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A Russian mobster orchestrates a crooked land deal, putting millions of dollars up for grabs and attracting all of London's criminal underworld.
For more about RocknRolla and the RocknRolla Blu-ray release, see RocknRolla Blu-ray Review published by Ben Williams on January 27, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Gerard Butler, Tom Wilkinson, Thandie Newton, Mark Strong, Idris Elba, Gemma Arterton
Director: Guy Ritchie
» See full cast & crew
RocknRolla Blu-ray Review
Guy Ritchie returns, but is it too late?
Reviewed by Ben Williams, January 27, 2009
Writer / Director Guy Ritchie roared into the world of popular film in 1998 when his quirky debut feature, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, became an unlikely cult hit that thrilled audiences and critics around the globe. He was immediately hailed as Britain's answer to Quentin Tarantino as his style focused on comic dialogue and extreme violence, much along the same vein as Mr Tarantino's work. 2000 saw Ritchie release another popular and critical favorite in Snatch; a star studded crime caper that expanded Ritchie's unique take on London's seedy criminal underworld. The films that have followed, unfortunately, have not been as successful. In particular, Mr. Ritchie found himself swimming in a sea of bad press, poor attendance and critical backlash over his third film, Swept Away. Revolver, his fourth film, proved to be equally disappointing. It's been a tough road back to prominence for Guy Ritchie. In an attempt at getting back to his roots, RocknRolla was born. Would audiences welcome him back to the fold, or had his career been too badly damaged?
RocknRolla follows a strange series of events that transpire when a Russian magnate, Uri (Karel Roden), and a notorious London crime boss, Lenny Cole (Tom Wilkinson), collaborate on a shady real estate deal. Legions of thugs from London's criminal underworld converge for a share of the millions of euros that are destined to change hands. Enter The Wild Bunch: a band of gangsters lead by a goofy thug named One Two (Gerard Butler) who just so happen to have the inside track on the details of this large cash transaction. The gang manages to intercept the cash in question before it reaches its intended destination. It's an easy score for the Wild Bunch and the mysterious tipster who alerted them to the opportunity. Unfortunately for One Two and his gang, the missing seven million euros, a prized painting and a crackhead rock star will make life for this eclectic band of thieves extraordinarily difficult. Tempers will flare, backs will be stabbed and shots will be fired as London's underworld dukes it out for a share of the cash.
RocknRolla is, most definitely, a step in the right direction for Guy Ritchie. By returning to subject matter that he clearly comprehends and enjoys, he's created another enjoyable caper flick that bears his trademark British stamp. Like any of his previous gangster films, RocknRolla jumps around quite a bit and can be a lot to take in upon initial viewing. However, the film's layers of interesting characters, unconventional storytelling and inspired violent comedy are well worth the time one invests in the film - - including repeat viewings.
RocknRolla also benefits from a stellar cast. No less than the likes of Gerard Butler, Thandie Newton, Jeremy Piven, Tom Wilkinson and Ludacris grace the film by creating extremely memorable characters and generating enough star power to warrant much better box-office grosses than the film actually earned. With all the positive elements working for RocknRolla, what caused its relative lack of success at the box office? Perhaps its the film's pacing and confusing plot that didn't gel with audiences. Mr. Ritchie's complex narrative leaps around quite a bit and the plot can come across as convoluted and confusing. In addition, there are so many characters in the film that audiences surely found themselves frustrated and lost. Perhaps given the opportunity to pause and replay, RocknRolla will find it's audience on Blu-ray.
Ultimately, RocknRolla isn't as compelling as Mr. Richie's finest work, but does demonstrate that he is capable of making films worth seeing. I hope that RocknRolla proves to be the catalyst that allows Mr. Ritchie to further develop his style and soldier on with filmmaking. For now, RocknRolla is a further reminder of the considerable talent that Mr. Ritchie can muster, given the right project.
