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February 25, 2012
Staten Island / Brooklyn Rules Blu-Ray Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
2009 (SI)
2007 (BR)
22/2/2012Icon FilmsJames DeMonaco (SI)
Michael Corrente (BR)
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
AVC MPEG-4DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1MA15+Ethan Hawke (SI)
Alec Baldwin (BR)

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Both films are quite brutal in parts.

This release actually comes with two films on the single disc. The first is the 2009 film Staten Island while the second is Brooklyn Rules which was directed by Michael Corrente and released two years earlier. Both of these films are themed around mob situations so they work quite well together as a pair. Let's look at each in more detail...

Staten Island
Unsure what to expect going into Staten Island it actually combines three separate stories which have intertwining characters and a fitting conclusion. Performances are a little hit and miss - even within a single character - but it's a movie that can entertain for a couple of hours. Indeed the way in which the stories cross over is probably a highlight with more and more parts of the story unraveling as the film progresses.

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The Gold Coast? No, this Staten Island.
The film starts out looking at Parmie Tarzo (Vincent D'Onofrio), a local mob boss, who has dreams of crushing the competition and "owning" Staton Island. That was, until something goes horribly wrong and he changes his focus in life. Sully Halverson (played by Ethan Hawke) is a septic tank cleaner who steals money to give he and his wife the perfect child. Finally Jasper Sabiano (who is played by Seymour Cassel in a standout performance) is a deaf-mute deli worker whose life is infiltrated by mobsters.

While a little slow at times, and the Sully storyline seems a bit out of pace, it's a pretty entertaining movie that comes together well towards the end.

Brooklyn Rules
The second film on this disc was actually the one I was keener on checking out - primarily due to the cast which includes Alec Baldwin, Freddie Prinze Jr and Mena Suvari. The film follows three boyhood friends who grow up as John Gotti rises to power in the Mafia. Each of the three friends is affected by this criminal world and their loyalties and friendships tested.

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Seymour Cassel is superb in Staten Island.
Performances across the board in this film are very solid indeed with Alec Baldwin stealing the scenes in which he appears while the three main leads - Freddie Prinze Jr, Scott Caan and Jerry Ferrara - all put in fine performances as well. Where this movie falters slightly is in the actual script and content which is a surprise given the film is written by Terence Winter who wrote The Sopranos. It's good, but it's nothing we haven't seen so many times before, and with much more impact. Still, it's not unwatchable.

Were each of these films to be released as an individual full-priced Blu-Ray then we would probably be disappointed and feel a little ripped off, however having these two movies presented on a single disc - and with pretty decent transfers which we'll get to soon - makes this worth checking out.

While we had initial concerns about having two films crammed onto a single Blu-Ray disc, the short runtimes of each film have allowed the studio to give each transfer plenty of room to retain a high bitrate, and with skillful encoding decent, sharp looking transfers too. It must also be pointed out that both transfers are 1920x1080p - unlike an overseas release of Staten Island which is interlaced.

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Staten Island has a decent Blu-Ray transfer.
Stanton Island was released in 2009 and is presented on Blu-Ray at the films original 2.35:1 aspect ratio using the AVC MPEG-4 codec. The films bitrate, according to our PS3, often hovers above 30Mbps and it's evident in the quality of many of the scenes, with plenty of fine detail and vibrant colours that this transfer has been handled very well indeed.

Turning our attention to Brooklyn Rules this film is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 which will fill your HDTV but means the film has been altered from its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The video quality of this film is certainly a few notches down from Stanton Island with a generally softer image and more muted colour tones, however that may also be a result of the filming process. That's not saying it's bad - far from it - with some great scenes but for every great looking scene there's a disappointing one.

Both Staten Island and Brooklyn Rules are presented on Blu-Ray with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (16-bit/48Khz) track as well as a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track. Flicking between the two tracks demonstrated only negligible differences between the two and while the former movie has a slightly better sound design both films are more than acceptable. In both dialogue is primarily front heavy while surround sound channels are kept for ambient effects. Don't expect any whizz-bang Hollywood extravaganza, but what's here is decent enough.

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Brooklyn Rules is also a decent film.
Both of these films come with a single subtitle track - English for the Hearing Impaired - which is coloured and placed on the screen according to who is talking. All subtitles are big and clear to read. We sampled this track on both films and both seemed accurate to the dialogue.

There are absolutely no extras on this release at all which is probably a good thing in order to maximise the audio visual quality. Sadly even the audio commentary with the writer and director from the DVD for Brooklyn Rules is missing from this disc - surely they could have made enough room on the disc to fit it on, so we suspect it's an omission due to licensing.

The double feature of Staten Island and Brooklyn Rules work well together as two mobster films. Neither is great, but getting these two in the one package makes it worth checking out.

Review By: Dave Warner

7 & 6/10
8 & 6/10
8 & 8/10

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