Featured Blu-ray Review: Catch Me If You Can
December 3rd, 2012
Catch Me If You Can opened on Christmas day 2002, and while it was never able to reach top spot on the box office chart (a little film called Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers was blocking it) it did become a huge hit. Ten year later, it is coming out on Blu-ray. Has the film aged well? Is the Blu-ray worth the upgrade?
The film begins on a TV show, To Tell the Truth, where we are introduced to Frank William Abagnale, Jr., who is described by the announcer as the youngest and most brazen conman in America. After a short flash back in France, were he was caught before being sent back to the States with Carl Hanratty, we flash back even further to Frank's childhood. His father, Frank, Sr., is a well-respected businessman. However, he's not an entirely successful businessman and is in need of some money. He's a smooth talker and it helps, but not enough and soon they have to move from their large house to a small apartment. He has to go to a new school, because they couldn't afford the old one anymore. (Although Frank starts out by pretending to be the substitute French teacher.) Eventually, Frank's parents' marriage falls apart. Left with a choice between moving in with his mother or father, Frank instead runs away.
Obviously, Frank is just a kid and doesn't have a lot of money. He tries some check schemes, but they don't fly, until he hits on the plan to pretend to be an airline pilot. He quickly learns the ins and outs and soon is flying all over the world, for free, while cashing thousand upon thousands of dollars in counterfeit checks. He gets so good at it, that he develops a new technique that allows him to spend more time in a city cashing bad checks. This also gets the F.B.I.'s attention, specifically Carl Hanratty. Carl Hanratty is a dedicated agent in part of the bank fraud agency. He's dedicated to the point of obsession. Carl gets really close to busting Frank. Seeing him face-to-face. However, Frank is able to con Carl just long enough to get away. This embarasses Carl and makes him even more determined to get him.
The cat and mouse game has us run into major spoilers, including a bit of a romance with Brenda Strong.
I love conman movies and in my opinion, this is one of the best. It has everything a film like this needs. It has fantastic writing from the charming characters to the brilliant cat and mouse game. I love seeing how the forgers go about their craft, as well as how the F.B.I. catch them. The acting is fantastic, especially from the two leads, Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks, but also by many of the supporting cast. Jeff Nathanson, who adapted the novel, and Steven Spielberg wisely gave the film a light feel to it, although it does occasionally dip into darker territory (mostly involving Frank's family). The film looks amazing with a lot of care given to the details of the 1960s. The only negative aspect of the movie is its pacing. Because Frank did so many cons involving him pretending to be someone he's not, the film can become episodic or repetitive and perhaps a bit of the film could have been trimmed out. However, that's a minor complaint overall.
We have good news and bad news. The bad news is, this is shovelware. The good news is, there are a lot of extras. Things start with a 17-minute behind-the-scenes featurette called Behind the Camera. Next up is Cast Me If You Can, a five-part, nearly 30-minute long look at the cast. There is a five-minute featurette on the score. There's a four-part, 16-minute look at the real life Frank Abagnale. The FBI Perspective is a seven-minute look at the technical advisor who was used for this film. The final featurette is In Closing, a five-minute look at lesson in the movie. Finally, there's an image gallery.
The film looks great on Blu-ray, with a couple caveats. The film has a bit of a stylized look with several scenes that are soft and the color palette is sometimes limited. This is due to aesthetic choices, so one can blame the transfer for that. When allowed to shine, it does, with excellent details and great colors, The blacks are quite deep and there are never any problems with print damage or compression issues. The audio is solid with very clear dialogue and good separation, but the surround sound speakers are not pushed to their limit here. It's good, but not great.
Finally, the Blu-ray costs $22 on Amazon.com, which is very high for shovelware. However, the discount is only 5%, which is odd. I would think that would change.
- Submitted by: C.S.Strowbridge
Filed under: Video Review, Catch Me if You Can