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Gangs of New York(2002)
Set in New York City, 1840-1863, a young man named Amsterdam (Leonardo DiCaprio) seeks vengeance against Bill 'The Butcher' Poole (Daniel Day-Lewis), the man who killed his father. Though he secures the help of pickpocket Jenny Everdeane (Cameron Diaz), the task at hand may be more dangerous than Amsterdam ever imagined when he realizes that his father was murdered as a result of gang warfare between the powerful Manhattan Irish and Italian gangs. Amid the crooked cops and corrupt politicians of the Tammany Hall era, political enforcer Bill Poole stands out as only one scoundrel in the crime-plagued Five Points section of lower Manhattan in the early 1860s.
For more about Gangs of New York and the Gangs of New York Blu-ray release, see Gangs of New York Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on February 6, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Director: Martin Scorsese
Writers: Jay Cocks, Kenneth Lonergan, Steven Zaillian
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Daniel Day-Lewis, Cameron Diaz, Jim Broadbent, John C. Reilly, Brendan Gleeson
» See full cast & crew
Gangs of New York Blu-ray Review
Disney goes back to the drawing board and delivers...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, February 6, 2010
With the exception of Woody Allen, few filmmakers have paid as much respect or made as many cinematic pilgrimages to New York as Martin Scorsese. Born in the heart of the city and raised on its mean streets, fascinated with its violent history and intrigued by the image of a vast, grizzled kingdom atop a war-torn American hill, the Oscar-winning director has long toiled in the shadows of New York's glass towers and embraced the hopes of its denizens. Even when others were still reeling from the terrible events of September 11th, Scorsese was putting the finishing touches on a passion project that had been gestating in his brain for decades: Gangs of New York. Brimming with forgotten history and moving revelations, it's arguably his most personal film; a sprawling, tragic encapsulation of the enduring spirit and unwavering soul that have made his beloved city the thriving mixing bowl it is today. It isn't a perfect film -- his characters are often overshadowed by the more ambitious pursuits of his saga -- but its arresting performances, stirring authenticity, magnificent cinematography, and sweeping tale of rage, revenge, and redemption make it a mesmerizing and rewarding one.
Winter, 1846. A young Irish boy named Amsterdam (Cian McCormack) watches helplessly as a vicious crime lord dubbed Bill the Butcher (Daniel Day-Lewis) kills his father (Liam Neeson) during a bloody battle between Manhattan's Natives (a gang whose members were born in the United States) and the city's Dead Rabbits (a rival gang comprised of immigrants). Sixteen years later, Amsterdam (Leonardo DiCaprio) returns to exact his revenge, but finds those who once swore loyalty to his father are now in the service of the Butcher. As he conceals his true identity, works his way into Bill's inner circle, and begins plotting the man's demise, Amsterdam reunites with old friends (Henry Thomas) and meets new acquaintances (Cameron Diaz), all of whom will play a role in his inevitable confrontation with his father's killer. However, to his dismay, nothing goes as planned, leaving the vindictive orphan with little choice but to rally an army and face the Butcher on the streets of New York. Though a fictionalized account of key historical events (including the infamous 1863 Draft Week riots), Gangs of New York paints a convincing portrait; one that defies expectation yet revels in authenticity. Sure, the story revolves around Amsterdam's vengeance, but the real character in the film, the real focus of Scorsese's startling bloodbath, is 19th Century New York.
A far cry from the film I thought it would be, and an even farther cry from the history I thought would unfold, Gangs of New York is a testament to Scorsese's mastery of his craft and devotion to his vision. From the meticulous design of his jaw-dropping sets to his admirable refusal to gloss over the grit-n-grime of the era, the director unleashes some of the same brutality he employed in Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, and Goodfellas (among many others) on what could have easily been a plodding period piece. He uses Amsterdam's pain to examine the plight of early American immigrants; he dissects Bill's spittle-spewed hatred to explore the racism and fear that have dominated America since its inception; he intensifies their heated encounters in an effort to revisit a number of significant events that altered the course of the city forever. Those caught up in Amsterdam's quest may be disappointed every time Scorsese's cameras linger in the city's muddy streets, but the director's interests rarely lie with those of his audience. His characters are ever-shuffling pieces -- albeit well-developed, fully realized pieces -- in a greater game of cultural and historic chess. He doesn't rely on their individual stories to weave a 19th Century revenge fantasy, but rather to redefine the genesis and evolution of New York, and place it in the context of its very volatile, very savage past.
To that end, Scorsese's cast and crew rise to the challenge, giving their all to an unconventional epic. Jay Cocks, Steven Zaillian, and Kenneth Lonergan's screenplay nearly topples from the unwieldy weight of it all, but manages to stay upright. Their slowburn pacing and intense exchanges give the actors the dramatic drive they need to propel Amsterdam and his cohorts from scene to scene. More importantly, the balance they strike between story, history, and character prevents the film from becoming a lofty misfire. Through it all, DiCaprio and Day-Lewis are extraordinary. DiCaprio plants the seeds of the torn and tormented loyalist he'd come to perfect in The Departed, bending and bowing with heartache and confusion as he draws closer to his father's killer. Meanwhile, Day-Lewis readily refines the ingredients that recently give us Daniel Plainview in There Will Be Blood; a man teetering on the edge of madness, consumed by equal parts arrogance and self-loathing. The scenes they share together are among the film's finest, while the skewed father/son relationship they develop is among the film's most effective and most haunting elements. Yes, modern sensibilities manage to creep into the script and performances, but they're never a distraction, instead offering familiar footholds audiences can use to clamber up the heights of Scorsese's elaborate Best Picture nominee.
