The Gambler appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This was a generally positive presentation.
For the most part, sharpness looked good. A little softness crept into the image at times, but not frequently. Instead, the movie almost always appeared nicely detailed and distinctive. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and edge haloes remained absent. Source flaws were a non-factor, as this was a clean presentation.
In terms of colors, the movie went with a stylized palette that varied based on setting and tone. It mostly mixed amber and teal throughout its running time, with splashes of orange along the way. The hues consistently seemed clear and concise within those parameters. Blacks were deep and firm, and shadows looked decent, though they could be a bit dense on occasion. My quibbles remained minor, as the transfer usually delivered good visuals.
As for the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, it worked pretty well. The audio tended to be somewhat restrained much of the time, but some sequences – such as those at casinos or on streets – opened up the spectrum in a satisfying manner.
Cars and other elements moved around the room, while other effects added a good sense of ambience. A short thunderstorm sequence also added immersive information, and a basketball game became another involving scene.
Audio quality was perfectly acceptable. Speech showed nice clarity and naturalism, and music was reasonably distinctive and dynamic. Effects sounded clean and accurate, with strong low-end when necessary. All of this seemed good enough for a “B“.
As we head to extras, we start with a collection of featurettes. Mr. Self-Destruct: Inside The Gambler runs 14 minutes, 12 seconds and offers notes from producers Irwin Winkler and David Winkler, director Rupert Wyatt, screenwriter William Monahan,
and actors Mark Wahlberg, Brie Larson, and Anthony Kelley. The show looks at the original film and its reworking, script/story/character areas, cast and performances. “Inside” offers a fairly general take on topics but it still manages to give us a pretty good overview.
During the 16-minute, 26-second Dark Before Dawn: The Descent of The Gambler, we hear from Wyatt, Monahan, Larson, Irwin Winkler, David Winkler, production designer Keith Cunningham, costume designer Jacqueline West, location manager Chris Baugh, executive producer David Crockett, gambling consultant Karen Yue Ritchie, and actors Emory Cohen, Michael Kenneth Williams, John Goodman and Jessica Lange. “Dark” examines color choices, costume and production design, sets and locations, Wyatt’s impact on the production, and more about cast/script/performances. “Dark” touches on the various domains in an informative manner.
Next comes Changing the Game: Adaptation. It goes for nine minutes, two seconds and features Monahan and Wyatt. The featurette compares the original film with this remake and also examines themes and structure of the 2014 version. We get some decent insights, but Monahan comes across as so smug and full of himself that the show threatens to become a chore to view.
In the City: The Locations lasts nine minutes, 27 seconds and offers info from Wyatt, Baugh and Cunningham. As the title indicates, “City” discusses various LA spots used in the film. Some of this already appeared in “Dark”, but “City” adds depth to the topic.
Finally, we locate the seven-minute, 49-second Dressing the Players: Costume Design. It provides statements from West and Wyatt. Like “City”, “Players” comes with self-explanatory subject matter, and it investigates the movie’s clothes in a satisfying manner.
Six Deleted/Extended Scenes occupy a total of 23 minutes, 31 seconds. Much of that running time – more than nine minutes of it – comes from a longer version of Jim’s lecture. The extra tidbits don’t add much to the sequence.
The other clips also seem erratic, but they give us more interesting material much of the time. We see a mob enforcer at work and take more of a peek at Jim’s career. We also view his ex-wife and child. Nothing fascinating appears here, but beyond that extended lecture scene, we locate some moderately interesting stuff.
A second disc provides a DVD copy of Gambler. It lacks any of the Blu-ray’s extras.
When it focuses on thriller territory, The Gambler delivers decent entertainment, but when it attempts character depth, it plods. The movie just lacks more than surface value, as it can’t bring us the substance it needs. The Blu-ray comes with good picture and audio as well as a collection of informative bonus materials. While The Gambler occasionally flares to life, it takes itself too seriously to succeed on a consistent basis.