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Every once in a while a trailer is released which really inspires me to watch the movie. Well that’s exactly what happened with a movie called Dark Blue, which I had never even heard of before I saw its trailer a few weeks ago. Intrigued by the plot I decided to do a little research and see if the word of mouth was positive. The movie was only released in UK cinemas last month but due to a poor show both here and Stateside; the DVD release has made a quick entry. Read on to find out what I thought about it.  

Dark Blue
Movie
Dark Blue is set around the time of the 1992 LA riots and uses the Rodney King case as a backdrop for events which occur during the movie. Eldon Perry (Kurt Russell) is an experienced member of the Los Angeles Special Investigations Squad (SIS). He is highly committed to his job and knows how to bend the rules to get the results that his commissioner, Jack Van Meter (Brendan Gleeson), demands. Be it by lawful methods or not, Perry is determined to clean up the streets, and if he needs to kill in cold-blood, then so be it! His corrupt actions mean that his marriage is at breaking point, but it does have its plus points, one of them being that rookies officers look up to him. One such rookie is Bobby Keogh (Scott Speedman) who sees Perry as a good mentor, and not surprising ends up finding himself mimicking his teacher’s seedy ways.

In the opposite corner of the ring is the Deputy Chief (Ving Rhimes), who is determined to restore the reputation of the Police Force and in doing so must drive out his corrupt colleagues who are primarily to blame for its bad reputation. Will Perry and friends manage to carry on with their corrupt ways, or will justice prevail?

The creators of Dark Blue were taking a massive risk with this movie. There has been a huge influx of movies recently which tackle the premise of corrupt coppers. So does Dark Blue bring anything new to this genre? Well, I would say yes. After a tedious opening the movie progresses into a strong drama, which adds a new slant to the style of film. Focusing the movie around the Rodney King trial/aftermath was certainly a clever idea, and the movie benefits from this. The tense climax is intertwined with the riots that culminated from the Rodney King case. This results in a thrilling and emotional conclusion, which ensures that you won’t be able to take your eyes away from the screen.

Dark Blue
Another one of the movie’s strong points is its talented cast. How director Ron Shelton managed to recruit the likes of Ving Rhames, Kurt Russell and Bredan Gleeson is anyone’s guess, but it is one of the main reasons the film succeeds. Kurt Russell’s career has taken something of a nosedive recently, but his performance here is assured and shows that he maybe ready for the big time again. The only slight disappointment is the amount of screen time that Ving Rhames’s character is given. The actor is extremely talented but he is never really given the chance to shine. Dark Blue is at times provocative and controversial; it has a cracking cast and will have you on the edge of your seat right up to its thrilling climax, and for those reasons it deserves to be seen by a larger audience.

Video
Momentum Pictures have transferred Dark Blue across to our favourite format with an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, which is also anamorphically enhanced. Unlike the region one release (which also included a full screen transfer), this is the only version on the disc, which must be considered an overall advantage. Considering that Dark Blue is a relatively recent movie, I felt slightly let down by the quality on offer. That’s not to say that it is poor, but it didn’t appear to have the clarity and sharpness that you would expect from a movie which was made just a year ago, however this may have something to do with the fact that the movie was shot on super 35mm in order to give it a gritty impact. Colours levels appeared true and accurate. There are a lot of bright colours used throughout which were dealt with efficiently, and black levels when called upon were solid as well. I noticed slight signs of edge enhancements as well, which, while not obtrusive, did distract somewhat. Grain levels were evident, but not in any large quantities. Overall, this is a reasonable transfer, but nothing more!

Audio
There are two soundtracks included with this release, but unfortunately for our foreign readers both tracks are in English. The soundtracks are Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Stereo. For the purpose of this review I am going to concentrate on the 5.1 track, which I am sure is of more interest to most of our readers. It’s fair to say that this is not the most active soundtrack you will hear this year, but it copes very well with ambience noise, and towards the end of the movie when the riots are on the screen the rears are put to use particularly effectively. As for the dialogue, well that is clear throughout and doesn't suffer in any way. The only other thing to mention is that there are only subtitles in English. Therefore I can only presume that either fans from other countries are not expected to purchase this release, or maybe they will get their own edition.

Dark Blue
Extras
Due to its relatively low-key theatrical release Momentum Pictures could have been forgiven for giving this disc a barebones release, however that is not the case. There are not bundles of extras with this release, but there should be enough to keep the casual fan happy. The main proportion of extras can be found in a section called Internal Affairs. Within this section three featurettes can be found, the first of which is called Code Blue. This featurette starts off in the usual manner, with lots of input from all the major crew and cast members. There is also some useful information from the crew, who elaborate on how the script made its way to the big screen. The focus then moves onto the main characters in the movie, and each of the actors who played the role talk about their experiences. This featurette also focuses on the locations and sets that were used while shooting the movie, which makes for interesting viewing.  

The next featurette is entitled By The Book. It begins by explaining how the sets were created, apparently the designers had problems securing venues and had to do a lot of additional work to create the sets. The main challenge seemed to be the riots, especially considering the budget they were given. The featurette also focuses on the costume design for the movie; to be honest I did find this section a little tedious and out of place considering the nature of the film. This featurette lasts for just under eight minutes. The final featurette on this disc is called Necessary Force and focuses on the validity of the movie. The featurette is hosted by a technical advisor who talks about his experiences working with the police force. The advisor talks for most of this featurette about how he trained up the actors to play their role accurately, and there is also some feedback from the director, who mentions that he wanted to make the film look as realistic as possible. This featurette will make compelling viewing for fans of the movie who want to find out more details about how accurate the movie is. This featurette lasts for just under seven minutes.

Another feature on the disc is a Commentary with the Director. This isn’t the best commentary that I have heard, but nevertheless it does have some interesting moments, e.g. the opening scene where the director talks about the footage he created which is interwoven with real footage from the Rodney King incident.

Dark Blue
The final few extras I would consider stocking fillers, but nevertheless they are worth taking a peak at. The first of those extras is a Photo Gallery, which features over twenty photographs, ranging from shots from the movie, through to ‘behind the scenes’ photos.  Next up is a TV Spot which runs for around ten seconds, and just about has time to introduce the characters before ending. Running for slightly longer is the Trailer, which I presume was the American Theatrical Trailer.  This is the trailer that I mentioned in my introduction.  The trailer does a good job of selling the movie as a controversial, exciting and riveting cop drama. It lasts for just under two minutes, and certainly did its job as far as I was concerned!

Overall
Dark Blue was overlooked upon its theatrical release and that is a shame. Hopefully with this DVD release it will gain the fan base that it surely deserves. Momentum Pictures have provided a disc which won’t win any awards, but should contain enough material to keep most people happy. The transfer and soundtracks are of reasonable quality, while there are a couple of cracking featurettes to provide fans with the facts that they crave. If you are looking for an impulse buy, then I would definitely recommend making this a purchase!  


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