The Departed Blu-ray delivers stunning video and audio in this excellent Blu-ray release
In South Boston, the state police wants to end the reign of powerful mob boss Frank Costello. A young rookie, Billy Costigan, is assigned to infiltrate Costello's mob. Another young cop, Colin Sullivan, is among a handful of elite officers whose mission is to bring Costello down. But Colin is working for Costello, keeping the crime boss one step ahead of the police. Each man becomes consumed by his double life, but when it becomes clear to both the mob and the cops that they have moles in their midst, Billy and Colin must race to uncover the identity of the other man in time to save themselves.
For more about The Departed and the The Departed Blu-ray release, see the The Departed Blu-ray Review published by Greg Maltz on September 27, 2007 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
The Departed is an interesting twist on the mafia genre. The film weaves intersecting storylines of
an undercover cop working in the mob and a gangster plant as an officer in the Boston police
department. Such a premise has endless possibilities for plot twists, character growth and violence.
Director Martin Scorcese excels in all areas and brings his superb camera work, characteristic rock
soundtrack and dramatic flair to the production. As both moles go through intense moments when
their cover may be blown, the film achieves a high level of intrigue and suspense. Aside from
Goodfellas, The Departed is the only title that lets you enjoy Scorsese's work in Blu-ray. And while
Goodfellas is a far superior movie, the 2.4:1, 1080p presentation of The Departed, using the VC-1
codec is one of the most impressive pictures yet from Warner at this stage of the studio's blu-ray
rollout. Sure, the film has been digitally cleaned up and enhanced, but it's still vibrant and detailed
enough to exceed all expectations but those of the most demanding videophile.
The Departed is based on a superior film shot in Hong Kong called Infernal Affairs. The difference
between the earlier version and Scorcese's remake
is like the difference between jazz virtuoso Lester "Prez" Young and the
saxophonists who followed. Prez was an original. He had a feathery tone
and an unconventional approach to the mechanics of the horn. His music
told stories, using melodic lines with few notes. Compare that to the
saxophonists who came after. They often tried to tell the same story, but
with a more acerbic tone, more notes cluttering the melody, more complex
harmonic structure. Their approach did not connect with audiences in the
same way. You get the idea. Infernal Affairs and The Departed are both good films, but the
original tells a story on
another level and the performances of its cast are more accessible and inspirational. That said,
Scorcese's vision has a power, energy and thematic
scope that may be more appealing to viewers on this side of the pond.
While few American viewers will know the actors in Infernal Affairs, The Departed is chock full of
Hollywood heavyweights. Representing the older
generation are Jack Nicholson as mob boss Frank Costello, Martin Sheen as
straight laced police captain Oliver Queenan and Alec Baldwin as the dry but
hotheaded captain George Ellerby. The younger characters include Matt Damon
as Colin Sullivan, Costello's mole in the police force; Leonardo DiCaprio as
Billy Costigan, Queenan's mole in Costello's gang; and Mark Wahlberg as SSgt.
Sean Dignam--the "acerbic tone cluttering the melody", to extend the metaphor. Dignam was
superfluous to the story and such a character did not exist in Infernal Affairs. Neither did the
female lead character's relationship with the undercover cop. Both deviations from the original
plot served only to clutter the story and seemingly confound the actors.
From the opening footage of south Boston's racial strife to the climactic rooftop scene and final
moments, the color and contrast of The Departed ranks among the elite reference-quality BDs.
picture is solid and vibrant, with deep black levels and absolutely gorgeous resolution and color.
Some detail was sacrificed in
postproduction to give the film its modern feel. Grain and noise is at a minimum, which will
some viewers who aren't accustomed to film artefacts. As for digital artefacts, I see none.
Watch the cat-and-mouse scene where Damon is being pursued by DiCaprio in the dark alley.
Smoke, reflections and shadows are rendered gorgeously. Dark areas of the screen do not
degenerate into pixellation or motion artefacts. About the only possible complaint is that the
gives up some depth and detail to digitally enhance the color and contrast, with some "glow"
effects highlighting bright areas. Scorcese has opted for this look in many of his films, starting I
believe with The Age of Innocence. It has become a stylistic choice to go a just a touch soft for
more dramatic lighting and saturation. It may not please you if you're a demon for detail, but the
effect is stunning while retaining ample realism in 1080p.
