Desperado appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Mostly the film looked solid.
Sharpness appeared good. A few slightly soft shots materialized, but these remained minor. The majority of the movie displayed positive delineation and definition. No issues with jaggies or moiré effects occurred, and edge haloes were absent. Print flaws also failed to appear, as the movie remained clean.
Colors provided a high point for this film. The movie demonstrated a rich palette that consistently seemed vivid and dynamic. The hues were tight and full and never suffered from any bleeding, noise or other issues. Black levels were deep and dense, and low-light shots looked appropriately opaque without any concerns connected to excessive darkness. Lose the occasional soft shots and this would be an “A”-level presentation. As is, it gave us a fine “B+” image.
Director Robert Rodriguez clearly enjoyed the benefits of his increased budget when it came time to mix the movie, and Desperado’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 showed what he could do with a little money. The soundfield seemed broad and lively. Music demonstrated solid stereo spread, as the score split nicely into the sides and blended cleanly.
Effects really made good use of the various channels. All five speakers got a good workout during both loud and subtle sequences. For example, in an early dream sequence, the sound of one man clapping moved neatly all around the room. Of course, the gunfights came to life very well, as shots flew all around the spectrum. The surrounds weren’t equal partners, but they got a lot of use in this vivid and engrossing track.
The quality of the audio seemed positive as well. Dialogue always came across as natural and distinct, and I noticed no issues related to edginess or intelligibility. Music was full and warm, and the track demonstrated good low-end response when necessary. The effects kicked the mix into higher gear and sounded simply terrific. The components were tight and concise, and they showed nice range. Bass response was deep and firm throughout the film. I couldn’t find much to complain about during this solid soundtrack.
How did the picture and audio of this Blu-ray compare to the 2003 DVD? Both showed improvements, though mostly in the visual range. The Blu-ray was cleaner, tighter and more dynamic; it offered a good step up in picture quality.
The audio of the two discs seemed more similar. The Blu-ray’s lossless mix was a little more vibrant, but both sounded good, so don’t expect revelations here.
Most of the DVD’s extras repeat here. We start with that release’s audio commentary from director Robert Rodriguez. A running, screen-specific piece, the track doesn’t appear as strong as those for Spy Kids 2 or El Mariachi, but Rodriguez nevertheless gives us an above-average discussion of his work.
Whereas the El Mariachi track focused mainly on the challenges of shooting on an extremely low budget, Rodriguez had 1000 times more money for Desperado, so that element takes a less prominent role. Nonetheless, since $7 million remained pretty low budget in 1995, the director relates some of the ways he made his movie look more expensive and gives us tips in that department. He also goes over creative and casting elements and relates fun anecdotes from the set.
Unlike his Spy Kids 2 and El Mariachi tracks, however, Rodriguez doesn’t maintain a consistently chatty pace. He actually falls silent for brief periods on a few occasions, and a little more than halfway through the movie, he indicates that he’s run out of notes! Rodriguez ably improvises, though, and he makes sure we learn more about the movie. Of the director’s solo tracks, this one’s the least compelling, but that still makes it better than most others, and it gives us a fair amount of good information about the flick.
A “sequel” to the El Mariachi disc’s “Ten-Minute Film School”, Ten More Minutes: Anatomy of a Shootout actually lasts 10 minutes and 28 seconds. This program mostly focuses on one of the bar shootouts, but it also includes a little material about other sequences. Rodriguez’s use of “video storyboards” dominates the piece, as he shows us how he uses these to preplan shots. It’s not as good as the original “Film School”, but it’s generally an illuminating glimpse at the director’s methods.
For an interactive feature, we find The El Mariachi/Desperado Cutting Room. This allows you to create your own edits for some parts of the film. Alas, it requires an external storage capability that my player lacks, but it sounds like fun. It certainly appears to offer more power than the average limited editing feature found on some DVDs.
Two music videos appear. We find clips for “Morena De Mi Corazon” by Los Lobos with Antonio Banderas and “Back to the House That Love Built” by Tito and Tarantula. “Morena” is a peppy little Mexican ditty, but the video is pretty dull lip-synch/movie clip material. The “House” video isn’t any more interesting, and the song itself is forgettable.
Does the Blu-ray lose extras from the DVD? Yup – it drops a mix of trailers for Desperado and other films.
With 1000 times the budget of El Mariachi, Robert Rodriguez created a sequel that didn’t match up to the original. Desperado has its moments, but overall it feels forced and like everyone involved tried too hard to impress us. The Blu-ray presents very good picture and sound plus a decent set of supplements. Action fans will probably find this solid Blu-ray to merit a look – and it’s a good step up in quality over the DVD - but I definitely prefer El Mariachi and think it’s the more valuable of the two flicks.
Note that you can only purchase Desperado as part of a two-pack that pairs it with El Mariachi. Both appear on the same Blu-ray Disc. With a list price of about $20, this is a good deal.
To rate this film, visit the Special Edition review of DESPERADO