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4.5 out of 5 stars
Trainspotting: Ultimate Collector's Edition [Blu-ray] [1996]
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 13 December 2013
I always find it a bit worrying when I return to one of my favourite films some time later (particularly films of a more recent vintage) only to discover that I had rushed to judgement. I'm pleased to say, however, that a recent re-viewing of Danny Boyle's vibrant 1996 Edinburgh-set tale of boredom, criminality and heroin addiction (based on Irvine Welsh's brilliant novel) has (for me) lost none of its original appeal. Not only is Boyle's film a fast-moving, brilliantly edited visual treat (with an intoxicating soundtrack featuring Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, New Order and Underworld that is a perfect fit), but in John Hodge's witty and ironic script and its set of outstanding acting turns (plus some great cameos, courtesy of some of 'Scotland's finest'), it adds up to a film vying for a place in my top 10 British films ever (and certainly would be in my top 5 or 6 of the last 20 years).

Casting aside any 'picture-book' notions held by us English of Edinburgh Castle on tins of Walker's Shortbread, Boyle pitches us immediately into the netherworld of Auld Reekie (albeit most of the film was actually shot in Glasgow), a world of teenage boredom, petty criminals, drug dependency and self-deprecating nationalism as Ewan McGregor's Renton and Ewen Bremner's Spud 'leg it' down Princes Street, shoplifters on the run from the 'polis', all to Iggy's thundering Lust For Life. (In fact, not only does Boyle's masterpiece have one of the greatest opening sequences in cinema, it also has one of the finest conclusion's, this time to Underworld's Born Slippy). As was the case with Welsh's novel (actually a collection of short stories), Boyle's film is essentially a series of vignettes, an expletive-ridden voyage through late-20th century urban decadence, both hilarious and tragic.

Acting-wise, it is difficult to imagine a finer cast (from its time). Not only does McGregor deliver (for me) easily his best screen performance as witty narrator, thinker and addict, but so does Bremner as the naive 'follower', and fellow 'gang' members, Jonny Lee Miler's smooth-talking Sick Boy (his Sean Connery-focused 'cinema narration' is, for me, a highlight) and Robert Carlyle's brutal Begbie ('He's a psycho, but he's a mate, what can you do?'), aren't far behind. That's not all, though - in addition we have Kevin McKidd as 'abstainer' (but ultimately, 'unlucky'), Tommy, Kelly Macdonald as 'underage' Diane, the great Peter Mullan as dealer Swanney and James Cosmo as Renton's father, as well as Shirley Henderson putting in a cameo appearance and even Welsh himself turning up as another dealer, Mikey Forrester.

Boyle's film has, of course, been criticised for glamorising drugs - a sentiment with which I would wholly disagree, simply witness scenes such as Renton's toilet submergence, his hospital admittance, the film's depiction of the impact of AIDS and addiction's effect of 'sidelining childcare'. These are tragic scenes (admittedly shot with great cinematic flair) and alongside scenes such Spud's bedsheets, Renton's revelation of Diane's schoolgirl, Spud's job interview, baby Dawn crawling on the ceiling, Begbie's 'meat and two veg', plus many more, make Boyle's film an unstoppable tour-de-force, pretty much without a second wasted during its surprisingly brief 90 minutes.

