At last, after months of waiting since last Christmas, I was able to view my favorite movie of last year, Wolf of Wall Street, in the privacy of my own home. As expected, once again, it did not let me down. I re-experienced 3 hours of pure enjoyment. That’s right, I said 3 hours of enjoyment once again!!! Even without popcorn and an Icee! Martin Scorsese has truly outdone himself with this film. Clocking in at an impressive 179 minutes, Wolf of Wall Street has set a record as Mr. Scorsese’s longest fictional film by beating out Casino by a mere one minute. Wolf is, in my opinion, by far the director’s most exciting film in years. Second runner up would be The Departed, but that’s a different story and review all together. Looking back, how this film did not get a NC-17 rating is beyond me as Scorsese has pushed the boundaries of the R-rating to the absolute limits with a combination of drugs, strippers, sex, depravity and oh so much more. But don’t get me wrong. In no way am I complaining at all. So do I have your attention yet?? Okay, I cannot wait any longer to dive into an in-depth conversation about this brilliant film.
In case you are not aware of what the movie is about I will take a minute to fill you in and make sure we are all on the same page. Wolf of Wall Street is based on the true story of a young man named Jordan Belfort (played by DiCaprio) from Queens with big dreams of making it big on Wall Street. We see his rise to becoming an extremely wealthy stockbroker living the dream to his inevitable fall involving crime, corruption and the dreaded FBI. That’s not a spoiler as this is a true story, right? Let’s just say Leonardo’s performance is spectacular here. He’s able to give such an emotional depth to the character that you find yourself rooting for him, even though his character is a sleaze ball. Weird, huh? That’s the magic of Leo!
If you want proof of the zaniness and mayhem here I’ll give it to you. In just the opening scenes you witness a dwarf throwing office party, complete with hookers, naked marching band, booze, quaaludes and lets not forget Belfort’s drug of choice, cocaine. After that fun we flash back to the beginning, where he gets a taste of the absolute madness of Wall Street and ultimately where his insatiable appetite to consume everything around him begins. And this is just the beginning!
Jordan is just a greenhorn when he starts working at Rothschilds in 1987. There he is introduced to the wild and crazy life of a stockbroker portrayed by none other than his boss Mark Hanna (played by Matthew McConaughey, seen too briefly in my opinion) in one of my favorite scenes. Hanna teaches Belfort his two-step method for dealing with the intense stresses of the job: ingest generous amounts of cocaine and masturbate several times a day (at least two times is mandatory).
When the Black Monday market crash of 1987 happens, it forces Belfort back to square one, searching the Help Wanted ads for a new job. He comes across a job at a rinky-dink store front brokerage firm in Long Island that specializes in “penny stocks,” AKA a cheap sell to the unlucky sucker (investor) that will never see a “cent” in return. This is where Belfort realizes he has what it takes to make millions from scamming the hard working blue collared workers out of everything. With all the money he has raked in from penny stocks, Belfort has purchased one sweet ride that catches the eye of neighbor Donnie Azoff (the hilarious, Jonah Hill) who is ready to quit his job at the drop of a hat and work for him if Belfort can produce a pay stub showing the thousands of dollars he made last month. From there Belfort decides to open his own firm, Stratton Oakmont, with Azoff as his wing man. They pull together a crew of misfits (mostly drug dealers) to train to become successful brokers. Now before I move on I have to stop briefly to talk about the one and only Jonah Hill. Hill as Donnie Azoff was absolutely an Oscar-worthy performance (although we all know he didn’t get it). It is in my opinion, Hill’s best performance to date. Okay, moving on…
As the millions start to build up so does the drug-fueled madness. Belfort is feeling untouchable while buying mansions, helicopters, yachts and sports cars, along with ingesting any drug he can get his hands on. He is living large and loving it. Even the wise advice of his father (Rob Reiner) is not enough to control Belfort’s greed and obsession to do what he wants. His wild behavior and erratic lifestyle ultimately causes his self-destruction. Even his hot onscreen wife played by Margot Robbie can’t save him. Isn’t that always the sad case?
So let’s talk about a high-risk reward. The ongoing partnership between Scorsese and DiCaprio is one of cinema’s best, and in my opinion it just keeps getting better. This is by far DiCaprio’s finest three hours on the big screen. I think. I cannot say enough about his performance. He did not just play Jordan Belfort he became Jordan Belfort. While this is NOT a movie you show to the little ones, it is one that should not be missed, especially now that it’s home on the Blu-ray format. It is well worth the price of sitting on a cushion for a few hours. My only remorse is that it’s not the fabled 4-hour director’s cut. Where is that? I don’t know about you, but bring it on! I can easily sit on the couch for another hour taking in the life of Belfort and all these rich onscreen characters and I have a hunch that you can too.
Well enough about my feelings, remorse and love for this film. There’s enough humor, wit, sing alongs and one-liners to keep you busy for quite sometime here. But let’s chat about the real reason you are all here. How does it look and sound on Blu-ray? And are there any extra goodies? Those are both valid questions. Come on. I’ll do my best to answer them below.
Let’s talk in detail a little bit about what Paramount brings to the table in the video department here.
