Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (Blu-ray) [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray ALL - Australia - Warner Home Video
Review written by and copyright: Tom Williams & Noor Razzak (15th November 2008).
The Film

At the bottom line, "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" is an excellent movie. A modern noir, with a feeling similar to "Payback" (1999) or the recen "Ocean's Eleven" (2001) remake, director Shane Black's "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" stars the amazing Robert Downey Jr. as well as the chronically underrated Val Kilmer in a film that is both earnest and satiric. "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" is the story of Downey Jr's Harry Lockhart, a petty thief who is spun into L.A.'s world of glamour and corruption through a series of unlikely events. Lockhart is instantly likeable, a charming and charismatic protagonist. It is not only his charisma that carries us, however, but also his flaws- though Lockhart narrates the story in typical noir style, he doesn't do so without making a few mistakes, and telling us about them- stopping the story, and apologising for forgetting to tell us something in an endearing break in the fourth wall that continues, on and off, though the film.

What really cements the film as a worthwhile effort is its self awareness. Our requisite femme fatale, Harmony Faith Lane (Michelle Monaghan) is not only a childhood sweetheart of Harry's- the one that got away- but also a taut parody of L.A.'s brutal lifestyle, the primary focus of the plot and an avid fan of pulpy detective novels starring Johnny Gossamer- stories rapidly mirrored by the film's plot. It is this awareness of the fakeness of pulp and noir- which is occasionally discussed in the movie- and a realistic attempt to resolve it coherently with a more (but certainly not totally) realistic view of the world that holds us. We are allowed to enjoy to unliklihoods, the occasionally slapstick action and violence, the bizarrely intuitive leaps of logic, because the film, and it's narrator, are perfectly aware that it's not stuff you deal with every day.

Kilmer's role as private eye Perry van Shrike is not only wonderfully matched with Downey Jr, but also another self-referential nod to the nature of the film. Early on, 'Gay Perry', as he's apparently known in the business, tells Harry that the sort of detective work he does is boring, tending towards surveillance. Within minutes we are treated to action and intrigue on a scale that's perhaps more surprising to Gay Perry than to us. Likewise, Harry's confession at the film's end that it shouldn't end this way- that it feels like a fake, story ending- makes us more likely to believe it. You can see how the same technique would have worked in the book upon which "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" is based: Sure, it seems unlikely that it would end this way. But unlikely or not, this is the way it really ended.

"Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" is not an intelligent film in the sense that it makes you think about the big issues of life, but the skill and intelligence that went into making it are always evident.

Video

Presented in the film's original theatrical ratio of 2.40:1 this transfer is delivered onto blu-ray in high-definition 1080p 24/fps and has been mastered using MPEG-2 compression. While most recent discs are mastered in either AVC MPEG-4 or VC-1, this MPEG-2 transfer (although a now a much older compression codec) holds up fairly decently. The image is sharp and well balanced, detail looks very good especially backgrounds and most especially in close-ups. The film's color palette is very rich and vibrant and the transfer represents that well, there's some grain (but very minimal) and a bit of noise amid the blacks but nothing to complain about or distract viewers. Overall this is a solid effort from Warner's as the film looks very good indeed.

Audio

Three audio tracks are included on this disc, in English Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1 and Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 surround. The 5.1 track is the same as used for the standard DVD release. The English 5.1 track is a perfect match to the visuals, the dialogue is clean and distortion free. The sound effects and directional surrounds make good use of the 5.1 space without feeling to out of place and the music is also well rendered throughout the space. Overall it's a solid effort however for an HD release this is unacceptable, Warner's early releases (such as this) did not feature any HD audio like PCM, DTS-HD or TrueHD, this film would have been brilliant in either of those formats and it's a shame that Warner's didn't see fit to include these higher quality audio tracks for this film, especially considering it's a fairly recent film (2005).

Extras

Warner Brothers have included a small collection of extras that includes an audio commentary, a gag reel and the film's theatrical trailer. Below is a closer look at these supplements.

The first and only major extra on this disc is a feature-length audio commentary by the film's director Shane Black and actors Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer. This has to be one of the most fun tracks I've listened to in some time, the tone is light, jovial and jokey but also informative at times. These guys obviously enjoyed working with each other on this film as they seem to have a great time talking about the film, the various scenes which were the most fun to film. Fans will get a kick out of the track as they take us through the film but never maintaining a serious tone or boring the viewer. Kilmer gets a bit serious at times but overall the track is very enjoyable to listen to and is another excuse to watch the film again.

A fairly typical gag reel is net and runs for 4 minutes 17 seconds and features the usual stuff of actors flubbing lines and missing cues as well as laughing in the middle of takes.

Rounding out the supplements is the film's original theatrical trailer which runs for 2 minutes 15 seconds.

Although the commentary was excellent, I felt the lack of extras was highly disappointing, I really would have loved more behind-the-scenes material but sadly there are none.

Overall

The Film: A Video: A Audio: A Extras: C+ Overall: B+

 


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