Carlito’s Way appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this double-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. A few problems popped up but not much marred this generally positive transfer.
The main concern came from light edge enhancement. I noticed mild haloes throughout the movie, and those occasionally rendered the image a little fuzzy. It usually stayed nicely crisp and concise, though. I saw no issues with jagged edges, but some shimmering occurred. I also detected sporadic examples of source flaws. These were limited to a few specks and a nick or two; nothing major defaced the presentation.
With its Seventies setting and an emphasis on nightclubs, Way provided many opportunities for bright tones. The colors were the best aspect of the transfer. They consistently appeared lively and dynamic, and they remained firm throughout the movie. Even examples of red lighting held together well. Blacks also demonstrated deep, tight elements, and shadows were clear and easily visible. The edge enhancement and source flaws knocked this one down to a “B”, but it often looked much better than that grade might indicate.
As for the audio of Carlito’s Way, it seemed more consistently mediocre. The DVD included Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 soundtracks. I detected no significant differences between the pair.
Given the film’s genre and the era in which it was made, the soundfield maintained a surprisingly heavy emphasis on the front spectrum. Even during more action-oriented scenes with gunfire and other lively elements, the surrounds played a minor role. They fleshed out the front material in a modest way and that was it.
At least the forward channels offered pretty good information. They showed nice stereo imaging for the score and created a solid sense of environment through effects. These were appropriately placed and usually meshed well, though a few transitions seemed a bit awkward.
Audio quality was fine, though without great heft. Speech seemed concise and distinctive, and I noticed no signs of edginess. Music appeared reasonably lush and full, although I felt low-end was a little weak. The same thoughts greeted the effects, as they were acceptably accurate but without much bass response. This was a serviceable soundtrack.
A few ads open the DVD. We get promos for Carlito’s Way: Rise to Power, Unleashed and Casino.
All of the real supplements appear on Side Two of this disc. We start with Brian De Palma On Carlito’s Way. This five-minute and 26-second featurette offers the director’s comments on verisimilitude and various actors, visual elements, and movie critics. De Palma tosses out a few interesting comments but doesn’t tell us much of use in this quick piece. It flies by too quickly and without enough depth to stick.
Nine Deleted Scenes last a total of eight minutes, 15 seconds. That running time doesn’t leave a lot of room for anything terribly substantial, so don’t expect a lot from these clips. They mostly flesh out existing scenes and fail to present anything terribly compelling.
The disc’s most substantial supplements, The Making of Carlito’s Way runs 34 minutes and 34 seconds. It includes remarks from De Palma, author Edwin Torres, producer Martin Bregman, screenwriter David Koepp, and editor Bill Pankow. We learn about the origins of the story and its script development, bringing De Palma on board, Torres’ continued involvement in the project and inspirations for characters, the movie’s structure, working with the actors, dialogue and pacing, difficulties with/aspects of specific scenes, and the film’s reception.
“Making” hits on all the necessary bases to become a useful program. It doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel, and that’s fine with me. It runs through the important aspects of the film’s creation with honesty and reasonable depth, so we get a good feel for the production here. It acts as a solid documentary.
Inside the Photo and Poster Gallery, the elements break down into three smaller areas. “Portrait Gallery” includes 18 shots of the actors, while “Poster Gallery” presents 17 ads for the flick. “Brian De Palma” offers 35 photos of the director. The posters are easily the most interesting aspect of this collection.
In addition to the film’s theatrical trailer, we get a five-minute and 13-second Original Promotional Featurette. This piece includes notes from De Palma, Bregman, Torres, and actors Penelope Ann Miller and Luis Guzman. The term “promotional” in the title is certainly accurate, as this piece exists solely to tout the movie. The comments simply tell us about the story, characters and participants with no insight into the production. Skip it.
An unusual take on the gangster genre, Carlito’s Way mostly succeeds. It occasionally goes off-track with some weak plot threads, but it usually keeps us interested and involved. The DVD offers reasonably good picture and audio along with a decent set of extras. The flick merits at least a rental.