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Blu-ray Three Stars
I was pleasantly surprised when I saw RocknRolla in the cinema, actually more than pleasantly surprised, I was delighted to find that Guy Ritchie was far from living on the name of two films, and despite visiting the same genre once again, he had something new and really rather exciting to bring to audiences. It wasn't just more of the same.

There's also a little bit of sadness in that now with his move to Sherlock, we might not see him in the London gangster realm for some time again. RocknRolla shows that there's more to be had in the genre, and that Guy Ritchie can still deliver, but can the Blu-ray release of the film?

RocknRolla.jpgPlot.pngThe story behind RocknRolla is a little complicated, and as usual for a Guy Ritchie film there are multiple threads running at the same time. Lenny Cole, played by Tom Wilkinson, is the man who runs London, and right now he's into property. He's just about to clinch a huge deal with the new money in the city, a Russian crime lord, played by Karel Roden, who's buying up some big property and making some huge deals, football teams included.

Meanwhile a group called The Wild Bunch are just about to clinch a major deal for them, they're going to buy a piece of property that'll only rise in value and give them plenty of cash, the problem is that they can't get the money from the banks and it's only Lenny that can lend them that kind of money, and he does.

However at the same time he betrays them and grabs the property through his council contacts to make his own money, but still expects the Wild Bunch to pay him back with an additional fee.

Luckily a contact of theirs calls up to offer them the job. In the deal between the Russian and Lenny, seven million Euros is going to be picked up and transferred and the Russian's accountant is on the other end of the phone offering it on a plate to the Wild Bunch.

So two of the Wild Bunch, One Two, played by Gerard Butler, and Mumbles, played by Idris Elba, set off to rob the money, and do so in style.

At the same time the Russian has lent Lenny his lucky painting, a painting that's now gone missing from his office and who knows has it. It's down to Archie, played by Mark Strong, to find the painting for him.

So the Russian wants his money and painting, and the planning permission that Lenny's deal will provide. Meanwhile Lenny wants the painting, revenge and his stepson, while the Wild Bunch are looking for another score.

Yes, it gets more complicated, but it's not to the detriment of the story.

TheFilm.pngYou can read the full review of the film right here at Filmstalker, here's the overview of the review I wrote back in September 2008:

"The casting was really good for RocknRolla, and I was impressed at some of the performances, particularly the scenes with Butler, Elba and Hardy. Although the film is hampered by the darker RocknRolla storyline, the rest of the film plays well and shows that Guy Ritchie has moved on from London gangster/geezers and perhaps there actually is more to come and Sherlock Holmes won't end up looking like a period Snatch.

The film definitely doesn't deserve the hammering it's receiving critically. It's entertaining and funny, in fact in some places it's very funny. There's some great twists and surprises to be had and the journey there provides for some strong scenes with well scripted dialogue.

However that RocknRolla side to the film just didn't work so well for me and I found it detracted from what the rest of the film was trying to do, and for Ritchie that was a step forward from his previous work, and for the audience it was the entertaining, plot and character rich side to the film. If only this had been reworked or re-edited then I would have been saying much better things about this film.

Definitely worth seeing though, first up because it's British, but mainly just for the whole Wild Bunch storyline, and Butler playing the comedy."

Picture.png2.40:1 1080p
The picture is sharp and full of detail, not the best Blu-ray picture I've seen, but it is very good. The outside scenes are bright and rather washed out, an effect I think was intended, but the best picture is achieved from the inside scenes, the darker scenes filled with warmer tones, a deeper range of colours and some superb lighting. The picture is well framed with a strong use of the camera and movement throughout and the usual exciting use of editing by Guy Ritchie.

Audio.pngDolby Digital TrueHD, 5.1, 2.0 with descriptive text
I was quite surprised that the use of the rear speakers wasn't stronger in the film, I remember the film in the cinema and when I sat down to watch the film I expected a lot of movement around the speakers, however that wasn't the case.

I really felt I had to crank up the volume to hear the rear speakers getting used, and once the volume was cranked up they were indeed used, but what I then found was the sound from the front speakers was a little drowned out and at times wasted.

However they were only properly used during the action sequences when they burst into life, and even then it wasn't quite mixed correctly, not just with the front to rear balancing, but with the direction of the sound. During one of the action scenes when the rears are booming and the killer is slamming a knife into the roof of the car, the sound seems to come from the wrong direction for the knife bursting through the roof.

