A History of ViolenceNew Line Cinema (Blu-ray)
Small-town diner owner Tom Stall finds himself a local hero after he successfully takes down two thugs during an attempted robbery. But his sudden celebrity draws unwanted attention from the outside world, including mobsters Carl Fogarty and Richie Cusack, who insist that Tom is intricately tied to their past. Fogarty begins stalking Tom's wife and children resulting in a bloody standoff in which Tom must protect his family from what is either a case of mistaken identity or a violent past that's finally caught up with him.
This is easily Cronenberg’s most commercial friendly film in years, and most would still find it a bit unnerving. The film unravels slowly and does a tremendous job with its character development and ultimate payoff. I have a lot of friends that are back and forth on this one but I really liked it and enjoyed it just as much this time as when I saw it in theaters. It is great to see Cronenberg doing mainstream films again, especially since he doesn’t seem to be toning them down.
Fans of this film are in for a touchy ride with this transfer. New Line has been pretty hit or miss with their catalog releases and this one definitely has its issues. Immediately you’ll notice the ringing in the image around hard transitions and the obvious sharpening added to most of the imagery. This flattens things out and can be a bit intrusive at times. Fine detail suffers a bit but depth is still pretty good. Black levels are solid throughout but medium to long shots have an artificial look that disappoints. I don’t understand why studios insist on adding edge enhancement and other sharpening tools that were such a problem with DVD to high definition transfers. Let the natural detail speak for itself.
The soundtrack is presented in Dolby TrueHD and does a good job with the material as a whole. Despite the themes this isn’t a very active soundtrack but there are a few intense sequences that make the most of the dynamic range. Ambiance is delivered nicely though and the dialogue sounds very natural with no glare or strain. Imaging is solid in the main soundstage and the surrounds do a good job of adding some spatial quality to the mix.
Extras include a feature commentary with the director along with a look at the making of the film and its themes. You also get some short production features and deleted scenes.
Considering that this isn’t that old of a film I was hoping for a lot more on the video side. While I’m a big fan of the film I would have a hard time recommending it until a better video transfer comes around. While this is an improvement over the DVD release, it isn’t up to par with the better catalog titles out there.