Top Five is Chris Rock’s third go-around as writer/director of a feature film. His first film(s) were Head of State, and I Think I Love My Wife. I have not seen those two but was really anxious to see his latest film Top Five. The buzz surrounding Top Five was favorable and the trailers and promotional materials were pretty funny, so it was time to give the film a go on Blu-ray. Please keep reading to see if Top Five should be on your top five Blu-rays to watch.
Top Five is Chris Rock’s “trifecta” film in terms of writing and directing. What does the title mean, though? “Top Five” in context means what are your top five rap/hip-hop groups of all time. When it’s mentioned in the film it’s usually in conversation with friends, family, etc. It’s also a great opener in terms of breaking the ice, because people reflect on what a top five means to them but I digress. Let’s talk about the film first before the deeper meanings of the title.
Andre Allen (Chris Rock) is a superstar film entertainer whose humble beginnings as a struggling stand-up comedian propelled him into stardom. He’s married to a beautiful woman, Erica (Gabrielle Union), who is also trying to establish a viable career in entertainment outside of the shadow of her more successful husband by starring and producing a reality show that chronicles her life and that of Andre’s. Granted, all eyes are on her for more obvious reasons.
Chelsea Brown (Rosario Dawson) is tasked with interviewing Andre on the heels of his latest box office bomb. Together they go for a walk down the streets of New York. It’s not the crowded streets that they take their journey on but the quieter parts of the city that most don’t know about – if there’s even a thing like that. Andre bares his soul Chelsea and tells her about being black and struggling in a business that has a stranglehold on who can and cannot be successful. Likewise, Chelsea bares her soul to Andre and tells her what it’s like doing what she does for a living. She has her own struggles and they don’t always involve work.
Along the way we make some pit stops to meet some of Andre’s family and those scenes were freakin’ hysterical! There are many guest stars here bringing their comedic chops to the screen. It would be a disservice for me to list them all but you will be pleasantly surprised as to who makes a cameo(s). I initially thought Top Five would be to on the nose in terms of how Chris Rock would portray, in essence, himself. On the surface it seemed very self-serving but was glad that the film didn’t overly indulge how his character was compared to how he is in real life.
I mentioned in the beginning of this review that “top five,” means a list of your top five music acts. That seems to be the catalyst that opens folks up and it also seems to be the catalyst that brings folks together. Not literally but it makes for some fantastic conversations and situations. I think it’s valid just for that and it makes for a clever cinematic device. Top Five is a treat.
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Clarity/Detail: Top Five was shot digitally but you would never know it. Contrast and sharpness levels never appear tweaked and retain a nice and natural push.
Depth: Depth was great – the film never looked flat or unimpressive. This is a near-reference presentation after all.
Black Levels: Black levels are outstanding and I did not detect any instances of crush or compression artifacts.
Color Reproduction: There’s a natural color palette throughout the film unless we’re inside a bar or club and then it goes into neon overdrive but the color wheel remains nice and steady absent of banding and pixilation.
Flesh Tones: Flesh tones appear nice and natural and everyone looks nice and healthy.
Noise/Artifacts: I did not detect and instances of dirt, noise, artifacts, etc.
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD MA 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese
Dynamics: Top Five sounds great on Blu-ray and the lossless soundtrack comes through without beating you over the head with its high definition fidelity.
Low Frequency Extension: The bass in your face gets going during the various scenes in the club, where it really BUMPS! Get ready to get your groove on – you’ll know when.
Surround Sound Presentation: There are many scenes, indoors/outdoors, which have more than just ambient sounds coming through from the rear channels. Those sounds are handled nicely.
Dialogue Reproduction: Top Five is primarily a dialogue driven film and the center channel reproduces the dialogues faithfully and without any hints of distortion or hiss.
Top Five on Blu-ray has a nice and hearty array of special features that include and audio commentary with Chris Rock and JB Smoove – it’s a serious/funny blend, as they talk about the filming and what went into the making of the film. There are several lengthy featurettes on the making of the film itself and conversations with the cast about Chris Rock and the material at hand. My favorite of the bunch is the deleted scenes revolving around Andre Allen’s stand-up routine. There is some very funny material that was removed due to pacing. All of the material presented in the special features section is in high definition.
- Audio Commentary
- It’s Never Just a Movie: Chris Rock and Top Five
- The Making of Top Five
- Top Five Andre Allen Standup Outtakes
- Top Five Moments You Didn’t See in the Film
- Deleted Scenes
Top Five could have been a throwaway of film focusing on Rock’s stand-up comedic talents but as funny as the film is it doesn’t squander the opportunity to tell a good story, with some underlying satire thrown in for good measure. It has a very free form approach that can almost be mistaken for French New Wave. The Blu-ray is top notch in terms of video, audio, and special features content. Top Five is a damn good flick and should be checked out on Blu-ray promptly.