Whipped up by unfavorable sentiments from the likes of Ain't It Cool News and similar outlets, Brett Ratner seems to be the internet's go-to whipping boy. Sure, he'll always be hated by accepting the relatively thankless task of directing the unloved X-Men 3, but I've always found his work rather enjoyable - be it Rush Hour or its superior sequel, the solid Red Dragon or molding the series and directing the pilot for TV's Prison Break, I think he's been rather hard done by. Testament to his talent in directing Tower Heist in juggling a wonderful cast and making sure they all get their moment to shine.
Josh (Ben Stiller) manages a close-knit staff at the exclusive New York high rise apartment The Tower. The penthouse location is one of the most luxurious and sought after addresses in the city, owned by Wall Street businessman Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda). He treats his staff well and in turn his employees are loyal and happy. But when Shaw files for bankruptcy, and also losing the pension funds of all his employees, the rag tag staff band together to find the source of Shaw's hidden investments.
The real joy of Tower Heist is in the ensemble cast, with more than a passing resemblance to Ocean's Eleven. Ben Stiller is ever dependable, but Eddie Murphy enjoys a long-overdue return to form, and it's been a while since I've seen a film with Matthew Broderick and not wanted to kill myself. The star of Precious, Gabourey Sidibe) plays an outrageous maid from Jamaica, and Casey Affleck plays an expectant father and delivers some great lines with downbeat aplomb.
Tower Heist is neither the most original, nor funniest Blu-ray release of the year, but it's definitely one to rent, at the very least.
Tower Heist is presented in the film's original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, encoded with AVC MPEG-4 compression.
For a film of such recent vintage, you'd be excused for expecting some pretty good results. And I'm happy to say my expectations were somewhat surpassed. Coming from a very clean transfer, there's nary a film artifact to be seen, and the image is sharp and detailed at all times. With some loose compression, I also didn't pick any encoding artifacts.
Overall, a very pleasing transfer from obviously impeccable elements.
Tower Heist is presented in DTS HD Master Audio 5.1, at 24 bits.
While this is predominantly a dialogue focused affair, with little in the way of action sequences to really show off, Tower Heist really shines at providing a naturalistic and involving audio track. Probably the nicest thing I can say is that nothing really stood out and drew attention to itself. Importantly, I didn't notice any examples of dialogue intelligibility or sync issues, nor evidence of obvious dialogue looping.
The surround channels are kept relatively alive by some solid ambience and the odd directional effect. The sub channel is utilized relatively infrequently, but comes to life during the climactic car sequence.
The music provided by Christophe Beck (who has created a niche by providing comedy music) is competent, albeit mostly unmemorable.
Universal are generally pretty good with assembling a reasonable collection of extra features for new release films, and Tower Heist doesn't buck the trend.
The U-Control feature make a return here, with an on the fly picture and picture track, with some revealing segments, although I'm not sure of the demand for such a feature here. Still, a nice inclusion.
The meat of the extras are embodied in the 45 minute Plotting Tower Heist documentary, which probably goes into overkill to chronicle the making of the film. The original plans for the film were somewhat interesting to hear, but only die-hard fans will set aside the time to get through the whole feature. But just in case you're left wanting more, then get ready for Brett Ratner's Video Diaries featurette, with 26 minutes of extra, loosely edited footage from the set.
The highlight for me is the six minutes of Gag reel footage, which equals the laughs from the film proper, along with some nine minutes of Deleted Scenes, and not one, but two Alternate endings. Most were wisely cut.
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