Viewed – 29 May 2009  Blu-ray

This was one of my favourite films of the nineties, a decade that birthed some truly stunning movies like Terminator 2, Goodfellas and Pulp Fiction.  Films I’d place in an all time top ten if I could be bothered doing one.  Danny Boyle’s clever and assured adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s controversial novel hit the screen like a bomb exploding and rejuvenated the UK film industry that previously seemed trapped in stuffy costume dramas and rom-coms starring Hugh Grant.  This brought a gritty but ultimately energising style to cinema audiences not seen before in a UK film, and launched the careers of some of the UKs best talents … most notably Ewan McGregor.

On repeated viewing, it’s surreal imagery and clever camera work seems a little subdued, so spoilt are we these days with film makers of considerable talent making almost anything imaginable, possible on screen.  Back in the mid nineties though, this was fresh and ice-cool, with a rock / pop soundtrack to match.  Danny Boyle’s skill of matching iconic imagery with iconic music still works as well today as it ever did and the moments I remember loving so much and making the hairs stand up on the back of my neck, still have a very similar effect.  The darker moments were never fun viewing I’ll admit, but they seem to hamper the film’s energy despite their necessity to avoid the glamorisation of drug addiction, and leave a bad taste in my mouth (the baby sequence in particular) but thats picking fault in what is essentially one of the bravest and most unique film’s ever made.

This Blu-ray release from Film Four boasts a very clear and immediately improved picture over that of  TV, VHS and possibly DVD (I have never owned this on DVD) and is accompanied by DTS and Dolby soundtracks both in 5.1 that is a little disappointing when many high definition releases are showcasing DTS Master Audio and Dolby True HD.  Thankfully such a pitfall is made up for in the wealth of extra features, including a cast and crew commentary, plenty of behind the scenes and look-back featurettes, and lots of involvement from all involved.  The menus are particularly pleasing and are influenced cleverly by the memorable  ‘choose life’ monologue that so characterised the film.

Verdict:  4 /5

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