Shot for a paltry $US6 million The Wrestler became a critical hit and also took an impressive $US44 million at the worldwide box office. Having never seen the movie at cinemas ourselves we were very happy to receive the Blu-Ray for review from Village Roadshow. But what's The Wrestler about? Read on...
Back in the late 1980's, Randy "The Ram" Robinson (Mickey Rourke) was a champion professional wrestler. Now 20 years later, he ekes out a living stacking shelves in a supermarket and performing fights for handfuls of die hard wrestling fans in high school gyms around New Jersey. It soon becomes clear though, that amateur wrestling is not just a money making arrangement for the physically shattered ex-champ the - ring is the only place of comfort to him in a world he finds bewildering.
Estranged from his teenage daughter (Evan Rachel Wood) and essentially alone in the world, Randy is a battered dreamer who lives for the thrill of the show and the adoration of his fans. A setback forces Randy to reconnect with his daughter and striking up a blossoming romance with an aging stripper (Marisa Tomei). Yet all this cannot compare to the allure of the ring and passion for his art, which threatens to pull Randy "The Ram" back into the world of wrestling.
With Academy Award nominations Mickey Rourke and Marissa Tomei it comes as little surprise to see that their performances are absolutely astounding. It never actually "appears" that they are acting, but their characters are so real that this could be a documentary. The emotion of a broken man, which in a way mirrors the fortunes of Mickey Rourke in real life, is truly evident.
The Wrestler is a superb character driven movie with three superb performances from Mickey Rourke, Evan Rachel Wood and Marissa Tomei. Even if you're not a wresting fan this is a movie well worth checking out.
I tell you what, I nearly had a heart attack when I started this movie as the opening Hopscotch logo was only presented in Standard Definition. Fortunately The Wrestler is, as expected, presented in full 1080p video on Blu-Ray. The film is frame in the original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and has been encoded using the AVC MPEG-4 codec. One must remember that The Wrestler was a very low budget movie costing only $US6 million to make and it has a very cheap, almost documentary, look and feel too it with plenty of noise, black crush and other issues present. Still, it only makes the movie seem more "real".
In The Ring (42:42): This is a very decent, in-depth making of documentary which looks at the production of this film, how real wrestlers were used, and a lot of actual actors. There are plenty of interviews with cast and crew as well as on-set footage from the filming. Quite riveting and a good insight into how the director, Darren Aronofsky, works out so much on-set. The video is only in Standard Definition bu the audio is a solid 1.5Mbps Linear PCM track.
Theatrical Trailer (2:19): The theatrical trailer for the movie which sells is quite well but sadly is only in Standard Definition.
Review By: Dave Warner