Smokin’ Aces appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Though not without concerns, the transfer seemed reasonably satisfying.
Due to stylistic choices, the image occasionally felt slightly soft. However, those instances came with the source, and most of the movie offered accurate delineation.
I noticed no signs of shimmering or jagged edges, and edge haloes remained absent. I also saw no print flaws.
Aces went with a stylized palette, as the colors tended toward sickly ambers, blues and greens. The Blu-ray replicated the tones with good fidelity, and they seemed to fit well with the visual design.
Blacks were rich and tight, while shadows seemed clear and appropriately visible. This became an accurate representation of the source.
I also thought that the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Smokin’ Aces proved effective. Much of the time the soundfield remained fairly subdued. It usually went with general environmental information and also added good stereo imaging for the music.
Occasionally it kicked into higher gear, though, and those scenes added punch. For instance, the action sequences used all five speakers well. This wasn’t an incredibly active mix, but it spread out when necessary.
Audio quality worked fine, as speech was intelligible and natural. Effects seemed clear and accurate, and they showed good range.
Music was also lively and dynamic. Overall, the audio satisfied, though it didn’t seem quite as active and wild as one might expect.
How did the Blu-ray compare to the DVD version? The lossless audio offered greater range and impact.
In addition, visuals looked tighter and showed superior colors and blacks. This turned into a good upgrade.
The Blu-ray reproduces the DVD’s extras and adds new ones. These start with two separate audio commentaries.
The first comes from writer/director Joe Carnahan and editor Robert Farazen, both of whom sit together for this running, screen-specific chat. They look at story and editing issues, cast, characters and performances, sets and locations, influences, and a mix of production nuts and bolts.
Carnahan seems somewhat full of himself and the commentary comes with too much praise for the flick and those involved, but otherwise, this is a good track.
We get a frank appraisal of various topics and learn quite a lot about the flick. The participants keep things light and lively as they offer a satisfying examination of the production.
The second commentary presents writer/director Joe Carnahan and actors Common, Christopher Holley and Zach Cumer. They give us another running, screen-specific chat. This track looks at locations and sets, characters, cast and performances, and general thoughts about the production.
At the start of the commentary, Carnahan mentions that he doesn’t plan to say much since he already recorded the track with Farazan. However, he acknowledges his chatty ways and admits he’ll probably dominate the proceedings. The latter side of things comes true, as Carnahan fills most of the discussion, though the others get in a few decent remarks.
Not a lot of great material shows up here. A fair amount of repetition occurs, and we still get too much happy talk. The commentary is loose and amusing enough, as Carnahan remains a fun talker, but there’s not much worthwhile content on display.
The disc presents a collection of unused footage, as we get an alternate ending, deleted/extended scenes and outtakes. The “Cowboy Ending” lasts one minute, five seconds, while the collection of outtakes goes for nine minutes, 29 seconds.
As for the deleted/extended scenes, they include “Longer Bar Sequence” (2:32), “You Ain’t No Chinese” (1:26), “Elmore Crawls Out of Lake” (0:20) and “Alternate Rooftop Parking Lot” (5:07). In a self-indulgent movie, they prove to be more of the same, as they don’t bring out anything useful or intriguing in terms of story or characters.
Getting back to “Ending”, it simply offers a more direct, violent conclusion to the narrative. I don’t think it works better or worse for the finish found in the flick.
Finally, the “Outtakes” give us bloopers and goofiness from the set. A few amusing moments emerge – such as when we witness Ben Affleck’s lack of skill on the pool table – but most of the material falls into the standard blooper realm.
Next comes a featurette called Shoot ‘Em Up. It lasts four minutes, 53 seconds as it includes notes from Carnahan, special effects coordinator Larz Anderson, and actors Ryan Reynolds, Taraji Henson, Alicia Keys, Maury Sterling, Chris Pine, Kevin Durand, Ben Affleck, and Ray Liotta.
As you might expect from such a short piece, there’s not a lot of depth to “Shoot”. We get very basic notes on effects and stunts, and we learn a little about how the actors dealt with these challenges. For its length, this is a decent program, but we don’t learn a ton from it.
Another featurette entitled The Big Gun runs 11 minutes, 54 seconds. It features Carnahan as he talks about his goals for the flick, trivia, and various aspects of the shoot.
The footage from the set offers the strongest elements of “Gun”, as we see some interesting behind the scenes bits. Carnahan’s chatty nature helps make the piece crank along well in other ways. It’s not a killer featurette but it presents a fun look at parts of the flick.
Under The Line Up, we learn a little more about the movie’s characters. This area includes short featurettes about various roles: “Buddy Israel” (2:05), “Bounty Hunters” (2:46), “The Feds” (3:14), “Lethal Ladies” (2:34), and “The Tremor Brothers” (2:47).
Across these, we hear from Common, Keys, Henson, Affleck, Reynolds, Sterling, Pine, Durand, and actors Jeremy Piven, Jason Bateman, Peter Berg, Martin Henderson, and Andy Garcia.
These pieces basically just discuss the characters and give us a little insight into them. They never become vital programs, but they help flesh out the personalities in a moderately interesting way.
Exclusive to the Blu-ray, we find an interactive feature called U-Control. It breaks into two areas: “Assassin Tracker” and “Picture-in-Picture”.
With “Tracker”, it just offers some basics about various killers, with an emphasis on their current status. It adds nothing.
“PiP” offers a more traditional piece that mixes footage from the set and interview nuggets. We hear from Carnahan, Affleck, Bateman, Keys, Piven, Liotta, Common, Garcia, Reynolds and Pine.
Via “PiP”, we get notes about story/characters, cast and performances, sets and locations. Some decent information evolves, but the format feels like an annoyance. These segments would work better as a standard featurette.
A messy melange of cheap humor, annoyingly quirky characters, inconsistent tone and excessive exposition and dialogue, Smokin’ Aces flops in almost every possible way. It never remotely gels into a coherent experience, as it jumps around so much that it can’t connect with the viewer. The Blu-ray presents generally positive picture and audio as well as a pretty nice set of extras. I can’t complain about this solid release, but the movie itself falls short of its goals.