21 (2008) [Blu-Ray]

Genre(s): Drama / Thriller
Sony || PG13 - 123 minutes - $38.96 || July 22, 2008
Reviewer: Brad Lowenberg || Posted On: 2008-07-16


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

B L U - R A Y
.:: EXCLUSIVES ::.

Blu-ray Exclusives

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Robert Luketic
Writer(s): Ben Mezrich (book); Peter Steinfeld and Allan Loeb (screenplay)
Cast: Jim Sturgess, Kevin Spacey, Kate Bosworth, Aaron Yoo, Laurence Fishburne


Theatrical Release Date: March 28, 2008


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Feature Commentary
  • 21 Virtual Blackjack (BD Exclusive)
  • Money Plays: A Tour of the Good Life
  • Basic Strategy: A Complete Film Journal
  • 21: The Advantage Player
  • BD-Live


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (2.40)
  • English (Dolby 5.1 TrueHD), French (Dolby 5.1 TrueHD), Portuguese (Dolby 5.1 TrueHD), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1), Thai (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

Loosely based on the book Bringing Down the House by Ben Mezrich, 21 stars Jim Sturgess as Ben Campbell, a young man in college who dreams of going to Harvard one day. Unfortunately for him, he needs to raise $300,000 and his $8 dollar an hour job simply won't cut it. Luckily for him, Professor Mickey Rose (Kevin Spacey) notices his talents and offers him a job counting cards.

Ben, along with the rest of his crew, travel to Las Vegas on the weekends living the high life with fake identities and costumes where they do whatever it takes to count cards and collect as much money as possible. The only problem is the security guard at the casino is old school (while the rest of the casinos have switched over to new fancy facial recognition systems) and ultimately spots the crew.

There are a lot of intriguing things about 21. The ability to count cards has been around for a long time, but this is the first time I have seen where they have code words for where they are at each 'count' as a way to allow multiple people to be in on the scam. Having their own language by memorizing code words that relate to numbers is pretty interesting in itself.

I do have a few small issues with the film. The first being the rest of the "crew" is hardly used enough in the film and not flesh out at all. Aaron Yoo (who had an amazing performance in Disturbia) barely has any lines and all we ever see him do is steal things and look cool at the blackjack tables. Clearly he could have served as more of a friend to Ben but instead the film side-lines him in favor of the dry romance between Ben and Jill (Kate Bosworth). Itís a shame because as an actor he has way more chemistry then Jim Sturgess and could have easily carried the movie himself in the title role. The same can be said about Liza Lapira who did nothing but drink alcohol and give the code words to Ben. What a gigantic waste of talent.

As I mentioned above, the romance between Ben and Jill is poorly done and both characters have absolutely no chemistry together. Rather than having a small romance build up in the film, they decide to just shove them together for the last act and hope we won't notice. Kate Bosworth does a decent job here acting, but the trailer led me to believe the film would have a more romantic feel to it.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

All Special Features are presented in HD.

Commentary with Director Robert Luketic - While the commentary provides a ton of information on the film (and book) itís just a bit... dry. It boggles my mind why they didn't include some of the cast members in this because they could bring some life to it. Not a bad listen, just not something that is going to keep you interested for the 2 hour run-time.

21 Virtual Blackjack - A fun little java based game that allows you to play Blackjack and rate yourself against others through a leader board (which was unavailable at this time). Out of all the Blu-ray java games I have played this is by far the best. **Blu-ray Exclusive**

BD-Live - At the time of reviewing the service is not yet up. I can only assume it will be like every other BD-Live disc which lets users with Profile 2.0 players the ability to download trailers for upcoming Blu-ray and Theatrical releases. **Blu-ray Exclusive**

Money Plays: A Tour of the Good Life - A look at all the hotels featured in the film as well as the clothes the characters wore and the rest of the movies settings.

Basic Strategy: A Complete Film Journal - This would be the typical 'making of' featurette that features clips of the film as well as most of the actors discussing it. Not very interesting at all.

21: The Advantage Player - Easily the best featurette of the disc, it provides you with some information how card counting works (and maybe, just maybe you can do it yourself).

Itís a shame the alternate ending was not included on the DVD or Blu-ray release of 21. Because of that I imagine that this film will be a prime candidate for double dipping in the future.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

21 is presented in its Original Aspect Ratio 2.40:1 (AVC/MPEG-4) on a 50GB disc. Sony managed to capture the feel of Vegas and everything comes alive during this great transfer. The lights around Vegas look very clean and sharp, and even Boston itself has a very good feel to it. Flesh tones tend to look a little to orange in some scenes, but other than that itís great.

Sony has included English, French and Portuguese Dolby 5.1 TrueHD tracks as well as standard Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks in Spanish and Thai. Another great sound track by Sony as everything here sounds exactly how it should. From the songs in the bar, to the sound of slot machines is represented in full HD Audio experience. Dialog at times did sound a bit too much like they were in an elevator, but it only happened once or twice and everything went back to normal.



.::OVERALL::.

While 21 has its flaws, itís still a very entertaining two hour film. The Blu-ray release serves up everything from the DVD edition (except the digital copy) and provides very nice picture and audio quality as well as a decent selection of special features. If you own a Profile 2.0 player the Blackjack game itself may have you coming back to the disc over and over again.