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January 15, 2009
American Psycho Blu-Ray Movie Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
10/8/200010/12/2008Sony PicturesMary Harron
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
VC-1Dolby TrueHD 5.1R18+Christian Bale

Almost two decades ago, in 1991 to be precise, a novel by Bret Easton Ellis called American Psycho was released, and it was so controversial that original publishers, Simon & Schuster, actually dropped the book prior to release. It was then picked up by Vintage Books who edited it (to remove some of the more gory aspects such as genital mutilation), and it became a best seller. In 2000 that book was turned into a movie which is what we are about to look at...

Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale) is a young handsome, Harvard educated, Wall Street success, seemingly perfect with his stunning fiancée (Reese Witherspoon) and entourage of high-powered friends. But his circle of friends doesn't know the other Patrick Bateman, the one who lusts for more than status and material things. With a detective hot on his trail and temptation everywhere, Patrick Bateman can't fight his terrible urges that take him on the pursuit of woman, greed and the ultimate crime-murder! Based on the controversial book by Bret Easton Ellis, American Psycho is a sexy thriller that sets forth a vision that is both terrifying and chilling.

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That's Christian Bale in American Psycho.
Maybe I'm missing something here. While there is no denying that the acting in American Psycho is quite superb all round, it just doesn't quite gel as a movie for me. Sure there are some tense moments, and the odd twist, but I honestly can't see why this is so loved. It's quite predictable in some places, and quite unpredictable in others - I'm thinking the vagrant in the street here.

If there is one highlight of this movie it's the fine performance of Christian Bale - someone who most would now know as Bruce Wayne/Batman in the two recent movies, and soon to be seen in Terminator Salvation. The way in which he switches from a friendly, hard-working, civilian to vicious killer is stunning and it really stands out in this movie. Supporting cast are solid in their performances, including the gorgeous Reese Witherspoon as Patrick's girlfriend, although Willem Dafoe is certainly under utilised.

We must also point out that this movie is rated R18+ but to be honest I was a little surprise at the movie being given such a rating. Sure, the themes are very adult oriented, and there are some sex scenes and nudity, but when it comes to the actual murders they aren't overly explicit. Still, this isn't a movie for kids.

While I don't see why people love this movie so much, I can see that the movie has some great acting and a very interesting main character, but it doesn't make this worthwhile in my mind. Still, each to his own, and for fans of the movie I'm sure my opinion won't reduce your interest in this Blu-Ray release.

When this movie first started I was quite concerned as there was telecine wobble during the opening Lions Gate Films Logo, as well as the white title sequence. Fortunately, and as seems to be the case with so many movies, this either vanishes or is severely reduced when the actual "film" image starts and the picture quality improves considerably. This Blu-Ray disc has been encoded at 1080p using the AVC MPEG-4 codec which often hovers in the mid to high 20Mbps range. The transfer is presented in the films original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and for the most part this is a solid, if somewhat uninspiring transfer, although there are a couple of flaws.

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If you haven't seen this movie, this moment is tense!
So what exactly are these flaws then? Well the image isn't consistent in colouring our brightness. When Patrick picks up Christie for a second time between 1:07:06 and 1:09:31 there is some noticeable contrast and brightness shifting which is quite terrible. Another terrible scene is when Patrick is calling his lawyer from 1:22:20 to 1:24:52 - have a look at the right hand side of the image in particular. The transfer also exhibits a change in the level of sharpness between some scenes. Given though that this movie was shot for $US7 million these could be explained as being a result of budgetary constraints.

American Psycho comes to Blu-Ray with an English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track which, in all honest, can't really be described as one of the most exciting tracks we have ever heard. Sound design is actually quite muted in places, and even during some of the more gory murder scenes the sound didn't really have as much impact as we expected. Dialogue is pretty clear (there's no Batman styled unintelligible gruffness here thankfully). At the very least though you know that you're getting the best possible sound for this movie - and it would certainly be a step up from the Dolby Digital 5.1 track at 448kbps as presented on the DVD.

Other languages on this disc include a Spanish Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track as well as Polish Dolby Digital 2.0 track at 192kbps and Russian Dolby Digital 5.1 track at 640kbps. These latter two tracks simply dub their language over the English which may annoy while the Spanish track does not, and is actually quite impressive quality wise. Subtitles are provided in English, English SDH, Spanish, Bulgarian, Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, Czech, Hungarian, Polish, Portuguese, and Thai. We sampled the English track and it was accurate to dialogue, and with good, readable, pacing.

American Psycho comes to Blu-Ray with a couple of extras, including two audio commentaries which are the highlight. The DVD releases had a couple of additional extras - including a 45 minute making of documentary, but we miss out here.

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American Psycho has several sex scenes.
Audio Commentary by Director Mary Harron: Probably the most interesting of the two commentaries the director covers many aspects of the production of this movie, adapting the book and what the actors went through to film this movie.

Audio Commentary by Writer Guinevere Turner: This second commentary is also rather interesting with the writer of this movie gives some details about the production of this movie, the storyline, and what the actors went through for their roles.

The 80's Downtown (31:46): A rather strange documentary about the 1980's clubs from nightclubs to the boom of the sex club business which attracted everyone including the Wall Street yuppies. This documentary also looks at the fashion, and drug addictions of the era. There's nothing here related to the movie really, but it's somewhat interesting.

Deleted Scenes (12:24): A series of deleted scenes which each come with optional directors commentary. Even for Standard Definition the video quality is pretty atrocious, but completists will be happy to see these included on the Blu-Ray.

If you like this movie - and like I said I can't really see the fascination - then this Blu-Ray disc will at least offer you improved visuals and audio over the DVD release although there are certainly issues with the video transfer. Throw in a couple of decent extras and this is a disc fans may want to check out, but others may want to pass.

Review By: Dave Warner


Note: All images in this article are Copyright© Sony Pictures. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.