The Town appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. The movie’s design meant it looked gritty, and the transfer seemed to reproduce it well.
Overall sharpness was good. Some dim scenes could be a little soft, but those didn’t become an issue. Most of the movie displayed nice delineation and clarity. I saw no signs of jagged edges or moiré effects, and the film lacked edge enhancement. With a fair amount of grain, digital noise reduction didn’t seem to affect the proceedings, and the image lacked print flaws.
Most of the movie went with heavily stylized hues. Chilly blues dominated, though amber streetlights were another motif. Occasionally, the film showed some more natural tones but not often. This meant the film lacked much color but the hues were fine given the film’s restrictions.
Blacks appeared deep and tight, while shadows were decent. The movie used quite a few low-light shots, and some of these seemed a bit murky. However, the majority displayed positive delineation. You won’t use The Town as a home theater showpiece, but it presented the movie in a more than acceptable manner.
Similar thoughts greeted the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of The Town. Though a few action-oriented scenes opened up the spectrum, most of the flick opted for general ambience. It delivered solid environmental material that gave us a good sense of the various situations.
When the film went into overdrive, that’s when the mix got a chance to shine. We found a fair amount of gunfire, explosions, cars and other loud, aggressive elements. These remained fairly infrequent, but they added some pizzazz to the proceedings.
Audio quality was usually fine. Some dialogue became a bit tough to understand, mostly due to a) accents, b) characters in masks, and c) accents from characters in masks. Overall intelligibility remained positive, but on a few occasions, I needed to slap on the subtitles to figure out what I’d just heard.
The rest of the mix fared better. Music showed nice range and clarity, and effects came across with positive reproduction. They seemed clear and accurate, and they also featured solid low-end during the louder sequences. All of this added up to a “B” soundtrack.
How did this “Ultimate Collector’s Edition” compare to the original Blu-ray from 2010? I thought the two looked and sounded identical. This was literally true for the disc with the theatrical and extended cuts of the film; it was the same platter released back in 2010. The disc that contained the “extended cut with alternate ending” was new but I thought it looked and sounded the same as the other versions.
A few extras flesh out the set, and these mix old and new. I’ll highlight anything exclusive to the 2012 “Ultimate Collector’s Edition” with special blue print.
The package includes the film’s theatrical version (2:04:44), an extended cut (2:30:17) and an extended cut with alternate ending (2:33:26). Because the original Blu-ray offered my first screening of the film, I couldn’t identify the differences between the theatrical and “shorter extended” cuts.
How does the longest version differ from the “shorter extended” cut? They’re mostly the same until the longer one hits the 2:22:08. The main change comes from the lead character’s fate; Doug ends up in a very different place, and that affects other characters in alternate ways as well. Both conclude in moody ways, but one goes darker than the other. I’m not sure either is truly superior – both work – so it’s interesting to see another path the flick could’ve taken,
Note that I said the two are mostly the same until the 2:22ish mark. That’s because around 1:48, the longer extended adds a short scene. It lasts about 30 seconds and shows more of characters who become more prominent in the alternate ending. It’s not a crucial sequence, but it contributes a bit more depth.
Next comes an audio commentary from co-writer/actor/director Ben Affleck. He offers a running, screen-specific chat that can be viewed alongside all three cuts of the film. I went with the “standard extended” commentary when I first reviewed the Blu-ray, but it appears that one and the theatrical track are identical and the theatrical commentary simply edits/alters the extended edition’s piece. (I’ll discuss the “extended with alternate ending” commentary before long.)
During this piece, Affleck discusses cinematography and visual design, cast and performances, sets and locations, stunts and action, adapting the novel, story and characters, editing and changes for the extended cut, and a few other thoughts about the flick.
Though Affleck’s commentary for Gone Baby Gone wasn’t great, he provides a much better chat here. We still don’t get much of the humor that made Affleck’s prior acting tracks such a delight, but he throws out a few funny lines, and he certainly delivers more than enough info about the film. He covers a good variety of topics in a full, interesting manner.
And he’s even willing to discuss potential problems! In an unusual twist, Affleck doesn’t seem all that wild about the extended cut of the movie. He often comments on the additions and points out why they didn’t work in the theatrical edition. That’s intriguing; normally directors seem much happier with their longer cuts, so it’s enjoyable to hear him discuss the problems he perceives. That’s just another reason this becomes a winning commentary.
