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Category:    Home > Reviews > Gangster > Crime > Drama > Italy > Drama > Financial Industry > Cable TV > Carlito's Way 4K (1993/Universal/Arrow 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray*)/Suburra (2015/Unearthed Blu-ray/*both MVD)/Succession: The Complete Series (2018 - 2023/HBO/Warner DVD Set)

Carlito's Way 4K (1993/Universal/Arrow 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray*)/Suburra (2015/Unearthed Blu-ray/*both MVD)/Succession: The Complete Series (2018 - 2023/HBO/Warner DVD Set)

4K Ultra HD Picture: B+ Picture: B-/B-/C+ Sound: B & B-/B-/C+ Extras: B-/C+/B- Main Programs: C+/C/B-

Now for some crime dramas, old and new...

Brian De Palma's Carlito's Way 4K (1993) was a big deal before its release, as Al Pacino and the director were reuniting to do a gangster film for the first time since their 1983 remake of Scarface (see the 4K review elsewhere on this site) playing the title character, a convict who finds thew world he was locked away from (in the 1970s, by the way) was as alive as ever. He has a girlfriend (the underrated Penelope Ann Miller) who has waited for him, a solid lawyer (Sean Penn almost stealing the film at times) and plenty of enemies.

Especially after the oncer-failed Scarface, which bombed at the box office upon first release, had by this time become a huge latter-day hit and even money machine, plus Scorsese had delivered genre groundbreakers like GoodFellas and Casino, that this could be a big critical comeback (give or take The Untouchables) for De Palma. Instead, it plays it too safe and subtle, is somewhat predictable and was not very memorable for this viewer.

We have this coverage in the old HD-DVD format from someone who really liked the film and its sequels....


On the plus side, it looks good, does a decent job of using the scope frame well and benefits from a supporting cast that includes Luis Guzman, Viggo Mortensen and John Leguizamo, but even their work could not make this work for me. Cheers for De Palma stepping into Sidney Lumet territory a bit, but this one is only for serious fans of the director, actors or the genre. Otherwise, I continue to be disappointed at all the missed opportunities.

Extras are many, mostly brand new, and include:

  • Limited edition packaging with reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Obviously Creative

  • Double-sided fold-out poster featuring newly-commissioned artwork by Tom Ralston and Obviously Creative

  • Seven double-sided, postcard-sized lobby card reproductions

  • Illustrated collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by Barry Forshaw and original production notes

  • Brand new audio commentary by Matt Zoller Seitz, author of The Wes Anderson Collection and The Soprano Sessions (both versions)

  • Brand new audio commentary by Dr. Douglas Keesey, author of Brian De Palma's Split-Screen: A Life in Film (both versions)

  • Carlito and the Judge, a brand new interview with Judge Edwin Torres, author of the novels Carlito's Way and After Hours on which the screenplay for Carlito's Way is based

  • Cutting Carlito's Way, a brand new interview with editors Bill Pankow and Kristina Boden

  • De Palma's Way, a brand new appreciation by film critic David Edelstein

  • All the Stitches in the World: The Locations of Carlito's Way, a brand new look at the New York locations of Carlito's Way and how they look today

  • De Palma on Carlito's Way, an archival interview with director Brian De Palma

  • The Making of Carlito's Way, an archival documentary on the making of the film, produced for the original DVD release

  • Deleted scenes

  • Original promotional featurette

  • Original Theatrical Teaser and Trailer

  • and an Image Gallery.

Stefano Sollima's Suburra (2015) has an interesting premise of a gang war over a giant construction project in Ostia intended to make it a modern Roman answer to Las Vegas (or the like) has potential and we get some good moments, bit it never realizes its potential due to budget limits, a screenplay that needed a rewrite and the makers challenging themselves to stretch in the face of a played-out gangster genre. This even has the director of the Sicario sequel and highly respected Gomorrah that inspired a TV series and is still talked about.

The mostly unknown cast is even decent here, but this drags on a little too much at 135 minutes and they are giving it their best, but the results are very uneven. Those very curious or who liked the other films may still want to see it for themselves in case they like it more, not unlike that Boondock Saints sequel. However, it was just too many missed opportunities for me. Now you can see for yourself.

Extras include:

  • The Making of Suburra - A 2-Hour Feature-Length Documentary

  • Production Gallery

  • and an Original Theatrical Trailer.

And finally Succession: The Complete Series (2018 - 2023) gives us all four seasons of the hit HBO series about a rich and powerful family, whose ways, corruption and late capitalism is about to catch up with all of them. A show that started off with promise and held up as long as it could. Sure, TV shows about corrupt wealthy people had been made before, but many of those were nighttime soap operas (Dynasty at its best, Dallas despite them not dressing like it, their many spinoffs and imitators) so this show told its story leaving that kind of formula behind. That's good, because recent revivals of said soap operas were all bombs.

We have covered the series before, starting with my feeling about the Season One Blu-ray set:


Then a second opinion on the show as it got better with the Season Two DVD set:


Brian Cox more than held his own leading the solid cast, while Kieran Culkin proved his acting chops for certain here if there was any doubt before. The rest of the cast, including Jeremy Strong, Matthew Macfadyen, Sarah Snook, Alan Ruck and Nicholas Braun gelled so well that it made the fine writing and directing come alive all the more. I hope HBO keeps taking risks on such series programming and mature themes that makes their shows stand out from so many others.

Extras repeat the previous sets and continue for the final season including Cast/Crew Interviews, Inside The Episodes clips, Character Recaps, Controlling The Narrative segments, Who Said It? clip, Scene swap segment and from the debut season, An Invitation To The Set with The Series' Storytellers.

Now for playback performance. The 2160p HEVC/H.265, 2.35 X 1, Dolby Vision/HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced Ultra High Definition image on Carlito's Way 4K looks as good as it can, as shot in real 35mm anamorphic Panavision on 35mm Kodak color negative film, with solid compositions and some fine trick shots. The 1080p Blu-ray with the same framing is fairly good, but is a little too soft for its own good. The sound was a DTS-exclusive theatrical release, though not always as strong as it could have been, but the new DTS: X lossless 12-track upgrade for the 4K version really brings out al the sound as well as possible and makes watching it more interesting and entertaining, even if you are not a fan of the film. We are not getting enough DTS: X sound discs.

The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Suburra has some nice shots and some good color at times, but just has too much softness and motion blur issues beyond any style choices. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) Italian 5.1 lossless mix is also good, but has an inconsistent soundfield.

The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on all episodes of Succession look as good as they can in this older format, though I liked it much more on Blu-ray. Ditto to the lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 which is not horrible, but from the first scenes, I could hear the loss of fullness the lossless sound on the Blu-ray edition has. For DVD fans only.

- Nicholas Sheffo


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