Penthouse North (2013)

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Released 21-Aug-2013

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Trailer-Start-up Trailers
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2013
Running Time 81:56
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Joseph Ruben

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Michelle Monaghan
Michael Keaton
Barry Sloane
Andrew W. Walker
Kaniehtiio Horn
Trevor Hayes
Phillip Jarrett
Timothy Paul Coderre
Olivier Surprenant
Jasmine Chan
Lindsey Reeves-Whit
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $28.95 Music Laura Katz
Dave Metzger

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Unknown English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 (256Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     Joseph Ruben, famous for films such as Sleeping with the Enemy, The Good Son and Money Train, last directed an aptly-named film in Forgotten in 2004. Having once commanded A-listers such as Jennifer Lopez, Julianne Moore, Julia Roberts, Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson, Forgotten was largely ignored by moviegoers, and it has taken Michael Keaton and Michelle Monaghan to bring Ruben back to direct Penthouse North. Ruben's situation is not quite like Michael Cimino and Heaven's Gate, but it's not exactly Terrence Malick and The Thin Red Line either. Michael Keaton, at sixty-one, has been in semi-retirement himself lately, with only a handful of roles in feature films since Quentin Tarantino's Jackie Brown in 1997. Alas, we did enjoy him voicing Ken in Toy Story 3 didn't we? (Great news on this front, he's making a comeback in the upcoming re-make of Robocop and the recently announced Toy Story 4 - seriously!)

     Keaton plays Robert Hollander, who, with his accomplice Chad (Barry Sloane), gains access to the New York City apartment of Sara (Michelle Monaghan), who is blinded after a bomb incident during her work in Afghanistan as a war journalist. Having dispensed of her boyfriend Ryan (Andrew W. Walker), it seems the villains are after some stolen loot and embezzled money. After the initial scenes in Afghanistan, and the subsequent flashbacks, the movie is mainly set in Sara's luxurious penthouse apartment, or should I say, Ryan's. The violence of the break-in is then replaced by tension and suspense as we slowly learn more about the home invasion intruders and their relationship with Ryan.

     Penthouse North is suspenseful, complete with twists and surprises. Michelle Monaghan as Sara proves to be tough as a character with a disability, managing to keep a cool head despite the extreme situation. The script may be thin, but at least it doesn't descend into self-pity. The experienced actors manage to make the film entertaining, as you consistently question what will happen next. Michael Keaton plays the antagonist as necessary, without over-acting. Even if it has been 15 years since his last villainous role in Desperate Measures, he manages to mimic a remarkably cunning killer. Penthouse North doesn't re-invent the genre of suspense films, but it is worth a look, if only for some cheap entertainment on a Friday or Saturday night.

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Transfer Quality


     Penthouse North features scenes shot in the 'magic hour' (the first and last hour of the day) so there is a real contrast between light and shadow which crosses over into the night scenes as well.

     The aspect ratio is 1:85:1, 16x9 enhanced for widescreen televisions.

     The film comes on a 3.98 gb single-layered DVD with an average bitrate of 5.98 m/b per sec, which is slightly below average for DVD.

     Colour is subdued and muted mainly, and this is fitting for the cold plot propagated by the antagonists in Chad and Robert. So, blues and greys dominate the visuals, excepting for some scenes when warm sunlight bathes upon Sara to demonstrate her innocence amidst the turmoil surrounding her.

     The only film artefacts I noticed was some low level noise in some darker scenes.

     Subtitles are available in English for the hard of hearing.

     There is no RSDL change as the main feature is presented on a single-layered DVD-5 disc.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


     The soundtrack is fairly standard fare for a film of this genre.

     The main audio track is a Dolby Digital English 5.1 track encoded at 448 kbps. A descriptive audio track is also available in English for the hard of hearing in Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo, encoded at 256 kbps.

     The dialogue is clear from the centre channel and the audio is synchronised.

     The music soundtrack is typical for a suspense thriller, with plenty of instances of eerie, discordant music played.

     The surround mix services the film as needed, even if it lacks directional effects.

     The subwoofer kicks in during some action scenes, highlighting physical conflict expressed through explosions and violence.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Start-up Trailers

    Start-up trailers for The Place Beyond the Pines (2:24), The Call (2:20) and The Great Gatsby (2:37) play sequentially before the opening menu.

R4 vs R1

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

    The only other DVD release at the time of writing this review is the French Region 2 version which contains a 11-minute behind-the-scenes featurette with the cast and crew. This extra plays as an 'Electronic Press Kit' promotion-piece, and thus is really inconsequential. The French release is not English-friendly overall either.


     Penthouse North doesn't offer anything new in the genre of suspense thrillers, but it's not that bad a film either, I enjoyed it as each new twist was revealed.

     The video transfer is fine, as is the audio soundtrack, but it's a pity there's no extras, other than the start-up trailers. Michael Keaton in a villainous role, with Michelle Monaghan as the blind heroine, is worth at least a rental on a Friday or Saturday night.

Ratings (out of 5)


© John Stivaktas (I like my bio)
Saturday, August 10, 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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