Our review of Snatch, published July 3rd, 2001, is also available.
"Anything to declare?"
I'm a solid fan of British entertainment. While my preferences may skew a bit more towards their television offerings—Benny Hill, Mr. Bean, Monty Python, Doctor Who—I also do enjoy the occasional Brit film that pops up on American radar. Using the word "solid" is a specific choice, as I want to give you the correct impression that while I enjoy entertainment from across the pond, I am not the most informed fan of the genre (except, perhaps, for the Doctor). To wit, I am not thoroughly knowledgeable of all the correlations between this second movie from Guy Ritchie and its forerunner, Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels. I have seen the former and did enjoy it, but not enough to make an intelligent discourse between the two films. Thus, I refer you to Chief Justice Jackson's original review of Snatch for his smart analysis of the films.
As the Chief Justice has already covered many facets of the film, I will try not to repeat most of what he has already said. This slightly less enthusiastic review will hopefully make different observations on what is truly an interesting and intricate film by Mr. Madonna.
Facts of the Case
Getting from point A to point B in this film is so much fun because you have to go through points C-Z to get there. This film is a tightly paced, fun tale involving two different yet interlocking stories. On one side you have the tale of Freddie Four Fingers (Benicio Del Toro, Traffic, Licence To Kill) stealing an 84-carat diamond and the quest of Cousin Avi (Dennis Farina, Out Of Sight, Get Shorty) to get it back after Freddie is taken hostage. This story plays out against the dark and dirty world of unlicensed bare-knuckle boxing, where Turkish (Jason Statham, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels) gets involved with a Pikey named Mickey (Brad Pitt, Fight Club, Spy Game, Se7en). Mickey is supposed to throw a fight for Brick Top, but decides that's not his style. Chaos ensues as Brick Top forces Turkish and Mickey to play by his rules, all the while being involved in tracking down the diamond.
I assure you, the movie is far more interesting than what I say above. The twists and turns are so involved and smart, that you can't do the film justice by trying to explain it. Snatch is a film that is best when watched, not read about.
This is the first Superbit title I've had a chance to see—and it just so happens to be a "Deluxe" edition to boot!—and, like everyone else, I've heard the debate on whether these titles are actually any better than a "normal" DVD release. With this title under my belt, let me give you my simple analysis of the situation: this Superbit title looks no better nor sounds any grander than a "normal" DVD. The "extra space" that is utilized on the disc for "superior sight and sound" seems to me to be nothing more than a fantastic marketing ploy from Columbia TriStar. Seeing as several bonus features have been dropped (more later) to "make room" for the transfers, I find this Superbit release of Snatch to be the inferior version. Knowing this, I will probably never buy any Superbit title if the movie is also available, or will become available, in "normal" form. And, in case you were wondering, I have a progressive scan DVD player attached via component cables to a widescreen HDTV.
For a title that is touting its high bitrate, I was truly shocked to find a handful of problems with the video transfer. Right off the bat during the opening titles, there is obvious dirt on the print; you can't miss the white flecks popping up on the black background. In two additional scenes—namely the pig feeding scene and the final fight (specifically the big hit on Mickey)—there is noticeable grain combined with a very soft feel to the print. I believe that the dirt during the opening credits is inexcusable and seems to be something that should have been cleaned for this Superbit release. However, it is possible that the scenes I mention were simply shot in low light and hence are just soft; but I'm not too confident on that for during the latter scene, only the "big hit" sequence looks soft compared to a very sharp scene overall. Ignoring these minor problems, I found this to be a very nice transfer: colors are rich and accurate with excellent black detail (which is quite important in this film), images are sharp and realistic, and there are no transfer errors. Chief Justice Jackson made note of some moiré shimmering during some scenes; I did not notice this problem on this release.
