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FOX

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Oliver Stone
Cast:
Michael Douglas, Shia LaBeouf, Carey Mulligan, Josh Brolin, Frank Langella, Austin Pendleton, Eli Wallach, John Buffalo Mailer
Writing Credits:
Allan Loeb, Stephen Schiff, Stanley Weiser (characters), Oliver Stone (characters)

Synopsis:
Following a lengthy prison term, Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) finds himself on the outside looking in at a world he once commanded. Hoping to repair his relationship with his daughter, Winnie (Carey Mulligan), Gekko forges an alliance with her fiancé, Jake (Shia LaBeouf). But Winnie and Jake learn the hard way that Gekko is still a master manipulator who will stop at nothing to reclaim his rightful place at the top of Wall Street.

Box Office:
Budget
$70 million.
Opening Weekend
$19.011 million on 3565 screens.
Domestic Gross
$52.474 million.

MPAA:
Rated PG-13

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Portuguese
Mandarin Chinese
Cantonese Chinese
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 133 min.
Price: $39.99
Release Date: 12/21/2010

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Director Oliver Stone
• “A Conversation with Oliver Stone and the Cast” Featurette
• “Money, Money, Money: The Rise and Fall of Wall Street” Documentary
• 15 Deleted/Extended Scenes with Optional Commentary
• Five “Fox Movie Channel Presents ‘In Character With…’” Featurettes
• Trailers
• Previews
• Digital Copy


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps [Blu-Ray] (2010)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 12, 2011)

For about 10 years, Oliver Stone had a good run. From 1986’s Platoon through 1995’s Nixon, the director created quite a few flicks that received positive reviews and occasionally found decent audiences as well.

Since then, Stone’s struggled to remain relevant. Some of his movies did okay at the box office, and a few earned good notices, but it just felt like Stone couldn’t muster the attention he’d generated in earlier years.

Perhaps as an attempt to remedy this, Stone made his first sequel: Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. A continuation of the notable 1987 flick, the film didn’t go much of anywhere. Oh, it didn’t bomb, and critics didn’t hate it, but it certainly lacked the same juice that made the original an icon of the 1980s.

In 2001, former mega-tycoon Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) emerges from prison after years of incarceration related to financial malfeasance. We then leap ahead seven years to see his newest endeavor: Is Greed Good?, a book about his economic philosophies.

While Gekko attempts his comeback, we meet Jake Moore (Shia LaBeouf), a young Wall Street wannabe. He works at Keller Zabel, an investment firm that comes upon hard time due to some questionable deals. This leads to the virtual collapse of the company and the suicide of managing partner Louis Zabel (Frank Langella), also Jake’s mentor.

Jake blames another investor named Bretton James (Josh Brolin) for the financial assault that led to Zabel’s death, so he wreaks economic revenge. This actually impresses James, who then gives Jake a job. He uses this opportunity to advocate for a new energy firm he supports – and he hopes this well help him to the big bucks.

In the meantime, Jake gets to know Gekko. He sees the disgraced mogul speak at college and tries to get to know his secrets. At first Gekko resists, but Jake pulls out a trump card: he’s engaged to Gekko’s daughter Winnie (Carey Mulligan). The film follows Jake’s personal and financial lives as we see his ups and downs.

As I mentioned earlier, the original Wall Street became a real symbol of the 80s, and Gordon Gekko remains such a strong emblem of that era that I suspect some people think he really existed. I never thought of it as a great film, but I can’t deny that it does encapsulate its era well.

Somehow I doubt anyone will look back at Sleeps 20 years from now and see it as a great way to mark its period. Actually, I doubt many will remember it at all, as it seems likely to end up on a pile of forgotten Stone flicks like W and U Turn. Without its pedigree, I doubt it’d have received much attention at all.

