Thirteen (13) (Blu-ray) (2010)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 14-Sep-2011

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller / Violence Theatrical Trailer-Tucker and Dale Versus Evil (1:44) 1080p.
Theatrical Trailer-Mulan (2:08) 1080p. (Not Disney)
Theatrical Trailer-Captifs (1:40) 1080p.
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2010
Running Time 90:25 (Case: 97)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 4 Directed By Géla Babluani
Studio
Distributor
Paramount Vantage
Icon Entertainment
Starring Sam Riley
Jason Statham
David Zayas
Alexander Skarsgård
Ben Gazzara
Emmanuelle Chriqui
Mickey Rourke
Michael Shannon
Ray Winstone
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $49.95 Music Marco Beltrami
Buck Sanders


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, Virtually no credits until end of film.

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

Plot Synopsis

     Gela Babluani was born in 1979 in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia - the one in Eurasia not the one Hoagy Carmichael serenaded in his classic song. In 2005 the young director made his first feature film, 13 Tzamati, "tzamati" being the Georgian word for the numeral thirteen. This maiden directorial effort won a number of awards, including the Grand Jury Prize at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival. The young director has now remade that award winning feature in English, with a most interesting ensemble of dynamic actors.

     Without titles, the movie begins with a short montage of enigmatic moments in which we see a dangling light, the numeral "13" appear on a T-shirt, a young man's face and a gun shot. We are then taken back "four days earlier" to the Ohio town of Talbot, where the family of the young man seen in the opening is coping with crisis. The young man is Vince (Sam Riley), and his father is in hospital, neck in a brace, receiving financially crippling care. To pay for the medical bills the family home has been put up for sale. Vince's parents have struggled and sweated for eighteen years for their home, but the family can see no other financial solution. After visiting his Dad in hospital, Vince is back at his electrical installation job where he overhears the homeowner in a conversation centring around fast and big money. After a series of intriguing and suspenseful scenes which concern secret posted instructions, police surveillance of the homeowner's house, and his death, Vince finds himself en route to New York prepared to masquerade as the dead man and make the financial killing, whatever that entails, as the answer to his family's financial crisis. The naive young man finds himself embroiled in a secret underground world of violence and terror, in which he becomes a competitor in an elaborate game of Russian roulette. Each of the contestants, all male, is assigned a numeral, Vince being "thirteen". They are then instructed to stand single file in a circle. Each man has a gun which he, on the ringmaster's instructions, loads with a single bullet. The next instruction is to raise the guns over their heads, and then to spin the barrels. The ringmaster then commands the contestants to stop spinning the barrel, cock the gun and point it at the head of the man in front. When an overhead signal light - we saw that in the first moments of the film - comes on, each man must fire his gun. The contestants who survive this level move on to the next stages, in which there are an ever increasing number of bullets for each gun, until only two contestants remain. If there is a survivor of the final duel, he receives a satchel containing a fortune in cash.

     Sam Riley (Brighton Rock) is excellent as the young man who finds himself in this strange and terrifying world. His sensitive and expressive face pulls us right into this morally bankrupt nightmare. The protagonist is surrounded by interesting and compelling characters, played by actors who are able to flesh out a character from very slender material. Having made his feature film debut starring in The Strange One in 1957, Ben Gazzara's very presence gives gravitas to his role, and the same could be said of Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler), Ray Winstone (Beowulf), and Jason Statham (Blitz), who is fine in his smallish role, though upstaged by a very unfortunate little hat. Also effective is rapper 50 Cent / Curtis Jackson (Home of the Brave), but the attention grabbing performance comes from Michael Shannon (Machine Gun Preacher) who, as the "umpire" of the competition, is an outrageous one-man three ring circus. There is also fine support from two excellent actors who are consistently impressive in current TV series, Alexander Skarsgard (True Blood) and David Zayas (Dexter).

     The young director/writer has created a film that is arresting in its subject matter and its appearance. Despite the disturbing nature of the material, the image compositions are quite beautiful, whether in the opening Ohio scenes, the New York street locations or the claustrophobic staging of the competition. Cinematographer Michael McDonough, fresh from the memorably stark images of Winter's Bone, has once again beautifully captured the wide screen images in every scene. The moody themes of Marco Beltrami (The Hurt Locker) complement the action, particularly in the smaller chamber music sections featuring melancholy woodwinds.

     This is a violent and disturbing film, with this underground world obviously intended as a microcosm of our society's increasing fascination with money, power, corruption and violence. I have not seen the original, which was filmed in black and white, but this new version is a gripping and, at times, harrowing experience.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

     Once again we have a first rate transfer that perfectly complements the film's style and content, presented at the ratio of 2.35:1 in a 1080p transfer.

     The image is extremely sharp, with wonderful detail in every frame, from extreme nerve twitching close-ups to New York street scenes. The shadow detail is excellent in these night scenes in New York, with deep glossy blacks, glistening neons and brilliant detail. These scenes have vibrant splashes of colour, but generally the film is rather subdued, with the common orange predominance. This does, however, suit the content of the film. Within this palette the skin tones are fine.

     Overall, this is an excellent looking disc.

     As was the case with Blitz, another gritty film I recently reviewed, the English Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired are outstanding. Once again, a colour change is used to indicate a change in the speaker, with the lines placed on screen as close to the speaker as possible. These are excellent examples of captioning.

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

Audio

     The excellent image quality is supported by an effective, though less dramatic aural experience. There is one audio stream, English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio.

     Dialogue is basically front and centre and very distinct, and there were no sync problems. There is minimal movement across the front, but the surrounds are used extensively for ambience and the Marco Beltrami score, which sounds particularly haunting and dramatic. There is little excuse for any real dominance of the subwoofer, with the bass contributing mainly to the dramatic score.

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

Extras

     The local release has nothing extra other than an audio logo and just over five minutes of trailers at start-up.

Start-Up Audio Logo (0:49)

     This is the first time I have seen this logo, presented 1.78:1 and 1080p. Good to see, and it does look and sound fine, but can't compare to the old DD train logo, my personal favourite.

Start-Up Trailers :

     On start-up we are served up three enjoyable trailers, all presented 2.35:1 in 1080p and looking very fine indeed.

Main Menu

     Both the top menu and pop-up menu are accessible only from the remote.

Censorship

    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

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

    The DVD and Blu-ray release of 13 is set for November 8 in the United States, and I can find no details on what extras may be involved.

Summary

     Definitely not for everyone, but this extremely violent parable makes a strong statement about today's society and our fascination with wealth, corruption, power and violence. Performances are extremely strong, and the very young director has delivered a powerful film that at times is very difficult to watch. Very well worth seeing, and a quality transfer, but it is a pity that there wasn't something extra to tell us more about the filmmaker and his previous black and white version which starred his brother.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Garry Armstrong (BioGarry)
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Review Equipment
DVDSONY BLU RAY BDP-S350, using HDMI output
DisplaySamsung LA55A950D1F : 55 inch LCD HD. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-DS777
SpeakersVAF DC-X fronts; VAF DC-6 center; VAF DC-2 rears; LFE-07subwoofer (80W X 2)

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE