Monday, May 16, 2011

THE BIG BANG (Blu-ray)

Raymond Chandler meets theoretical physics in Tony Krantz' stylish nuclear noir, THE BIG BANG (2011), coming on Blu-ray and DVD next week from Anchor Bay Entertainment.

L.A. private investigator Nick Cruz (Antonio Banderas, DESPERADO) is hired by former boxer/ex-convict Anton 'The Pro' Protopov (Robert Maillet, SHERLOCK HOMES) to find his pen pal stripper girlfriend, Lexi Persimmon, and the $30M worth of diamonds she was holding for him. Cruz takes the case, following a trail that leads to a porn director (Snoop Dogg, HOOD OF HORROR), a trio of corrupt cops, and, finally to a small New Mexico town, where an eccentric billionaire named Simon Kestral (Sam Elliott, ROADHOUSE) has built a giant, underground particle accelerator, which he intends to use to recreate the Big Bang that created the universe, and, hopefully, prove the existence of the theoretical "God particle." Can Cruz find his quarry before Kestral's experiment renders the whole matter moot by destroying the world?

THE BIG BANG is a sly and stylish film noir homage that borrows its structure - and a number of specific scenes - from Edward Dmytryk's 1944 movie, MURDER MY SWEET, an adaptation of Raymond Chandler's novel, Farewell, My Lovely. This familiar framework has been adorned with a variety of offbeat characters, some snappy dialogue, and a liberal splash of quantum mechanics. The mystery itself isn't all that much, but there are a couple of cute twists in the third act.

Krantz' direction is good, and the photography by Shelly Johnson (THE WOLFMAN) is gorgeous; atmospheric and evocative in its use of light and color. The film uses a fair amount of CGI, but not to the extent of something like SIN CITY, and what CGI there is, is well executed and mostly effective. The cast is uniformly good, especially Elliott as the stoner superbillionaire and the trio of Thomas Kretschmann, William Fichtner and Delroy Lindo as the dirty cops dogging Cruz's investigation. Also worthy of mention is lovely Autumn Reeser (NO ORDINARY FAMILY), as a sexy, quirky waitress working in a desert diner.

Ultimately, THE BIG BANG is a bit too derivative and self-conscious to be a truly great film. Many fans of classic film noirs and private eye flicks will find it far too familiar, and I suspect many viewers will find it too over-the-top to take seriously. Me, I liked it okay, but I was rather hoping for more.

Anchor Bay Entertainment treats THE BIG BANG quite well on Blu-ray, with a razor-sharp, stunning 1080p, 2.40:1 widescreen transfer, with rock-solid blacks, perfect colors, and fine detail. The Dolby TruHD 5.1 audio is robust and clear. Extras include an informative audio commentary by director Krantz and producer Reece Pearson, a "Making Of" featurette, and a selection of extended scenes. It is also available on standard DVD.

Beautiful to look at and a fun ride, THE BIG BANG is at least worth checking out. The cast is good, and the story is reasonably engaging, with some wit and a few surprises. I enjoyed it.

BUYThe Big Bang [Blu-ray]

BUYThe Big Bang [DVD]