RockNRolla Blu-Ray Review

Cover Art and Menus: 6/10
Nothing says modern crime drama ensemble like a tight dress and bunch of copy & paste heads. Ok, so I’m not a fan of this cover. It’s almost bold, almost interesting, but not. I’m not sure that’s a sentence, but I think you know what I’m saying. It needs to be a bit more raw or rough or something, anything. The menu is pretty sparse too, just navigation with scenes from the movie playing in the background. Hohum.

Features: 6/10

  • Commentary By Guy Ritchie & Mark Strong – This is a good commentary. Ritchie and Strong aren’t obnoxious or trying to be anything other than a couple of British dudes making a movie, which I appreciate.
  • Additional Scene – This is one scene that is better left out out out of this movie. The tone is off, the dialogue doesn’t fit, and so much more. I’m glad it didn’t make it to the final cut.
  • Bikes, Birds & Backhanders Inside RocknRolla – This is a packaged talking heads kind of thing where everyone talks about making the movie. I like it, and the director is a big part of it so that makes it more interesting, at least in this case. We don’t get a lot of face time with Ritchie, so it’s nice to hear about his motivations and ideas for the movie straight from the source.
  • Guy’s Town The Director Reflects On his Fascination With Ever Evolving London – More of Ritchie and his motivations for writing and making RockNRolla. These are both good extras, not too long, but not too short, just right. Not to mention I learned stuff about London, so it’s also educational:)

The Movie: 8/10
The world is bleak and dangerous, dog eat dog.

People are violent and greedy by nature.

A city has a split personality; the shiny happy side and the seedy underbelly.

These things are either issues you need to talk to a Psychiatrist about, or they are themes for Guy Richie movies. Well, the truth is they are probably both. For the sake of this review I’ll put them in the mix with RockNRolla, a manly money tough guy kick ass fantasy. It’s not a new story, are there any of those left in this world? The thing is, it’s got what I need to be entertained, stimulated, interested, and satisfied. Every woman’s dream.

A criss-cross of bold music, people, lives, crimes, money, greed, violence, and one sexy chick, can go very wrong, or very right. This is a very right kind of combination. The cast is excellent. Everyone is equal so I don’t need to focus on anyone in particular…well ok, the guy who plays Johnny Quid has moments of greatness that drew me even more into the story. That’s a good thing!

The meat of the story is that London is a cesspool of big money real estate criminals who manipulate the system to make tons of cash. In this scheme there are big fish, small fish, and bigger fish. Everyone is trying to make a pound, some with less gentle methods than others. That means some people get their butts kicked, heads cracked, dipped in the drink with American crawfish..etc. So, we have our little fish, a trio of friends trying to make a deal with a big fish and they get screwed. Therefore they owe the big fish 2 million large.

This big fish gets into a deal with a BIGGER fish, who happens to be a Russian immigrant fish who can wipe the floor with every fish who crosses his path. Get the picture. Everyone thinks they have things figured out and have a bigger dick than the other fishies…but there is always a bigger badder creature in the world to gobble you up.

In the middle of this is the woman. One woman with tight dresses and smoking skinny black cigarettes isn’t just a fish, she’s a shark. I like that the woman character isn’t wishy-washy, not a damsel in distress, not someone who needs to be rescued, she’s simply part of the story. This is a modern tale, but she reminds me of strong women in movies from the 40’s, yes way back then there were some kick ass women characters who took no crap and could hold their own in the worlds they lived in, so Guy is doing well not to put a whiny chick in his movie.

With a junkie (a wise but unpredictable snake amongst fish) being the moral center of a story, or at least near the center, you have to know the rest of what transpires will be on the edge. We have thugs and henchmen who live for war scars and are up for a long hard fight, and they’re just peripheral characters!! The main players are not afraid of some gun fire, a few whacks on the head, knives, and even the odd golf club for a weapon. That’s not to say it’s too heavy with the bludgeoning. I didn’t find it to be overwhelming with fighting, and the chase scene is extremely cool with it’s mix of brawling and running. It’s one of the best chases I’ve seen in a movie.

Ritchie’s style is always the same, good, but always the same. I do think he’s growing into it though. The crossed paths of characters is narrowing. The layers of complications are thinning. While the hard hitting grit is still there, mixed with  just enough humor, and reality shoved in the holes to bring it all together RockNRolla does it’s best to thrill me one more time. That being said, I do hope he breaks away from this kind of movie for a few turns of the directorial hat and use his skills for some other genre. What genre? I have no idea. I just don’t want the movies he’s made to go stale because he keeps bringing the same tricks to the party. Or fish food to the tank, whatever…..oh, I’m out of fish comments.

Audio & Video: 8/10
Rocknrolla is a difficult movie to sum up in the audio and video departments.  On one hand I feel it has done everything right and on the other I feel it’s lackluster. Most of the color is sucked out of the image but this is a stylistic choice to make London look a little dirtier than it actually is. The film was shot on HD cameras and most of what I felt was wrong with the picture seems to be added in post. There is a certain silky sheen to the image with hardly any film grain (not surprising as the movie has never seen a reel of film) it makes things look slightly unnatural and strange. Don’t get me wrong I love the movie and the Blu-Ray presentation. It’s more that I don’t like the style Director Guy Ritchie has used here. The movie is presented in 2.40:1 wide screen using the VC1 codec at full 1080P so spec wise everything is present and correct.

Audio is Dolby TrueHD which actually surprised my. Why Warner would choose to use na uncompressed soundtrack on a dialog heavy movie such as this and not on the action packed Speed Racer is beyond me, but hey I don’t make these discs, I just watch them. Audio is impressive, even if there’s not much in the way of bass or surround. The movie is mostly dialog and that is always clear and sharp.

Overall Rocknrolla is a fine Blu-Ray release but due to the director’s stylistic choices I do not think this disc will be one you will be pulling out to show off your home theater. It’s just for a fun movie night experience.

Value: 5/10
These days I say renting movies is the way to go. As far as that goes this is one I wouldn’t want to miss!! I would rent it for sure and later when the price goes down to around 10 bucks, pick it up for your collection. The extras are fair, the movie is great, so it’s a good package, just not worth nearly $30.00.

Overall Score 8/10