Public Enemies Blu-Ray Review

Cover Art and Menus: 4/10
As much as I appreciate that Depp face, I do not like the cover featuring his face. There is the matter of a gun, some boring design choices, and over all it’s bland and unappealing. The 30’s have such potential for graphic design and Dillinger was quite the character. They could have done so much more. As for the menus, well, be prepared to see scenes from the movie, always a bad choice.

Features: 7/10

  • Larger Than Life: Adversaries – The war on crime was a new concept in the 30’s in America with Herbert Hoover leading the way. The combination of organized crime, cheap thugs, and punk criminals like Dillinger sparked a change in law enforcement that lives on even in this new century.
  • Michael Mann Making Public Enemies – Michael Mann likes to talk about his actors, his story, his movies, so this is a good talking head kind of extra. It’s good, it’s got bulk and a fair amount about the making of the movie. It just seems a little bit packaged.
  • Last Of The Legendary Outlaws – Who was John Dillinger and why did a convicted criminal who stole money from banks during the great depression raise such public support?
  • On Dillinger’s Trail: The Real Locations – Everything that happened in the movie isn’t necessarily what happened in real life, but Michael Mann does like his locations. This means that all the places in the movie are the real places where some events did take place.
  • Criminal Technology – Make a better gun and the criminals will be one step ahead. That’s the idea for this extra. As history rolls on, so does our need to keep up with the crimes that some humans are compelled to commit. This extra shows us the guns and other technology used in the 30’s to capture criminals, and even start the FBI.
  • Feature Commentary With Michael Mann – He likes to talk, so let him. It’s a good reason to rewatch the film and hopefully find more good stuff the second time around.
  • U-Control (PIP/Timeline) – There are a lot of picture-in-picture making-of segments for several chapters along with historical time lines to follow along with the fiction. THe problem is that most of the sound from the small picture isn’t loud enough to drown out the movie that’s always playing. If you can hear the content it’s some very good information about the truths behind the movie tales of Dillinger and his wild days./li>
  • Pocket Blu – Turn your iPhone into a remote control..yea yea move along.
  • Digital Copy – A copy for your laptop.

The Movie: 6/10
OH my good grief it’s hard to write about this movie. Why? Well, let me tell you. Public Enemies has so much goodness in it’s pocket I keep thinking about moments here and there and it’s very enjoyable. Then again, it’s got problems that are equally as bad as the good parts are good.

First the bad news. The sound is awful. The mixing guy cannot tell me with a straight face that this movie sounds good. Not one scene has a well balanced, comfortable quality or volume level for all the different elements that are happening. An actor might speak and it’s muffled like he’s in a closet, while the guy next to him sounds like he’s got his mouth rubbing on a microphone. The gunfire is so obtuse it’s jarring and I don’t think that’s a good kind of realism. The picture is fair, but the camera tricks and attempts at style are lost completely on what is a fantastic backdrop, the 1930’s in America. There’s so much technically that’s distracting about this movie it was seriously difficult at times to focus on the rest, and the rest is really good.

The cast is awesome, everyone does their thing and I felt like they all fit their parts, the era, the circumstance. It got a bit overly artsy at times with Depp and his leading lady with the glances and the melodramatic moments, but overall I enjoyed every scene in terms of performances. The writing got a bit utilitarian at times, dialogue a bit on the obvious side of things, but that’s fine too. It was a different time, maybe they were reflecting that kind of attitude from films of that decade.

The story is very intriguing. Dillinger was a two-bit bank thief but somehow got tangled up in the middle of an evolving organized crime system, and the development of American’s first war on crime with the then infant FBI. Dynamic times call for drastic characters, and Dillinger sure seems to have fit that bill. Fast cars, big guns, ahead of the law, sexy women, and a streak of ruthlessness mixed with natural charm that endeared him to the public and even swooned some law enforcers. It’s the stuff Hollywood movies are made of…oh, wait…right.

So, I am thoroughly disappointed in the technical flaws and visual choices of the movie. They were distracting and made me want to bail out on the film more than once. However, the people, the history behind the story, the characters, and the quality that came with each of those elements made it a reluctantly enjoyable, entertaining, and memorable. The memory, in fact, is better than the experience of watching the movie. I can weave together a whole other movie as I replay it in my head. It will have better sound, better editing, better cinematography, and let the best part shine through it all.

I’m so confused. I need a flower with lots of pedals, “I love it.” “I love it not.” “I love it.” “I love it not……???”

Audio & Video: 4/10
Michael Mann filmed Public Enemies on a variety of different cameras and it shows throughout the movie. Sometimes the clarity and definition is simply breathtaking with fine lines on skin and lots of detail and depth. Occasionally though, the image becomes murky and two dimensional. Public Enemies is presented in 1080P 2.40:1 wide screen using the VC1 codec.

I think the director put an intern in charge of audio mixing duties on Public Enemies. The resulting mix is that bad. It’s not a problem with the Blu-Ray transfer, it sounded the same theatrically. The mix is just totally off. Dialog comes across low and muffled and music and atmospheric effects are really loud. You struggle to hear what the characters are saying most of the time. The first 15 minutes are the worst. It does get a little better after that, but never in my days of watching movies have I heard such an inconsistent mix in a high budget Hollywood movie. There are a few instances of the voice levels changing volume in the same sentence. One example sounds like Christian Bale actually moved closer to the ADR microphone in post. It’s all very strange and I wonder, why was this not noticed before the films release?

Overall I enjoyed the film but the technical distractions made me drop a few points off the audio/video quality score.

Value: 3/10
This is a hard movie to recommend for all the reasons I have mentioned. It’s a great story, good cast, etc. The thing is it’s just not  a satisfying movie watching experience. I wouldn’t buy it and I’m not sure I would rent as a new release. It’s definitely a budget evening kind of romp, sadly, even with the extras tagged on for good measure. I would say it’s like laundry liquid, you get what you pay for, and these days I’m all about value for money. I’m more than willing to pay extra for my clothes to get clean and smell good:) I’m not willing to pay big bucks for a movie that is falling apart at the seams.

Overall Score 5/10

3 thoughts on “Public Enemies Blu-Ray Review

  1. Yes, I watched it last night and was flabbergasted by the sound, which made me wonder if someone had revered all my surround connections. From barely audible and uneven sound to MASSIVE gunshots, back to distance sounds then to COLOSSAL sounds back to two way dialogue with one voice twice the volume of the other. The color temperatures were all over the place and very grainy in places, flat as a pancake in others, inconsistent blacks.

  2. Thank you for noticing the audio too! I thought something was wrong with my sound system. The audio mix is awful in this movie.

  3. The sound on the Blu-Ray is totally unacceptable, I had to turn on subtitles. Like you said some of the audio changed mid sentence?

Comments are closed.