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"Gangs of New York" (Remastered) {Blu-ray}
Wayne Klein
Studio: Miramax Films
Release Date:
February 2, 2010
Special Features:

Commentary track by director Martin Scorsese, featurettes on set design, a behind-the-scenes tour of the sets with Martin Scorsese and Dante Ferretti, The History of the Five Points Discovery Channel Documentary, trailer, previews


This remastered edition corrects the image quality issues of the previous edition which had heavy handed use of DNR (digital noise reduction)often eliminating the grain and detail at the same time. Colors pop and detail is remarkably sharp throughout. Audio sounds terrific as well although the previous edition sounded quite good as well. Aside from some minor ringing (particularly when characters are against a white background--doesn't happen too often in this movie though), the presentation looks terrific.***

We get all the previous special features from the previous edition as well including Martin Scorsese's informed and entertaining commentary track. The special features are still in standard definnition but that's a minor issue--I'm just happy that Touchstone/Disney/Miramax was willing to go back and correct the error with the original mastering.***

You can tell the remastered vs. the previous edition because the cover picture with the main actors is smaller and bordered by black. The Blu-ray holders also have a sticker on the cover indicating its been remastered.***

For those interested in the plot--Set in New York in 1846 (during the height of the draft for the Civil War which contributed to a massive violent revolt by the poor which plays a part in the film as well), Leonardo Dicaprio plays Amsterdam Vallon who returns to lower Manhattan seeking revenge against Bill "the Butcher" (Daniel Day Lewis)who killed his father in a confrontation between their respective gangs. To kill Bill Vallon must become close to Bill and infiltrate his gang earning his trust in the process but Vallon finds that his vendetta against Bill gets lost in a much larger conflict between the various gangs of New York to run the city.Amsterdam feels conflicted particularly when Bill takes him under his wing and gains a grudging respect for him despite his brutality. Daniel Day Lewis gives a superb performance as Bill and although Dicaprio's accent varies quite a bit his emotionally complex, conflicted performance adds to the drama as well. When I first saw the film I was surprised at just how good Cameron Diaz could be as an actress as well.***

A well made flawed film, "Gangs of New York" manages to be involving and director Martin Scorsese crates a vivid recreation of New York before the turn of the century with detailed recreations of teh hovels and mud strewn streets, The film suffers because of a shortened running time (and it runs around 2 hours and 40 minutes but could have easily run an additional 20-30 minutes giving us more background on the conflict between Vallon's father who led the Dead Rabbits and Bill. Then again the action would have taken longer to get to and our main story focusing on the conflict between Vallon and Bill would have taken quite a bit longer to start as well.***

Special Features:

The original DVD extras have been ported over to the Blu-ray but they are all presented in 480i the original lower definition format that they appeared in on DVD. "Exploring the Sets of Gangs of New York" presents a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the world that Scorsese creates.There is also a featurette on the set designs with Dante Ferretti discussing the challgenes of creating and building a long lost world. ***

"The History of The Five Points" gives us the background on world that Scorsese recreates for the film. We also get a Discovery Channel documentary that was produced as a tie-in with the film when it was released. "History" is presented in 4.3x1 full screen with black bars on the side except when we see footage from the film when it switches to non-anamorphic widescreen. We also get a featurette on the production design as well as the music video done by U2 at the time for the film. Completists will be happy that we also have the original theatrical trailer presented. ***

Scorsese provides an excellent commentary track that covers everything from working with the actors, their prepartion to the challenges of shooting on such a large set and creating a marvelous historical canvas like this. Scorsese had wanted to make this film since the 70's but it took nearly 30 years before he was able to achieve his dream. ---

Final Words:

Even Scorsese's flawed films are stronger than most other directors great films and the ambition of "Gangs of New York" is welcome even if the film can't deliver on all of Scorsese's points. Recommended.


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