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Steven Silver
Ryan Phillippe, Malin Akerman, Taylor Kitsch, Frank Rautenbach, Neels Van Jaarsveld, Ashley Mulheron, Russel Savadier
Writing Credits:
Greg Marinovich (book, "The Bang-Bang Club Snapshots from a Hidden War"), João Silva (book, "The Bang-Bang Club Snapshots from a Hidden War"), Steven Silver

It's not always black and white.

Based on the acclaimed memoir by Greg Marinovich and João Silva ... As apartheid comes to a violent end, four fearless photographers - Greg Marinovich (Ryan Phillippe), Kevin Carter (Taylor Kitsch), Ken Oosterbroek (Frank Rautenbach) and João Silva (Neels Van Jaarsveld) - bonded by their friendship and a sense of purpose, risk their lives to capture the bloody struggle and expose the truth.

Rated R

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 108 min.
Price: $29.98
Release Date: 8/16/2011

• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Steven Silver
• “The Making of The Bang Bang Club” Documentary
• Deleted Scenes
• Behind the Scenes Slideshow
• Cast/Crew Interviews
• Trailer
• Previews


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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The Bang Bang Club [Blu-Ray] (2010)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 16, 2011)

With 2010’s The Bang Bang Club, we go back to the 1990s to view the final years of apartheid in South Africa. We learn that the ruling powers used Inkatha Zulus to fight the insurgent African National Congress in a secret war. This takes us back to 1990 where we meet Greg Marinovich (Ryan Phillippe), a freelance news photographer who gains access to the Zulus when others fear to approach them.

This gets him work – and entry into “The Bang Bang Club”, a group of photographers who enter into harm’s way to get their material. In addition to Todd, the club includes Kevin Carter (Taylor Kitsch), João Silva (Neels Van Jaarsveld) and Ken Oosterbroek (Frank Rautenbach). The film follows their adventures as they document the secret war.

Or that’s the notion, at least. In truth, “they” really ends up as “he”, for the film concentrates heavily on Marinovich’s story. Oh, we see the others as ancillary characters, and Carter’s downward spiral into drug use gives us a minor secondary tale.

But not much more than that, and the film feels unbalanced. It offers enough of the other three to lead us to think it’s supposed to be more than The Greg Marinovich Story, but it does little to flesh out the other participants. We hear about Marinovich the vast majority of the time.

Ignoring that imbalance, Club works better, but I still don’t think it’s a terribly strong historical drama. The problem stems from the way in which it tries to serve too many masters. Not only does it flirt with stories about all four characters, but also it wants to cover the field of photojournalism, the secret war, ethical issues and Marinovich’s relationship with editor Robin Comley (Malin Akerman).

That’s a lot to pack in to one 108-minute movie, and Club can’t quite handle all of the different elements. I won’t say the movie balances them poorly, but it doesn’t mesh them in a particularly satisfying manner. Writer/director Steven Silver comes from the world of documentaries, and he doesn’t seem particularly sure of himself when in the realm of feature films. While he doesn’t do poorly with the material, he doesn’t give it particular life.

This leaves Club as a decent docu-drama but not anything better than that. It does tell an interesting tale, and it comes with reasonably good performances. I think it could’ve been more emotional and engaging, however, as the end result seems a bit unfocused and unsure of itself.

The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio B+/ Bonus B

The Bang Bang Club appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. Though not stellar, the image usually satisfied.

Only a smidgen of softness occurred, as a few wide shots displayed a little lack of definition. Those were minor, though, and the majority of the flick offered nice clarity and accuracy. I saw no issues with jaggies or shimmering, and edge enhancement failed to appear. The movie also suffered from no discernible print flaws.

In terms of palette, the movie opted for a fairly golden tone. Some scenes went with a bluish tint, but most of the film used fairly warm tones. These looked full and rich throughout the movie. Blacks were deep and dense, and shadows showed good detail. This was a positive transfer worth a “B”.

I also felt pleased with the involving DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack. The mix used the side and rear channels in a satisfying manner that created good action when appropriate. Gunfire zinged from one speaker to another, and other elements of that sort opened up the room well. Music also was active and created good stereo presence, with nice usage of the back channels as well. The soundscape seemed natural and engrossing.

Audio quality was also positive. Music sounded lively and full, and effects followed suit; those elements came across as accurate and dynamic. Speech was concise and clear. I thought the soundtrack was more impressive than expected.

When we shift to extras, we open with an audio commentary from writer/director Steven Silver. He provides a running, screen-specific look at cast and performances, sets and locations, facts and liberties, attempts at realism, music, effects and additional background about the events depicted in the film.

Most of Silver’s track focuses on that last topic, as he devotes a lot of time to info about early 1990s South Africa and how they relate to what we see in the movie. Those are unquestionably the best aspects of the commentary; we gain a reasonable amount of additional knowledge about these areas. We also get a decent glimpse at the production, but the historical side of things works best and helps make this a generally good track. While it suffers from some sags, it’s still a useful listen.

Deleted Scenes run a total of five minutes, 29 seconds. These include “Greg Leaves Home” (2:10), “Joao’s Arse” (0:49), “Shower Scene” (0:46), “My Name Is Kevin Carter” (0:41) and “Election Day” (1:03). “Home” just offers shots of Greg as he departs for the locations where he’d earn his photographic stripes; it’s not bad but it’s unnecessary. “Arse” gives us a little comedy about Greg’s shooting, while “Shower” throws in some close time between Greg and Robin. “Name” shows a montage with Carter, and “Election” acts as an epilogue. None of these give us anything that would’ve added much to the movie.

Next comes the 45-minute, one-second The Making of The Bang Bang Club. It features Silver, executive producer Neil Tabatznik, authors/photographers Greg Marinovich and Joao Silva, producers Daniel Iron and Adam Friedlander, production designer Emilia Weavind, costume designer Ruy Filipe, and actors Malin Akerman, Ryan Phillippe, Neels Van Jaarsveld, Taylor Kitsch, Frank Rautenbach, Jabulani Mthembu, and Patrick Shai.

The shows looks at the project’s roots and development, story/script/character subjects, thoughts about the historical events depicted in the film, cast and performances, sets and locations, costume and visual design, and a few other production thoughts.

The best parts of the program examine the real people and situations behind the movie. We get a good mix of that side with filmmaking issues, but the former stick the best, as it’s great to see the actual people and find more info about their experiences. The piece moves quickly and tells us a lot.

A Behind the Scenes Slideshow lasts four minutes, five seconds. It provides a running montage of shots from the set, all accompanied by South African music. I’d prefer a more traditional still gallery, but at least we find a nice collection of shots.

Finally, we get Cast/Crew Interviews. This reel goes for 17 minutes, 20 seconds and features young actor Kgosi Mongake as he chats with Silver, Phillippe, and various others. We also see musical performances from different folks on the set. Some fun moments emerge, but the piece lasts too long with too little payoff.

The disc opens with ads for Attack on Leningrad, The Perfect Age of Rock ‘N’ Roll and The Family Tree. In addition, these appear under Also from Entertainment One. No trailer for Club shows up here.

With The Bang Bang Club, we find an interesting story told in a somewhat mediocre manner. While it offers a reasonable take on the material, it never quite comes to life and draws us in as fully as it should. The Blu-ray provides good picture and audio as well as a nice roster of supplements. Club isn’t a bad film but it rarely involves the viewer in a convincing manner.

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