The Town Review
Ian Sandwell wrote a review for The Town over on the Cinema section of the site which I agree with completely and suggest you check out before jumping to the disc review after the picture…
A Triple Play release, you will find a DVD and Digital Copy version of the film in the case alongside the Blu-ray Disc. These were not provided for review so that’s all I can say on the matter.
Before you see the main menu on the Blu-ray Disc you must go through a short loading animation followed by two static text screen warnings and finally the Warner video logo (all of which can be skipped with the chapter forward button on your remote). The menu is a basic affair but very functional which is all that really matters.
One other thing to note is that, while the disc does not support the resume function of your player, it does have a built-in resume function whereby it remembers where you were in the film last time you used the disc, so when you next pop the disc in your player it will ask if you want to resume from where you left off or if you want to go to the main menu.
A 1080P 2.40:1 Widescreen presentation using the AVC codec The Town looks as good as you’d expect for a film that was released in cinemas just last year. Detail levels are high throughout, with some standout moments being the occasional overhead shots of Charlestown and some exterior sequences set in a warm natural light that do away with the tinted palette that tends to be in play elsewhere. Said palette is however represented very well by the transfer while contrast is pretty much spot on. I’m probably the least picky of the team when it comes to the AV presentation and while the transfer never really floored me I can see very little room for improvement.
Similarly the primary English 5.1 DTS-HD MA track is everything you would expect, and quite often that little bit more with the action scenes that punctuate the drama really opening up the soundstage with some heavy bass behind the various crashes and gunshots. Elsewhere the mix is well balanced, separating out the dialogue, effects and music to create an engrossing experience.
There are several foreign language dubs provided (details can be found to your left) but please note these are only available on the theatrical cut. The full range of subtitles are available on both cuts of the film.
Regarding the Extended Cut, the additional scenes look and sound just as good as anything in the theatrical cut and they are seamlessly integrated.
A modest selection including…
Extended Cut – Running 25-minutes longer this cut of the film includes some scenes that Ben Affleck – as he explains in his commentary - likes but doesn’t necessarily believe they improve the film. It’s a strange one really, as most of the extra material is best described as transitional, material that is wedged between points A and B in a story beat, spelling out what we already assumed has occurred. As you might expect this means the majority of the added material labours the plot development, particularly the scenes in the first hour or so, while others go some way to developing the characters and even the location (Charlestown is a character in its own right in the film) but still often manage to feel superfluous. The best of the added material are some extended scenes with Affleck and Hall who have a good onscreen chemistry, and likewise Hamm and Hall, though the most interesting scene between the latter pair is one that feels almost completely out of place. The scene in question involves the introduction of a love triangle which Affleck notes in the commentary was in the novel the film is based upon but – with the exception of this one scene – was completely dropped from the film. It wasn’t present at all in the theatrical cut and has no additional development in the extended cut so still feels out of place here, but as mentioned earlier, Affleck’s main reason for including the extra scenes he does is more because he likes how they work as a scene, rather than within the movie as a whole. Ultimately that makes the extended cut more of a curiosity than a ‘complete’ version of the film, and once again, to crib from Affleck’s commentary, it’s there for those who enjoyed the movie and want to see more.
Extended Cut Scene Indicator – this is a helpful viewing option which simply displays a small icon on the top-left of the screen to indicate when a scene from the extended cut is playing.
Audio Commentary with Ben Affleck – flying solo, director, co-writer and star Ben Affleck provides a fairly engaging commentary which focuses more on the first two jobs he had on the film, with lots of feedback on the story, how and why it was developed and taken in the directions it goes, and the research involved in pre-production. There are plenty of notes about the novel the film is based upon, mainly how it differs, and toward the directing side Ben is very happy to point out where advice was taken from varying sources and is quite critical of his own work. It’s not the best track I’ve heard, and it’s a far cry from the raucous input he provides on commentaries for the View Askew films he’s worked on, but it’s a compelling enough track and one that is probably best listened to while watching the extended cut so you can hear about the excised scenes that have been added back in.
Ben’s Boston (Focus Points) – A series of six featurettes that total just over 30-minutes you can choose to watch them as Focus Points during the Theatrical Cut or you can tackle them direct from the disc’s special features menu. The topics covered include the locations (Charlestown and Fenway Park), the ‘real’ people of Boston (some locals were cast in small roles), key action sequences (the car chase and the finale) and Affleck as director and star. They follow the familiar approach of interview sound bites, behind-the-scenes footage and clips from the film…lots and lots of clips from the film. And because of the familiar, very broad, positive back-slappy nature of how the featurettes are put together I found them very disappointing. As content that is meant to be viewed at key points in the film, to give you a behind-the-scenes look at how the end product came about, these fail miserably and are just standard promotional featurettes that deliver very little of interest.
In terms of presentation, Ben’s Boston is in full 1080p with English 2.0 audio and optional English, French, German, Italian, Spanish (Castellano) and Dutch subtitles. There are no subtitles for the commentary track.
Although the extras could be better, Ben Affleck’s second film as director is given a fine Blu-ray release that delivers in the key areas.