Rather like the effect that Welsh's source novel had on the literary world, Boyle's film shook up the (British) cinematic world with its levels of 'controversy' and provocation. It is difficult to think of a (certainly British) film which has had a comparable effect since, although the most obvious earlier comparator is probably Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange (a film with which Trainspotting shares a number of stylistic traits). Boyle's film is (for me) also one of the most evocative films dealing with the (Scottish) urban 'underclass', alongside the likes of Gillies MacKinnon's Small Faces and Richard Jobson's 16 Years Of Alcohol.
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63 of 68 people found the following review helpful
Having bought the original DVD away back in 1999 (in the old-style transparent plastic case and everything), I have to say I was aprehensive about paying the extra money for the extra scenes and interviews. However, it was well worth it.
To recap, Trainspotting follows the lives of three junkies (Renton, Sick Boy and Spud) and a psychopath (Begbie) in Edinburgh (although quite a lot of the film is actually shot in my home town of Glasgow). Having recieved a mixture of acclaim and controversy when it was released, those who make the effort to watch it will realise it is not about glamorising drugs. It is essentially about the break up of friendships between men who have been pals since school and whose lives decay in a furore of drink, violence, sex, and drugs. It also makes an important statement of how mundane junkies' lives are.
The most disturbing aspect of this film is actually the amount of humour: from the bookmaker's toilet to the psychopath Begbie, quite simply a nutter, to use a nice vernacular phrase. Also look out for Sick Boy's great impressions of Sean Connery.
The extras on the DVD are great and a perfect length. Various missing scenes are included on the first disc. On the second disc, there is a mixture of interviews (including one with the author of the book, Irvine Welsh), and good behind-the-scenes material, including some nice multi-angle material.
Admirers of Trainspotting will have already appreciated its pulsating and eclectic soundtrack: from Lou Reed's 'Perfect Day' to Sleeper's cover of 'Atomic'; from Iggy Pop's 'Lust For Life' to 'Habanera' from Carmen. This DVD explains the choice of sound, as well as other aspects such as visuals and colour, and was interested to find out the music is designed to move the audience from the 1980s where the story begins to the 1990s. Indeed, Renton, the hero (?) of the film begins as a person with his mind stuck in the era of Iggy Pop, before eventually waking up to the 1990s with Pulp and Damon Albarn. Incidentally, also look out for the vox-pops of Albarn at the Cannes film festival on the second disc, as well as the likes of Oasis and Ewan McGregor himself.
This a film which deals with a controversial subject in a perfect manner with an excellent cast, great visuals, and a racing sountrack. ***** Five Stars! *****
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 23 June 2003
Danny Boyle's Irvine Welsh adaptation treads the line carefully between attacking the drug lifestyle and glamourising it, by doing what most filmmakers seem afraid of doing: saying that yes, it does feel like it has great benefits. "Why else would we do it?" says Ewan McGregor, who gives the film a fantastic narration. The Scottish isn't as hard to decipher as it's made out to be.
It shares with Clockwork Orange a clutch of harrowing, graphic scenes of violence or drug use, but also a sense of a story well told, and an innate watchability. Once you've seen it once or twice and gotten over the initial "Agh!" of a few scenes, it becomes quite likeable. The cast are all down to Earth and believable (McGregor and Jonny Lee Miller, aka the sly Bond-obsessed Sick Boy, are fantastic, with Ewen Bremner as the loopy but loveable Spud and Robert Carlysle in his breakthrough turn as psycho Begbie) and the easy-to-get-to-grips-with script sticks to Irvine Welsh (the first credit at the end of the movie is to him).
It's can be equally gritty (the toilet scene and some of the film's harsher realities) and surreal (the trips), which ensures it's not boring for a second, and Danny Boyle's direction makes sure it won't displease the eye for a moment either. The pop soundtrack is brilliant, and enfuses the film with energy (as if it was lacking already, which it isn't), allowing the proceedings to leap forward without anyone feeling too bothered. Choppy editing adopted by Lock Stock also slickens things, and the fact that none of these characters get any real depth or life story - even McGregor's Renton tells nothing of his past or how he met these people - the ensemble performances and overall gradual story make up for it. You'll more than likely be cheering for McGregor in the finale.
The DVD is fun but hardly "definitive," boasting a solid commentary from Boyle, writer Hodges and McGregor; an interview with Welsh; some Cannes clips (with Damon Albarn, Martin Landau and Noel Gallagher, as if they had anything to do with it); trailers and a few all-too-brief retrospectives. Still, it's all brilliantly presented. And after all, the film... perhaps not "the best British film of the decade," but sure in the running... makes up for any problems and then some.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on 28 February 2001
A highly energetic adaption of the Irvine Welsh bestseller, following the misadventures of a group of Edinburgh drug addicts whose dependency and downward spiral is offset by a pumping soundtrack and visually stunning photography. Lauded as counter-culture and following hot on the heels of director Danny Boyle's hit Shallow Grave, this is in fact a very traditional and very funny story, told by lead character Renton (Ewan McGregor) of a rites-of-passage tale aided and abetted by a junkie's needle. Four of the main characters are all heroin addicts, with the exception of Robert Carlyle's wonderfully psychotic Begbie, who is so completely barking no drugs are needed to send him wildly off his tree. Renton (as the film's main focus and narrator) is determined to kick the habit and does cold turkey, only to find the temptations from his friends too near at hand as he is sucked back into their world with both horrific and hilarious consequences. Pulling the rug of sympathy from under Renton's feet however, the film shifts confusingly from our hero searching for his next desperate heroin fix halfway through the film to a suddenly transformed young suit popping up in London as an estate agent. Such an action belies his apparent mental frailty and begs the obvious question Why on earth take the drug if life is as easy as this? From early on the script adopts a commercial crowd-pleasing tone (there are endless references to Sean Connery and Iggy Pop, a la Tarantino) thus enabling most of the cast to at least become coherent to a large section of the audience (a feat that seemed to escape the novel). Violent and hugely entertaining in its approach, this is a film that, despite its reputation, avoids the underbelly of the drug world, neatly side-stepping the more painful aspects in favour of a glossy sheen on the media's favourite theme: twentysomething angst, a move that promises handsome returns at the box office. This is a film with intelligence, wit and a notable debut from the very, very promising Kelly McDonald; talent and beauty in equal measure. Proof that Britain, or should that be Scotland, has more than enough bite at the box office.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Despite an offshoot of moral crusaders berating `Trainspotting' in 1995 for allegedly `glorifying heroin' there seem to be few who can doubt the greatness of such a cult classic.