Not only does The Departed boast the best overall picture I've seen from Warner, it is one of the
studio's few releases to feature LPCM. The sound is a revelation. Listen to Jack Nicholson's voice
the opening scenes as he shakes down the owner of a local shop and hits on the young clerk
works there. The menacing timbre, vowel sounds and cadence that long ago became Nicholson's
trademarks achieve a new presence and palpability, albeit with a fake Boston accent. It is not
Nicholson. All voices have a depth and detail that is stunning and, unlike most DD tracks, utterly
nonfatiguing. The music, too, has qualities that exceeded what I am accustomed to on most pop
CDs. The entire range, from midbass to treble delivers a realism and detail that Warner should
strive for in all its Blu-ray releases.
The 5.1 PCM also achieves greater imaging and superior attack and decay of such effects as
gunshots, squealing tires and breaking glass. Though the rear speakers and LFE channel is used
sparingly, the audio is disarming enough to keep you riveted even when the acting and plot
are not fully satisfying. Songs like Gimme Shelter weave in and out of the action in characteristic
Scorcese fashion, but with an improvement in macrodetail that proves ultimately euphonic and
indeed bolsters the overall enjoyment of the production.
Maybe Warner realizes that buyers of this BD may consider Scorcese as more of a draw than the
actual film. That is certainly borne
out in the majority of supplementary material. Aside from a 22-minute special on real life Boston
Whitey Bulger, who inspired Jack Nicholson's character, the theatrical trailer and nine deleted
scenes that should absolutely stay on the cutting room floor, the featurettes focus on the director.
Of particular interest is the 24-minute "Crossing Criminal Cultures". The featurette explores
Scorcese's mafia films--not just The Departed, but Goodfellas, Mean Streets and Casino as well. All
have themes in common, of course, and Scorcese's fascination with the genre is explained. Even
the deleted scenes each feature an introduction by Scorcese. All bonus material, including the
deleted scenes are in standard definition.
Scorcese seems to be at his strongest when he explores the people and neighborhoods he knows
from his experiences in New York. He is able to establish emotional and even spiritual payoff in
developing the stories and characters that occupy his familiar terrain. But when Scorcese steps
outside of that arena, as he did here in focusing on Bostonian Irish mobsters instead of New
Yorker Italian mafioso, it can leave me cold. The commercial elements of the film, populating it
with Hollywood bigshots who have not worked with Scorcese before, seem to hurt more than
DiCaprio cannot authoritatively pull off the role of Costigan until well into the film, when the
pressures the the undercover cop begin to hide the actor's inability to convincingly underplay his
role. With The Departed, Scorcese has now made almost as many films with DiCaprio as with
Robert De Niro who developed his skill in tandem with Scorcese, starting before DiCaprio was
born. I may not need to see De Niro in more Scorcese films (though such a project is rumored to
be underway), but I do need to see lead actors other than DiCaprio, a weak link in Scorcese films
since Gangs of New York in 2002. Granted, many solid actors appear in The Departed, and
Scorcese coaxes good, if not inspired, performances out of them all. But the cluttered plot and
stylisic decisions make the emotional couldron of the story impossible to access. Matt Damon
excelled in his performance and I still had some issues with his character. It's a good thing
Scorcese is celebrated as much for the way his films erupt in violence as in emotional crisis, or
The Departed may not have earned multiple Oscars.
On that note, I watched with great interest Scorcese's acceptance speech for the award of Best
Director. Finally, that elusive award was earned, but for a film that some have critiqued as a
convoluted, uninspired mediocrity compared to Scorcese's more focused gangster epics like Mean
Streets, Goodfellas and Casino, let alone the masterpieces, Raging Bull and Taxi Driver. And
indeed it is a mediocrity compared to Infernal Affairs. But a mediocre film for Scorcese is still far
better than an extraordinary film in the hands of a lesser director. Coupled with the brilliant
audio and video quality on display throughout, The Departed is an easy recommendation for
some and a must-have for fans of Scorcese, Jack Nicholson, Matt Damon or DiCaprio.
Warner Brothers Home Entertainment has revealed 'Planet Earth' has
become the biggest high definition moneymaker ever. Since the title was
released April 24th on both Blu-ray and HD DVD, it has generated $3.2M in
sales from about 42,000 units sold. 'The Departed', ...