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Gangs of New York

Blu Ray

  • Score
    63
    from 2 reviewers
    Review Date:
  • At last, Gangs of New York's Blu-ray dazzles fans with superb quality, eclipsing past disappointments.

    Gangs of New York Blu-ray Front Cover

    Disc Release Date:

  • Video
    61
  • Disney's 'Gangs of New York' Blu-ray journey from a criticized 2008 mess to a stunning 2010 remaster reflects a dedication to correcting past mistakes, offering a much-improved visual experience despite minor flaws.

  • Audio
    71
  • Despite some disappointment in the film's sound design, the audio shines with crisp dialogue, robust LFE, and immersive surround effects, presented in DTS-HD or PCM formats.

  • Extra
    58
  • The Blu-ray release of Gangs of New York features engaging extras like Scorsese's commentary and detailed featurettes on set and costume design, but lacks high-definition updates and some DVD content.

  • Movie
    63
  • Scorsese's 'Gangs of New York,' with its diverse and detailed depiction of 19th-century NYC, juggles grand ambition and intricacy amidst a tale of vengeance and historical richness, though marred by imperfections.

    Video: 61

    The Blu-ray release of "Gangs of New York" has been a subject of controversy and criticism, notably due to its previous high definition presentation that drastically failed to meet expectations. The initial version was plagued with technical issues, including severe edge enhancement, color blooming, pronounced digital noise reduction (DNR) that compromised the film's detail and texture, alongside various other artifacts that substantially detracted from the viewing experience. These flaws not only marred the visual integrity of Martin Scorsese's cinematic vision but also disappointed viewers anticipating a pristine high-definition experience.

    Subsequently, hopes were pinned on Disney for a remedial release, given its track record of remastering titles that had previously suffered from poor transfers. While the studio did unveil a 1080p/AVC-encoded version that dramatically improved on many fronts—showcasing Michael Ballhaus's cinematography with rich, natural colors and deep blacks, along with a reduction in distracting artifacts—the effort was not without its criticisms. Notably, some residual ringing and edge enhancement issues persisted, albeit to a much lesser extent than before. The remastered release aimed to rectify past mistakes with strong contrast, revealing delineation, and a clean presentation that brought forth sharp edges, refined textures, and remarkable clarity across the board.

    Despite these improvements, the remaster has not been immune to critique. Some videophiles noted a slight degree of ringing in certain shots, a far cry from the original Blu-ray's problems but still noticeable on larger screens. Problems like colored vertical stripes and improper handling of film grain in certain scenes point to limitations in the remediation process, suggesting that while significant strides have been made to improve "Gangs of New York's" Blu-ray presentation, it falls short of perfection. This highlights an ongoing struggle to balance the technical aspects of film preservation with the expectations of high-definition enhancement, leaving room for further refinement in future releases.

    Audio: 71

    The audio presentation of "Gangs of New York" on Blu-ray provides a sharp, immersive experience, primarily thanks to its robust DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track, which, despite not being the uncompressed PCM mix found in Disney's earlier release, delivers nearly identical 48kHz/24-bit audio quality. The mix skillfully balances the din of the bustling 19th-century New York with the film's intense action sequences, ensuring that dialogue remains crystal clear and well-positioned at all times. This clarity allows for every whisper, shout, and threat to be easily discernible amidst the richly detailed soundfield. The LFE (Low Frequency Effects) channel demonstrates considerable strength, enhancing the soundtrack with deep, resonant bass that lends weight to cannon fire and bustling crowd scenes, while the rear speakers engage the listener with consistent activity and enveloping directional effects.

    The Blu-ray also impresses with its handling of quieter moments, where the soundscape remains impressively stable, reflecting a meticulous attention to acoustics and ambience without sacrificing intensity. The surround mix becomes particularly noteworthy during key sequences such as the climactic Battle of Five Points and the Draft Riot, where it ramps up to deliver an aggressively immersive experience. Howard Shore's score melds seamlessly into the backdrop, complementing Scorsese's narrative with its dynamics and impact. However, while the audio performance is generally stellar across both quiet and loud scenes, it's noted that some scenes might come across as overly subdued, though this appears to be an intentional choice aimed at contrast rather than a flaw in the audio design itself.

    In terms of technical execution, both the Dolby Digital 5.1 and uncompressed PCM 5.1 options offer compelling reasons for their use—assuming one has the equipment to fully appreciate the PCM track's superior quality. Sound effects from clashing knives to gunfire are captured with a sharpness that punctuates the film's gritty atmosphere. Notably, the soundtrack manages to deliver directional shifts in dialogue across the front soundstage, an attribute that enriches the viewing experience despite being a rarity in modern cinema. The arsenal of audio inputs culminates in a presentation that highlights the Blu-ray format's capability to enrich even the most subtle auditory details of films like "Gangs of New York," though opinions on the soundtrack and sound design's overall creativity may vary among viewers.

