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Middle Men Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24
  • Audio Codec: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Portuguese, Spanish
  • Rating: R
  • Region: A (B? C?)
  • Discs: 1
  • Studio: Paramount Home Entertainment
  • Blu-ray Release Date: February 8, 2011
  • List Price: $29.99

[amazon-product align=”right”]B003Q6D20A[/amazon-product]

BestBuy.com:
Middle Men - Widescreen Subtitle AC3 Dolby Dts

Purchase Middle Men on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:3/5]

Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG  thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:3/5]

Producer Christopher Mallick, owner of ePassporte, has the story of his business success in the early days of the World Wide Web told in this semi-autobiographical tale from director George Gallo (Wise Guys). Middle Men, part Boogie Nights wannabe and part Casino knockoff is a sometimes funny, but far too derivative story of porn, money, crime, and the internet in the 1990’s.

Jack Harris (Luke Wilson) is a dedicated family man from Houston with a penchant for fixing people’s business problems. When he is put in touch with two drug addled former geniuses in Los Angeles, Wayne Beering (Giovanni Ribisi) and Buck Dolby (Gabriel Macht), by shady lawyer Jerry Hagerty (James Caan), he discovers their nascent business is a potential goldmine. The two have apparently created a third-party billing system for their porn site that allows users to pay with their credit cards without the embarrassment. There’s a problem, however. Wayne and Buck have gotten involved with Russian mobster Nikita Sokoloff (Rade Serbedzija) and he wants a piece of the profits – and he’s willing to kill if he doesn’t get his cut. Into this world of porn, crime, and money, Jack slowly becomes absorbed, drifting farther apart from his wife (Jacinda Barrett), even picking up with a hot young porn star named Audrey Dawns (Laura Ramsey), whose solo website gives the film one of its best gags. The FBI wants to use Miss Dawns in order to track Middle Eastern terrorists who are big fans of the pretty blonde.

The story is partially told through narration by Luke Wilson that comes across as a bad imitation of Ray Liotta in Goodfellas, but despite this, Wilson’s Richard Harris is the best part of the film. He does a great job portraying the story’s best fleshed-out character. Everyone else is pure caricature, particularly James Caan’s Jerry Hagerty and Ribisi’s Wayne Beering, who just goes through the entire film as a babbling, crazed druggie, and not much else.

Despite its flaws, Middle Men, still offers a good bit of entertainment. We’ve seen better in this genre, but it is not the worst of its sort either.

Video Quality

[Rating:4/5]

The 2.35:1-framed AVC/MPEG-4 1080p encoding for Middle Men looks as one would expect a film of recent vintage to look. It has a clean source and relatively strong detail, but the film’s look has a soft, diffuse patina that doesn’t always make for the best looking high definition and black levels aren’t as deep as they could be, although shadow delineation is superb.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4/5]

There’s one audio option provided and that’s an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless soundtrack. It works for the material at hand, providing clean, clear dialogue for the mostly dialogue-driven film and a good balance of atmospheric sound effects in the surround channels as well. The sound is also given a few opportunities to open up in a few of the club and party scenes, where the low frequencies kick in and more discrete sounds appear in the back and off to the sides.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:2/5]

There’s not much here outside of the audio commentary, unless you like extremely brief blooper reels and deleted scenes that add nothing more to the story. The “slap montage” also feels like complete filler tacked on simply to make it appear as though there is much more being offered up than there actually is.

The supplements provided with this release are:

  • Commentary by Director George Gallo, Editor Malcolm Campbell, and Cinematographer Lukas Ettlin.
  • Deleted Scenes (1.33:1; 480i/60) – Three deleted scenes.
  • Outtakes (1.33:1; 480i/60; 0:01.40) – Blooper reel.
  • Slap Montage (1.33:1; 480i/60; 0:00.57) – A montage of all the slaps from the film.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:3.5/5]

It may be derivative and filled with pot holes, but Luke Wilson’s strong performance and some consistent laughs make Middle Men enjoyable to watch. Add to this a solid Blu-ray release, even though barebones, and it is at least worthy of a rental.

Additional Screen Captures:

[amazon-product align=”right”]B003Q6D20A[/amazon-product]

BestBuy.com:
Middle Men - Widescreen Subtitle AC3 Dolby Dts

Purchase Middle Men on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:3/5]

Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2/5]

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