Moving on to the audio transfers, you can choose between a 6.0 DTS or a 5.1 Dolby Digital track. Much to my wonder, the default audio option is the DTS track, which is a first in my experience. I wonder if this has caused any problems with people who don't have a DTS equipped receiver? The DTS track is very good, and it's a very true representation of the onscreen action utilizing all available channels quite effectively. There are no problems with the transfer; it's clean, crisp, and accurate. After watching the film, I then switched over to the 5.1 track and watched a few "key" scenes. I was extremely surprised to hear a distinct difference between the two tracks, as it's usually a far more subtle difference between the two. Without question, the DTS is the superior track here as it's fuller, richer, and more expansive. This disc could be used to highlight the distinction between DTS and Dolby Digital.
This Superbit Deluxe release includes most of the bonus supplements as found on the original DVD, but there are two significant features that are missing from disc one (the movie disc), which I find to be a major detraction from this release: (1) the audio commentary with Guy Ritchie and producer Matthew Vaughn and (2) "Stealing Stones," a behind the scenes feature ala "Follow the White Rabbit" from The Matrix. I enjoyed the film and believe that I would have gained a lot from the additional information in these two features (especially in light of Chief Justice Jackson's positive feedback on them). But, we all know the hype on Superbit, so they had to cut these features to "make room" for the "superior transfers." Again, I just don't see anything special in this Superbit title, so I am far more apt to say the features would have been worth keeping—and that they should take they hype and shove it.
The bonus features that remain on disc two include:
• Video Photo Gallery (5 minutes): Your typical photo gallery,
except that you don't have to push the arrow key to move forward. Again, I'm not
one for photo galleries so this one didn't grab me either.
While the above lists looks healthy, the sum of the features is actually fairly light. You don't get a very in-depth look at the film, which I believe would have been achieved if all of the original special features had remained. Have I said that enough times yet?
But it isn't special features that make a movie; it's the story, the acting, and the direction. In each case, all three of these excel in this film. The story is very dense, very rich, and very layered. I was impressed with the multitude of characters and how their lives intertwine, and even how everything comes together in the end. Who really would have thought unlicensed bare-knuckle boxing and diamond thievery could be blended into such an absorbing film? The acting is top notch here, from the top name actors down to the character players. There isn't one actor in the film who wasn't absorbed in their role, and I enjoyed each person's take on their part—especially Mickey and Brick Top. This would not have been possible without Guy Ritchie. Not only did he write a great story, but he also directed it with characteristic verve and energy. I enjoyed the chances he took in the film, and it's a sterling testament to his creativity.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
This film might be interesting, but how in the devil am I supposed to know what's going on when I can barely understand a single bloody word being uttered by those Brits? To paraphrase Dennis Farina (the only consistently understandable character), "This is England. You're supposed to have invented English, so why can't I understand a word you're saying?" And then you have to go and get all cute with Brad Pitt's character and make him completely indecipherable. I give up. If I'm supposed to enjoy a movie, I need to be able to digest the words to enhance my viewing pleasure. Regardless of all this word chewing, the darn story is just too complicated, and I can barely follow what's going on from one character to another.
This movie was on my "want to see" list for quite some time after renting Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. About six months ago, it finally popped up on cable and I recorded it. A few weeks later, I finally sat down to watch it…but never finished it. The accents were just so thick that I gave up on the movie about thirty minutes in. Fortunately DVDs have subtitles or else I would have once again been utterly lost. I'm glad I made it through the film this time, as it is very complex with many layers going in different directions, yet all being tied nicely together in the end. I enjoy films like that. It's fun to get involved with all the twists and turns in a thick plot, and it's even more satisfying when it's smartly resolved. Snatch absolutely satisfies with its deliciously multifaceted story. If you haven't seen it by now, or have been thrown by the thick accents (reminiscent of Lock, Stock), give this one a rental and enjoy the ride. I'm quite sure you'll enjoy it and probably want to add it to your personal collection.
"Protection from what? Zee Germans?"
To foster the burgeoning multi-nationalistic movement, all charges are dismissed. All parties are free to go about their merry way.
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Scales of Justice
• "Making Snatch" Documentary
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