Pawn Shop Chronicles (2013)

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Released 19-Feb-2014

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Comedy Trailer-x 3 for other Roadshow titles
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 2013
Running Time 107:39
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Wayne Kramer
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Paul Walker
Matt Dillon
Brendan Fraser
Vincent D’Onofrio
Lukas Haas
Elijah Wood
Pell James
Chi McBride

Case ?
RPI ? Music The Newtown Brothers


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 (256Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
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 Yes, Outtakes during and a scene after the end credits

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

Plot Synopsis

     Pawn Shop Chronicles consists of three individual stories that occur at the same time and intersect in minor ways, all linked through the pawn shop operated by Alton (Vincent D’Onofrio). In the first story, The Shotgun, spaced out meth addicts and white supremacists Raw Dog (Paul Walker), Vernon (Lukas Haas and Randy (Kevin Rankin) hatch a half-baked plan to rob their drugs supplier, the execution of their plan going completely off the rails. In the second story, The Ring, just married Richard (Matt Dillon) discovers in the pawn shop the ring he had given his first wife Cyndi (Pell James) before she disappeared without a trace six years previously. Backtracking through the possessors of the ring leads Richard to Johnny Shaw (Elijah Wood) and to some unpleasant surprises. Finally, in the third story, down on his luck Elvis impersonator Ricky (Brendan Fraser) tries to hold it all together until his performance at the town fair that evening.

     Pawn Shop Chronicles (also known as The Hustlers) owes a huge debt to Pulp Fiction (1994) with its intersecting stories, cultural reference laced hip dialogue, pop songs on the soundtrack, black comedy, violence and torture and quirky characters. The film also features cutaways to comic book drawings, unusual camera angles, pans, swirls and jump cuts and at one place a change of aspect ratio from 1.85:1 to 2.35:1, ensuring that we always are aware that this is a film, not real life. But whereas Tarantino has moved on since 1994, director Wayne Kramer (whose previous films included The Cooler (2003) and Crossing Over (2009) which starred Harrison Ford) and screenwriter Adam Minarovich remain twenty years in the past, so it feels like there is little in Pawn Shop Chronicles that has not been done before, and probably better.

     And yet Pawn Shop Chronicles is well worth watching because it is such exuberant fun with an impressive cast who seem to be having a whale of a time. The Fast and the Furious’s Paul Walker, in his final film before his tragic and early death, is wonderful as the none too bright neo-Nazi who does not really understand why he has to hate Jews and Negros, Brendan Fraser is enjoyably goofy as the Elvis impersonator with no style or talent, Matt Dillon is intense as a man on a mission while Elijah Wood is really working to lose his wholesome Frodo image with roles as creeps in this film, Sin City (2005) and Maniac (2012). The stories do come together at the end, sort of, while the climax of Pawn Shop Chronicles, which features Ricky’s performance of Amazing Grace at the fairground, a girl backing group, an exploding house sending fireballs into the night sky and a group of naked, newly released sex slaves draped in American flags in front of the stage, has to be one of the wildest endings I have seen in a film for quite some time.

     Pawn Shop Chronicles may not be Pulp Fiction but it is good fun with its interlocking stories, impressive cast and an out there ending.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Pawn Shop Chronicles is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, the original ratio being 1.85:1, and is 16x9 enhanced.

     Filmed using Arri Alexa cameras, detail is crisp and the daytime colours have a nice natural look, although on the light side. The night scenes have a more glossy look and some changes in contrast depending on the angle of the shot, but blacks are solid and shadow detail is fine. Skin tones are good.

     Marks are not present but there is a fair amount of aliasing evident on Vincent D’Onofrio’s hat, car grills and railings and some motion blur.

    English captions for the hearing impaired are available in a large white font. Subtitles also come on automatically for some indistinct sentences spoken by Elijah Wood. That is not because his delivery is bad; you need to see the film to know why they are necessary.

     The layer chance at 65:48 resulted in a slight pause at the end of a scene.

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

Audio

     Feature audio is an English Dolby Digital 5.1 at 448 Kbps and there is an English descriptive audio, Dolby Digital 2.0 at 256 Kbps.

     Dialogue was easy to understand except for some of the dialogue between Vincent D’Onofrio and his offsider Chi McBride. Foley such as impacts had a nice thump while the surrounds mostly featured the score, plus some pans of engines and background noise. The subwoofer supported the music and added depth to one particular scene.

    Lip synchronisation is fine.

    The score consisted mainly of covers of pop songs, such as Feeling Good, La La Blues, (It Looks Like) I’ll Never Fall in Love Again by The Newtown Brothers, CC Adcock and others. The music added nicely to the fun of the film.

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

Extras

Trailers

     Trailers for Don Jon (2:23), Fruitvale Station (2:11) and The Family (2:21) play on start-up. They cannot be selected from the menu.

R4 vs R1

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

     Both the US Region 1 and UK Region 2 DVDs of Pawn Shop Chronicles include an audio commentary by the director Wayne Kramer and writer Adam Minarovich which is missing on our release. Thus, either of these regions win.

Summary

     Intersecting stories, comedy, violence and torture, hip dialogue, spaced out characters, a pop score; Pawn Shop Chronicles will not be to everyone’s taste but I enjoyed the juxtapositions in the plotlines, a good cast having a great time with the material and the wild climax.

     The video and audio are fine but we miss out on the commentary that is available in other regions.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Monday, January 18, 2016
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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