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T2: Trainspotting (Blu-ray Review)

21 years ago, Trainspotting arrived. One of the biggest trends in film of the 1990s was the rise of the independent film and Trainspotting was one of the largest. It was the second film from Danny Boyle (Go seek out Shallow Grave, his first, its awesome), but its the one that really launched him. It also launch the careers of Ewan McGregor, Robert Carlyle, Johnny Lee Miller, Kelly Macdonald and Ewan Bremner as well. The film was one of those “MTV Generation” kind of movies, but damn was it ever so energetic and effective. Rewatching it for this review, I had just forgotten how damned good and powerful it was. Now, we’re here 21 years later (2o for the characters in the film) for a reunion movie and follow up that had been discussed by Danny Boyle for many years.  The film will be available for purchse on June 27th and can be pre-ordered below.

Film 

First there was an opportunity… then there was a betrayal. Twenty years have gone by. Much has changed but just as much remains the same. Mark Renton returns to the only place he can ever call home. They are waiting for him: Spud, Sick Boy, and Begbie. Other old friends are waiting too: sorrow, loss, joy, vengeance, hatred, friendship, love, longing, fear, regret, diamorphine, self-destruction and mortal danger, they are all lined up to welcome him, ready to join the dance.

Twenty years is both a very long time and not very long at all in the scheme of things. Both angles are covered very well in Danny Boyle’s follow up to his break out success Trainspotting. A film that reunites characters in the original as they rediscover one another, bring old conflicts to a head and find they may be older, but are still themselves when they get to be around one another. Its odd to call this a sequel, but more so a follow up or reunion. Boyle once let us peer in at a moment in the lives of some youths and now is letting us peer in at another moment.

A lot of times when people make a lega-sequel, they sit and harp on the original and try to celebrate it by recreating it or want to constantly remind you of what you liked. Some of them are so good you don’t even realize they’re doing it. T2: Trainspotting manages to fall somewhere in the middle. There are clips and instances meant to remind or evoke scenes and memories of the first movie.  However, its their to do such; remind and also is at the service of the story. This second film has its own look, feel and style while at the same time being a bit of an extension off of the first film. Boyle has found a way to really make it work.

Boyle’s touches on this film are apparent and his regularly tight plotting and narrative is still here even though the film is two hours length. His trademark visuals pop up in little spurts and moments in the film (Its not really driven by them, but the come and go).  My personal favorite touch was a moment where Renk goes up an elevator and he chooses to show the full exterior of the building has visual numbers counting up to 13 going up the building. Oh, and if you thought this may be a hair more adult than the first outing, early on, Boyle shows he can still make you gag and almost puke at gross stuff (Reminding you of that feelings during the toilet scene in the first).

I find it interesting that T2: Trainspotting comes at an interesting resurgence for Ewan McGregor. In 1996, the first film really launched his career into stardom. Following it, he leap frogged the competition and ended up the front runner and winner of playing Obi Wan Kenobi in Star Wars: Episode I. Now, here we are 20 years later and he returns to the role at the same time he stars in the billion dollar Beauty & The Beast in one of its key roles and has a dual lead in the popular and acclaimed Fargo television series. Oh, and the Obi Wan spinoff movie demand is higher than ever and constantly brought up.

To follow the original Trainspotting and to be as potent, fresh and effective as that film is an impossible task. Boyle opts not to try and recreate that magic, but to keep in step and focus on the characters and where they’ve been all these years. Over the past two decades there has been talk of this sequel and I always wondered why and if it was really necessary. I still don’t know if it was necessary, but I didn’t mind going back and catching up with these characters and finding myself drawn into their lives and activities once again.

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: T2: Trainspotting features a strong and bold image in its Blu-ray debut. The image is nice and sharp with some really good detail. Green pastures and hillsides look beautiful and you can even see the make and look of the grasses and leaves. The dark grody underbelly of the city in crummy buildings shows good attention to their decays and such. Clothing and such features a strong representation of their patterns and threads. Overall, its a great looking Blu-ray picture.

Depth:  T2 features some pretty good depth work. Characters and objects see a good separation between them and the background. Movements are smooth and no real jitter or blurring issues during rapid movements and camera jerks.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep and pretty strong. There are some really dark scenes in the film and the image holds its own pretty well, keeping details intact. No crushing witnessed when watching for this review.

Color Reproduction: Colors look pretty good in this image. Reds, blues and greens are some of the best of them, to go along with a good representation of the lighting filters.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and maintain their look throughout the film’s runtime. Facial details are strong in close ups and medium shots.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English Audio Descriptive Service, French 5.1 DTS-HD MA, French Audio Descriptive Service,

Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish

Dynamics: For what it is, what it can do and being the only thing on here, the 5.1 track on T2: Trainspotting is very good. However, there are both an Atmos and a 7.1 track on the 4K release. Why they aren’t here is probably just to help prop up that 4K Ultra-HD release as the one to choose. But, we have 5.1. Its got a solid mix, with a good balance.  Music and effects feel quite good and layered.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: You get the bumps from the music of course, but also crashes, punches and more. Especially cool when a dude gets dropped onto a glass table.

Surround Sound Presentation: All 5 speakers are pretty active in this mix. Boyle doesn’t forget the back two exist as they get to do their own stuff while also setting the tone and mood of the room. Sound travels accurately to screen right to left and back again as well.

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogues is clear and crisp.

Extras 

T2: Trainspotting comes with an UltraViolet digital copy.

Audio Commentary

  • With Director Danny Boyle and Screenwriter John Hodge

20 Years in the Making: A Conversation with Danny Boyle and the Cast (HD, 24:49) – Ewan Bremner isn’t available, but he gives a short introduction and they have a card board cut out with him at the discussion with Danny Boyle, Johnny Lee Miller, Ewan McGregor and Robert Carlyle. They chat about the original film and how it wasn’t hard to get back into their characters as they had been with them all these years. Its a solid discussion about how they feel its very meta and really they go into life and character depth and appreciation.

Calton Athletic Documentary: Choose Endorphins Over Addiction (HD, 4:25) – Almost trailer-like, this is an ad with confessionals for a Scottish-based recovery group.

Deleted Scenes (HD, 30:11)

Summary 

T2: Trainspotting is a nice return, the one you weren’t really asking for, but didn’t know you needed. Its a nice compliment to the original. The standard Blu-ray edition has a terrific picture quality to be accompanied by a real nice 5.1 track. Its a bit disappointing that there are both a 7.1 track and an Atmos track on the 4K disc that aren’t present here. The extras are pretty solid and enough to make this a solid package.

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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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