Tower Block (Blu-ray) (2012)

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Released 10-Jul-2013

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller / Violence Trailer-Start-up trailer for Warm Bodies
Calibration Signals-DTS-HD MA 5.1 & DTS-HD MA 7.1 Calibration Test
More…-DVD copy of the film
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2012
Running Time 90:00
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By James Nunn
Ronnie Thompson
Studio
Distributor

Icon Entertainment
Starring Sheridan Smith
Jack O'Connell
Ralph Brown
Russell Tovey
Jill Baker
Loui Batley
Steven Cree
Nabil Elouahabi
Christopher Fulford
Julie Graham
Tony Jayawardena
Jamie Thomas King
Ralph Laurila
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $29.95 Music Owen Morris


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Unknown English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.40:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     Several months after witnessing a murder, residents of Tower Block 31 find themselves being picked off by a sniper, pitching those lucky enough to be alive into a battle for survival. It sounds like a strange synopsis for a movie, but Tower Block, directed by James Nunn and Ronnie Thompson and written by James Moran, is a tense thriller until the final few scenes of the movie.

     The film stars Sheridan Smith, Jack O’Connell, Ralph Brown and Russel Tovey, all familiar British television actors. Writer James Moran worked on Doctor Who and its spin-off series, Torchwood prior to writing this film and Cockney vs. Zombies. Directors James Nunn and Ronnie Thompson have both worked as assistant director and producer respectively, with this film representing Nunn's debut feature.

     Tower Block 31 is a dilapidated apartment block in London, ready for demolition, with the building empty except for the tenants on the top floor. The action starts when some tenants witness the murder of a young boy. They keep quiet, though, when the police come to question them, not wanting to get involved out of fear of possible recrimination. One year on and someone is still holding a grudge as a sniper starts to pick the residents off one by one from an adjacent building.

     The film contains a diverse group of characters from different backgrounds, all from the working-class it seems, yet varied in age, family, marital status and race. These characters soon learn that they need to put their differences aside if they are going to survive the trap they find themselves in, as they soon learn that the sniper has booby-trapped all the exits out of the building.

     The characters are all very much stereotypical, the drug dealer, the wise old timer, the strong-willed mother and an antagonist with a penchant for justice. The confined space of the top floor unit block makes for some tense and sharp exchanges from the residents, who are looking to get down to escape anyway they can!

     Tower Block is not a Hollywood blockbuster in any way, but this British B-movie is not a bad effort for a cast and crew who, in my mind, are still 'cutting their teeth' in the film industry.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Tower Block was shot on a low budget, so the visuals here are not demo-quality.

     Tower Block is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.40:1, in 1080p using the MPEG-4 AVC codec.

     Shot digitally using Arri Alexa cameras, the image transfer is detailed where required for close-up shots, although there is minor low level noise and posterization evident.

     Due to the setting of the film, the claustrophobic feel of the plot is conveyed through a desaturated colour scheme and, at times, minimal internal lighting which is intended to highlight blacks.

     There are no film or video artefacts present, however.

     Unfortunately, there are no subtitles included which would have been useful for Australian audiences as some characters speak in Cockney English slang, and some dialogue is hard to make out at times.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     As was the case for the image transfer, the audio transfer is serviceable enough; it does the job required to maintain tension for the viewing audience.

     The main audio track is a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless track.

     The dialogue is synchronised throughout, but not always clear due to the accents of the cast. I still cannot fathom why the United Kingdom and United States Blu-ray releases get subtitles but Australian viewers don't!

     Owen Morris' musical score has minimal impact; in my opinion you certainly won't remember it after viewing the film!

     The surround mix is quite good, with ambient effects in every channel and sniper shots zooming quickly across the soundscape.

     The subwoofer does a good job of accurately portraying shotgun blasts and sniper gunfire.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Start-up trailer for Warm Bodies (1:58)

     A start-up trailer for Warm Bodies plays prior to the main menu.

DTS-HD MA 5.1 & DTS-HD MA 7.1 Calibration Test

     This is quite a handy extra that I think you'll find using more than once for your home-theatre system. This extra allows you to calibrate your 5.1 or 7.1 speakers using test signals and is easy to follow. The calibration test will assist you with speaker levels and sound directionality.

Bonus DVD copy of Tower Block (86:25)

     Although I did not receive a DVD copy of the film for this review, Australian distributor Icon has released Tower Block in Australia in a combined Blu-ray/DVD 'combo' package.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region A United States Blu-ray contains an audio commentary with screenwriter James Moran, some behind-the-scenes interviews (6:21) and the film's trailer (1:40). The Region B United Kingdom Blu-ray contains the behind-the-scenes interviews as the only extra.

Summary

     Tower Block contains an interesting premise that I felt was let down in its ending. This unfortunately will have an effect on your enjoyment of the film as the obvious showdown with the sniper will leave you questioning the plausibility of the plot.

     Although the Australian Region B Blu-ray release does not contain the audio commentary by James Moran and the behind-the-scenes interviews with the cast found on the Region A United States Blu-ray, I found the audio calibration test a useful extra, one that I certainly appreciated!

     Tower Block is not a bad first effort from directors James Nunn and Ronnie Thompson and writer James Moran and I can envisage some stronger creative output from them in the future.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© John Stivaktas (I like my bio)
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S550 (Firmware updated Version 020), using HDMI output
DisplaySamsung LA46A650 46 Inch LCD TV Series 6 FullHD 1080P 100Hz. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderSony STR-K1000P. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationSony HTDDW1000
SpeakersSony 6.2 Surround (Left, Front, Right, Surround Left, Surround Back, Surround Right, 2 subwoofers)

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