The Italian Job appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. One of Paramount’s earliest Blu-rays, this one showed its age.
Sharpness came with problems, partly due to the obvious edge haloes found through much of the movie. Digital noise reduction also created a lack of fine detail and gave skin textures an unappealing “clay-like” impression.
Definition seemed adequate most of the time, but it never came across as better than that. Again, those edge haloes were a real issue, and they tended to rob the image of accuracy.
I saw no jagged edges or shimmering, and print flaws remained modest. I noticed a couple of small specks but nothing glaring.
As often occurs with modern action flicks, Job featured a fairly stylized palette at times. Much of the movie remained fairly natural, but some sequences took on a cool and altered tone. The colors showed passable clarity but they failed to stand out as memorable.
Black levels seemed dense and deep, but shadows tended to feel muddy. Much of that stemmed from the general murkiness that impacted the image, as it never demonstrated much vivacity.
I suspect Paramount just slapped the DVD transfer onto a Blu-ray and didn’t bother to upgrade Job. The result left us with a bland, disappointing image.
As for the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of The Italian Job, it fared better. The soundfield used all five channels effectively and created a lively sense of atmosphere.
The film used a lot of different vehicles, and these allowed the track to present active movement. From cars to helicopters to boats, various elements zipped all around the spectrum and added a lot of life to the piece. Music showed nicely defined tones as well, and the track generally seemed involving and intense in its scope.
Audio quality seemed up to par for the most part, though dialogue demonstrated a few problems that mildly lowered my grade. Speech occasionally came across as somewhat edgy, but the lines remained intelligible at all times, and they usually seemed natural and distinct.
Music demonstrated concise tones with good range and delineation. Effects were always crisp and detailed, and they featured nice low-end response when necessary. Nothing about The Italian Job really excelled, but it did most things well enough to merit a “B”.
How did the Blu-ray compare to the original 2003 DVD? Audio remained identical, as the Blu-ray lacked a lossless option. This meant it provided the same Dolby Digital 5.1 mix from the DVD.
As noted earlier, the Blu-ray appeared to reuse the same transfer from the DVD, so any improvements stemmed solely from the superior capabilities of Blu-ray. These meant the Blu-ray became the preferred presentation but make no mistake: this was a flawed, lackluster image.
The Blu-ray replicates the DVD’s extras, and we start with a program called Pedal to the Metal: The Making of The Italian Job. This 18-minute, 18-second program features comments from director F. Gary Gray, producer Donald De Line, executive producer James Dyer, production designer Charles Wood, director of photography Wally Pfister, and actors Seth Green, Donald Sutherland, Mark Wahlberg, Mos Def, Charlize Theron, and Jason Statham.
The show tells us a little about adapting the original tale, casting, locations and production logistics, and other brief notes. A little decent information pops up along the way, but mostly we just get hyperbole about what an amazing project this is and how great everyone is. It’s a fairly fluffy program.
After this follows a collection of four more featurettes. First up is one entitled Putting the Words to the Page for The Italian Job.
In this five-minute, 48-second piece, we hear a little from director Gray but mostly get remarks from screenwriters Donna and Wayne Powers. The featurette starts well as the pair tell us of their experiences with the original movie and their decisions in how to adapt it. They also discuss changes from the first to the final drafts.
However, the second half of the show just talks about how good the result is. The early parts are good but the rest seems superficial.
Next we get The Italian Job - Driving School, a five-minute, 37-second study of training for the actors. We get notes from Gray, driving instructor Steve Kelso, producer De Line, and actors Theron, Wahlberg, and Statham.
The program shows them in school and we find out a little about the sessions. It’s a short but reasonably interesting examination of its topic.
More car-related material appears via The Might Minis of The Italian Job. In this five-minute, 39-second piece, we find comments from Gray, De Line, executive producer Dyer, Theron, Wahlberg, and Statham.
The show looks at the Minis, their use in the movie, and adaptations made to them for the flick. As with the prior pieces, it’s not terribly deep, but it includes some interesting material about the autos.
The final featurette is called High Octane: Stunts from The Italian Job and it runs seven minutes, 53 seconds. We discover interviews with Gray, De Line, Wahlberg, Sutherland, Theron, Dyer, Green, Statham, special effects coordinator Joe Ramsey, and second unit director Alexander Witt. They go over shooting on the canals of Venice, the truck drop sequence, and filming stunts with helicopters.
Unsurprisingly, this piece includes some decent moments but doesn’t seem great. Still, it includes some nice shots from behind the scenes.
In addition to the film’s theatrical trailer, the disc concludes with six Deleted Scenes. These go for a total of eight minutes, 45 seconds of material, and all but the first – and longest – add short snippets to the chase sequence, most of which focus on Left Ear’s sad attempts to deal with a stick shift.
Called “Restaurant”, the first one runs four minutes, two seconds and establishes a little more about the relationship between Charlie and Stella. It’s the most interesting, but even it seems superfluous.
At times The Italian Job feels a little more generic than I’d like, but it proves generally satisfying anyway. The movie tosses out enough intriguing elements to make it a light and lively adventure that doesn’t tread any new ground but comes across as entertaining nonetheless. The Blu-ray offers drab visuals along with pretty good audio and a moderately informative set of supplements. I like the movie but the Blu-ray needs an upgrade, as it fails to live up to the format’s potential.
To rate this film, visit the DVD review of THE ITALIAN JOB