Plot: What’s it about?
Randy “The Ram” Robinson (Mickey Rourke) was on top of the wrestling world in the 80s, a big draw that filled the arenas and more. He was in magazines, on pay-per-view, in a video game, and even had an action figure in his image. But two decades later, Robinson isn’t on top anymore. He works at a grocery store during the week, barely able to pay his lot rent for his trailer, then wrestles in front of small crowds on the weekend. When he is rocked by a heart attack and advised to quit wrestling, he looks to fill his life with something else, to replace wrestling’s presence. But his work is unrewarding, his estranged daughter is tired of his lifestyle, and the stripper he pines for turns him down. Faced with the prospect of being alone, he returns to the ring against doctor’s orders, but will this be The Ram’s final match?
As a fan of professional wrestling, I was somewhat proud to see a serious film made about the sport, let alone one that was as acclaimed as The Wrestler. The movie does offer a glimpse inside the not-so-glamorous world of independent wrestling, but make no mistake, the film isn’t about sports entertainment. The main character is a wrestler, but the film is about the man and the path he walks, not the sport. This is evident through the Marisa Tomei role, as her stripper endures the same kind of pitfalls as Mickey Rourke’s wrestler. The Wrestler is not a great movie, it has moments of greatness and Rourke is excellent, but this is stuff we’ve seen before, just with a new backdrop. Even so, this is a rock solid movie with some great components, so if you’re at all interested, The Wrestler is well worth a look.
Video: How does it look?
The Wrestler is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. This is by no means a reference disc, but the transfer offers a great replication of the theatrical experience. The visuals are heavy with grain, which causes some softness, but gives the experience a gritty, realistic texture. I found detail to be solid, under the circumstances and this is a more refined treatment than the DVD, even if not worlds beyond it. So this looks good and maintains the film’s intended visuals, but don’t expect a showcase in terms of high definition presentation.
Audio: How does it sound?
This DTS HD 5.1 option is good, but not great. Not by the fault of this soundtrack, but the film itself just doesn’t have that much audio potential. The live wrestling scenes have the most presence, with great surround use that puts you into the cheap seats, while the strip club segments also offer some solid presence. Aside from those, there isn’t much to talk about. I found dialogue to be clear and never bogged down, while the music sounds good, if not that memorable. This release also includes a Spanish language track, as well as subtitles in English and Spanish.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Not a lot here in terms of volume, but still some solid stuff. Within the Ring runs over forty minutes and is a personal, inside look at the production. A lot of cast members are here, from Rourke to some of the actual wrestlers seen in the flick, as well as some crew members. This is not promotional fluff, instead we have genuine insight into the project and you can tell how personal the movie was to those involved. A second featurette has a group of famous wrestlers discussing the picture, while the final extra is Bruce Springsteen’s video for The Wrestler. A second disc houses a digital copy, for use on portable devices.