions

  • English SDH
  • French
  • Spanish
  • Portuguese
  • Dutch

Supplements

  • Audio Commentary
  • Featurettes
  • Deleted Scene
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