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In this riveting behind-the-scenes look at big business in the 1980's, an ambitious young stockbroker is lured into the illegal, lucrative world of corporate espionage when he is seduced by the power, status and financial wizardry of Wall Street legend Gordon Gekko. But he soon discovers that the pursuit of overnight riches comes at a price that's too high to pay.
For more about Wall Street and the Wall Street Blu-ray release, see Wall Street Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on February 9, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Michael Douglas, Charlie Sheen, Daryl Hannah, Martin Sheen, Terence Stamp, James Spader
Director: Oliver Stone
» See full cast & crew
Wall Street Blu-ray Review
Greed is good. This Blu-ray isn't.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, February 9, 2010
The main thing about money, Bud, it makes you do things you don't want to do.
Director Oliver Stone's name has become synonymous with "controversy," but love his films or despise them, there's no denying an underlying allure to his projects -- not to mention superior technical craftsmanship and the director's keen sense of storytelling -- that make his pictures well worth seeing and many of them worthy of the "classic" label that both critics and fans alike have bestowed on his works, from Platoon to World Trade Center. One of Stone's best-loved pieces, the 1987 epic of high stakes business, wealth, greed, arrogance, and the human conscience, Wall Street failed to earn a Best Picture or Best Director nomination but did land star Michael Douglas (Romancing the Stone) a well-deserved Oscar win as the year's best actor in a film littered with fine performances in a story of 1980s excess and the pros and cons of big business and manipulation in the name of earning more money in a quarter or on a "hot" stock tip than most could hope for over the span of multiple lifetimes.
Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen, Navy Seals) is a young stockbroker with aspirations of being more than one of the dozens of invisible office drones at the Wall Street firm of Jackson-Steinem. Not only is his career at a standstill, but he's in debt, living in a cramped apartment, and taking small loans from co-workers and his father Carl (Martin Sheen, The Final Countdown), a longtime employee of Bluestar Airlines. Fox seizes an opportunity to meet with millionaire trader Gordon Gekko (Douglas) and piques his interest with an insider tip on the future of Bluestar. Impressed, Gekko takes Fox under his wing and together they work the system to mutual benefit, each quickly earning untold dollars through both a keen insight into the market and plenty of illegal maneuvers, including corporate espionage and a manipulation of the market and several large industries. As Fox rises in stature, he meets an alluring interior decorator named Darien (Daryl Hannah, Blade Runner) and begins living the high life as a major player on Wall Street. Can Fox withstand the assault on his soul that's a constant counter to his newfound wealth and power?
Wall Street is a classic tale of evil manipulating good, though not in a "saint and sinner" sort of way. Instead, it's a dramatized fictional tale of an era where money was king and everyone was scratching to get to the top, where morals, hard work, honesty, integrity, and any other semblance of right and wrong often succumbed to the power of wealth and the allure of stature. Wall Street isn't necessarily an admonishment of the system; it's more a criticism of those who would manipulate it and cheat their way to the top, offering a hard look at the consequences not just on the bank account but, far more importantly, on a man's soul. Wall Street revels in its glossy yet unforgiving look at the high life and the countless hours of work and manipulation behind it, but the picture's true redeeming value comes in its final act where the choice between right and wrong is shown to have lasting consequences on both sides of the ledger, the film demonstrating that the equation that takes from the bottom for the sake of the top doesn't always calculate. Indeed, Stone delivers more an indictment of the human condition as it was in the 1980s rather than the system itself, the picture ultimately about principles and of allegiance not only to a financial system but to a system of beliefs and the contrast between dollars in the bank and the price of a man's soul.
On a more base level, Wall Street is another technically sound and thematically engaging picture from Oliver Stone. What the film lacks in flow -- it can play as somewhat stiff at times -- it more than makes up for in theme and the performances of an exemplary ensemble cast that has as background players a collection of talent that could headline any number of pictures. Terence Stamp, John C. McGinley, Hal Holbrook, and James Spader are the cream of the crop of a collection of actors that, like the film's leads, positively devour the material and blend in with the film to give it a completely convincing feel. Leads Michael Douglas and Charlie Sheen are spectacular in their respective roles, Douglas' Oscar-winning performance scene-chewing in every frame as a grizzled, no-holds-barred sort that's become a slave to the system and a master of manipulation, the actor playing the part in a way that allows the audience to at once both admire and despise him. Though Douglas walked away with the accolades, Wall Street is the story of Bud Fox, and Sheen, as he did in Stone's Platoon, plays a fresh-faced and determined but nevertheless green and unsure individual that gets sucked into a devastating world that wrestles his soul and torments his spirit, leaving him to choose right or wrong and in the process place everything he holds dear -- in Wall Street his wealth, stature, and family -- on the line for the betterment of his emotional well-being. Sheen's performance is every bit the match for Douglas's, but then again, he doesn't deliver the movie- and career-defining line, "greed is good," that helped win Douglas the recognition for his part. Only Darryl Hannah suffocates the film with an uninspired and dreary effort that plummets the movie from its otherwise brilliantly-conceived and executed perch.
