Tower Heist Blu-ray Review

It’s certainly not the next Ocean’s Eleven, but Tower Heist is an enjoyable film on both the action/comedy and heist movie genres.

Love them or hate them, it's undeniable that Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy have had their moments of comedy gold. Whilst Tower Heist is not up there with their greatest, it's not actually too far behind. Available now on DVD and Blu-ray our review follows... Josh Kovacs (Ben Stiller) has managed one of the most luxurious and well-secured residences in New York City for more than a decade. Under his watchful eye, nothing goes undetected. Wall Street titan Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda) lives in the tower€™s penthouse apartment, but finds himself under house arrest after being caught stealing from his investors. Arthur becomes enemy number one for the workers in the block when they discover that they are amongst the hardest hit by Arthur€™s dodgy dealings, as he€™s managed to make their pension pot disappear€ Kovacs assembles a motley crew of workers and, under the expert guidance of career criminal Slide (Eddie Murphy), begins to plot the perfect revenge against Arthur: a heist to reclaim what he took from them! With only days before Arthur gets away with the perfect crime, Kovacs€™ crew puts together a plan to steal what they are sure is hidden in Arthur€™s guarded condo - $20 million €“ money that really belongs to them. Though amateurs, these rookie thieves know the building better than anyone. Turns out they€™ve been casing the joint for years; they just didn€™t know it! But will they really pull off such a daring feat? The heist movie genre has been a staple of the Hollywood action (and comedy) genre for many years and, luckily for fans, they seem to have had somewhat of a revival over the past couple of years, with some excellent and high profile films being released (think Ben Affleck€™s directorial triumph The Town or even this years enjoyable €“ but rather lamely titled €“ Man on a Ledge). Tower Heist follows this trend by blending a robbery plot with plenty of action and comedy to create an exciting and laugh-out-loud film that€™s far better than it probably should be €“ if you stick with it... Director Brett Ratner is known for his lowbrow (but still entertaining) blend of the action and comedy genres with films such as the Rush Hour trilogy. Tower Heist definitely employs some of Ratner€™s well know characteristics, but viewers who expect action from the get go will be sorely disappointed. In fact, if you don€™t make it through the opening 30 minutes you€™re likely consider Tower Heist as dire as €“ dare I say it €“ Rush Hour 3! Whereas with most traditional heist movies the character€™s are well and truly underway with planning their pilfering plot within the first third of the runtime, Tower Heist spends and extraordinarily long time setting up it€™s various characters before there€™s even a whiff of a burglary. The first 45 minutes saunter along pleasantly enough, without really encouraging audiences to form any strong opinions on what they are watching either way. However, once the plan to break in to Shaw€™s penthouse gets going, Tower Heist turns into a fun and very watchable film. As the plot thickens the film gains momentum and becomes thoroughly engaging, spoofing the heist genre in a number of humorous ways (the hilarious play on the inevitable double cross is excellent and provides enough laughs to make the film a respectable comedy!). Whatever you€™re opinion of him, Ben Stiller has shown audiences that he is a versatile comedian, ranging from the farcical in films such as Zoolander, to the witty (but still physically funny) in films such as Meet the Parents/Fockers. Tower Heist allows him to blend these two styles, taking a step back from the more ridiculous pratfalls to make way for Eddie Murphy. Josh Kovacs is a varied role, allowing Stiller to demonstrate his more serious side (the running of and security maintenance of the tower is literally Kovacs life), but he also gets to completely lose it and remind audiences how adept he is at physical comedy (the sequence that see€™s him smash up Shaw€™s vintage Ferrari that once belonged to Steve McQueen is priceless! Stiller gives a solid performance, but the role doesn€™t really stretch him and he€™s certainly played funnier and showier characters elsewhere. With a string of disappointing box office and critical failures under his belt over the past few years, Murphy has not starred in a decent comedy for quite some time. Tower Heist isn€™t on a par with his most iconic work, but there€™s certainly a sense of the Murphy we all know and love (from his 80s flicks in particular). Murphy plays Slide with the brash, vulgar and outrageous sense of comedy he is famous for and his performance is all the more funny for it. Combined with Stiller€™s more toned down sense of humour, the