    Extra: 58

    While the Blu-ray release of "Gangs of New York" may not boast high-definition extras, the standard definition special features it encompasses offer a rich, educational dive into the historical context and filmmaking process behind Martin Scorsese's epic. Despite the lack of Blu-ray exclusive content and a notable omission from its DVD counterpart—the Five Points Study Guide—the collection remains compelling. Martin Scorsese's audio commentary stands out, providing deep insights into the film's creation, his personal connection to New York City, and the historical accuracy pursued through detailed set and costume designs. The supplementary material, though promotional, is enriched by expert contributions on the real-life inspirations for the story’s setting and characters. This disc's extras, from in-depth explorations of the Five Points area to the costume and set design documentaries, draw viewers deeper into the film’s meticulously crafted world, despite occasional repetitions and the absence of promised interactive features.

    Extras included in this disc:

    • Audio Commentary: Martin Scorsese delves into the making of the film.
    • History of the Five Points: A concise historical overview with insights from advisor Luc Sante.
    • Set Design: Dante Ferretti’s collaboration with Scorsese on creating the film’s ambitious sets.
    • Exploring the Sets: A detailed tour of the Cinecittà lot in Rome with Scorsese and Ferretti.
    • Costume Design: Sandy Powell discusses achieving a blend of historical accuracy and stylization.
    • Uncovering the Real Gangs of New York: Discovery Channel special offering additional historical context.
    • Music Video: U2's “The Hands That Built America”.
    • Teaser and Theatrical Trailers: Promotional content for the film.

    Movie: 63

    Martin Scorsese's "Gangs of New York" unfolds a vibrant tapestry of conflict, loyalty, and vengeance, set against the backdrop of a mid-19th century New York rife with gang warfare and social upheaval. The film meticulously recreates this tumultuous era, anchored by the personal saga of Amsterdam Vallon (Leonardo DiCaprio) seeking to avenge his father's death at the hands of Bill the Butcher (Daniel Day-Lewis), a charismatic yet ruthless gang leader. Through this narrative, Scorsese delves into the larger historical and cultural forces at play, offering a gaze into the foundational struggles of modern New York City. The movie's ambition is matched by stunning production values, with Cinecittà studios' extensive sets standing in for the vanished neighborhoods of old New York and meticulous costume design that breathes life into the city's past.

    However, "Gangs of New York" is not without its criticisms. The film's expansive scope and complex narrative sometimes border on unwieldy, struggling to maintain coherence amidst its sprawling storylines. Daniel Day-Lewis's portrayal of Bill the Butcher is universally acclaimed, dominating the screen with a performance that blends menace and charisma; DiCaprio's Amsterdam, while compelling, occasionally falters under the weight of accent and gravitas. Cameron Diaz's Jenny Everdeane is seen as a miscasting, failing to convincingly inhabit the world that Scorsese so vividly brings to life. Nevertheless, the film's audacity—a visually arresting re-creation of a pivotal chapter in New York's history—often overshadows its narrative shortcomings.

    Despite its divisive elements, "Gangs of New York" remains a significant cinematic endeavor, illustrating Scorsese's enduring fascination with New York City and its formative strife. The film navigates through its characters' complex relationships and the broader socio-political milieu with a keen eye for detail, bringing out the harsh realities of its era. While it may stumble in parts, this period epic stands as a testament to Scorsese's ambitious vision, engaging viewers with its rich historical tapestry and stirring performances. The Blu Ray presentation highlights Scorsese's meticulous attention to historical detail and the rich textures of 19th Century New York, underscoring the film's role as both a cinematic achievement and a provocative historical opus.

    Total: 63

    The newly remastered Blu-ray edition of "Gangs of New York" presents a stark contrast to the disappointments experienced with previous releases, notably Disney's 2008 version which left much to be desired among cinephiles and Scorsese aficionados. This iteration finally delivers on the promise of a high-quality viewing experience, boasting a near-perfect video transfer that showcases the movie's intricate details and vibrant colors like never before. Accompanied by a dynamic DTS-HD Master Audio track, the sound is as immersive as the visuals, providing viewers with an audio-visual feast that fully complements the film's gritty ambiance and intense narrative.

    While the film itself may have its critics, "Gangs of New York" holds a significant place in Scorsese's portfolio, capturing a tumultuous era with compelling storytelling and powerful performances. The Blu-ray's supplemental package, although not exhaustive, adds value to the overall package, offering insights that fans and newcomers alike will find engaging. The disc's price point might raise eyebrows, but considering the quality of the restoration and the enriched viewing experience it offers, it represents reasonable value for enthusiasts eager to see the movie in its best possible light.

    In conclusion, this Blu-ray release of "Gangs of New York" rectifies past grievances with a presentation that does justice to the epic narrative and historical depth of the film. While it may not convert critics of the movie itself, for those who appreciate Scorsese's work or have been waiting for a definitive home viewing experience, this edition is a must-have. Its superior video and audio quality make it a standout release, ensuring that "Gangs of New York" can be experienced as it was meant to be seen and heard.