SONY has finally released the long-awaited classic, "DONNIE BRASCO" on BLU-RAY. We're pleased to see that they're releasing the "EXTENDED CUT" instead of just releasing the theatrical version with plans to re-visit it again for the "extended" version on BLU-RAY at a later date as many studios have done when more than one version exists already of a film. This reviewer had never liked Mike Newell's direction in the past and really hated "FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL," which is why "DONNIE BRASCO" is such a surprisingly great film. Sure, it's well-written and brilliantly acted, but this is really a director's film! From the opening credits, Newell displays a dazzling skill that never lets up, regardless of the pacing of any individual sequence. "DONNIE BRASCO" ranks up there with "GOODFELLAS" and the best of gangster dramas.
Critics have generally slammed the new release's content as being unnecessary and for the fact that it lacks definition as to whom authorized it, but while the new scenes may not improve what is arguably already a masterpiece, they don't diminish it either.
SONY has provided a 1080p/MPEG-2 transfer with the film's original 2.35:1 aspect ratio intact. Colors are perfectly saturated in every scene. The level of detail is dazzling throughout. While there are a few scenes that appear less impressive in detail than the majority, the image is never flat. Great depth is offered in even the darkest scenes. As mentioned earlier, the opening credit sequence offers a fine example of what this transfer can offer. The detail of black and white photos being zoomed in on, perfectly captures what the film should look like in a theater! It's just dazzling!
The dvd transfer offers the correct format, and colors are solid, but the level of detail is noticeably less impressive than the blu-ray. While still on par with the best dvds out there, it just can't compare in terms of depth to the BLU-RAY format. Grain is also more intrusive on the dvd than in the blu-ray.
SONY has provided a PCM 5.1 mix for the BLU-RAY and it's also dazzling. From the opening credits to the ending, this is an aggressive, captivating mix. Surrounds are brilliantly utilized to enhance scenes, without ever feeling gimmicky. Dialogue, effects and the brilliant score are perfectly balanced.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix on the dvd is also quite impressive. At times silent, and at others, quite involving, the mix often provides layers of dialogue, music and effects with perfect clarity.
While the short featurette is intriguing, the great commentary with director Newell, found on the previous dvd is absent here!!!