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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Comedy > Urban > ATL (HD-DVD/DVD Combo Format)

ATL (HD-DVD/DVD Combo Format)


Picture: B/B-†††† Sound: B/B-†††† Extras: C†††† Film: C+



Chris Robinson has been making notable Music Videos in the Hip Hop genre for years, but with a script in hand by Frontline writer Tina Gordon Chism based on a story by Antwone Fisher, he rightly made his feature film debut with ATL.Set in the year of the filmís release (2006), the story tells of a group of friends in the title location who are dealing with life, some trouble, girls and their love of skating.Immediately, it sounds like Malcolm Leeís underappreciated Roll Bounce, but that was set in the later 1970s.How do the two compare.


Well, this is a competently acted, nicely cast film that feels like today for the most part, but Robinsonís directing sadly flattens out the cinematic canvas.There is no major difference to the look and feel of the homes, public places and skating areas, or other commercial areas.This works visually against the narrative and the Music Video past of himself and his Director Of Photography catches up with them and limits the possibilities of the script.Dialogue is good and has believability.As compared to Leeís film, which is a bit safer, more family friendly and formulaic, this film has some surprises outside of the skating ring.Then there is the skating moments.


This film does not have enough of them, and what is here is badly edited and never has a sense of place or feel.Leeís film is more cinematic in that the skating ring is treated like another world, place, area, escape and place of empowerment.Both films have good skating, but it is limited in ATL by its limited screen time and never being fully explored.There is also a sense of energy and joy in Leeís film ATL could have used to bring it to the next level.


The casting of solid actors like Keith David, Mykelti Williamson and Lonette McKee add to the character of the film, but as I watched, there were just too many opportunities missed throughout.I can say the same at times about Roll Bounce, but it has a larger feel to it and is ultimately the more successful film.However, ATL still makes for very interesting viewing as it stands on its own and Robinson should definitely try again, because his debut is better than the majority of disasters fellow Music Video directors going into feature films have tortured us with, because at least Robinson knows what a narrative is!


The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image is pretty good, as shot in Super 35mm film by Karsten Gopinath (aka Crash), and is just that much better than the standard DVDís anamorphically enhanced image with detail limits and a few flaws that simply seem to come from being on the flipside of this format.Color is not bad, from both Kodak and Fuji stocks, but Roll Bounce being form the 1970s is going to have the more lively color palette.The Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 is also better on the HD-DVD side than the standard DVDís Dolby Digital 5.1, especially in handling the deep bass of all the Hip Hop music.Extras include a Music Video, original theatrical trailer, making of featurette and additional scenes that are not bad.This is interesting all around and when Roll Bounce comes to Blu-ray, more than a few people will be making comparisons.



-†† Nicholas Sheffo


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