So it's a real mixed bag with the audio.

Extras.pngAudio Commentary with Mark Strong and Guy Ritchie, Blokes, Birds and Backhanders: Inside RocknRolla, Guy's Town, Digital Copy, Disc Image, Start-up, On-line option
Audio Commentary with Mark Strong and Guy Ritchie:
There are two things that totally switch me off to the audio commentary, and they both came from Guy Ritchie. One was his desire to repeat the lines from the film, look we know you know them, you wrote and directed it, we don't want to hear an audio commentary where you repeat the script for us, we watched the film to listen to actors do that, and that's why you paid them.

Anyway, what's the other problem? Slurping your drink into the microphone when people are listening to your close and intimate audio commentary. You're right, it wasn't nice.

Mark Strong is the saviour of this commentary, although to be fair there is no saviour of it as it's not the best commentary, and mainly down to Ritchie. There are some behind the scenes reveals and facts about the film and filming through the first half though, and a few mentions of the fact that Strong is filming Sherlock with Ritchie.

He does inject some life into the commentary and Ritchie but overall it is dull. What I don't understand is why they don't re-record commentaries or perhaps do some more pre-planning, and on a film such as RocknRolla why they don't they have more stars to add more to it?

Deleted Scene:
Just the one deleted scene, of the Wild Bunch in the gym. It's rather long and very noticeable that it doesn't fit with the rest of the film. It adds nothing and is better out of the film, and is nicely referenced in the audio commentary, but this could have done with some form of director's explanation.

Blokes, Birds and Backhanders: Inside RocknRolla:
This is a typical featurette which shows the stars and the writer/director talk about the film. There are some good behind the scenes moments, and provides a good look into making some of the sequences from the film. However it's all a bit fast and edited like the film itself. I would have liked to have seen more and gone a little deeper into the filming.

Guy's Town:
This featurette looks into London and the locations used for filming. Ritchie dominates the featurette talking about London, the locations, and why he chose them. Some more information from the stars and producers with more behind the scenes from the film.

Digital Copy:
The disc is supplied with a single slip of paper which offers you a link to a website and a unique code to allow you to download a digital version of the film for use on your chosen digital player or computer. This is a nice feature which I've been seeing more and more of, but with a Blu-ray you would expect the option to be on the disc itself.

Disc Image:
I don't really know what you would call it, but on the PS3 when you load in a disc an icon is displayed on the desktop and sometimes with a background with some music, however with RocknRolla I was surprised to see nothing at all, not even a title. The standard Blu-ray disc image is displayed and no title. Odd that. Not a major setback, but it's a nice touch.

Something else I have to point out is the strange practice of auto-play on Blu-ray discs. After the trailers are shown the film starts playing straight away, no chance to select what audio or picture track you would like, and so you have to pull up the menu and select them before restarting the film.

On-line option:
The on-line option isn't actually an on-line option at all, it just displays the link so you can go type it into your computer. Not a very good choice.

Overall.pngAlthough some of the sequences in the film didn't feel or sound so strong the second time and on the smaller screen, it does feel like the two threads of the film come together a lot more than the first screening. It feels much more rounded and complete, and I definitely appreciated the smaller details more.

I included the Overall section from the film review before, but let me remind you of one of the key paragraphs:

"The film definitely doesn't deserve the hammering it's receiving critically. It's entertaining and funny, in fact in some places it's very funny. There's some great twists and surprises to be had and the journey there provides for some strong scenes with well scripted dialogue."

A Blu-ray offering should be something above and beyond the level of a normal DVD, it's not just called high-definition for the picture, it's the audio and the newer, interactive features of the extras. It does annoy me when these features aren't utilised and we get an offering that is barely above DVD.

Well, RocknRolla has some of those features, it certainly has a better audio offering and picture, but the extras fare little better than DVD, and those it does have, like the high-definition audio, aren't that high.

RocknRolla is a pretty standard offering and doesn't feel like it's a true Blu-ray offering, but it is a good film worth watching, it's just a shame the extras don't live up to the high-definition label.

Buy or rent from LOVEFiLM
Buy from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com
UK IMDB Film Details



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