Iceman, The (UK - DVD R2)
Marcus watches General Zod and Captain America chop up frozen bodies.
The Iceman tells the true story of New York contract killer Richard Kuklinski (Michael Shannon). Polish-American Kuklinski soon finds himself on the payroll of local mobster Roy Demeo (Ray Liotta) as an 'enforcer', collecting debts and making hits. Known for being as cold as ice because of his clinical, emotionless approach to the job, his secret day job, that he has kept hidden from his family starts getting closer to home.
This tale of killers and mobs is told in an obvious homage to the Scorsese’s much loved classics and while the film never reaches the dizzy height of some of Marty’s greats, the cast here are playing it as strong as they can. Shannon is his usually demanding presence and his intensity keeps us focused on him throughout. The guy has a face made for movies and he brings Kuklinski to life with real menace. It’s also good to see Liotta doing what he does best. Sure he’s done some forgettable samey roles of late but any Goodfellas fan can’t help but love seeing Liotta in this sort of role.
Almost entirely lost in his role is Chris Evans. I watched as he played the ice cream van driving hitman knowing it was Evans but his voice, his mannerisms and his general demeanour is nothing like we’ve grown to know him for on screen and this was so far away from Captain America it was pretty impressive stuff. On the side lines there’s another awkward but passable performance from Winona Ryder, a sort of pointless James Franco cameo and a fun to see with 70s styles David Schwimmer, who sports some of the worst outfits and hairstyles you’ll ever likely to see on the man.
The Iceman is a solid depiction of a life of crime but I have to say i wasn't as bothered by the end as I was at the beginning of the film. I’m not sure if it was because events unfolded much like most of these other career criminal flicks do or that the focus covered more than just Kuklinski as a central character in the final act but the film just sort of wrapped up, at a noticeably short 100 minutes, when there was a distinct feeling this had a lot more story to tell.
The warm, stylised looks of the film make up for the DVDs limitations ability to show it off. The cinematography here looks gorgeous, classic and capturing the 60s-80s periods but with a modern digital world sheen. Colours are warm, hovering around browns, oranges and deep reds and I'd hope that in HD the blacks were more solid than they are here on DVD because the film deals in darkness very well.
Details here are pretty good but the softness makes the image rather flat at times. Grain is pretty apparent throughout giving the image a sometimes grubby look and the varying black levels can sometimes make the image a little murky. All of this adds to the film's period setting somehow and the well shot film reaches out through its shortcomings but this DVD just about does the film's good looks justice... just.
The audio track is very strong with a solid bassy edge. Sound effects are sharp and strong element of the mix with dialogue the only thing out doing it. Music choices on the soundtrack don’t hit quite as well as you’d expect and instead exist in the locations they are played in such as clubs and roller halls, which means a quite echoy effect at times but still come with the nice bit of punch. Other than that everything works very well, streets are full of ambience, the score underpins everything with a dark and tense drive and this is a very self assured track that knows exactly what its out to do.
The disc opens with trailers for Paperboy, Hummingbird, Easy Money, and Tower Block.
Then on the extras, the ‘Behind the Scenes’ (08:12) is short and sweet and not all that detailed, and then this is all fleshed out a bit with the ‘Interviews’ that includes input from the director, the producer as well as Shannon, Ryder and Evans (29:35).
The Iceman was good, with some great performances but it did suffer from constantly making me want to go and watch other, much loved crime thrillers covering the same subject matter really. That said, Shannon delivers another great performance and his menace in films is really quite unparalleled at this point in the game.
The disc looks okay but suffers from standard definition limitations. The audio track is solid, and the extras sort of loose but interesting in places. Iceman is well worth seeing but the film as a whole probably won’t deliver the goods as much as the people in it do.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over
Release Date: 30th September 2013
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English
Subtitles: English HoH
Extras: Behind the Scenes, Interviews
Easter Egg: No
Director: Ariel Vromen
Cast: Michael Shannon, Chris Evans, James Franco. Ray Liotta, Winona Ryder
Genre: Crime, Drama and Thriller
Length: 101 minutes
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