Gangs of New York isn't a traditional crowd-pleaser -- its more divisive aspects will leave some viewers by the wayside long before Bill and Amsterdam's animosity comes to a head -- nor is it an easily accessible period piece. However, it is the sort of film guaranteed to generate discussion and send fans scrambling for a history book (or Google, as it were). If you haven't had a chance to decide for yourself, take the time and give it the opportunity it deserves.
Gangs of New York Blu-ray, Video Quality
The previously released, rightfully reviled Blu-ray edition of Gangs of New York was greeted with fierce criticism when it arrived in 2008. The reason? It featured one of the most disappointing high definition presentations of the year; a shoddy transfer hobbled by rampant edge enhancement, color blooming, debilitating DNR, compression artifacts, vertical striping, smearing, and black crush. Suffice to say, it was an absolute mess. Well, dear readers, welcome to 2010. Disney has quietly released a newly remastered version of Gangs of New York into the wild; one blessed with a gorgeous 1080p/AVC-encoded stunner that finally gives the film its due. Michael Ballhaus's hearthy interiors, shadowy alleyways, and bright battlefields are gorgeous, boasting sumptuous autumnal hues and rich, exceedingly natural blacks. Moreover, a veneer of grain lends his visual tour de force the fittingly filmic appearance it sorely lacks in Disney's previous Blu-ray release. Contrast is strong and stable, delineation is as revealing as it should be from shot to shot, and the image is clean and attractive. You won't find any distracting artifacts, bursts of noise, mysterious lines, print blemishes, or waxy faces. Detail is immaculate as well, delivering sharp edges, refined textures, and remarkable clarity. A few soft shots dot the proceedings (a closeup of DiCaprio in an opium house represents the worst of it), but every instance can be traced back to the original photography, not the studio's technical efforts.
If I have any complaint, it's that a somewhat negligible bit of ringing still appears when actors are framed by Scorsese's white skies. It's rare, mind you, and a far cry from the maddening halos that plagued its previous Blu-ray release, but eagle-eyed videophiles with large screens will notice it nonetheless. That being said, I couldn't be more pleased with Disney's remastered presentation. Bold and beautiful, it represents a striking and sincere apology from a studio that's made a habit of righting old wrongs. Disney has done right by their fans and their film, and that shouldn't be taken lightly.
Gangs of New York Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Thankfully, the film's audio presentation is as strong as ever. Granted, it materializes in the form of a meaty DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track instead of the uncompressed PCM mix that graced Disney's previous release, but the two 48kHz/24-bit experiences are all but identical. Dialogue is crisp and well-prioritized, placing every pleading whisper, desperate shout, and gravely threat at the forefront of an already immersive soundfield. LFE output is hearty and able-bodied, rear speaker activity is persistent and satisfying, and directionality is quite convincing. Fire brigades clash as blazing buildings roar, cannon fire decimates two opposing forces who remain determined to eliminate one another, gunfire slaughters an angry mob... it all sounds fantastic. But quieter scenes are just as impressive. While the soundscape isn't nearly as aggressive, acoustics and ambience remain steady and stable. A handful of scenes are a bit too quiet, but each instance struck me as intentional. Even so, Howard Shore's score deftly mingles with Scorsese's epic, effects are potent and precise, and dynamics leave a sizeable mark. Fans can finally say Gangs of New York has never looked or sounded any better.
Gangs of New York Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Though presented in standard definition (sorry gents, Disney's commendable convictions apparently didn't extend to the disc's supplemental package), the special features included on the Blu-ray edition of Gangs of New York add substantial value to the release. Granted, a shiny new Picture-in-Picture track would have been a godsend, but those looking for quality over quantity will be excited to plow through everything the disc has to offer.
Gangs of New York Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
At long last, a remastered Blu-ray Edition of Gangs of New York has arrived to wipe away the tears fans have cried since Disney's 2008 release broke their hearts. With a near-perfect video transfer (finally, finally!), a rousing DTS-HD Master Audio track, and a fairly captivating supplemental package, it's the release everyone has been waiting for since Disney's 2008 debacle left an angry mob in its wake. A few additional special features may have helped soften the blow of the new disc's pricepoint, but I doubt many consumers will bemoan its cost once they see how amazing GoNY looks in high definition. Rest easy, Scorsese enthusiasts. All is well.
Gangs of New York: Other Editions
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Gangs of New York Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Deal Alert: Gangs of New York Remastered Blu-ray $12.99 - August 9, 2010
Shortly after a similar promotion by Walmart, Best Buy is offering the remastered Blu-ray edition of Martin Scorsese's epic Gangs of New York for only $12.99 plus tax (67% off MSRP). The offer is valid online, and store pickup is also available.
• Deal Alert: Gangs of New York Remastered Blu-ray $10.96 - August 3, 2010
Retail giant Walmart is offering online the remastered Blu-ray edition of Martin Scorsese's epic Gangs of New York for only $10.96 plus tax. This is 72% off MSRP, and by far the cheapest this has been anywhere. Free shipping to store is available, or you can choose ...
• Gangs of New York Blu-ray Gets Video Overhaul - February 3, 2010
Quietly, without any official announcement or even a press release, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment released yesterday a remastered Blu-ray edition of the Martin Scorsese movie Gangs of New York. Pending a full analysis, blu-ray.com reviewer Kenneth Brown ...
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