The Wolf of Wall Street

Perhaps America’s greatest working filmmaker, Martin Scorsese continues to refine his stream-of-consciousness directorial style, a motif that reached its zenith in 1990’s Goodfellas. His latest film, which chronicles the rise and fall of stock shark Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio), might lack the depth and poignancy of Scorsese’s gangster classic, but it takes his staccato storytelling techniques to an even higher level of commercial appeal. Starring in his fifth Scorsese film, DiCaprio interprets the larger-than-life Belfort with essential hubris, though his portrayal sometimes strays into heavy-handedness. Not so Jonah Hill, who, as DiCaprio’s lieutenant, delivers the best performance of his meteoric career, not to mention this movie. (Both DiCaprio and Hill were nominated for Oscars.) Matthew McConaughey and Rob Reiner conjure delightful caricatures in their supporting roles, endowing Wolf with the dimensionality that has become a Scorsese trademark. with all of Scorsese’s modern films, the production values—from costumes to sets, props to cinematography—are superb. Particularly impressive is DiCaprio’s makeup, which illuminates how years of debauchery prematurely age the young tycoon. Still, this is a disc you’ll watch for artistry and entertainment, not to give your home theater system a workout. Video quality is very good but hardly reference-grade. Image details are consistently well rendered, and dynamics are superb, with deep blacks and admirable shadow detail. Colors are vivid, warm, and inviting; however, an excess of saturation and edge enhancement call the quality of this transfer into question.

Sonics are creditable, but this effects-shy movie offers little opportunity for audio excellence or surround excitement. Except for a handful of hilarious car crashes, this soundtrack lacks the fuel to stoke the main speakers and wow the listener, nor does the muted musical score impress with either its power or fidelity. You’ll be immersed in the 360-degree din of the stock trading floor, but there are few hard effects to keep the surround channels busy. Vocal articulation— a foundation of Scorsese films since Goodfellas’ Bamboo Lounge scene—is outstanding in terms of detail and tonal clarity.

The extras are a real disappointment, limited to one slick 17-minute promotional featurette. A film of this quality deserves better, as do its fans. Like the flawed genius of its lead character, The Wolf of Wall Street on Blu-ray is an imperfect masterpiece.

Studio: Paramount, 2013
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio Format: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Length: 179 mins.
MPAA Rating: R
Director: Martin Scorsese
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Matthew McConaughey