Wall Street Blu-ray, Video Quality
Wall Street debuts on Blu-ray with a dim and bleak 1080p, 1.85:1-framed transfer. The picture's opening title sequence inspires absolutely no confidence that Wall Street will be a particularly handsome film or one that's bound to look great in high definition; it's dark, lacking depth, and appears smeary, hazy, drab, and features flesh tones with a decidedly red/orange tint. Unfortunately, the transfer retains these same attributes throughout, lending to the film a harsh and dreary tone. Fine details can look a bit flat and undefined but general objects -- such as the dinosaur computer terminals seen throughout the film -- boast adequate detailing, though more intricate textures and visual nuances are nowhere to be found. A heavy level of grain is layered over the entire picture to give it a rough film-like texture, and only a few scattered artefacts and speckles of dirt intrude over the picture. It's not that Wall Street boasts a terrible transfer; it's rather technically sound but one of the least visually-appealing movies one's likely to find on Blu-ray.
Wall Street Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Wall Street's DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack is best described as "paltry." There's virtually no sense of space or depth to the mix, the majority of the material cramped straight up the middle with little support from the sides and barely a hint of back-channel activity. Of note is that there's practically no sense of immersion into Fox's hectic office environment. For as bustling and busy as the locale generally is, there's nary a hint of a support structure to make the listener feel a part of the environment. Background sound effects are mushy and generally limited to the center, though a restaurant scene featuring Fox's first meeting with Gekko outside the office does feature a token back channel presence that's fairly sloppy and not in the least bit a positive addition to the track. Music occasionally bleeds into the backs but lacks any kind of real heft or clarity, and while dialogue is sometimes a bit rough around the edges and harsh in tone, there's never a problem with discernment. Like its video presentation, Wall Street's lossless soundtrack is about as bland and lifeless as they come.
Wall Street Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Wall Street's Blu-ray release features several bonus materials, the collection headlined by an audio commentary track with Director Oliver Stone that follows his optional introduction to the film (480p, 1:03). In his commentary track, Stone smartly and engagingly but also reservedly and perhaps even a bit humbly covers his filmmaking style, the process of following up on his Oscar win for Platoon, his past works and writing scripts, his decision to craft a business-centric film and the influence of his father on the project, the work of the cast with emphasis on Douglas' performance, Stewart Copeland's score, shooting on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange during real business hours, and much more. Stone occasionally lapses into the trap of recounting the action on-screen and falls into long gaps of silence, but fans of the film and its director will nevertheless find enough in here to make it a worthwhile listen. Also included are two documentaries that both come in at just under an hour in length: Greed is Good (480p, 56:37) and Money Never Sleeps: The Making of 'Wall Street' (480p, 47:38). Both documentaries feature many Oliver Stone comments that overlap from the commentary but these nevertheless prove quality pieces with various cast and crew sharing their thoughts on the film's themes and structure, the role of Wall Street in their careers, the technical aspects behind the making of the film, and much more. Of note is that Greed is Good also features several real-life Wall Street executives sharing their thoughts on the film, including its themes, realism, and staying power. Both pieces also feature extensive clips from the finished product. Also included is a collection of deleted scenes (480p, 22:39) with optional Oliver Stone commentary and 1080p trailers for Cast Away, The Devil Wears Prada, Kingdom of Heaven, and Phone Booth.
Wall Street Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Perhaps the classic film about the 1980s, nothing says "greed" like Wall Street and nobody says "greed is good" quite like Michael Douglas. Although best known for a singular line and as another feather in Director Oliver Stone's cap, Wall Street proves a deeper film that's about the plight of a soul in the unforgiving atmosphere of big business and bigger money, the picture not necessarily a scathing look at Wall Street at-large but more a critique of the men who would unscrupulously use the system to satisfy the needs of excess and wealth in the 1980s. 20th Century Fox's Blu-ray release of the 1980s classic boasts a strong collection of extras but sports a middling 1080p transfer and a dull lossless soundtrack. Wall Street is a film that's a necessary addition to any serious collection, and for potential buyers who don't own the film on DVD, this Blu-ray is worth a purchase given its current bargain price and despite a mediocre technical presentation that nevertheless seems faithful to the source.
Wall Street: Other Editions
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Wall Street Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps Blu-ray Announced and Detailed - November 23, 2010
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment has officially announced and detailed Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps for Blu-ray release on December 21, in a Collector's Edition BD. A digital copy will be included. This Oliver Stone sequel to his 1987 hit Wall Street ...
• Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps Blu-ray Coming Up - November 19, 2010
An early announcement to retailers indicates that Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment will release Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps in a Collector's Edition Blu-ray on December 21. A digital copy will be included. This Oliver Stone sequel to his 1987 hit Wall ...
• Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps Photos and Videos - May 19, 2010
During the ongoing 2010 Cannes Film Festival, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, Oliver Stone's sequel to Wall Street, was shown out of competition. It will open in theaters in September (delayed from an initial date of April). To mark the occasion, Twentieth Century ...
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