Hoffa appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. This was a pretty strong presentation.
For the most part, sharpness seemed positive. A few interiors looked a bit soft, but those were exceptions to the rule. The vast majority of the elements came across as concise and well-defined. Jaggies and moiré effects failed to materialize, and I noticed no edge haloes. With a nice, natural layer of grain, heavy-handed digital noise reduction didn’t appear to occur, and the image lacked spots, marks or other print defects.
In terms of colors, the film opted for a subdued palette. That came as no surprise, for period films usually follow that path. Overall color reproduction remained fine; despite the mildly muted sensibility, the hues remained pretty full and vivid.
Blacks showed nice depth and intensity, and I thought low-light shots appeared clear and well-defined. Only the smattering of soft spots made this a “B+” transfer, as most of the flick merited “A”-level consideration.
I also felt pleased with the satisfying DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Hoffa. Given the narrative, I expected a low-key soundscape, but the mix managed to open up pretty consistently. Shots with vehicles allowed them to move smoothly around the room, and more action-oriented pieces – like explosions or gunfire – delivered impressive material. All these elements melded together smoothly and created a nice, five-channel setting.
Audio quality was a little dated but still positive. Speech occasionally seemed a little brittle, but the lines were always intelligible and usually natural. Music sounded bold and bright, while effects showed nice clarity and accuracy; only a smidgen of distortion ever marred the piece. This was a solid “B+” mix.
Part of Fox’s “Filmmakers Signature Series”, the disc opens with an Introduction from director/actor Danny DeVito. He pops out of the opening Fox logo to provide an overview of the disc. It’s an insubstantial but fun way to begin.
DeVito reappears to give us an audio commentary. He delivers a running, screen-specific look at sets and locations, makeup and effects, cast and performances, story/character subjects, production design, costumes and period details, cinematography and editing, historical elements, and a few other areas.
From start to finish, DeVito provides an engaging look at the film. He covers a good selection of subjects and does so in a satisfying manner. The director helps make this a likable, informative chat.
Entitled The Music of Hoffa, a featurette runs 10 minutes, 31 seconds and features a chat between DeVito and composer David Newman. They sit together and discuss the movie’s score and related elements. The pair connect well and give us a nice overview of the music.
For something unusual, we get Danny DeVito’s Speech at the 2011 Teamsters Convention. This goes for 15 minutes, 16 seconds and offers DeVito’s address about unions and how much he loves them and values them. DeVito adds enough humor to his speech to make this more than just a curiosity.
Three Excised Scenes occupy a total of five minutes, 18 seconds. In these, we see a Hoffa news conference, a shooting expedition followed by a dinner to celebrate Hoffa’s upward progress, and a montage of silent elements that I suspect was meant to cap the film. The second clip has some interesting bits but none of the three adds anything substantial.
Next we find Historical News Coverage of Hoffa. This section fills seven minutes, 54 seconds and shows the real Jimmy Hoffa at the hearing conducted by Robert Kennedy. This becomes one of the disc’s best extras, as it gives us a great look at the actual people behind the movie.
Under Personal Anecdotes from Members of the Teamsters Union, we get a six-minute, 36-second piece that features Larry Brennan, Robert Holmes, Robie Smith, Robert Lins, Jimmy Yardley, Al Klingman, William “Crash” Taylor, and Charles Lester. DeVito conducted the interviews back during the period of the movie’s creation, and we get stories about Hoffa. These tend to be laudatory, but we still find some decent information.
Within a section called Special Shots, we see a 14-minute, 13-second collection of shots from the set. DeVito narrates as we view the footage, and text tells us where to find the finished sequences in the movie. DeVito delivers some useful notes and we check out some good behind the scenes material.
What in the world is DeVito’s 11 ¼? The 11-minute, two-second piece shows us more footage from the shoot. These pieces tend toward the more fun/silly side; it’s not blooper reel material, but it’s lighter than usual. I never figured out what the collection’s title means, though.
We look at the film’s critical reception via a 1992 Siskel and Ebert Segment. It lasts four minutes, 28 seconds and lets us hear what the noted critics thought of Hoffa. Both liked it, so don’t expect much criticism here.
Behind the scenes material shows up under Discussion After First Script Read-Through. This reel fills three minutes, 34 seconds and lets us hear audio recording of the cast’s chat about the screenplay. It’s a fun reel that gives us some good insights.
In addition to the film’s Trailer, we locate some still materials. A Production Gallery shows 106 photos; it mixes shots from the set and movie images. It’s a nice collection, and I like the fact that it follows the production in the order of the story’s events.
We also get a Shooting Script for Hoffa. This covers the entire original screenplay, so we find deleted scenes in addition to those that made the final film. The format can be awkward – it uses 378 frames and lacks any kind of indexing – but it’s still cool to see the whole screenplay.
Finally, the package includes a 28-page Booklet. It offers some production notes as well as cast/crew biographies. DVD/Blu-ray booklets are a dying breed, so it’s nice to find one here – especially when the booklet is as high-quality as this one.
Back in 1992, Hoffa looked like a sure-fire critical hit. Instead, it got mixed reviews and failed to attract an audience. I suspect this occurred because Hoffa offers an overly eager epic, a film that wants desperately to impress the viewer but that lacks much substance. The Blu-ray delivers very good picture and audio along with a nice collection of bonus features. Hoffa remains a disappointment as a film, but the Blu-ray stands tall as a fine release.