actors€™ two styles merge nicely to generate a sort of double-act that sparks off each other to create some big laughs. He may still have a fair way to go to reach the giddy heights of his more successful years once again, but Tower Heist proves that Murphy hasn€™t lost it completely €“ if anything he tries too hard here. The real star here is undoubtedly the extraordinarily talented Gabourey Sidibe of Precious fame. In her first comedy outing she proves she has perfect timing and a knack for both verbal and physical gags, literally stealing the film from right under Stiller and Murphy in her supporting role as spunky tower employee Odessa. Sibide makes Odessa bolshie, mouthy and hilarious, giving a performance that suggests she could easily go on to make a superior comedienne. The only downside is that she is criminally underused, featuring in only a handful of scenes throughout the films runtime. However, each of these is comedy gold and worth the wait: in fact, I will stake my life on the fact that anybody who watches Tower Heist will find it impossible not to fall about in hysterics when Odessa, having to resort to a spur of the moment back up plan when she discovers the FBI Agent on guard outside Shaw€™s apartment cannot eat the piece of chocolate cake she has laced with sleeping tablets (due to a chocolate allergy), decides to simply ram him with her supply trolley to knock the poor guy out cold (I swear€a little bit of wee may actually have come out I laughed so hard here!!)€ Alan Alda also pulls in a good performance as villain Arthur Shaw. The actor seamlessly glides between personas, portraying a kind, respectable and likeable resident of the tower in the films first act, effortlessly shifting to a mean, arrogant and wholly horrible character the audience can€™t wait to see get his comeuppance by the end. Mixed support comes from Casey Affleck as Kovacs€™ colleague and possible rival, Charlie; Matthew Broderick as down on his luck tenant, Mr. Fitzhugh; Téa Leoni as FBI Special Agent Claire Denham; and Michael Peña as the swiftly hired and fired tower employee, Enrique Dev€™Reaux. Similarly to Sibide, Affleck has more than proved his dramatic weight as an actor, but here shows that he is an adept comedian too. He keeps audiences guessing whether he€™s friend or foe to the group after he is re-hired as the tower€™s general manager, but easily shifts gears to also give a performance that derives its comedy from his character€™s sense of logic and reality. Affleck has certainly been involved in more critically viable productions, but his presence here helps give the film an edge and he entertains immensely. Broderick gives an average performance as Fitzhugh, capturing the character€™s sense of self-pity and feebleness rather well. However, although he provides a number of humorous anecdotes and produces some genuinely funny moments through his naivety, there€™s something intensely irritating about Broderick and the film could be just as successful without his presence. At times his character only seems to be around to make reference to the current economic crisis and the poverty it has plunged some people into, but Broderick seems to miss this completely and gives only a mediocre and momentarily amusing performance. Téa Leoni fares better than Broderick with her portrayal of Agent Denham, but is plagued with playing an entirely unbelievable character. Viewers are expected to swallow a scene that sees Denham and Kovacs get drunk in a bar (after he gets fired), where she reveals details of the case and her despise for Shaw. It€™s fair to say that someone like this would certainly not be a member of the FBI! This one scene also makes it extremely hard to take Denham seriously later in the narrative when she is after Kovacs and the gang. Despite the complete lack of logic applied to the creation of her character, Leoni is solid with the role. It€™s not her best work by any means, but she proves adept at both the physical and verbal comedy (she uses slapstick to its best abilities when she clothes lines Kovacs at their first meeting €“ close to pant-wettingly funny if you enjoy pratfalls!). Peña unfortunately proves to be little more than a typecast supporting player, forced to portray Dev€™Reaux as little more than a series of ethnic stereotypes. However, the actor still makes the best of this and turns his character€™s slightly dumb, over-the-top Latin bravado into something that creates laughter at various points in the plot. Overall, whilst the cast may seem to have been randomly pulled out of a hat and thrust together to make a movie, they converge and spark off each other enough to eventually gel and make Tower Heist far more enjoyable than you€™ll possibly want to admit! QUALITY Whether you enjoy the film itself or not, it's undeniable that on a technical level Tower Heist is near perfect. The visual quality is flawless and the print on this Blu-ray