Matchstick Men (2003)

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Released 3-Mar-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Audio Commentary-Filmmakers
Featurette-Making Of-Tricks Of The Trade (3)
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time 111:20
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (55:50) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Ridley Scott
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Nicolas Cage
Sam Rockwell
Alison Lohman
Bruce Altman
Bruce McGill
Jenny O'Hara
Steve Eastin
Beth Grant
Sheila Kelley
Fran Kranz
Tim Kelleher
Nigel Gibbs
Bill Saito
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $39.95 Music James Michael Dooley
Clay Duncan
Geoff Zanelli


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Hebrew
Arabic
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

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

Plot Synopsis

    Nicolas Cage plays Roy Waller, an obssessive compulsive con artist who, along with his partner Frank Mercer (Sam Rockwell), have made quite a successful career as small-time confidence artists. Roy, a loner due to his disorder, has misgivings about going after the 'big con', but when Frank suggests a target for a very lucrative con, Roy reluctantly agrees. Matters take a turn for the worse when Roy loses his medication, allowing his numerous ticks and behavioural oddities to surface. Out of desperation Roy seeks therapy with Psychiatrist Dr Klein (Bruce Altman) in an effort to keep his disorder under control. At the Behest of Dr Klein Roy, makes contact with his estranged 14 year old daughter Angela (Alison Lohman), which complicates his life tenfold. With the big con looming, can Roy balance his new role as a father against that of a con man long enough to achieve the ultimate pay off?

    Director Ridley Scott, one the great visual directors of the last 50 years, turns his attention away from the visceral blockbusters he is renouned for and delivers a finely crafted drama and character study. The film, based on the novel by Eric Garcia, successfully balances black comedy, drama and most importantly unforseen plot twists - a stable of the confidence genre. What elevates the story from the usual 'Dramedy' are the quirky characters and believable situations. To Scott's credit, not once does the film become a paraody or fall prey to the ridiculous. Scott wisely grounds his characters in contemporary reality. The performances from the superb cast are all note perfect. Nicolas Cage is a delight as the obssessive Roy Waller. Cage expertly manages to tread the fine line between amusing and sympathetic when displaying his character's disorder, without ever becoming annoying or over the top. This is definitely Cage's best performance in some time. Sam Rockwell as usual is fascinating to watch and proves yet again that he is the finest character actor working today. Alison Lohman is the surprise find of the year. Her performance is geniune and adds a sweet dynamic to this already quirky film. The supporting cast, including Bruce Altman and Bruce McGill, are also top notch.

    With this film Ridley Scott proves that he is capable of delivering intimate dramas as well as visual extravagances with equal aplomb. Scott effortlessly keeps the film tightly paced, never allowing the audience to foresee the numerous plot twists. This is a fine example of old fashioned film making, where the plot counted above anything else. Matchstick Men is a first-rate film deserving of a wider audience.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Matchstick Men has been given a stunning transfer from the fine folks at Warner Brothers.

    The film is presented in its original aspect ratio of 2:35:1 and is 16x9 enhanced for widescreen capabilities.

    Sharpness levels are superb, with absolutely no unwanted aliasing or telecine wobble to speak off. edge enhancement is also gladly absent from this print. Shadow detail levels are gorgeous and showcase Ridley Scott's talent for cinematography to best effect. Let's face it, the man is a master film maker and to expect anything less than perfection would be utter folley. The picture has strong black levels and beautifully detailed background information. There are no grain problems and no signs of distracting low level noise interference.

    The colour scheme is rendered with an eye towards blues and grays, but remains natural in regards to fleshtones.

    There are no annoying examples of film artefacting to be found anywhere on this transfer.

    The RSDL layer change is at the 55 minute mark and is well placed.

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

Audio

    To match the glorious transfer we are given a dynamic English Dolby Digital soundtrack in 5.1 and a commentary track in 2.0.

    This film is dialogue intensive so there are ample opportunities to search for audio sync misshaps. Gladly there are none to speak off.

    The film's musical score is by Hans Zimmer. Zimmer, a veteran of Scott's films, provides another wonderful score. The film is also peppered with Frank Sinatra tunes which adds that extra element of class.

    Surround channel usage is well defined, with rear channels filled to brimming with directional effects. I found this a pleasant change for a film that is basically a drama at heart. If only action films could have this diversity.

    The Subwoofer adds strong reverberration levels when needed.

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

Extras

Main Menu Introduction

Main Menu Audio & Animation

    Screen captures and sounds from the film.

Audio Commentary

    Audio Commentary from Ridley Scott, Writer Nicolas Griffin and Writer/Producer Ted Griffin.

    This is a terrific commentary that covers every aspect of the film making process. Ridley Scott always a treat to listen to once again enthusiastically discusses his choices and vision for the film. He is ably supported by the two writers who are understandibly in awe of the director. There is no down time during the commentary and it never becomes tedious. This is a great extra.

Featurette-Making Of

    The featurette is split into three anamorphic sections: Pre-Production, Production,and Post-Production. The running time for all three is about 71 minutes. It is great to see a director of the stature of Ridley Scott embrace the DVD format so enthusiastically. This three-part documentary takes the viewer from film concept to release day and leaves no small detail unturned. We are shown casting sessions, script alterations, wardrobe decisions, lighting arrangements, scoring sessions, basically the works. This is a fascinating journey and really shows the audience the time and effort that goes into every choice made during film production. If only all DVD releases were this thorough.

Theatrical Trailer

    A solitary trailer for the film that is 16x9 enhanced.

R4 vs R1

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

    All versions of this film are the same.

Summary

    Matchstick Men is an example of the confidence genre showcased to best effect. The direction by the legendary Ridley Scott is faultless, as are the performances by the first-rate cast. I am also happy to report that the disc has a superb picture and sound quality, and is fully loaded with an abundance of extras. A first-rate purchase.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Greg Morfoot (if interested here is my bio)
Sunday, March 21, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-535, using S-Video output
DisplayLG 76cm Widescreen Flatron Television. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderSony HT-K215. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationSony HT-K215
Speakers fronts-paradigm titans, centre &rear Sony - radio parts subbie

Other Reviews
DVD Net - Jules F
AllZone4DVD - DanielP

Comments (Add)
The featurette IS 16:9 enhanced. - Ben H (My biography. Go on have a read...)
Not so great... -