- Encoding: AVC MPEG-4
- Resolution: 1080p
- Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
- Clarity/Detail: I got to say the presentation on this Blu-ray is night and day better looking than its HD iTunes counterpart provided here that I checked out earlier today. This print is pristine with impeccable detail. From the pores on Matthew’s coke snorting snout to the wrinkles in Leo’s forehead, things are presented clearly and concise. It’s tight! Even sweater fuzz makes its presence known. From dirty window smudges to unique suit fabrics, this girl is in love with this presentation. Just an FYI…there are some moments of found footage and televised informercials that intentionally look the way they do.
- Depth: Like my boyfriend writes in his reviews, things go pop here in the best way possible. Three-dimensional pop! The characters pop out from the backgrounds. So I guess it’s safe to say the depth of field is definitely in check here.
- Black Levels: I love the way this film is lit. You definitely have some deep and inky black levels going on here and getting their groove on.
- Color Reproduction: This is a very vibrant and bright presentation that matches the time period during which this movie takes place. I like that!
- Flesh Tones: The skin tones all look natural throughout for the most part, and there is a lot of skin in this to take in, but there’s also a slight orangish hue to it all too. However, that doesn’t distract me in the least. It’s the movie that speaks for itself.
- Noise/Artifacts: There are no white specks, noises or any other distractions to be found anywhere in the presentation here. I’m a very happy girl with the Blu-ray of my favorite movie of 2013. Can’t you tell?
Good audio is like the peanut butter to the jelly in a sandwich so let’s examine what we have to work with here courtesy of Paramount.
- Audio Format: English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital
- Subtitles: English Audio Description and English, English SDH, French, Spanish
- Dynamics: This is a loud soundtrack! It’s very front heavy, but still quite engaging. The rear speakers do their best to keep up with booming fronts. Every wolf pack chant and roar are meticulously reproduced on this surround track. All the twangy highs and booming lows are rendered distinctly here.
- Low Frequency Extension: Wolf‘s soundtrack produces a very robust LFE presentation. Every chest pump is is loud, voluptuous and full, not to mention the lightning, but more on that below.
- Surround Sound Presentation: Like I said up above in the dynamics field, the rears do their absolute best to keep up with every roar, chant, groan, ache, glass break, helicopter flying over and soundtrack cue that there front speakers make. Things are absolutely dimensional like a fine action film presentation, but I believe this one will still keep you fully engaged. There’s always some ambient sound going on behind no matter how faint. But again, keep in mind this is a drama so to speak, not Pacific Rim. However, the presentation really comes to life in certain scenes such as the race to Switzerland in a boat during a raging storm. The waves literally swell up behind you in the speakers.
- Dialogue Reproduction: Impeccable! Every voice is loud and clear. You won’t have any trouble hearing this one, not one at all.
Sadly, for as gorgeous as the scores are up above, there’s only one lone supplement to be found here ironically called The Wolf Pack. You would expect to see more here, especially since the 4-hour director’s cut is not included here (most likely a future double dip), right? That’s my thoughts, anyway! However, what’s truly important is the film up above and it’s exceptional presentation. And like my boyfriend always says, it also comes with a drink coaster too, the DVD, and both the UV and iTunes HD Digital Copies of the film, which we both love and enjoy on Apple TV as well as on our iPhones and iPads. So without further ado, here’s what you have here.
- The Wolf Pack (HD, 17:01) – Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill and other cast plus the crew (even the costume designer) all chime in and talk about the brilliance of the filmmaker Martin Scorsese and how much they wanted to do this film with him because they knew he had the right vision to recreate this authentic tale of excess, betrayal and most importantly, perseverance. Of course, they all talk about the journey of making the movie too. The cast and crew also share their insight on the real Jordan Belfort and his story of rising to power as well as their thoughts on the ingenious script by Terence Winter too. Leo says out of the 5 times he worked with Martin, this was his favorite one because of the pleasure and enjoyment he has collaborating with him. It was amazing to see what Matthew McConaughey brought to his character, to the set, the one scene in particular, and as a result to the spirit of the rest of the movie. You have to love him!
- Digital HD (HD) – Here we have a Digital version of the film that can be accessed through UltraViolet and iTunes in glorious HD. Thank you Paramount!
- DVD (SD) – And here we have the standard definition DVD disc you can play up front in the ahem…mini van.
My boyfriend loves providing his readers of his reviews with “exclusive” unboxing pics so I hope I make him proud with the following iPhone shots. I could not resist this packaging and wad of bills Paramount provided us with!
Take a look at this fancy marketing below! This box had me at hello.
Cha ching! Paramount shows us the money shot (aka fun coupons) inside!
Here’s the back of the Blu-ray slipcover.
And here, nothing special, are the discs!
I think all the scores above are exemplary proof, minus the Extras section, as to why this Blu-ray package of The Wolf of Wall Street is a must-own, but don’t take my own biased word solely for it. Check out the readers of Rotten Tomatoes here and find out why the majority rules in favor of this one! Sure there will be a double dip down the road with a longer cut, but didn’t Matthew McConaughey’s character teach you anything in this film? You got to grab life by the frank and beans and enjoy it now. That of course starts with pre-ordering The Wolf of Wall Street today, which releases in retailers everywhere March 25th!