Featured In Issue 134, September 2008

WSR Score3
Basic Information on new release titles is posted as soon as titles are announced. Once reviewed, additional data is added to the database.
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
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For some violence, and sexual content including partial nudity
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Single Side, Dual Layer (BD-50)
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Robert Luketic
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Dolby TrueHD 5.1
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What is Ben Campbell (Sturgess) to do? He is a brilliant student at M.I.T. in Boston and wishes to continue his education at Harvard Medical School in hopes of becoming a doctor. The problem is that Ben is from a working-class family who cannot afford to help him with the $300,000 tuition it will take to complete his education. The answer for the shy student is in the cards—literally—when he is recruited by an unorthodox math professor named Micky Rosa (Spacey) to join four other students in a special Blackjack and card-counting class. Now the professor and his five disciples are ready to take Vegas to the bank as Ben is accomplished enough to guarantee a card count of 21 for each hand he is dealt. Based on the novel "Bringing Down The House" by Ben Mezrich. (Stacey Pendry)

Special features include a filmmaker commentary track, the following featurettes: The Advantage Player (six minutes), Basic Strategy: A Complete Film Journal (25 minutes), and Money Plays: A Tour Of The Good Life (seven minutes). There is also a bonus digital copy of the movie for your PC, PSP, or PlayStation®3, a Virtual Blackjack game, BD Live functionality, and previews.

The anamorphically enhanced 2.40:1 DVD shows slightly elevated black levels and crushing in the near-black shadows. Fleshtones also appear plugged up, with little differentiation between different hues. Highlights, especially in flesh, are overly contrasted, but colors are generally saturated well. Details are smeared, and compression artifacts are noticeable. Edge enhancement can also be recognized, but it isn't a huge distraction. The H.264 AVC-encoded Blu-ray Disc shows better resolution, but fine details are still soft. Fleshtone contrast is controlled a bit more, and black levels are improved. (Danny Richelieu)

The DVD's Dolby® Digital 5.1-channel soundtrack uses a broad front stage, with good extension beyond the physical boundaries of the room to perform the heavy lifting, with the surrounds used well on occasion. There are times, however, when the soundtrack collapses to the screen channels, sounding flat and dimensionless. The LFE channel is incorporated nicely at times, but it isn't a big part of the mix. Dialogue occasionally sounds harsh and digitized, but fidelity is generally pristine. Dynamic range is adequate. The Blu-ray Disc's lossless Dolby TrueHD encoding improves fidelity noticeably, making it easier to recognize the intricacies of the mix. Bass is tighter and dynamic range is improved, but dialogue can still sound harsh. (Danny Richelieu)