From the very start, Sleeps misfires. Rather than engage us in its characters, the film devotes much of its first half-hour or so to thick exposition. Stone engulfs us in business mumbo-jumbo and lets the film stand on those elements, but they do little more than distance us. Rather than invest in the tale, we find ourselves bored by the behind-the-scenes dealings and we don’t connect to any of the participants.

That’s a crucial mistake from which the film never recovers. Without the initial interest in the characters, we just don’t much care what happens after that.

Not that Sleeps develops a gripping tale even after it does attempt to flesh out its characters. Jake is little more than a rehash of the first movie’s Bud Fox, albeit with less greed and more of a social conscience. Nonetheless, he’s essentially just a cipher against whom Stone can moralize.

Which the director does in most of his flicks, of course. Stone has always been a heavy-handed director, but at his best, we don’t mind the manner in which he beats us over the head with his messages; when he does his job, Stone manages to keep us entertained despite the sermons.

Unfortunately, Sleeps finds Stone far from his peak, so it often comes across more as a lecture about financial shenanigans than as a narrative. It doesn’t help that the film saddles the characters with consistently clunky dialogue like “money’s a bitch that never sleeps, and she’s jealous”. Ugh – lines like that would get an “F” in Screenwriting 101.

Most of the pleasure from the film should come from the return of Gordon Gekko, but Stone can’t even get that right. The poor writing leaves him at sea, and Douglas never seems particularly interested in the role. Perhaps his now-known illness robbed him of energy, but Douglas just seems tired here; he can’t do much to give Gekko the vicious zest he needs.

Given the dreariness of the rest of the film, though, Douglas doesn’t act as a drag. Everything’s dull here, from our milquetoast “hero” Jake to the nominal villains to Winnie, the object in the middle of things. Mulligan is a more than capable actress – albeit one who saddles herself with ugly hairstyles – but Winnie is an entirely underwritten and forgettable role. The movie asks her to cry, cry, and cry some more. Winnie’s always either sobbing, about to sob, or just wrapping up a good weepfest; the girl’s a walking tear duct.

Given that Stone can’t even get the movie’s big cameo right, what hope is there for the less juicy moments? Not much, and the Wall Street sequel never gets off the ground.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B-/ Audio B/ Bonus B+

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Though much of the film looked fine, the transfer didn’t quite live up to my expectations for Blu-ray.

Sharpness appeared fine for the most part, but exceptions occurred. At times, wider shots could be a bit tentative, and the same was sometimes true for interiors. Nonetheless, the image maintained good definition and clarity much of the time. No issues connected to jagged edges or moiré effects occurred, and edge enhancement seemed to be absent. Source flaws also remained absent.

Color reproduction looked fine. Much of the flick used a bluish tint, though street scenes tended toward more of an amber glow. These tones were never great, but they appeared reasonably positive. Blacks came across as deep and tight, and shadows offered perfectly acceptable delineation. I thought the image was generally good, but the softness left it as a “B-“.

In terms of audio, the movie’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack fit the flick well. The soundfield tended toward ambience, though the scenarios allowed it to pop to life at times. In particular, subway scenes or street environments contributed fairly good material; they weren’t dazzling, but they opened up the room in a satisfying way.

The flick also used dramatic effects to add pizzazz to the financial wheeling-dealing, and those elements created a bit of excitement. Music added good stereo presence as well. Nothing about the soundfield stunned me, but it brought some zing to the flick.

Audio quality remained positive. Speech was consistently concise and distinctive, without roughness or other problems. Music appeared lively and full, and effects presented good punch. Those elements showed nice range and clarity. All of this added up to a solid “B” soundtrack.

We get a pretty good array of extras here. These launch with an audio commentary from director Oliver Stone. He provides a running, screen-specific look at working at Fox and budgetary issues, shooting in New York and other locations/sets, research/influences and updating the original film, cast and performances, story and character topics, visual/stylistic choices, editing and music, and a few related areas.

Stone tends to be a good commentator, and that trend continues here. Sure, we get stuck with more dead air than I’d like, but Stone still uses his time in a productive manner. He proves to be outspoken and informative here.