release is free from even minor instances of grain, blemishing or other forms of distortion. Universal have consistently been releasing superior high definition discs and Tower Heist is a perfect example of just how breathtaking the medium can be. Definition is extraordinary, with the absolute finest of details clearly visible on screen. This added precision gives a real texture to the images and adds a new dimension to the film viewing experience. For example, when Kovacs chips the red paint off Shaw€™s Ferrari, the flecks are so visible that you literally feel like you could touch them! Colours are beautifully lucid as well, with a rich, diverse palette that doesn€™t fail to impress. The New York setting leads way to a cold, steely and almost icy backdrop that consists of attractive blues, greys and silvers. However, splashes of colour permeate in interior sequences, with vibrant, luxurious golds, reds and browns making up the tower€™s décor. In edition to this, primary colours are bold and striking, whilst blacks are deep and almost inky: again adding to the texture of the images on screen. The audio is similarly impressive, with a strong soundtrack that boasts near perfect sonic clarity. Dialogue is always intelligible and sits firmly in front of the ambient sounds and musical track. Action sound effects never engulf or overpower the rest of the audio and the breezy, enjoyable original soundtrack plays happily €“ and at the right volume €“ throughout the runtime. EXTRAS As always, Universal have compiled a solid collection of special features for viewers of this release. Whilst there€™s nothing that€™s particularly in depth, there€™s enough variety to keep the interest of those who are eager for more after the end credits roll. The following collection of supplementary material is housed on the Blu-ray release: Feature Commentary with Director Brett Ratner, Editor Mark Helfrich and Co-Writers Ted Griffin and Jeff Nathanson 2 Alternative Endings: 15 Months Later€ and Lester€™s Bar Deleted Scenes Gag Reel Tower Heist Video Diary Plotting Tower Heist featurette comprising of the following segments: The Ratner/Grazer Connection Part One; The Conspirators; The Ratner/Grazer Connection Part Two; Set Pieces; The Ratner/Grazer Connection Part Three; The Car; The Ratner/Grazer Connection Part Four The DVD release also contains the above, minus the Tower Heist video diary and Plotting Tower Heist featurettes. Film: 3 out of 5 Tower Heist is indeed a silly film, but it's extremely good fun too! After getting off to a slow star, things quickly heat up in the second act and culminate in a thrilling third. Combing action, drama and an extremely humorous spoof of the heist genre in general, the film should appeal to and entertain a broad audience. Visuals: 4.5 out of 5 Images are practically perfect in every way, with immense clarity and not a hint of grain, distortion or blemishing in any sequences. Colour schemes are bright, vibrant and quite breathtaking in certain scenes and the film has an intense sense of texture that really boasts the power of high definition. Audio: 4.5 out of 5 Like the visuals, Tower Heist€™s audio track is flawless. Dialogue is clean, clear and audible throughout, never getting swallowed up by ambient track, special effects sounds or musical score. The soundtrack is jolly and expressive, heightening the comedy in key scenes and the suspense in others. Extras: 4 out of 5 There€™s a decent collection of material compiled on Universal€™s release. Nothing is particularly groundbreaking, but there€™s enough variety and entertainment to make the supplementary material worth a viewing. Covering a range of subjects in relation to the production, audiences are likely to get their fill of behind the scenes Tower Heist action here. Presentation: 2 out of 5 Whilst it does mimic the theatrical release poster artwork, the front cover on this release is decidedly dull and lacking in excitability. The line up of key cast members lacks originality and there€™s very little to draw an audience in if they aren€™t a fan of one of these stars. Luckily, if viewers follow the old axiom of not judging a €˜book€™ by its cover, they should be pleasantly surprised by how enjoyable the content actually is! The video menus are Universal€™s standard Blu-ray set up. They€™re easy to navigate, but the same style of menu on every release is starting to become extremely boring€ Overall: 3.5 out of 5 It€™s certainly not the next Ocean€™s Eleven, but Tower Heist is an enjoyable film on both the action/comedy and heist movie genres. With laugh out loud gags, entertaining performances, an action packed and suspenseful enough plot, the film is worth renting at the very least. But if you love Murphy or Stiller, you€™re going to want to run out and grab this now! Tower Heist is available on Triple Play Blu-ray and DVD now.
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