The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Paramount - 2009
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 112 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese
Starring: Luke Wilson, Giovanni Ribisi, Gabriel Macht, James Caan, Jacinda Barrett, Laura Ramsey, Terry Crews, Rade Sherbedgia, Kevin Pollack
Directed by: George Gallo
Music by: Brian Tyler
Written by: George Gallo & Any Weiss
Region Code: A,B,C
Blu-ray Disc release Date: February 8, 2011
"The guys who brought the XXX to the www."
In 1995, everyone had a VCR, music was sold in record stores, and the world wide web was a newfound discovery. Businessman Jack Harris (Luke Wilson) had the perfect life - a beautiful family and a successful career fixing problem companies. Then he met Wayne Beering (Giovanni Ribisi) and Buck Dolby (Gabriel Macht), two genius but troubled men, who had invented the way adult entertainment is sold over the internet. When Jack agrees to help steer their business, he soon finds himself caught between a 23-year-old porn star and the FBI, all the while becoming one of the wealthiest entrepreneurs of his time. Witness a story so outrageous, you won't believe it's true. A story that proves business is a lot like sex: getting in is easy, pulling out is hard.
Any adult who owned a computer (or didn't and bought one) remembers the impact that the internet made on the world back in the mid to late nineties. Here was this incredible expanse of seemingly limitless knowledge that was available right in your own home. Today we rely on it much like we do on our motor vehicles and have full expectations that it will take us wherever we need to go. I had no idea how porn originally appeared on the internet, although the transition seemed natural enough, nor did I know that the method for receiving payment for viewing it online established the framework of the ecommerce system that exists today. Anyway, Middle men is a dramatized accounting of how the principle players responsible for bringing smut to the world wide web got it off of the ground. The story isn't one of polished, shrewd, businessman and rich, suave investors. It is one of drug addicts, gangsters, crooked lawyers, and one stand up guy who saw the potential it, tried to balance the scales and wound up getting caught in the middle. I found this to be an interesting film as I had no idea of what went on during that time. Seeing how things developed, dramatized or not, didn't come as a complete surprise but watching the ascent of ecommerce and the effects that money can have on people was intriguing.
The script has some pacing problems and suffers from an over ambitious design that tries to be one part comedy, one part crime story, one part family drama and one part documentary. While this is certainly possible there just isn't enough depth or properly developed characters to pull it off here. Luke Wilson does a fine job in the lead role and comes across much the way he typically does, perhaps even better. The remainder of the primary characters portrayed by Giovanni Ribisi, Gabriel Macht, Terry Crews, James Caan and Jacinda Barrett don't spend enough quality time onscreen to allow us to genuinely care about them. As a film it wants to be more but defaults to an innocuous jumble of caricatures that have been done before and better to boot. Be that as it may Middle men isn't without merit and has its share of ingratiating moments. It's a little seedy, a little funny, a little clever, a little provocative and a little dramatic. The end result is a film that I would describe as poorly executed but a little entertaining.
The rating is for strong sexual content, nudity, language, drug use and violence.
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:
Middle men comes to Blu-ray from Paramount HE featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 29 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.6 Mbps.
This high definition video presentation is sort of a mixed bag and features exaggerated primary colors, dynamically enhanced contrast and respectable clarity/refinement. Bright scenes tend to look a little hot with vivid hues and slightly washed out white detail. Blacks are stable with visible gradational stages and above average shadow delineation. Flesh tones seemed to vary from scene to scene. There were times where they appeared quite natural and times where they looked artificial and tinged. Looking at it on the surface I describe this is a fair video presentation. Critical viewers will probably find its inconsistencies to be a distraction.
The soundtrack is almost entirely dialogue driven with the music score being the only other driving element. The lossless sound quality was excellent and provided clear and concise voice reproduction and very good front channel imaging. The surrounds were used to augment the music score as well as to extend the soundstage during exterior sequences and those shot in large interior venues. The audio was appropriate and sounded fine.
- 3 deleted scenes
- Slap montage
- Audio commentary with director George Gallo, editor Malcolm Campbell and cinematographer Lukas Ettlin
Middle men is a dramatized accounting of how the principle players responsible for bringing smut to the World Wide Web got it off of the ground. The story isn't one of polished, shrewd, businessman and rich, suave investors. It is one of drug addicts, gangsters, crooked lawyers, and one stand up guy who saw the potential it, tried to balance the scales and wound up getting caught in the middle. As a film it wants to be more but unfortunately defaults to an innocuous jumble of caricatures that have been done before. It isn't completely without merit and has its share of ingratiating moments that make it mildly entertaining. Like the film its high definition video presentation on Blu-ray from Paramount Home Entertainment has a few problems but is serviceable. The bonus features include a few deleted scenes, outtakes, a strange slap montage and a filmmakers commentary. Unless you're already a fan this isn't a blind buy. The subject matter is interesting enough to warrant a rental though so drop it in your queue and see what you think.
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews
Reference Review System:
JVC DLA-RS50 3D Ready 1080p High Definition Front Projector
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100 16x9 Screen
Anthem AVM50v THX Ultra 2 Preamp/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-93 Universal Disc/3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Samsung BD-C7900 3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule HD Universal Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" Series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SV Sound PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Furman SPR-20i Stable Power Regulator
Wireworld, VizionWare, Audioquest, Better Cables, Best Deal Cables - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package