For more from the director, we go to the 15-minute, 49-second A Conversation with Oliver Stone and the Cast. In addition to Stone, we hear from actors Shia LaBeouf, Michael Douglas, Carey Mulligan and Josh Brolin. All of them sit together to discuss influences and inspirations, thoughts about the status of Wall Street and finance, comparisons between the original movie and the sequel. Mostly this means Stone lectures about greed and whatnot. It’s not a bad piece, but it’s too general and lacks much bite.

Next comes a five–part documentary called Money, Money, Money: The Rise and Fall of Wall Street. All together, it fills a total of 50 minutes, 29 seconds and features notes from Stone, Mulligan, Brolin, LaBeouf, Douglas, film critic Owen Gleiberman, film critic/documentarian Godfrey Cheshire, producer Eric Kopeloff, executive producer Celia Costas, TV host Wendy Williams, production designer Kristi Zea, Official Filthy Rich Handbook author Christopher Tennant, writers Allan Loeb and Stephen Schiff, costume designer Ellen Mirojnick, The Wall Street Experience’s Tom Comerford, Andrew Luan and James E. Mosiej, Soleil Securities CIO Vincent Farrell, Kynikos Associates president/founder James Chanos, and Skybridge Capital managing partner Anthony Scaramucci.and actor Frank Langella.

Across the five parts, we cover reflections on the original film and working out a sequel, thoughts about Wall Street now vs. 1987 and other reflections on the 80s, character/story issues, costume and production design, Wall Street history, and aspects of the financial market. Aspects of the first few episodes tend to be fluffy, as they often seem to exist just to glorify the movies.

However, the programs improve as they proceed. I like the comparisons between the two films’ visuals, and the facts about Wall Street and finance are good. These help make the featurettes worthwhile.

15 Deleted/Extended Scenes run a total of 29 minutes, 31 seconds. With so many, I won’t list them individually. Extensions rule the day, as most of the clips simply add minor elements to existing segments. None of these seem memorable.

As for the new scenes, those are also pretty forgettable. We see more of the “inside baseball” financial material and some minor character bits. I do like a cameo from Donald Trump, especially since it mocks the iconic hairstyles worn by the Donald and Gekko. Otherwise, the extra footage is mediocre.

We can watch these with or without commentary from Stone. He shows up less frequently than I’d like – some big patches of dead air occur, especially during the extended nightclub scene – but when Stone speaks, he delivers useful content. As usual, he’s frank about his work; rather than tell us all the sequences are great and he hated to cut them, he admits that some just didn’t work. Stone provides a lot of solid info here.

Next we find five Fox Movie Channel Presents ‘In Character With…’ featurettes. These focus on Michael Douglas (5:35), Shia LaBeouf (4:21), Carey Mulligan (5:04), Josh Brolin (5:52) and Frank Langella (5:20). Across them, we get remarks from Douglas, Mulligan, Brolin, Langella, and LaBeouf. They chat about their roles and performances. Some decent material emerges – the Brolin and Mulligan segments are actually quite good - but mostly these clips exist as generic promotion.

A few ads open the disc. We get clips for Solitary Man, Unstoppable, Love and Other Drugs and the FX Channel. We also find two trailers for Sleeps and Sneak Peeks for The A-Team, Cyrus, Never Let Me Go and “What’s Hot on TV on DVD”.

Finally, the set includes a digital copy of Sleeps. It allows you to transfer the movie to an iWhatever or computer or the like. Yahoo!

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps feels more like a desperate attempt to resurrect Oliver Stone’s moribund career than a narrative anyone needs to see. The director rehashes old glories in a disjointed, aimless manner that leaves the film as a consistent dud. The Blu-ray provides generally good picture and audio along with a reasonably nice selection of supplements. Sleeps fails to achieve any success and comes across like a sad shadow of the original movie.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.4888 Stars Number of Votes: 45
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main