Bandits (2001)

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Released 9-Sep-2002

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Audio Commentary-Bruce Willis, Billy Bob Thornton, Cate Blanchett, et al
Featurette-Inside Bandits
Featurette-Script To Screen Workshop-Creating Scene 71 (The Bed Scene)
Deleted Scenes-4
Alternate Ending
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Soundtrack Advertising Spot
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 117:56
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (80:21) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Barry Levinson
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Bruce Willis
Billy Bob Thornton
Cate Blanchett
Case ?
RPI $36.95 Music Christopher Young


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Auto Pan & Scan Encoded English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/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 for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement Yes, they only drink Pepsi.
Action In or After Credits Yes, the final scenes play through most of the credits.

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

Plot Synopsis

    Bandits, for all that it is an enjoyable experience, is a flawed movie. It is the cinematic equivalent of multi-coloured ice cream, providing a little to interest most people, and little to turn them off. There are many elements to this movie - road movie, romantic comedy, character study/behavioural comedy, heist, and even a little bit of mystery. While for the most part this eclectic blend works quite well, there are times when one aspect jars quite badly with another.

    Bandits is the story of Joe Blake (Bruce Willis) and Terry Collins (Billy Bob Thornton), who together become famous as the "sleepover bandits". They are bank robbers whose M.O. is to kidnap the bank manager the night before and go with them to the bank in the morning to take the money before the bank opens, and when there are none of those pesky customers to get in the way. All is going well until a woman named Kate Wheeler (Cate Blanchett) runs (literally) into Terry. The major problem with this movie is that its focus is too widely spread. It looks at how the introduction of Kate (who becomes their full-time hostage) affects the relationship of Joe and Terry. It looks at the heists that Joe and Terry pull. It looks at the way a group of criminals behave when they become famous fugitives.

    The saving grace for Bandits is that it is, above all, good fun. The major cast members obviously get along well together (as is confirmed by the fact that Bruce Willis invited Billy Bob Thornton onto the project, who in turn invited Cate Blanchett along), and the circumstances the characters find themselves in are always amusing on some level. Bruce Willis moves through this movie with his typical "I know more than I'm letting on" smile, while Billy Bob Thornton is always amusingly overanalysing situations. The supporting cast are always very good - especially early on when the hostages really do not know what to make of the criminals who are treating them more civilly than most fast-food employees would. An interesting side note is that the daughters of the first hostage family - the Millers - are played by Bruce Willis's daughters, and the belch issued by the older girl is apparently all her own work.

    Bandits is actually based (very) loosely on two real-life criminals from the early-to-mid seventies who robbed banks in the same way that the two characters in the movie do. In fact, the movie was initially supposed to be about them, not based on them, but the decision was made to only use their story as a premise (the real life bandits first names are Joe and Terry, but their surnames have been changed for the movie). A number of situations in the movie are actually taken from the story of the real sleepover bandits, but their eventual fate is not at all connected.

    Overall, this is a good, fun, movie that just tries a bit too hard to cover too many bases. It is still worth seeing however, if only to see the star power of Bruce Willis, Billy Bob Thornton, and Cate Blanchett playing off each other.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The transfer presented for Bandits is very disappointing, but not because it is a bad transfer (it is not). In fact, it is an excellent transfer, but what could have been close to perfect is instead marred by two major problems that are both prevalent and distracting.

    Presented in the original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1, this transfer is 16x9 enhanced.

    This is easily the sharpest transfer I have yet seen on DVD. The detail is fine enough, and the edges sharp enough, to easily slice through old leather. There is almost no grain present, even during scenes that are normally prone to obvious grain, such as shots of open sky. The shadow detail is almost as impressive as the sharpness, and is shown off to good effect during the many darker scenes in the movie. In fact, in terms of sharpness and shadow detail, this movie looks better than now on DVD than it ever did during its theatrical run.

    The colours are perfect - and this film makes considerable use of colour to portray both characters and mood. The blue lighting of the bar late in the film is easily shown, as are the forest greens, and the clean brightness of the Alamo bank.

    The major downfall for this transfer comes in terms of artefacts. A small positive is that the transfer contains no compression artefacts at all, but that is certainly made up for by both film and film-to-video artefacts. In terms of film-to-video artefacts, there is no telecine wobble, but the amount of aliasing present in this transfer is, quite frankly, worrying. Almost every shot contains at least some light aliasing, with many shots containing extremely obvious aliasing, such as on the bars of the swing from 19:28 to 19:40. With so much aliasing present in the transfer, some of the instances occur in areas that don't normally cause aliasing, such as on Cate Blanchett's finger at 47:23, Bruce Willis' shoulder from 60:15 to 60:20, and on the air vents at the back of a computer monitor at 87:49. Probably the worst single instance of aliasing however occurs from 95:33 to 95:37 on the neon lights in front of the bar. Film artefacts are also a big problem, as the entire length of the transfer is flecked with them. It would not be possible to take a ten minute section of the transfer and find it completely free of film artefacts and usually there would be many in any such section. The vast majority of the artefacts are white, and stand out very obviously in the darker portions of the transfer. The worst film artefact present in this transfer is at 2:27, and is three large white blobs in the lower right corner of the image. The fact that the aliasing and the film artefacts are the only problems with the transfer is what makes it so disappointing.

