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March 25, 2008
Run Lola Run Blu-Ray Movie Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
21/10/199919/3/2008Sony PicturesTom Tykwer
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
AVC MPEG-4English/German Dolby TrueHDMFranka Potente

Run Lola Run, or Lola Rennt as it is called in Germany (and literally translates to Lola Run), was a low budget German movie which few people expected to do too well. Even the star, Franka Potente, comments in the documentary that she thought it would only every be a late night "Art House"styled movie. Since its release however Run Lola Run has built quite a fan base, and has become the 214th highest rated movie of all time on IMDB (with an average score of 8.0/10 from 59,504 votes). To see Run Lola Run released on Blu-Ray is most welcome. Anyway, onto the movie review...

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Moritz Bleibtreu as Manni, Franka Potente as Lola.
Manni (Moritz Bleibtreu) is a small time courier for big time gangster. He is working a standard pick-up/drop-off, and everything is going just fine. When the job is done, all he has to do is wait for his girlfriend, the orange-haired punk girl Lola (Franka Potente), to pick him up. But today is unlike any other day. Due to an incident while she was buying a pack of cigarettes, Lola is late, and Lola is never late. One stroke of bad luck leads to another, and by the time Manni calls Lola, he is at a pay phone with a big, big, big problem. His unforgiving boss will meet him in twenty minutes to pick up 100,000 marks; money that Manni, suddenly, does not have.

Lola rushes out of her apartment and down the street, attempting to get to Manni and, somehow, pick up 100,000 marks on the way. She tears through the city, in a whirl of bums, nuns, babies and guns. Down sidewalks, into offices, through traffic and back again. As her feet slap the pavement and the seconds tick down, the tiniest choices become life altering (or ending) decisions, and the fine line between fate and fortune begins to blur.

Split into three main acts Run Lola Run really is a gem. I saw it many years ago on TV and was transfixed, watching it again for this Blu-Ray review reminded me how much I loved this movie. The editing and pacing is brilliantly tied into the thumping music and despite having over 2,000 transitions and cuts Run Lola Run never manages to lose coherency or become jumbled. It's fast paced, engrossing and the acting is very impressive with the actors - in particular Franka Potente - showing different emotions through each of the three similar, but slightly different acts. While Franka Potente may not be a household name outside Germany (although she is the lead actress in the Bourne movies), few will forget her performance as Lola as she desperately tries to save her boyfriend. Her flaming red hair is etched into cinematic history.

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Lola's brilliant red hair looks stunning.
Run Lola Run is also quite compelling and thought provoking as it makes you think about consequences of actions throughout life. One bump or one moment can change everthing, not only for yourself, but also for the people around you. I won't spoil the movie, but it does make you wonder what if... What if you had quit your job 3 months earlier? What if you had said hello to that guy or girl you were always afraid to talk to? What if you held off robbing that bank just a little longer?

The only disappointment I have with this movie - and it is a problem with the movie rather then the transfer - is the wildly variable video quality. We'll discuss under the video section of this review...

Certainly the weakest aspect of this Blu-Ray release is the video quality. While there are moments of brilliance that really could be treated as 'reference quality' - the vibrance of Lola's red hair being a prime example in many scenes - the fact remains that the video quality on this transfer ranges from brilliantly sharp, to something approaching the depths of VHS quality - and it is quite a shock really. Admittedly, I haven't seen Run Lola Run for several years, and this is probably as good as we will ever see the picture as the faults lie with the source material rather then the encoding for this disc.

Run Lola Run was made on a paltry $US2 million budget which means that short cuts had to be made. The movie does have moments which are quite stunning - particularly those shots from a distance showing Lola running through the streets of the city. It is also possible that much of this 'artifacting' was indeed intentional, but I find it hard to believe that a filmmaker would make the video degradation so blatantly obvious that it reaches the point of distraction.

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Running through the nuns...
So what issues are there exactly. Well let's start with the opening scenes which demonstrate rather annoying white flecks - this is prior to the intentionally grainy opening credits. In other scenes, particularly those in which Lola's dad appears in his office there, the scenes were filmed onto Video, and the results are most evident on Blu-Ray due to the lower resolution and very overblown whites (have a look at 17:50 to 18:34 for an example). In some of the outside shots the image is also quite soft and blurry while some other scenes are extremely low resolution and yes, we believe even lower resolution the video tape (you can see this in the shots of the car crash between 1:02:52 and 1:03:08). Finally there was also a weird error with a purple line appearing from top to bottom of the screen as Lola is running between 12:51 and 12:56.

On a technical level this Blu-Ray transfer is presented in the original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 in 1080p and has been encoded with the AVC MPEG-4 codec with a bitrate hovering between 25 and 30Mbps. Given the quality of Sony Pictures' recent releases we know they have done the best they can do with this classic movie, but I wouldn't be using this as a reference quality disc to show off the Blu-Ray format.

Run Lola Run can't be faulted in terms of audio. Yet again, given the limited budget, this is a pretty sparse audio experience with the upbeat dance music and dialogue providing the audio experience. The disc comes with an English Dolby TrueHD track as well as a German Dolby TrueHD track with the latter being the original language of the film. We sampled both extensively and needless to say you won't be disappointed with either, although we found the dialogue in the German release to be a little sharper and livelier. To us the German track was certainly the preferred listening experience.

Other languages on the disc include Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 and Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1 which are both encoded at 640kbps. Subtitles include English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese. What I found somewhat odd was that there was no German subtitle track which, given the origin of the movie, is bewildering. Kudos to Sony for providing both an English and English SDH track.

Run Lola Run comes packed with a couple of decent extras, all of which are very solid in content. Sadly the movie has never been given Special Edition treatment, even on DVD, and there's no change to that here.

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Lola will be running around a bit!
Audio Commentary with Director Tom Tykwer and actress Franka Potente: Ported from the DVD release this commentary track is actually every interesting with plenty of anecdotes about the production of the movie, the differences between each of the three acts, actors that appear in the movie and much more. It's fairly easy listening and despite this being a movie in German both speak fluent English.

Still Running (16:58): This featurette is pretty much all interviews with key members of the production team including director Tom Tykwer and actress Franka Potente. This documentary, which hasn't been released on any DVD version thereby being a Blu-Ray exclusive, is actually quite interesting and complements the audio commentary perfectly as it looks at the movie ten years after release. I would have loved to see even more detail, but I'm glad to see this included.

Video Clip 'Believe' (4:01): A video clip of the main song 'Believe' as performed by the lead actress Franka Potente. It's actually quite a good song if you like dance music (it reminded me of the group Underworld a bit), although the video quality is limited to Standard Definition.

Trailers (2:01/HD): A trailer for Close Encounters of the Third Kind Anniversary which is on Blu-Ray now as well as a promotional trailer from Sony Pictures proclaiming the brilliance of Blu-Ray (perhaps they needed to include that after the video quality of this movie!).

While there are some serious issues with the video quality - which we put down to the source material rather then the transfer to Blu-Ray - Run Lola Run remains a delightful movie. It's upbeat, has a few nice surprises and is most definitely watchable. Throw in some decent extras and this becomes a Blu-Ray well worth adding to your collection - especially if you're a fan of the movie.

Review By: Dave Warner


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