The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Warner - 2013
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 113 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, English/French/Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Starring: Josh Brolin, Sean Penn, Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling, Michael Pena, Anthony Mackie, Giovanni Ribisi, Nick Nolte
Directed by: Ruben Fleischer
Music by: Steve Jablomsky
Written by: William Beall based on the book “Gangster Squad” by Paul Lieberman
Region Code: A,B,C
Blu-ray Disc release Date: April 23, 2013
Los Angeles, 1949. Ruthless, Brooklyn-born mob king Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn) runs the show in this town, reaping the ill-gotten gains from the drugs, the guns, the prostitutes and-if he has his way-every wire bet placed west of Chicago. And he does it all with the protection of not only his own paid goons, but also the police and the politicians who are under his control. It's enough to intimidate even the bravest, street-hardened cop...except, perhaps, for the small, secret crew of LAPD outsiders led by Sgt. John O'Mara (Josh Brolin) and Jerry Wooters (Ryan Gosling), who come together to try to tear Cohen's world apart.
The year is 1949 and the City of Angels is in the grip of ruthless gangster Mickey Cohen, a former boxer from New York who has found a niche for himself in the criminal underworld. Cohen and his gang have ensured their practices go “unnoticed” by having judges, politicians and members of law enforcement in their pocket. Tire of the rampant law breaking and rampant corruption LA Police Chief Bill Parker goes to the well and draws upon Sgt. John O’Mara, a WWII veteran with a hard edge and a penchant for getting the job done. Chief Parker’s message to O’Mara is to put together a group of trusted cops with the sole purpose of taking down Mickey Cohen by any means necessary.
Their job isn’t to make arrests…it’s to make war. As the city explodes in gunfire, the once neutral, Detective Sgt. Jerry Wooters is drawn into the fracas after witnessing the death of an innocent at the hands of Cohen’s thugs. With tensions rising and the violence escalating danger is around every corner. O’Mara and his team are making headway but need a break in order to snuff out Mickey and his minions. It comes in the elegant form of a red haired blue eyed beauty with a heart melting smile and the guts to stand up to the worst criminal Los Angeles had every seen.
Gangster Squad isn’t a perfect film but I enjoyed its stylish production and neo-noir themed narrative which is loosely based on actual events/people. The bygone era story is bereft of originality or stimulating characters but there is enough action/crime drama interplay that coincides with its solid pacing to keep the juices flowing. The cast is loaded with talent who lends support to the shallow script and make the film more entertaining than it might have otherwise been. The end result is a genre entry that offers style over substance by way of a mildly entertaining period piece that makes for a decent way to spend an evening.
The rating is for strong violence and language.
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:
Gangster Squad comes to Blu-ray Disc from Warner Home Video featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 19 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 2.2 Mbps.
This high definition video presentation looks great and features a distinctive visual aesthetic that utilizes a reserved chromatic palette which makes use of sepia tones and muted primaries. This along with the application of filtering/lighting provides the period style look the filmmakers were striving for. Certain sequences/elements make bolder use of color with noticeably deeper saturation. Contrast and brightness are well balanced which results in distortion free and satisfying image quality. Blacks appear deep and punchy but delineation in low level scenes can range from very good to average. Flesh tones are a bit on the bland side but retain enough complexional variety to avoid appearing lifeless. Close ups offer appreciable texture and subtle refinement. Wide angle shots, especially those shot in the natural light of day, have excellent depth, with sharp resolute definition quality that is rarely questionable. I didn’t notice any signs of compression or video related artifacts.
The lossless DTS-HD MA soundtrack has extended dynamic range, detail rich clarity and makes ample use of the entire surround platform to drive the film’s elements. The music score, coupled along with well integrated discrete and ambient sound effects, plays an intricate role in this involving and sometimes active surround mix. The detection of subtle background sounds, off camera cues and spatial dimension within the room’s acoustic environment makes for a notably enveloping surround experience. Low frequency effects can be intense as the subwoofer works in tandem with the rest of the system to convey the low level bass and dynamic impact during action based sequences. Dialogue is firmly planted in the center channel and clearly renders voices and effects with appropriate distinction and balance within the front soundstage. I thought the presentation was excellent and as a whole enhanced the enjoyment of the film.
- Gangland Files – An interactive in-film experience that presents an in-depth look at the film and its production as described by the cast/crew as the film plays out. It includes trivia, facts, inside/behind the scenes information and more.
- (HD) Focus Points (an independent option for viewing of the Gangland Files):
- The real story
- Josh Brolin on O’Mara
- One continuous long shot
- Fashion of the 40’s
- Ryan & Emma reunited
- Emma Stone on Grace
- The real Mickey Cohen
- Ryan Gosling on Wooters
- The real Gangster Squad
- The real locations
- Nick Nolte on Chief Parker
- Inside Slapsy Maxies
- Ryan & Emma on set
- Bringing back gangsters
- Park Plaza
- The real story
- (HD) Short feature: Then & Now locations – 8 minutes
- Audio commentary with director Ruben Fleischer
- Documentary: Rogues Gallery/Mickey Cohen (narrated by William Devane) – 46 minutes
- (HD) Short Feature: Tough Guys – 5 minutes
- (HD) 7 deleted scenes with director introduction
- Bonus DVD
- Ultraviolet Digital Copy
Gangster Squad isn’t a perfect film but I enjoyed its stylish production, talented cast, and neo-noir themed narrative which is loosely based on actual events/people. It comes to Blu-ray from Warner Home Video in a solid offering that features excellent high definition video, engaging lossless surround sound and a bountiful supplemental package that includes exclusive/interactive content. Gangster Squad won’t leave you talking about it long after its over but it makes for an entertaining way to spend an evening on movie night.
Here is the trailer:
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews
Reference Review System:
JVC DLA-RS55 3D Ready 1080p High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6 Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Marantz AV8801 11.2 Channel Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-103 Universal Disc/3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Panasonic DMP-BDT310 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 Pro 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
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package