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September 28, 2009
Sugarhouse Blu-Ray Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
None28/7/2009Eagle EntertainmentGary Love
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
AVC MPEG-4DTS-HD MA 5.1MA15+Andy Serkis

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Steven Mackintosh as Tom in Sugarhouse.

One of the pleasures of reviewing so many Blu-Ray discs is simply discovering, and enjoying, movies that we would otherwise have never seen. Sugarhouse is one such movie - at least in terms of we would likely never see it without this disc dropping in through the postbox recently. With Andy Serkis starring in this movie we were keen to have a look at his post Lord of the Rings work. The question remains, did we enjoy this release?

Tom is a middle-class city boy whose life has reached breaking point. D is a young crack head. He is smart and witty yet desperate. Tom is completely out of his depth when he finds himself in D's abandoned warehouse attempting to do a "deal" with the energetic, volatile drug addict. The two enter into an irrational, deadly game of cat and mouse. The tense drama escalates when psychotic local crime lord Hoodwink (Andy Serkis) wakes to find his snub nose gun missing.

The three lead actors in this movie are moderately impressive for varying reasons. We all know Andy Serkis as Gollum from the Lord of the Rings movies but he's bad-assed in this movie (and not just because of his naked, tattoo covered body you see in the opening!). You know he's trouble right from the outset, and indeed as the movie progresses that psychopathic side becomes more and more evident. Another impressive performance comes via Steven Mackintosh is solid as Top but it's Ashley Walters as the crazy crack head that steals the show. Sadly this movie can't be saved by the performances. There are no interesting locations, no major action sequences, a storyline that doesn't really go too far and characters that you'll struggle to connect with.

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Post Lord Of The Rings Andy Serkis.
Ultimately I walked away from this picture unimpressed. Indeed there were some interesting moments. Right on the hour mark Tom and D get into an argument that had their upbringings been reversed, Tom would have been the crack head, and D would have had the privileged life. It's not a new concept, and we've heard this debate countless times in other movies and TV shows, but for some reason the performances here just mode it hit home so much more. The other interesting aspect to this movie is what 'Tom' is buying. When this is revealed it comes as a bit of a surprise, but fits in when you look back at what has already taken place in the movie.

Sorry to say but this movie really didn't do much for me at all. It seems to try too hard to be bad, despite the generally impressive performances on offer. I've sat through this movie, watched it, but would be unlikely to return for a second helping.

Sugarhouse is presented on Blu-Ray in Australia at 1.78:1 using the AVC MPEG-4 codec. Given that the film was shot on a Sony HDW-F900R Digital camera we didn't expect a great image, but it's actually pretty disappointing. Even from the opening moments there are issues. For instance, as the train pulls up to the station at the 0:00:45 mark have a look at some pretty dramatic aliasing issues. This is prevalent through several scenes in the movie and is quite distracting. Colours are a bit muted, shadow detail lacking and the presentation simply average.

Don't get me wrong, this disc certainly offers an improvement over the DVD release due to the 1080p resolution and is the preferred of the two, but it simply doesn't stack up next to other big Blu-Ray releases, nor other Eagle Entertainment releases either.

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Deals in movies never seem to go well.
As with pretty much every Eagle Entertainment Blu-Ray we've seen to date this disc comes with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track (24-bit/48Khz). It's not exactly the most lively of movies we've heard. It's very dialogue driven, with plenty of swearing and thick British accents. Almost no music - actually I don't even really recall any at all! - and there are pretty much no sound effects to shake your room - no explosions, gunshots, and some very brief violence. Fortunately what is here is solid, and the dialogue is clear to understand at all times.

This disc also includes a Dolby Digital 5.1 track encoded at 640kbps. It's a pretty good effort in itself and given that the HD track doesn't really offer anything outstanding this is a pretty good replacement if you can't play back the HD audio. Sadly there are no subtitle tracks on this disc which is disappointing.

There are only a couple of extras on this disc, and not much substance. Anyway here we go...

"Welcome to My Goth" - set tour with "D" (13:37): A fairly entertaining look around the set with "D". The actor stays in character, and it's moderately entertaining, especially when he finds some set lights and then people walking around on set.

Cast & Crew Interviews (12:45): Interviews with Director Gary Love and actors Steven Mackintosh, Ashley Walters and Andy Serkis.

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Hoodwink has a big blade!
Trailers: Trailers for Cass, Made in America, New Town Killers, End of the Spear, American Affair and Rockaway. As these, like the other extras, weren't time coded we didn't work out the total runtime.

Image Gallery: 12, not too exciting still images.

Sugarhouse is a rather forgettable movie which offers an average video and audio presentation and only a couple of small extras. If it sounds interesting, or you're a fan of the actors you may want to check this out as a rental, others will be better served looking for something else.

Review By: Dave Warner


Note: All images in this article are Copyrightę Eagle Entertainment. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.