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American Hustle (DVD Review)

American Hustle - www.whysoblu.comAmerican Hustle, more recently famous for being nominated for a whopping 10 Oscars, and winning none. Is that indicative of it not being a good movie? Absolutely not and we will squash those rumors down with our DVD review. American Hustle stars Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, and Jeremy Renner. It’s the story of the ultimate con and the conmen who weave its magic all using the backdrop of the 1970’s. David O. Russell who also directed The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook in recent years directed American Hustle. Have yourself a sit down, grab an ice-cold beverage, and take a trip back in time with American Hustle. Hide your wallet. 

 

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Film 

Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) is the fat, comb over king of the con, and Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) is his muse and fellow queen of the con but when their scheme snares an undercover FBI agent by the name of Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper) all bets will literally be off. See, Rosenfeld also has a hothead of a wife named Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence) and DiMaso and the FBI want Rosenfeld and Prosser to catch New Jersey Mayor Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner) accepting bribes along with some other politicians. Sounds easy enough right?

American Hustle was nominated for 10 Academy Awards and famously won none of them. This doesn’t mean that film was bad. Far from it, it just means that the stars weren’t properly aligned – it wasn’t mean to be. David O. Russell has come back with his most ambitious film yet and basically honored Martin Scorsese by creating a film that feels like a Scorsese film, without having been directed by Scorsese himself. Where Scorsese deals with heavier subject matters like gangster violence Russell deals with con men and the art of the steal.

Bale as Rosenfeld personifies his character and makes an overweight guy with a heart problem and epic comb over look cool. Cool, because he has a woman like Sydney Prosser by his side. How and why is the question(s). One would think she would be his polar opposite. Then again he does have Jennifer Lawrence waiting for him at home, so dude is a pretty good lady’s man. He sure knows how to pick ’em! Bradley Cooper as the smug and pathetic agent with an inferiority complex and wicked perm is another great but slimy character who has pent up rage and humor and takes pleasure in the situations he puts Rosenfeld in, because it may mean that he may get closer to Sydney.

Jeremy Renner sporting a great pompadour hairstyle is the very nice and naive Mayor Carmine Polito, who means well but just gets involved with shady characters. All he wants to do is rebuild Atlantic City but it will take mob money to do so. This is where things heat up. As the kettle begins to boil we start to see some of the major players navigate through treacherous terrain as they start trying to lay down their various traps to ensnare their target. Yeah, it sounds like you’re watching a thriller as opposed to watching a film about some conmen but that’s sort of how it plays out.

David O. Russell has crafted a fun and entraining romp of a film that is visually dazzling and full of loud spectacle. American Hustle is not a masterpiece by any means but its merits should not being dismissed either. I do think it’s a better film than his Silver Linings Playbook but not as good or great as The Fighter or Three Kings. I do think he does a great job in emulating and paying tribute to Martin Scorsese without coming off as trying to rip him off.

I should also quickly add that as good as the film is I actually thought it was better in theaters than it was on DVD. Maybe it’s just a state of mind but I really dug it at the show and thought it was “just okay” on DVD. I’m not taking anything away from the it, as it is an above average film and the cast, director, performances are all spot on. It may just be one of those “you should have really caught the film on the big screen” types of things, which I did, but then when watching it at home didn’t have the same impact. Yeah, I know, stop being weird, G.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-2

Resolution: 480p (unconverted to 1080p)

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

Clarity/Detail: Sharpness levels are fine, with bits of edge enhancement. These are just the limitations of the format.

Depth: American Hustle looks pretty good on DVD. The image is above average for a DVD, and due to the film taking place in the 70’s, is actually enhanced a bit more by the “roughness” of the print. Being a DVD and set 35-40 years ago is actually an improvement of sorts over the norm.

Black Levels: Black levels are deep, with minimal crush, as this is the DVD version of the film.

Color Reproduction: The color palette is a loud one, being the 70’s and all, and it does look amazing. One minute it’s rich and vibrant before looking a tad drab and almost like a pastel painting. It all depends on the scene.

Flesh Tones: Flesh tones are immaculate and the loud 70’s make-up on the women gives them a certain glow. The men also look healthy and vibrant. They gotta look good, right?

Noise/Artifacts: Noise and artifacts are minimal but not distracting.

 

American Hustle - www.whysoblu.com

Audio 

Audio Formats: English Dolby Digital 5.1, English Audio Descriptive Track

Subtitles: English, English SDH

Dynamics: Being that the film is more of a con artist film as opposed to gangsters shooting up the place the dynamics of the film complimented each other fairly well. There are several quiet scenes of contemplation before it kicks into high gear. These scenes transitioned well and the 5.1 soundtrack was more than able to handle the task.

Low Frequency Extension: This one was weird. I saw this at the theater and the bass was absolutely stellar. On this DVD, however, it was just average. The best scene to audition American Hustle in would be at the disco club where Bradley Cooper and Amy Adam’s characters go to dance. I waited for the bass to take me and it didn’t. I’m not saying that it sounded or felt awful but I’ve heard/felt better.

Surround Sound Presentation: Lots of sound material coming through the rear channels – perfectly compliments the busy-ness of what these people are doing in their everyday lives. From the conmen themselves, to the police, etc., the sound field is very enveloping.

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue is crystal clear and everyone nails his or her respective New York and New Jersey accents down flat. “It’s the clams, it’s the sauce!”

 

 

American Hustle - www.whysoblu.com

Extras 

A pretty paltry offering of supplements is included on this DVD. There are several deleted scenes and a “making-of” segment, with some interviews thrown into the mix. Previews for other Sony titles are included, as well.

  • Deleted and Extended Scenes  (SD, 22:30) – A collection of deleted scenes and extended scenes that ended up on the cutting room floor. These scenes were understandably cut to keep the film lean, yes even over 2 hours, these scenes would have really bogged the picture down, in my opinion.
  • The Making of American Hustle (SD, 16:40) – Here’s a making of AND an interview featurette chronicling the making of the film with the stars talking about what it was like working with David O. Russell and all that jazz. Some have already worked with him before. It’s a pretty standard fluff piece but it’s neat to see Christian Bale speak with his English accent. He’s always playing a non-Englishman/Welshman.
  • Previews – Various Sony film previews.
  • UV Ultraviolet Digital Copy – a code is included for a downloadable UV copy of American Hustle. 

 

American Hustle - www.whysoblu.com

Summary 

 I really don’t know what happened between the time I saw it in theaters a few months ago and then on DVD. It made my Top-10 list of best films of 2013 then when I saw it on home video it sort of dropped a bit. It’s still a good an entertaining film but nowhere near “masterpiece” material. The video and audio on the DVD is above average and the extras are a bit on the low-end side. It really is what it is but a rental would more than suffice or if you can get the Blu-ray, because I have a feeling that the video/audio/supplement levels on the BD are way above the DVD. I’ll let you decide.

 

 

 

Order American Hustle on DVD!

 

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Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

4 Responses to “American Hustle (DVD Review)”


  1. Brian White

    I don’t think it is weird either G. I really loved this theatrically, but I agree with how you feel about it now after a second watch.
    My mom just told me last night she doesn’t think Amy Adams should have been up for an Oscar for her role. You see her outfits?! Of course she should have!

  2. Brandon Peters

    Great stuff here, G. I thought it was good but not great in the theaters. I think a lot of people are starting to come a little down from it after their initial viewings. Its a really fun film though.

  3. Aaron Neuwirth

    Adams is the only one I thought should have been up for an Oscar…

  4. Brandon Peters

    Agree with Aaron. Disagree with Brian’s mom. 🙂