The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Across the board, this was an excellent transfer.
Sharpness seemed immaculate. Given the movie’s loose “documentary-style” photography, some soft shots emerged, but those were obviously intentional. The vast majority of the flick was precise and well-defined. Jagged edges and moiré effects created no concerns, and no edge enhancement seemed to be evident. I noticed no signs of print flaws, as the image looked clean.
Pelham presented a highly stylized palette. Much of the movie leaned toward a metallic blue tint, while the subway car tended to mix somewhat garish greens, reds and yellows. Above-ground sequences were on the cool side of natural. Rarely did the film offer tones that seemed “normal”, but the disc replicated them accurately, as its hues represented the flick’s design well. As for the dark elements, they were deep and dense. I thought blacks seemed nicely replicated and presented clear, taut textures. Low-light shots came across extremely well. They looked very well-defined and delineated and made the movie quite attractive. Pelham gave us a fine transfer.
While not quite as impressive, I still liked the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Pelham. As I expect from an action picture, the soundfield offered a lot of activity throughout the film. Most of this came from various vehicles, as cars, motorcycles, subway trains, and helicopters filled out the room. The elements formed a fine sense of setting and immersed us in the action. Music showed good stereo presence as well, and even used the surrounds at times. The soundfield seemed broad and engaging.
No issues with audio quality materialized. Speech was natural and concise, with no edginess or other concerns. Music sounded dynamic and full, while effects followed suit. Those elements were accurate and impressive, with crisp highs and rich lows. All in all, the audio proved to be very satisfying.
We find a nice roster of extras on this Blu-ray. These start with two separate audio commentaries. The first comes from director Tony Scott. He provides a running, screen-specific piece that looks at adapting the original flick and how he got onto the project, story issues, research and influences, cast, characters and performances, sets and shooting in New York, cinematography and visual choices.
Like his brother Ridley, Tony Scott offers commentaries that are consistently good. Scott proves to be frank and informative throughout his chat. He can be a little full of himself at times, but that’s not a major concern. Overall, the commentary works nicely.
For the second commentary, we hear from writer Brian Helgeland and producer Todd Black. For their running, screen-specific discussion, they chat about their working relationship and the flick’s development, adapting the source material and other influences, story/character issues, working with cast and crew, sets and locations, and various anecdotes.
Expect a very enjoyable discussion from Helgeland and Black. They boast a nice chemistry, and they offer quite a few good notes about the film. With a mix of facts and anecdotes, we learn a lot about the remake and have a fun time along the way.
Four featurettes follow. No Time to Lose: The Making of The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 runs 30 minutes, 25 seconds and includes comments from Scott, Helgeland, Black, associate producer Don Ferrarone, NYPD Hostage Negotiation Team commanding officer Lt. Jack Cambria, MTA New York City Transit Director of Film and Special Events Alberteen Anderson, production designer Chris Seagers, executive producer Barry Waldman, RTO supervisor Joseph Grodzinsky, train service supervisor Tony Annarumma, stunt coordinator Chuck Picerni, associate producer/1st AD John Wildermuth, and actors Denzel Washington, John Travolta, John Turturro, Victor Gojcaj, and Robert Vataj. “Lose” looks at the project’s development and the adaptation of the source material, story/character subjects, research and influences, sets and shooting in New York, cast and performances, stunts and action, and cinematography.
Although a fair amount of this featurette’s information appears in the two commentaries, “Lose” still deserves a look. It includes copious amounts of footage from the set, and the inclusion of many other participants ensures a variety of different perspectives. While not packed with fresh details, the program adds to our understanding of the flick’s creation.
Next comes the 16-minute and 15-second The Third Rail: New York Underground. It includes statements from Travolta, Anderson, Black, Grodzinsky, Washington, Wildermuth, Scott, Annarumma, Waldman, Seagers, Ferrarone, technical advisor Joe Jackson, third rail power Glenn Tortorella and actor Luis Guzman. The participants reflect on their experiences with the NYC subway, and we learn about their experiences shooting in that system. Once again, some redundant material appears, but the mix of behind the scenes footage and additional viewpoints makes it engaging.
From the Top Down: Stylizing Character lasts five minutes, 17 seconds as it features Scott, and hairstylist Danny Moumdjian. The piece looks at the hairstyles of the lead actors. That’s an unusual choice for a featurette, but it proves reasonably interesting as it checks out an atypical subject.
Finally, Marketing Pelham provides some ads. It includes two trailers and two TV spots for the flick. In addition, a few ads open the DVD. We get clips for Angels & Demons, Blu-ray Disc, and District 9. These also appear under Previews along with promos for Moon, Boondock Saints 2: All Saints Day, Blood: The Last Vampire, Black Dynamite, The Da Vinci Code, Casino Royale, and Year One.
Finally, the set includes a Digital Copy of Pelham. It lets you slap the flick on your computer or portable viewing device. Great!
On the surface, The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 should flop; it tries too hard to be slick and flashy at the expense of concise storytelling. However, buoyed by its two leads, the movie keeps us engaged and entertained, and that’s good enough for me. The Blu-ray boasts excellent visuals, very nice audio, and a mix of supplements highlighted by two informative and engaging commentaries. I like the film and think the Blu-ray serves it well.