American Psycho (Blu-ray)

January 28, 2012 9 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

It seems the new trend in movies today is stick any noun or adverb after the word “American” and then…bingo, you have your movie title. Well, American Psycho goes way beyond that, as the title of the film is indeed very indicative of the content of the movie. Originally, American Psycho was intended to be the stage for Leonardo DiCaprio after his huge success on the “Titanic”. Rumored to have a $20 million dollar price tag involved, it was the movie to see. But things happen and Leonardo decided to do The Beach instead and a British actor by the name of Christian Bale was his replacement. American Psycho is based on the highly popular (and highly controversial) book by Easton Ellis. Though containing not nearly the amount of violence that was contained in the book, American Psycho is still violent, gory and will keep you thinking…just they way they want it.

We first meet Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale) sitting over a dinner table with his friends. It seems that in 1987, it was all about where you ate among other things. In the heart of “yuppie-Dom”, where you ate in Manhattan was just as important as what you wore, who you were seen with and what kind of car you drove. Typical, it seems, that dinners for four were “only” $570 and paid for with a Platinum Visa. Patrick, like all of his friends and business partners, was a product of Harvard and Harvard Business School, and it was no surprise that by the age of 27 he was most likely raking in $400-$500 thousand a year. It’s not long into the movie that we see a very evil side of Patrick. He walks around with his constant “cat ate the canary” smirk and ever-raised eyebrow and is self-described as “having all the characteristics of a human being, but without a single emotion.” Off the cuff remarks to waitresses saying he wants to dissect them and admitting that he’s really “into” murders and executions are of no consequence to him, as he never worries about anything…a conscience is something that he doesn’t have either. Patrick is engaged, but is fooling around with any woman he can get his hands on, and it’s not until that we see Patrick in his office that we see his true colors.

The thought of business cards is usually an afterthought, but to materialistic men who are as self-absorbed as Patrick and his friends, they constantly compare them with their all in common title of “Vice-President”. So enraged is Patrick by a fellow associate named Paul Allen, that after a night out, he takes him back to his place and in the midst of discussing a “Huey Lewis and the News” CD…kills him with an axe! This is what we have to get used to. Patrick kills at random for no reason whatsoever. Quoting and spurting out facts about serial killers, it almost seems like he wants to get caught…or at least noticed.

While American Psycho is an utterly stunning film, I just wish it lasted a bit longer. Christian Bale is terrific in the role and you would only know that he’s a British actor by watching the interview. He stays in character through the featurette that’s taking place off screen! Sporting an all star cast that includes William Defoe, Chloe Sevengty and Reese Witherspoon, American Psycho, in all of its sardonic wit, is a true statement on American society. If nothing else, it’s got a great soundtrack that features 5.1 mixes of Genesis, Huey Lewis and the News and Information Society (“I want to Know…what you’re thinking…tell me what’s on your mind”). An outstanding film.

Video: How does it look?

Lionsgate has given us a somewhat decent transfer here as the 2.35:1 MPEG-2 HD transfer has more ups than downs. The film has a very unique look to it with many of the indoor scenes bursting with white and other more sterile colors. Conversely, there are some outdoor shots that aren’t handled with the same agility as some other Blu-ray releases and it’s a bit of a letdown. Not much of a letdown, but somewhat. As we might expect from any HD release, the detail is bumped up a few notches and going back and watching your standard DVD would make you think that the TV has somehow gone out of focus. Colors are very strong, full of life and I saw no evidence of artifacting, though a few scenes seemed to have a bit of trouble with vertical blinds (ah the 80’s, vertical blinds). On the whole, it’s better than what’s out there, but as far as a high definition release is concerned – it’s just above par.

Audio: How does it sound?

Lionsgate has once again given us two options for sound. A matrixed Dolby Digital EX track and a comparable DTS-HD track. Both sound very good, but the movie wasn’t ever one that really screamed out “sound”. In fact, the entire soundtrack is just so so and though there are some spots when we get some pretty groovy 80’s tunes (“Hip to be Square” anybody?). There just aren’t a lot of surround effects in this movie that really stand out save for the chainsaw scene. The dialogue is, of course, clean and very natural-sounding. “American Psycho” isn’t something that will stand out as amazing on the audio front, but then again it’s not supposed to.

Supplements: What are the extras?

The licensing rights to this film have had a long, crooked path to get where they are. Universal first owned the rights and then the movie went to Lionsgate which produced an Unrated version and a rated version a few years back, complete with new supplements. None of the Universal supplements appear here and most of the supplements from the Unrated version appear here (we also get the Unrated version of the movie). We start off with two audio commentary tracks. The first is with director Mary Harron and the second with Guinevere Turner, who played a small part in the movie and was also the screenwriter. Both tracks are slightly interesting but Harron’s has more substance to it. For those that have forgotten, Leonardo DiCaprio was originally supposed to play the role of Patrick. This leads us to five deleted scenes, available with or without Harron’s commentary and the lone featurette (the standard DVD had three) “The 80’s Downtown” which is a reflection on the era, complete with stories and comments on the social culture of the time. “American Psycho” is a fantastic movie and this Blu-ray version is the best it’s ever looked and sounded. Unfortunately it’s not up to par with some of the other Blu-ray titles out there, but if you’re a fan then this should be on your shelf.

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