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With The Town Ben Affleck follows his acclaimed Gone Baby Gone directorial debut by directing, co-writing and starring in a taut thriller about robbers and cops, friendship and betrayal, love and hope and escaping a past that has no future. He plays Doug MacRay, leader of a Boston bank robber gang but not cut from the same cloth as his fellow thieves. When Doug falls into a passionate romance with the bank manager (Rebecca Hall) briefly taken hostage in their last heist, he wants out of this life and out of the town. As the Feds close in and the crew questions his loyalty, he has one of two choices: betray his friends or lose the woman he loves. Jon Hamm, Jeremy Renner, Blake Lively, Titus Welliver, Pete Postlethwaite and Chris Cooper also star.

 Town: Ultimate Collector's Edition, The
The Town was first released on Blu-ray back in December of 2010, so there's a good chance that many have seen the picture sometime over the past year and have their own opinion of it. For those that are looking at it for the first time it's a very good Boston based crime drama that could be considered the grittier, blue collar cousin to Michael Mann's slick Los Angeles based crime story, Heat. There isn't anything particularly exceptional about the picture, but it's a very good crime drama with nice action set pieces, and as far as I'm concerned Ben Affleck is now two-for-two as a director. I'll be very interested in checking out his next project down the road. The direction here is solid across the board with Affleck handling the drama and action equally well, and he even manages largely exceptional performances from his supporting cast, especially Jeremy Renner in an Oscar-nominated part that could have suffered from being a stereotypical caricature in the hands of a less talented actor.

One of the main selling points of this 'Ultimate Collector's Edition' of The Town is the inclusion of a newly released alternate ending that has been reinstated to the extended cut of the film found on disc one of the three-disc set. I won't spoil this new material but will say that though it completely changes the tone of the last few minutes it's a better fit to the rest of the picture than the theatrical ending and I easily prefer it.

 Town: Ultimate Collector's Edition, The
Video
Warner Home Video's 1080p AVC encoded presentation of The Town on Blu-ray is an excellent representation of the film no matter which version you choose to watch, and only those with larger than normal displays will be able to tell the difference. As was the case of the previous release, the second disc of the set features non-branching versions of both the theatrical and original extended cuts, which given the 125 and 153-minute running times of each is a real stretch even on a 50GB disc. Meanwhile the new extended cut with alternate ending gets a 50GB disc all to itself--save for a new 30-minute featurette--and as such this version does have a beefier bitrate. The differences between the three versions, however, are negligible and I couldn't find much of a difference, if any, between them and I'd guess that it'd take quite a bit of examination and comparison in order to find anything. There are some small instances of artifacting and the black levels aren't always as consistent as you would like them to be, but overall these are fine looking transfers. There is a very nice, fine level of detail throughout that delivers a very film-like structure to the video. The high contrast, muted picture is also pleasing to look at with color that pops off the screen when called for and steady, lifelike skin tones. Anomalies such as dirt or debris from the source material is nonexistent, though that's almost a given seeing as this is a recently released, big studio film. Overall these are excellent transfers that carry the intended look of the picture from the big screen to the small one with ease.

Audio
The included DTS-HD master Audio 5.1 tracks on the Blu-rays hold up just as well as the aforementioned video does, and they'll really allow you to notice just how good the sound design on the picture really is. The surround and LFE channels get put to good use not only during the booming action portions sprinkled throughout the film, but that the quieter moments in between feature a lot of nice directional background effects that bring the city of Boston to life while characters walk down the street and go about their everyday lives. Dialogue is always clear though the center channel and never drowned out by the rest of the audio presentation. Overall these tracks are excellent, demonstration worthy additions to the set.

 Town: Ultimate Collector's Edition, The
Extras
The Town: Ultimate Collector's Edition comes packed with plenty of features, both of the physical and digital variety. First up as far as new bonus material goes is a collection of physical goods, which include a 48-page booklet similar to what you might find with a digi-book release, an annotated map of the Charlestown area, a miniature manilla folder which includes: an FBI report, mugshots, rub on tattoos and a Vericom employee file card, and an letter from Director Ben Affleck. Personally I'm not one for these types of DVD extras--to me all they do is take up shelf space and collect dust--but I do acknowledge that a lot of collectors out there really enjoy these trinkets so your mileage may vary.

Another new feature found on disc one of the set is the high definition, 30-minute featurette, " The Town - A Director's Journey", which features a rather confessional Ben Affleck discussing all aspects of the film's production. A lot of the material here is also covered in the included commentary tracks, but this is still a nice piece about Afflecks trials and tribulations in bringing The Town successfully to the screen.

All three versions of the film include an excellent audio commentary from Director Ben Affleck, each edited appropriately for the different cuts of the film. If you've had the opportunity to listen to Affleck speak during a commentary before you'll already know that he's very affable and honest when discussing his pictures while delivering quite a few insights on a consistent basis, and here on The Town he's no different. If pressed for time, the most interesting of the three is included with the extended cut of the film because he has the chance to discuss differences between it and the theatrical cut and his newly recorded comments on the alternate ending are particularly interesting.

The rest of the features included have been brought over from the previously released extended cut of the picture and include six featurettes--"Pulling Off the Perfect Heist," "The Town," "Nuns with Guns: Filming in the North End," "The Real People of the Town," "Ben Affleck: Director & Actor" and "The Cathedral of Boston."--each focusing on various parts of the production which can be accessed either from the disc's main menu or during the feature presentation as Focus Points. The features are rounded out by and extended cut scene indicator that points out scenes not included in the theatrical version and the theatrical trailer. Disc three of the set includes an UltraViolet digital copy and standard definition copy on DVD.

 Town: Ultimate Collector's Edition, The
Overall
Overall this is a very nice set and the best version of The Town to own on Blu-ray, but the real question is whether or not it's worth forking over more cash if you already own the older version or paying a higher price compared to the single-disc version if you don't. While the new alternate ending does improve the film and the new featurette is nice, it's not as if the new denouement is a great revelatory experience that makes the movie that much better and the bulk of the featurette's content is covered in more detail during the commentaries. Personally I would skip it if The Town was already at home in my collection or pick up the older, cheaper edition if it wasn't, but it's really a question that you'll ultimately have to answer for yourself.

* Note: The above and below images are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.

 Town: Ultimate Collector's Edition, The
 Town: Ultimate Collector's Edition, The
 Town: Ultimate Collector's Edition, The
 Town: Ultimate Collector's Edition, The
Town, The: Ultimate Collector's Edition - Trailer
 Town, The: Ultimate Collector's Edition - Bonus Collectibles


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