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Home Theater Movie Renter's Guide - February, 2010

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"Smokin Aces" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Chris Heinonen

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Synopsis

Buddy "Aces" Israel (Jeremy Piven) is a Las Vegas magician who has gotten a little too into the mafia lifestyle and now finds himself way over his head. Hiding out in a penthouse in a Lake Tahoe hotel. The head of a mafia family has put out a hit on him for $1 Million Dollars and this has brought out all sorts of assassins looking to collect on that bounty. At the same time, the FBI is trying to convince him to give himself up to them for all the information he has on the crime family, so they can put him into protective custody before someone else can get to him.

 

Specifications

  • Universal
  • 2006, Color, Rated R, 1 Hr 39 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • 1080p
  • Codec: VC-1
  • English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Starring Jeremy Piven, Andy Garcia, Ryan Reynolds
  • Directed by Joe Carnahan
    Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Graphic
  • Sex: Nudity
  • Language: Bad

Commentary

Smokin' Aces looked to be the kind of fun distraction that would help pass the time while a snowstorm trapped us inside this winter. Unfortunately, the movie was constructed in a way far different than I would have liked. The first 30 minutes of the film are basically spent introducing the large cast of characters and setting up the back story, which is important to do, but I'd prefer if they let some of this information develop more naturally instead of the very direct way in which it was done.

Once everyone arrives in Lake Tahoe and the action begins to pick up, the film gets more exiting and more enjoyable, though unfortunately this only lasts for around 30-45 minutes of the film. I won't go into details so as not to ruin the film for anyone that does watch it, but the ending left me a bit disappointed, and during many of the bits you could see that they were trying to set themselves up for a sequel if the movie did well. I was just hoping for more action overall, as that was when the movie succeeded, but there was too much downtime during which the movie falls apart a bit.

Technical

The picture for Smokin' Aces was fantastic overall. There is some very fine film grain present, but overall the picture is very detailed, and even with some very stylistic cinematography at points, it never seems to lose the dark blacks and good contrast that is present. The soundtrack was certainly a high point of the film, especially in the action sequences. Bullets fly all around your head, and you are placed directly in the middle of a shootout. Action movies are certainly great for showing off the lossless audio on Blu-ray, and this was no exception.

Extras

Smokin' Aces features a directors commentary along with the editor, and a second track featuring the director with some of the stars of the film as well. There are also featurettes giving you the lineup of characters in the film (and there are quite a few characters), showing the stunts and special effects, outtakes, deleted scenes, and even an alternate ending.