Blu-ray Review: “Heat: Director’s Definitive Edition.”
A riveting story about an intense rivalry between expert thief Neil McCauley and volatile cop Vincent Hanna. McCauley will stop at nothing to do what he does best and neither will Hanna, even though it means destroying everything around them, including the people they love.
Michael Mann’s Heat is considered to be the best of the acclaimed directors filmography. What, on paper, would be a standard heist film, is elevated by powerhouse performances from both Al Pacino and Robert De Niro, and the iconic “coffee shop scene,” which is among one of the best scenes in cinematic history.
When a studio releases a director’s cut of a film, it’s one of two things.
1. A cash grab, which is nothing more than adding in deleted scenes that were MEANT to be cut from the film.
2. The “official,” director-approved cut, which represents the version of the film that the director wanted to make, but was held back for financial or studio purposes.
Luckily, Heat: The Director’s Definitive Edition, is the latter.
Heat is one of those films that I grew to love and appreciate more as I get older. When I first saw the Michael Mann Masterpiece, at the age of 10, I was bored to tears. It wasn’t until I was well into my teenage years that I decided to revisit the film again, with a more mature mindset. Needless to say, I adored it. Time went on, and my professional life of being a movie journalist was starting to become more serious. I have now watched Heat more times than I can count, with each viewing expanding my love for this perfect crime drama.
Now, with the release of Heat: The Director’s Definitive Edition, I watched the film as if it were my first time, with extended scenes that make for a more fluid and character based narrative. The plot itself is based on years of research into actual criminals and police work by Mann, making it both plausible and believable. And when the action heats up, it’s first rate and entirely justified by the story.
Some may consider Heat to be an overrated and overlong movie for cinephiles to dissect and preach about its perfection. Though I do see some moviegoers’ viewpoint, upon just one watch of the heist classic, I also implore the naysayers to give it a second watch, especially with this gorgeous director’s cut to sink your teeth into.
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC (25.40 Mbps)
Aspect ratio: 2.40:1
Original aspect ratio: 2.39:1
20th Century Fox’s new 1080p/2.39:1 aspect ratio Blu-ray presentation, mastered from a brand new 4K scan, and with restoration supervised by Mann, improves upon Warner’s 2009 Blu-ray image in virtually every way (and the 2009 presentation was good for its day). One of the first differences that I noticed, right off the bat, is that the color timing is much improved; the colors are more richly saturated now, and more natural too, yet still have that just-slightly-desaturated look that’s true to the film. The night sky and shadows are more black in some scenes now. Overall image detail exhibits greater refinement, crisp yet clean looking, even given the occasional optical softness, and the grain texture is more subtle and refined. This is a very film-like image, with not a hint of digital filtering. I’d love to see how an actual 4K Ultra HD release would improve upon this and it’s too bad there isn’t one. Still, this is a significant visual upgrade.
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit)
French: DTS 5.1
Spanish: DTS 5.1
German: DTS 5.1
Portuguese: DTS-HD Master Audio Mono
The film’s previous track was revised to a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 version, although, for good and bad, the results are largely the same. The action scenes are loud, pulse pounding, and those of you with surround-sound will have that immersive theater experience for sure. Unfortunately, the dialogue scenes are noticeably softer in quality, making the balance of action and dialogue disjointed and messy. Needless to say, unless you are using headphones, you will be lowering and increasing the volume throughout the infamous three-hour runtime.
Audio Commentary by Director Michael Mann
2016: Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (1080p; 1:03:23) is a nicely in-depth conversation with Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, and Michael Mann, moderated by Christopher Nolan.
2015: Toronto International Film Festival (1080p; 30:27) is an engaging session with Michael Mann, both before and after a screening of the film.
The Making of Heat (480i; 59:12) is a previously released set of featurettes.
Pacino and De Niro: The Conversation (480i; 9:58) is an archival piece, focusing on the characters’ interactions.
Return to the Scene of the Crime (480i; 12:05) looks at the locations with the locations manager and associate producer.
Additional Footage – Deleted Scenes (480i; 9:44)
This new release offers improved video, though some may be disappointed that it’s not more of a leap in quality. Fox has ported over all of the previously released supplements, while assembling two interesting new panel discussions. Die-hard fans of Heat will get their money’s worth, especially at the currently low price of $8.99 on Amazon. However, if you aren’t a Blu-ray guru who studies black tones and pixels, any previous 1080p versions will be more than enough to enjoy this staple in cinema history.
Heat : The Director’s Definitive Edition is available now