What changes come with the “extended cut with alternate ending” commentary? Affleck provides new material for that version’s final 13 minutes or so; we get largely the same track until the movie splits to the alternate ending. In these segments, Affleck discusses aspects of the alternate finish; he tells us why he shot it and why he didn’t use it in the first place. Affleck continues to be engaging and informative; I’m really happy he came back to add a few more thoughts.
Or did he? A comparison of the commentaries for the two extended cuts reveals that Affleck must’ve originally chatted alongside the longer one. When the shorter one hits 1:48:06 – right where the longer version adds a scene – we get a really abrupt edit in Affleck’s chat. I guess I didn’t notice it when I listened to the commentary in 2010, but when I compared the two, the cut became painfully obvious.
So I guess Affleck’s first commentary came with the longest cut and he made changes for the one the other endings, but it’s still confusing. For instance, in the shorter extended cut, Affleck discusses the last scene with the Jon Hamm character, but that material goes absent in the longer extended. Overall, I think the two tracks are usually identical, but these minor changes do occur.
Under Ben’s Boston on Disc Two, we find six “focus points”. These last a total of 30 minutes, 25 seconds and include “Pulling Off the Perfect Heist” (2:51), “The Town” (4:57), “Nuns with Guns: Filming in the North End” (4:52), “The Real People of The Town” (3:06), “Ben Affleck: Director and Actor” (7:34) and “The Cathedral of Boston” (7:03). Across these, we hear from Affleck, FBI consultant Thomas B. Devlin, screenwriter Aaron Stockard, stunt coordinator Gary Hymes, producers Graham King and Basil Iwanyk, executive producer David Crockett, Boston Red Sox executive VP/COO Sam Kennedy, second unit director Alexander Witt, property master Douglas Fox, location manager Mark Fitzgerald, and actors Jeremy Renner, Jon Hamm, Rebecca Hall, Slaine, Titus Welliver, Owen Burke, and Blake Lively. The pieces examine aspects of robberies and their depiction in the flick, location elements, stunts and action, cast and performances, Affleck’s work on both sides of the camera, and shooting at Fenway Park.
Some of the material repeats from the commentary, and the tone tends to remain somewhat fluffy – especially during “Director and Actor”, which essentially acts as a love letter to Affleck. Still, we find a mix of useful elements. The pieces are inconsistent but generally worth a look.
In addition to the film’s trailer, Disc One provides a documentary called The Town: A Director’s Journey. It runs 30 minutes and includes comments from Affleck as he discusses what attracted him to the project, research and realism, shooting the action, cast and performances, locations and production choices, alterations for the extended cuts, and some other thoughts.
Given how much we hear from Affleck during his commentary, I can’t say that “Journey” proves to be tremendously valuable. Still, I always like to hear Affleck chat, and he throws out a collection of good observations here. While not crucial, this turns into a useful piece.
A third disc provides both a digital copy of The Town for use on computers or digital portable gadgets as well as a DVD copy of the film. It provides the extended cut with alternate ending but no extras.
Like other “Ultimate Collector’s Editions”, The Town comes with non-disc-based materials. A Personal Letter from Ben Affleck welcomes us to the set and explains his happiness that he got the chance to provide an alternate version of the film. It’s not essential but it’s a nice touch.
Of more interest, we find a 48-page behind-the-scenes photo book. It mixes pictures from the set and movie shots with production notes and cast/crew biographies. It adds a little depth to our understanding of the flick.
For a bigger examination of the film’s locations, we get a map of Charlestown. It shows the appropriate parts of Boston and throws in some details about relevant movie sequences. I like this, as it places the sequences in geographical perspective.
Everything else falls under film prop reproductions. These include a 15-page FBI report, a Vericom employee file, four mug shot cards and a rub-on tattoo sheet. That last one’s kind of silly, but the others are pretty cool and offer interesting elements.
While not blessed with a particularly fresh story or characters, The Town does come with solid execution, and that makes all the difference. We invest in the tale and find ourselves pulled along by the clear, deliberate pacing. The Blu-ray delivers good picture and audio along with some decent supplements led by a strong audio commentary and various extended versions of the film.
The Town becomes an interesting drama, but is the Ultimate Collector’s Edition the set to own? Sure – if the cost doesn’t bother you. The standard Blu-ray retails for about $20, while the UCE runs $30 more. That’s an awful lot of money for a slightly different version of the film and a few decent bonus materials. If price doesn’t matter, the UCE is the way to go, but it’s awfully hard to justify an extra $25 to $30 for the extra bits you find here.
To rate this film, visit the orignal Blu-Ray review of THE TOWN