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Rupert Wyatt
Mark Wahlberg, Jessica Lange, George Kennedy, John Goodman, Brie Larson, Michael Kenneth Williams
Writing Credits:
William Monahan .

Lit professor and gambler Jim Bennett's debt causes him to borrow money from his mother and a loan shark. Further complicating his situation is his relationship with one of his students. Will Bennett risk his life for a second chance?

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$9,129,999 on 2,478 Screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English Audio Description
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 110 min.
Price: $39.99
Release Date: 4/28/15

• “Mr. Self-Destruct: Inside The Gambler” Featurette
• “Dark Before Dawn: The Descent of The Gambler” Featurette
• “Changing the Game: Adaptation” Featurette
• “In the City: The Locations” Featurette
• “Dressing the Players: Costume Design” Featurette
• Six Deleted/Extended Scenes
• DVD Copy


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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The Gambler (2014)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 4, 2015)

Adapted from a 1974 James Caan film of the same title, 2014’s The Gambler introduces us to literature professor Jim Bennett (Mark Wahlberg). In addition to his academic work, Jim carries an enormous debt due to his gambling addiction.

That area dominates the story, as it influences all of Jim’s actions. We follow his attempts to deal with the money he owes and how his hubris often puts him farther behind the eight ball as he attempts to dig out of his economic hole in the seven days allotted. We also see aspects of various relationships in Jim’s life.

Despite its attempts to provide a character piece, Gambler remains a thriller at heart. No matter what other paths it pursues, we really don’t care about much more than how Jim will emerge from his debt and get things right.

When the movie concentrates on these moments, it can be entertaining. We get some interesting gambling scenes and a few engaging character bits along the way, usually related to the colorful/seedy characters with whom Jim associates.

Unfortunately, Gambler ignores these positives far too much of the time to delve into banal attempts at “depth”. Sometimes Gambler feels like one scene of self-loathing after another. Jim hates himself at his apartment. He hates himself in the classroom. He hates himself in the casinos. He hates himself in the desert. He hates himself… well, you get the picture.

It doesn’t help that the story takes many detours. Most of those relate to Jim’s self-loathing, of course, but they don’t receive the exposition they need to succeed. Gambler wants very much to be deep and philosophical, but it lacks the insight to do so.

Much of Gambler suffers from frothy, over-written dialogue as well. Someone like Tarantino can pull off this kind of florid speech, but the material fails to work here. It simply comes across as forced and phony.

Add to that a seriously simplistic ending and The Gambler becomes a bit of a snoozer. At times it threatens to come to life, but much of the movie plods and leaves me cold.

The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio B/ Bonus B-

The Gambler appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This was a generally positive presentation.

For the most part, sharpness looked good. A little softness crept into the image at times, but not frequently. Instead, the movie almost always appeared nicely detailed and distinctive. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and edge haloes remained absent. Source flaws were a non-factor, as this was a clean presentation.

In terms of colors, the movie went with a stylized palette that varied based on setting and tone. It mostly mixed amber and teal throughout its running time, with splashes of orange along the way. The hues consistently seemed clear and concise within those parameters. Blacks were deep and firm, and shadows looked decent, though they could be a bit dense on occasion. My quibbles remained minor, as the transfer usually delivered good visuals.

As for the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, it worked pretty well. The audio tended to be somewhat restrained much of the time, but some sequences – such as those at casinos or on streets – opened up the spectrum in a satisfying manner.

Cars and other elements moved around the room, while other effects added a good sense of ambience. A short thunderstorm sequence also added immersive information, and a basketball game became another involving scene.

Audio quality was perfectly acceptable. Speech showed nice clarity and naturalism, and music was reasonably distinctive and dynamic. Effects sounded clean and accurate, with strong low-end when necessary. All of this seemed good enough for a “B“.

As we head to extras, we start with a collection of featurettes. Mr. Self-Destruct: Inside The Gambler runs 14 minutes, 12 seconds and offers notes from producers Irwin Winkler and David Winkler, director Rupert Wyatt, screenwriter William Monahan, and actors Mark Wahlberg, Brie Larson, and Anthony Kelley. The show looks at the original film and its reworking, script/story/character areas, cast and performances. “Inside” offers a fairly general take on topics but it still manages to give us a pretty good overview.

During the 16-minute, 26-second Dark Before Dawn: The Descent of The Gambler, we hear from Wyatt, Monahan, Larson, Irwin Winkler, David Winkler, production designer Keith Cunningham, costume designer Jacqueline West, location manager Chris Baugh, executive producer David Crockett, gambling consultant Karen Yue Ritchie, and actors Emory Cohen, Michael Kenneth Williams, John Goodman and Jessica Lange. “Dark” examines color choices, costume and production design, sets and locations, Wyatt’s impact on the production, and more about cast/script/performances. “Dark” touches on the various domains in an informative manner.

Next comes Changing the Game: Adaptation. It goes for nine minutes, two seconds and features Monahan and Wyatt. The featurette compares the original film with this remake and also examines themes and structure of the 2014 version. We get some decent insights, but Monahan comes across as so smug and full of himself that the show threatens to become a chore to view.

In the City: The Locations lasts nine minutes, 27 seconds and offers info from Wyatt, Baugh and Cunningham. As the title indicates, “City” discusses various LA spots used in the film. Some of this already appeared in “Dark”, but “City” adds depth to the topic.

Finally, we locate the seven-minute, 49-second Dressing the Players: Costume Design. It provides statements from West and Wyatt. Like “City”, “Players” comes with self-explanatory subject matter, and it investigates the movie’s clothes in a satisfying manner.

Six Deleted/Extended Scenes occupy a total of 23 minutes, 31 seconds. Much of that running time – more than nine minutes of it – comes from a longer version of Jim’s lecture. The extra tidbits don’t add much to the sequence.

The other clips also seem erratic, but they give us more interesting material much of the time. We see a mob enforcer at work and take more of a peek at Jim’s career. We also view his ex-wife and child. Nothing fascinating appears here, but beyond that extended lecture scene, we locate some moderately interesting stuff.

A second disc provides a DVD copy of Gambler. It lacks any of the Blu-ray’s extras.

When it focuses on thriller territory, The Gambler delivers decent entertainment, but when it attempts character depth, it plods. The movie just lacks more than surface value, as it can’t bring us the substance it needs. The Blu-ray comes with good picture and audio as well as a collection of informative bonus materials. While The Gambler occasionally flares to life, it takes itself too seriously to succeed on a consistent basis.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 1
0 3:
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