The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Sony Pictures - 2008
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 104 Minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: MPEG-4 (AVC)
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
Audio Format(s): English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Subtitles: English, French, English SDH
Starring: Stephen Dorff, Harold Perrineau, Marisol Nichols, Anne Archer, Val Kilmer, Nick Chinlund, Sam Shepard
Written & Directed by: Ric Roman Waugh
Music by: Gerhard Daum
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: August 12, 2008
"No rules, no hope, no way out"
A loving family man with a promising future, Wade Porter (Stephen Dorff) suddenly loses everything when he accidentally kills the burglar who broke into his home. Convicted of involuntary manslaughter, Wade is sentenced to spend the next three years inside a maximum security facility where the rules of society no longer apply. Forced to share a cell with a notorious mass murderer (Val Kilmer) and subjected to brutal beatings orchestrated by the sadistic head prison guard (Harold Perrineau), Wade soon realizes he's in for the fight of his life and must become the toughest FELON of them all if he's to survive the block. For what doesnt kill you only makes you stronger. And in state prison, only the strongest will survive.
My Take:Felon was an interesting film. I thought that writer/director Ric Roman Waugh did a very nice job in making every attempt to ensure that prison life was depicted with as much realism as possible. I can't say for certain that every aspect was true to life but it painted a pretty imposing portrait. The games played by the guards is something that was exaggerated (quite a bit I'm sure) but the depiction of the gangs, factions and what is required to survive come off well. He says that he spent two years doing the research for the film and in fact used ex-convicts in the scenes that took place in the yard. The story itself is not unlike something that could happen to anyone. Here is a hard working guy, Wade Porter (Dorff) who has never been in trouble and finds himself face to face with a burglar in his home in the middle of the night. He confronts the burglar who turns and runs out the front door with Porter's wallet in hand. Porter who has armed himself with a baseball bat (yeah I know cliché) chases him into the front yard where the burglar seems to be reaching for something. Porter attempts to strike him in the back with the bat but accidentally ends up hitting him in the head killing him. He is arrested for Murder and ultimately agrees to a plea to a lesser charge of Manslaughter (which in reality should have been the original charge). The problem arises because he pursed the burglar outside of the house and then physically confronted him using deadly force. Had this occurred while the burglar was still in the confines of the house there would have been no problem.
The film quickly establishes its characters and moves on to the events that set up the film's central plotline. What can happen to an average person when they are faced with survival in the far too different world of our prison system. Val Kilmer is not as young as he used to be but I thought he gave a strong performance as inmate John Smith. Stephen Dorff was well cast as Wade Porter and gave a fine performance as well. The rest of the cast did a credible job in support of the leads. It was refreshing to see Nick Chinlund not playing the heavy for a change. I thought Harold Perrineau was okay but tried a bit too hard as LT. Jackson (the heavy). Of the recent films that I have seen that have gone direct to DVD this was by far the best.
Parental Guide:The rating is for brutal violence, pervasive language and brief nudity. Not one for younger viewers.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Felon comes to Blu-ray from Sony featuring 1080p AVC encoded video with an average bitrate of 26 mbps and lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 channel audio that has an average bitrate of 2.5 mbps.
The high resolution Dolby TrueHD audio presentation did a nice job rendering the film's soundtrack. Dialogue had excellent intonation and clarity which made subtle tonal differences in the voices of the cast perceptible. This was a more front heavy presentation that made good use of the left, right and center channels. It wasn't overly dynamic but the audio had an open expression that allowed it to extend well into the room. Surround activity was reserved primarily for ambience with occasional discrete sounds mixed in. The LFE channel was frequently active and reproduced the film's music and lower bass frequencies with deep impact and fair tactility.
The video had a grainy texture which I would describe as moderate in depth. It appeared well preserved and didn't negatively impact fidelity. Images were rendered with well articulated detail that allowed the fine and minute portions within the image to be appreciated. The camera work included some close up shots of the actors that benefited from this and looked incredible in high definition. Not every shot maintained razor sharp image penetration which caused them to appear less defined and a little softer. Colors were matched well and avoided the use of bolder textures. They looked natural with solid tonal balance and exhibited no signs of smearing or excessive over saturation. Flesh tones were spot on and looked excellent. Shadow detail revealed good visible structure in dark areas and low lighting.
The only bonus feature is a 13 minute making of documentary. It was actually quite good and gives writer/director Ric Roman Waugh the opportunity to expound on the film's background and production elements. Several cast/crew interviews are included as well.
- (HD) The shark tank: An inside look at Felon - featurette
- BD-Live enabled
Felon is a film that carries a message to all of us. Prison is not the place that you want to go, period. Writer/Director Ric Roman Waugh has done a good job in re-creating a glimpse of the atmosphere that can exist on the inside. The film features strong performances from the cast and powerful visuals. Sony has delivered it to high definition Blu-ray Disc for release day and date with DVD. It is technically competent, light in the area of bonus material and easily worth a rental.
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