The Wrestler (2008)

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Released 12-May-2009

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Featurette-Making Of-Within The Ring: Behind the Scenes Featurette
Interviews-Crew-Interview with Mickey Rourke
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2008
Running Time 104:47 (Case: 109)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (71:19) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Darren Aronofsky
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Mickey Rourke
Marisa Tomei
Evan Rachel Wood
Mark Margolis
Todd Barry
Wass Stevens
Judah Friedlander
Case Amaray Variant
RPI $39.95 Music Clint Mansell


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Unknown English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Cassidy: "He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities. The punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed."

    Randy "The Ram" Robinson: "Hmmm....what was that all about?"

    Cassidy: "It's "The Passion of the Christ". You have the same hair. You've never seen it?"

    Randy "The Ram" Robinson: "(Grunts as if the say no)"

    Cassidy: "Dude, you gotta, it's...it's amazing. They throw everything at him, whips, arrows, rocks.....He just takes it."

    Randy "The Ram" Robinson: "Tough dude."

    Cassidy: "Sacrificial "ram!" (laughs)"

    Darren Aronofsky's The Wrestler won The Golden Lion at the 2008 Venice Film Festival. It marked an acting comeback for Mickey Rourke who won a Golden Globe for Best Actor and the film was also nominated for 2 Academy Awards, one each for Mickey Rourke, who plays Randy "The Ram" Robinson/Robin Ramzinski and Marisa Tomei who plays Pam/Cassidy. Mickey Rourke was very close to winning the Academy Award for Best Actor but lost out to Sean Penn in Milk. Rourke downplayed his chances, citing his past criticism of the Academy, however Sean Penn was gracious in victory, acknowledging Rourke's exceptional performance in his acceptance speech. The Wrestler made many critics' top ten lists in 2008, and for a good reason, the acting of Mickey Rourke makes the audience sympathise for his character, even though the situations that Randy "The Ram" Robinson finds himself in the film is due to him alone.

    Mickey Rourke acknowledges that he has been in the acting wilderness for the past 14 years. Apart from an excellent supporting role in Robert Rodriguez's Sin City (2005), no studio was willing to bankroll a project with him in it due to his impulsive and intemperate behaviour. The Wrestler is an independent film project for this reason, initially Nicolas Cage was to be cast in the lead role. However, once you've seen the movie, you cannot help but feel the quiet and courageous sadness that Mickey Rourke brings to the role, especially as he tries to reconcile with his neglected daughter, played by Evan Rachel Wood. Marisa Tomei also brings to her role as the club dancer/stripper Pam (or stage name "Cassidy") years of toil and struggle to get by. Marisa Tomei's nominations for her supporting role in 2008 were thoroughly deserved, this role is possibly her standout career performance.

     The quotation that opens this review comes from the film, in a dialogue scene with Randy and Cassidy. Cassidy quotes the famous opening lines of the book of Isaiah in the Old Testament, Chapter 53 and compares Randy's weekend wrestling, while past his prime and glory days to Christ as a sacrificial ram. Obviously the idea of a ram is allegorical, it's a play on Randy's wrestling stage name, "The Ram" and his devotion to give of himself, to punish his body for the sake of his fans. This signifies the main theme of the film, the question of where the lonely protagonist Randy Robinson's loyalty lies in his personal journey of redemption. The Wrestler should not be compared to films like Rocky or Raging Bull, the role of the sport of wrestling itself pales into the background in comparison to the character study of "The Ram" from his glory days in the 1980s to his present day struggles to pay his rent and keep a job.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Due to the independent financing of this film, the movie was shot in Super16mm format. This was a creative decision by director Darren Aronofsky. He wanted to shoot the film as a fictionalised documentary, thus the use of handheld cameras by cinematographer, Maryse Alberti. Super16mm film when developed becomes like standard 35mm film, although the look of the film stock will be more grainy and will contain more low level noise. I would expect this to be the case on the Blu-ray version as well.

    The aspect ratio of the film is 2:35:1. It is 16x9 enhanced for widescreen televisions.

    Grain and low level noise is evident due to the aforementioned reasons. Due to the documentary "look" of the film scenes were shot with less light and reflection.

    Colour is slightly muted due to the creative choice of cinematography.

    The main feature takes up 5.0 gb of space on a 7.4 gb disc. The average bitrate is 6.5mb/sec which is quite acceptable. There are no mpeg artefacts, film or video artefacts.

    Subtitles are presented in white, in the "black bars" part of the picture on a widescreen television.

