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Narcopolis (Blu-ray Review)

NarcopolisIFC Midnight teams once again with Scream Factory for another genre-bending adventure on Blu-ray.  This time its the futuristic drug tale Narcopolis.  Its written and directed by Justin Trefgarne, Narcopolis stars Elliot Cowan (Howl, Da Vinci’s Demons), Jonathan Pryce (Game of Thrones), James Callis (Battlestar Galactica) and Elodie Yung (TV’s Daredevil, G.I. Joe: Retaliation).  Starburst Magazine says “Narcopolis Will Leave Viewers Buzzing, Dazed And Desperately Jonesing For The Next Hit.”  I don’t know if that’s a film-related magazine or if its a fan club newsletter for people who really enjoy a certain kind of candy.  Anyway, this one will be coming your way to Blu-ray on March 1st.

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Film Dex-1Dex-1Dex-1Dexter-0Dexter-0

In 2024, the manufacture and consumption of drugs has been legalized. Drecks are an elite unit created by an over-stretched police force to keep the black market dealers off the streets and the licensed drug companies rich. When dreck and former addict Frank Grieves is called to investigate an unidentifiable corpse, he makes a connection to the biggest and most powerful drug producer of them all: The Ambro Company. But Ambro has friends in high places and as his corrupt superiors turn on him, Grieves finds himself cut loose by the law and separated from the people he loves. The only way to clear his name is to find the identity of the dead body and its connection to Ambro. But not even Grieves is ready for what the future has in store.

Narcopolis isn’t some great movie that I’m suggesting you hurry, seek it and get the word out.  But, its a really solid piece of entertainment that knows how to keep you interested enough and tuned in from scene to scene.  Its kind of like a Dan Brown novel in that approach.  The film is a happy mish mash of futuristic wannabe-Blade Runner, Seven-like procedural and time traveling all whipped up into one nice low key adventure.  The fact that all this works should probably be commended as well.

The film isn’t perfect, but it works.  Probably the most key aspect of Narcopolis is the fact that it knows exactly what it is from the script to the screen.  It knows its low budget, it knows its story is a stealthy one.  Every decision made is keeping within the confines of its own production limitations.  Best part of all, is that the film is such a comfort that it never feels forced into keeping a lower profile.

My review may not sound overly glowing and a bit empathetic, but I overall I did like the film.  When I popped it in, I kind of had a “Let’s get through this” crappy attitude, but right from the get-go I was intrigued and wanted to keep with the thing from the beginning.  Many of these IFC Midnight’s aren’t “bad” films, but they a lot of times won’t deliver on their promise or awesome trailer.  This is one of those that isn’t going to blow your mind or have you buying the poster for display, but for the time you’re watching it, you’re gonna be pretty satisfied.

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Video Dex-1Dex-1Dex-1Dex-1Dexter-_5

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Clarity/Detail:  This digitally sourced picture for Narcopolis transfers beautifully to Blu-ray.  This is a sharp, crisp image, ripe with strong detail.  One of those “looking through a window” type images.  

Depth:  Distance and spacing are done real well.  This could have been a claustrophobic movie, but due to good depth, its rather pleasant.  Movements are natural and smooth.

Black Levels:  Blacks are deep and inky.  Shadow, and definition are done quite well.  No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction:  While this wants to be a grim future, there are colors that pop.  Most of it comes from the technology in the film or the CGI effects, but they look striking and beautiful.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones are slightly colder by intention and remain a such throughout the duration of the film.  Facial features are highly detailed and very impressive from any given distance.

Noise/Artifacts:  Clean

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Audio Dex-1Dex-1Dex-1Dex-1Dexter-0

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English 2.0 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English

Dynamics:  Narcopolis booms through your system with a pretty good 5.1 track.  This is better than above average, still not at a demo-worthy level.  Key thing is, its better than “just getting the job done” by far.  You’ll be very impressed with some moments, and the track is lively enough to keep you in for the whole thing.

Low Frequency Extension:  Crashing, guns firing, special effects bursts and the like are all given a good bump from the subwoofer.

Surround Sound Presentation:  Front speakers capture terrific movements and placement of the characters and action in the film.  The back channels also are given plenty to do on their own while providing some groovy ambiance and environmental additions.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Dialogue is crisp with great clarity.

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Extras Dex-1Dex-1Dexter-_5Dexter-0Dexter-0

Audio Commentary

  • With Writer/Director Justin Trefgarne

Behind The Scenes (HD, 16:40) – A nice venture through the production of the film with some decent insightful interviews with the director and cast.

Deleted Scene (HD, 3:32) 

Trailer (HD, 2:09) 

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Summary Dex-1Dex-1Dex-1Dexter-_5Dexter-0

Narcopolis is a movie that I found much better than I was anticipating.  IFC Midnight has a decent track record, but does put out plenty of snoozers.  This one is on the end of being a really good rental.  The Blu-ray has a great presentation of both audio and video.  It also provides some really good extras to consume that won’t overwhelm either.  A good release, but the film itself is still definitely on the rental end.

Narcopolis-Blu-ray

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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