RocknRolla Blu-ray, Video Quality
RocknRolla makes its Blu-ray debut in a VC-1 encoded 1080p transfer in its original aspect ratio of 2.40:1. It's an odd-looking movie, to be sure, and viewers might be immediately taken aback by the sepia-toned color scheme of the presentation. Don't adjust your set, however, as this is the look director Guy Ritchie and Cinematographer David Higgs intended for the movie. RocknRolla was shot entirely on high definition video cameras and, unlike many features shot on video, no attempt has been made to try to simulate the look of film. The image is consistently smooth and has a washed out look that is light on detail and heavy on sheen.
Make no mistake, RocknRolla is a tough transfer to grade. I can only assume that the look represented on this Blu-ray disc is representative of the intent of its creators, but it's just not a whole lot of fun watch. The majority of the image is, as I mentioned earlier, a brownish sepia-toned hue that becomes tiresome during the course of the movie. I didn't detect and abnormalities in the image; halos, edge enhancement and noise were all conspicuously absent. Vibrant color does appear from time to time and helps to break up the monotony of the movie's nearly monochromatic image. Given my assumption regarding the intentions of the filmmakers, I'll rate RocknRolla with an above-average score of 4/5. There's nothing wrong with the image, but I doubt many viewers will be calling on the movie as demo material.
RocknRolla Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Fans of lossless audio will be pleased to learn that RocknRolla has been given the 5.1 Dolby TrueHD treatment on Blu-ray, despite the limited capacity of its BD25 disc. The film is dialogue heavy, with only a smattering of action-oriented scenes. As such, much of the presentation is centered in the front soundstage and features a mix of music and dialogue. For those of you who have trouble deciphering English accents, no lossless encode will help you in your quest to discern much of the dialogue in RocknRolla. Regardless, the track does an admirable job of reproducing voices, music and the occasional gunshot. Don't look for too much surround action, however. When called for, this TrueHD track does provide some nice dynamics, bass and limited surround activity that will please action fans to some degree. Much like the film's video encode, there's nothing wrong with the film's surround track. In the end, while performing its tasks as well as is necessary, RocknRolla's TrueHD track simply isn't demo-worthy.
RocknRolla Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Here's what's included:
- Feature Commentary with Director Guy Ritchie and Actor Mark Strong
- "Blokes, Birds and Backhanders: Inside Rock-n-Rolla"
- "Guy's Town"
- Deleted Scene
- Digital Copy
I wish that I could report on a slew of exceptional extras in conjunction with this Blu-ray release of RocknRolla, but that's simply not to be. Things start off on a slow note with a tedious and uninspired commentary from Director Guy Ritchie and star Mark Strong. This is followed by two short, EPK-like featurettes that offer little additional information on the film. Finally, there is a single deleted scene that is so utterly pointless that its a miracle it was even included at all. On the plus side, there is a digital copy disc included. iPod users rejoice; you can now carry a copy of RocknRolla with you everywhere.
RocknRolla Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
RocknRolla is neither Guy Ritchie's best film, nor his worst. Fans of his terrific Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch will find similarities between these earlier films and his latest, despite RocknRolla missing some of the creative spark that made his previous efforts such a joy to experience. Warner has brought the film to Blu-ray with an above average video transfer and commendable audio, though supplements are lacking and uninspired. Fans of Mr. Ritchie's work will undoubtedly be thrilled at the Director's return to form. For those unfamiliar with his work, I encourage you to approach RocknRolla with patience and a willingness to give the film a second viewing. You'll be glad you did.
RocknRolla: Other Editions
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RocknRolla Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Warner Releases Specs for Rocknrolla - December 16, 2008
Warner Home video has revealed the technical specs and special features for the upcoming Blu-ray release of Guy Ritchie's 'Rocknrolla', which is due to hit store shelves on January 27th, day-and-date with the DVD release. Coming on a BD-25, video will be presented ...
• Warner Announces RocknRolla - November 21, 2008
Warner Home Video has announced that they will bring the Guy Ritchie film 'RocknRolla' to Blu-ray on January 27th, day-and-date with the DVD release. The only technical spec known at this time is that the film will come on a BD-25, though you can expect a VC-1 ...
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