    RSDL change occurs at 71:19 during a scene change, it is not too noticeable.

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

Audio

    Clint Mansell, Darren Aronofsky's composer, wrote the score for the film, with Slash, formerly of Guns N'Roses playing along on the score. The soundtrack has many heavy metal songs from the 1980s. Bruce Springsteen also wrote The Wrestler for the film. It plays over the closing credits.

    There are two audio tracks. The default track is a Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo track encoded at 224 kbps. The second track is a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack encoded at 448kbps. The Dolby Digital 2.0 track is muted and dull whereas the Dolby Digital 5.1 track is discrete and clear, each speaker is utilised when you play the movie with the Dolby digital 5.1 soundtrack. This film should only be experienced, in my opinion, with the Dolby Digital 5.1 track, the Dolby Digital 2.0 track sounds lifeless in comparison.

    Dialogue is clear and synchronised.

    Music is mainly from the 1980s, Randy "The Ram" Robinson's "golden era". Artists include Ratt, Scorpion, FireHouse, Slaughter, Quiet Riot and even Madonna. Randy "The Ram" Robinson's entrance song to his wrestling bouts is Metal Health by Quiet Riot except for the last wrestling match in the movie when Guns N'Roses' Sweet Child O'Mine is played. Axl Rose is credited in the closing credits for donating his song to the film for free (due to budget restrictions, the song would have been too expensive to license otherwise).

    Surround Channel Usage is discrete, with sound coming from every channel, especially during wrestling crowd scenes and when songs are played as part of the film's soundtrack.

    The Subwoofer is not used often, only during wrestling matches, and even then very subtly.

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

Extras

Featurette-Making Of-Within The Ring - A behind The Scenes Documentary (42:42)

This documentary goes behind the scenes to show how the film was made on a small budget, with basic camerawork and editing techniques. Darren Aronofsky states how he pushed Mickey Rourke to deliver more in his performance, while producer Scott Franklin discusses what it was like working with Mickey Rourke. Evan Rachel Wood discusses her role, however Marisa Tomei and Mickey Rourke do not make an appearance. One quarter of the documentary depicts the choreography rehearsed for the wrestling scenes, using real wrestlers. This extra is 16x9 enhanced for widescreen televisions.

Interviews-Crew-Interview With Mickey Rourke (15:45)

This is an honest, candid interview with Mickey Rourke explaining his motivation for making the film and his explanation as to what happened to his acting career during the 1990s. The format of the interview begins and continues with the question presented as a slide and then Rourke giving detailed answers. He mentions often how he he couldn't get work for fourteen years and that he was responsible for "burning the bridges" that led to his being outcast from the acting industry. I really enjoyed this raw interview, it is nothing like the usual vain and superficial interviews that actors usually give while promoting films. Rourke credits a lot of his success in his comeback to his shrink, his confession of past misdemeanors and the need to be accountable. This extra is also 16x9 enhanced for widescreen televisions.

Theatrical Trailer (2:19)

The theatrical trailer is the final extra with Bruce Springsteen's song, The Wrestler accompanying it.

R4 vs R1

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

    The Wrestler has been released in Region 1 (USA) and will be released in Region 2 (United Kingdom) on the 1st of June, 2009. The Region 1 (USA) release includes:

    * A Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 surround track, the 42-minute behind the scenes documentary (as on the region 4 release) and the music video for Bruce Springsteen's, The Wrestler.

    However it misses out on:

    * The 15-minute interview with Mickey Rourke.

    The Region 2 (United Kingdom) release is identical to the region 4 release.

    The Region 4 version, with the quality extra of Mickey Rourke's interview, would be the version of choice for region 4 DVD collectors.

Summary

    The Wrestler is a small budget film, presented in a documentary style, which has enjoyed great critical success due to the characters in the film and the great acting of the film's stars, Mickey Rourke and Marisa Tomei. Although The Wrestler was not nominated for best picture by the American Motion Picture Academy for Arts and Sciences in 2009, it certainly deserved to be. Credit must be given to director Darren Aronofsky for incorporating real wrestlers in the film, as well as real customers in the deli scenes and even real crowds during the wrestling matches as these where filmed at real events. The documentary style also allowed Mickey Rourke to draw inspiration from his real-life experiences, quite a few of his scenes are in fact improvised, scenes were not storyboarded as is usual for Hollywood productions.

    The Wrestler is a "must-have" addition to any serious cinephile's DVD collection.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© John Stivaktas (I like my bio)
Monday, May 25, 2009
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S550, 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)

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Pitch Correction - Ron