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Paramount Home Video presents
Four Brothers HD-DVD (2005)

"You keep knocking on the devil's door long enough, and sooner or later, somebody gonna answer you."
- Lt. Green (Terrence Howard)

Review By: Mark Zimmer  
Published: July 31, 2006

Stars: Mark Wahlberg
Other Stars: Tyrese Gibson, Andre Benjamin, Garrett Hedlund, Terrence Howard, Josh Charles, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Fionnula Flanagan
Director: John Singleton

MPAA Rating: R for strong violence, pervasive language and some sexual content
Run Time: 01h:48m:38s
Release Date: August 01, 2006
UPC: 097360703849
Genre: drama


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A A-BB+ B+

DVD Review

The DVD Review and Extras Review are by Chuck Aliaga.


Director John Singleton burst onto the scene with the highly controversial Boyz N' the Hood. Despite the violence that erupted in and around some theaters showing that film, it had respectible box office numbers, launched the career of Cuba Gooding Jr., and ushered in a new pseudo-subgenre: the "gangsta" film. Singleton has never strayed far from what made him successful, crafting the inner city drama, Baby Boy, and remaking Shaft. With his latest work, Four Brothers, the director finds his footing and creates arguably the best entry in his filmography to date.

Four Brothers opens with the cold-blooded murder of Evelyn Mercer (Fionnula Flanagan), a beloved member of the Detroit community, who is survived by her four adopted sons. Three of these boys return to Detroit to reunite with the fourth, Jeremiah (André Benjamin). Bobby (Mark Wahlberg) is a hard-nosed ex-con and former boxer; Angel (Tyrese Gibson), an ex-military man; and Jack (Garrett Hedlund) is a rock star, suspected by the others of being homosexual. After digging around for information, the brothers realize that their mother's death was no accident, and they will stop at nothing to avenge her.

I was a bit skeptical going into this film, given the lukewarm response it received from critics upon its theatrical release, but this is an effective, engrossing action/revenge picture. I expected a predictable film with by-the-numbers performances; instead, it is a well-paced picture with wall-to-wall stellar performances, and some truly interesting twists and turns along the way.

Four Brothers finds John Singleton back in fine form. He shoots the film masterfully, taking us deep into urban Detroit, displaying some fine technique along the way. This crafty directing culminates in an excellent, extended finale lasting nearly 20 minutes, which also features numerous plot twists and turns, leaving the audience more than satisfied with the eventual outcome.

The star here is Mark Wahlberg (Boogie Nights), who gives a great performance and establishes himself as a dramatic actor, completely believable as the macho, overconfident Bobby. Terrence Howard's incredible year continues as well, as his fine supporting work equals his Oscar-worthy performances in Hustle & Flow and Crash. André Benjamin is a real find—one half of the popular duo, Outkast, Benjamin has popped up in a handful of films, but this is the first time he's shown real acting chops. Sometimes it takes a director of Singleton's caliber to transform a budding actor, and Benjamin's film career looks promising thanks to Four Brothers.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: The HD transfer is attractive at first blush, with good representation of the subdued color palette. However, close inspection reveals edge enhancement visible on the sides of buildings and aliasing is surprisingly frequent (most evident on the credits). Motion artifacts are readily visible as Evelyn moves down the aisle of the convenience store where she will be killed. On the other hand, detail is crisp and textures are excellent. Black levels are very strong, though shadow detail is a little plugged up. A mixed bag, though the not-very-critical will probably enjoy it.

Image Transfer Grade: B

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
+
English, French, Spanishyes
DTSEnglishyes


Audio Transfer Review: Most of the audio track is kept forward, although when gun battles erupt, the bullets fly from all of the surrounds. The soundtrack has excellent range, with plenty of deep bass. Dialogue is plainly understandable throughout. There is a negligible difference between the DD+ and the DTS tracks. The source is entirely clean and free of noise.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 15 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
9 Deleted Scenes
4 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by director John Singleton
Packaging: Elite
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: Once again, Paramount brings all the extras of the standard DVD over to its HD equivalent, except the unrelated movie trailers.

Frpm the original:

A fine collection of extras are included, beginning with a very detailed audio commentary with director John Singleton. His often dry speech is thwarted by his affection for this film, with stories about his fine cast and twisty screenplay in an involving track.

A quartet of featurettes is on board as well, beginning with The Look of Four Brothers. This 10-minute featurette has Singleton explaining his inspirations for the film, and how he and the rest of the crew modeled it after old Westerns, specifially The Sons of Katie Elder. There are informative and insightful cast interviews here as well.

Crafting Four Brothers is runs almost 11 minutes and focuses on Paul Lovett and David Elliot's screenplay. They discuss how they consider this to be an urban Western. They also go through their feelings about each of the main characters and the part each plays in the grand scheme of the story.

Behind the Brotherhood gives us nine minutes about the bond shared by the main characters, and how important it was to have Singleton at the helm.

The shortest piece is Mercer House Shootout, which, at four minutes, goes over the pivotal sequence in the film. Singleton offers up more insight, and there's some nice on-set footage here as well.

Nine deleted scenes are available along with the theatrical trailer for Four Brothers, and previews for other Paramount Home Video releases.

Extras Grade: B+

 

Final Comments

Fans of John Singleton will jump at the chance to see the director back in form with Four Brothers. One of the best-acted action/revenge pictures to come along in quite some time, this sleeper deserves a look on DVD. Paramount Home Video's disc is just what we'd expect from such a recent theatrical release, complete with a good collection of supplemental features.

 


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