    The subtitles are well paced, easy to read, and generally reflect the spoken dialogue. They do drop the occasional word, however the edits do not generally change the intended effect of the dialogue.

    This is an RSDL formatted disc with the layer change taking place during Chapter 12 at 80:21. This change is quite noticeable as it occurs mid scene, and the audio dropout makes it even more obvious. As this movie contains numerous fades to black, it could very easily have been placed better - yet another disappointment.

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

Audio

    This is a very good audio transfer, although it is let down by an error that should never have even made the DVD.

    There are two audio tracks present on the disc, being the original English dialogue presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 (at 448 Kbps), and an audio commentary track presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 surround (at 192 Kbps).

    Dialogue is clear and easy to understand at all times. There are never any problems with the mixing levels of the effects, or the score. The only real problem with the soundtrack is a low-frequency popping sound that occurs over the end sequence between 106:00 and 107:00. There are also a few more pops during the credits between 116:48 and 116:50. While these sounds are not overly distracting, they never should have been allowed onto the soundtrack in the first place.

    Audio sync is not a problem at all with this transfer.

    The score for Bandits consists of cinematic score music by Christopher Young and a collection of contemporary songs. The score does its job well and does not draw attention to itself. The contemporary songs are quite effective in this movie, as the bigger budget (Bandits is an $80 million US film) meant that any song necessary could be bought, and so they fit the scenes very well.

    The surround channels get a decent, although not spectacular, workout during this transfer. The more action-oriented elements of the movie make good use of the surround channels for both enveloping sound and for directional sound effects. When the movie is less action-oriented - being the vast majority of the film - the surrounds are used to carry score, and occasionally for ambient effects. The use of the surrounds for ambient effects is not very consistent, as some scenes contain good ambient surround, but others do not. For what is primarily a dialogue-driven movie, however, the surround use is still very good.

    The subwoofer gets a good workout here from both the score and the sound effects. As Bandits is part road movie, there are plenty of engine rumbles for the sub to help out with, and the more action-oriented aspects of the film (explosions and the like) are well backed up by the subwoofer.

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

Extras

    There is a good selection of extras present on this disc, presenting some quite interesting information regarding the movie.

Menu

    The menu is static, themed around the movie, and without audio accompaniment.

Audio Commentary - Bruce Willis, Billy Bob Thornton, Cate Blanchett, Troy Garity (Actors), Paula Weinstein (Producer), Harley Peyton (Writer/Executive Producer)

    This commentary starts out very badly, but improves after the first half hour. I have heard some gaps in commentaries before, but this one is quite ridiculous, with a single gap that lasts for around ten minutes, and a number of two to three minute gaps all occurring within the first half hour. Given that it is not a live commentary - it has been pieced together from various interviews the participants made - this is quite strange. If you have the patience to put up with the first half hour, the remainder of the commentary is quite interesting and contains plenty of information about the making of the movie, and how it all came together.

Featurette - Inside Bandits (20:44)

    This is more than a slightly extended version of the standard making of featurette. It tracks the production of the movie from conception through to production, is very interesting and contains a good amount of information that is not typically present in making of featurettes. It is presented in 1.33:1 (not 16x9 enhanced) and features Dolby Digital 2.0 surround audio.

Featurette - Script To Screen - Creating Scene 71 (The Bed Scene) (5:57)

    This is an interesting production featurette that covers the genesis of the bedroom scene from what was actually scripted to the eventual (and very different) version that ended up in the film. Presented in 1.33:1 (not 16x9 enhanced) and featuring Dolby Digital 2.0 surround audio.

Deleted Scenes

    This section presents four deleted scenes as follows:     All scenes are presented in letterboxed 2.35:1 (not 16x9 enhanced), and feature Dolby Digital 2.0 surround audio.

Alternate Ending - Who's The Dad? (0:59)

    This is an alternate version of the footage that runs over the final credits. It is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is both letterboxed and pillarboxed - basically the image is a small postage stamp in the middle of the screen - and features either production audio or commentary from Cate Blanchett, both in Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo.

Theatrical Trailer (2:20)

    Presented in 2.35:1, 16x9 enhanced, and featuring Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio, this trailer is quite effective at advertising the film.

Soundtrack Promotion (0:32)

    Presented in letterboxed 1.85:1 (not 16x9 enhanced), this features Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio and is simply an advertisement for the soundtrack.

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;     The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;     Despite the shortcomings of the commentary track present on the local release of Bandits, it is still enough to make it clearly superior (unless of course you a foolish enough to want a 4:3 version of this film).

Summary

    Bandits is an ultimately flawed, but still good fun, movie that is presented on a very good quality DVD.

    The video quality is very disappointing, as it could have been perfect if not for excessive aliasing, and abundant film artefacts.

    The audio quality is very good, although the occasional popping sounds in the track should never have made the DVD.

    The extras are interesting, and contain more than the usual marketing hype. We even get a commentary track that is not present on the Region 1 version of this disc.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Nick Jardine (My bio, it's short - read it anyway)
Saturday, June 08, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-535, using Component output
DisplayLoewe Xelos 5381ZW. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-DS787, THX Select
SpeakersAll matching Vifa Drivers: centre 2x6.5" + 1" tweeter (d'appolito); fronts and rears 6.5" + 1" tweeter; centre rear 5" + 1" tweeter; sub 10" (150WRMS)

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