Yes, it is about a band of horrible, nasty people, but - most importantly - it does NOT glorify any form of drugs. On the contrary, it would recommend that this film is shown to youngsters as a way of showing just how wretched and awful people's lives can be when they're hooked on substance abuse.

Ignoring `Shallow Grave' this could be considered as Ewan McGregor's `breakthrough' performance and, although he does steal the show in every scene, the whole `ensemble' cast should not be forgotten - special mention to Robert Carlyle as `Begbie' who is a truly terrifying on-screen psycho.

It's hard to imagine there are too many people who don't like Trainspotting. It's a great British film which catapulted many of those involved into mainstream stardom. Some people say that it's quite bleak and, although the subject matter is pretty dark, the cast handle it with enough wit and charm to have us - sort of - rooting for them (or at least Ewan McGregor's `anti-hero' - Renton). Yes, it can be a bit dark and disturbing at times, but the real life `horror' of the `junkie lifestyle' has to be shown in all its glory if its really going to portray it accurately.

So, if you're any way interested in popular culture the Trainspotting perfectly sums up the nineties. Even if you're not, it's one of those films that you really should see before you die - if nothing else then sooner or later you'll find yourself in a situation when all those around you are talking about it and you really don't want to be left out!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 26 October 2010
Enough has been written about Trainspotting - we all know how fantastic the film is but I was intrigued to see what extras are on the Blu-Ray disc.

Just watching the stars of the film looking back at their memories was really interesting and there are several other interesting extras on this disc.

It was nice to learn that Ewan Bremner originally starred as Renton in the original play but was moved aside to play Spud in the film, and you can see how gutted he was with this decision, but he put in a brilliant performance with Spud and may have even stolen the show.

Why can't more retrospective efforts be put on to the Blu-Rays - some new releases don't even have the extras that were on the DVD. Just studios being money grabbers again bringing out several collector's editions of films who then moan about people buying pirate copies - I consider them as bad as each other!

Anyway, enjoy a fine blu ray disc!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 18 December 2011
For me, 1996's 'Trainspotting', based on the novel by Irvine Welsh, was one of the best British movies to come from the 1990s, I still regard it as Ewan McGregor's greatest performance. It's my second favourite film directed by the brilliant Danny Boyle - 'Shallow Grave' will always be my hands down favourite, but 'Trainspotting' comes a close second.

The film has a simple plot, following the lives of a group of heroin addict friends living in Scotland, charting the disintegration of the friendship as the five men proceed towards a drug-fuelled self destruction. As bad as these men are, you can still can't help but like them and feel empathy to their feelings. Funny, gritty and hard-hitting at the same time, 'Trainspotting' has it all.

If you enjoy realistic, down to earth British movies, 'Trainspotting' should be on your short list of films to see.

My edition of 'Trainspotting' is the red-boxed 'Film 4' one, and this contains an insightful 42 minute film, where Danny Boyle and the entire cast share their memories of this critically acclaimed feature.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This movie takes place in a time when club music replaced punk music as the sound of their generation. With an influential soundtrack this movie was destined for underground cult status.

This drug-themed movie is not for the faint of heart, certain scenes are disturbing and will likely offend.

Propelling Ewan McGregor into super stardom, this is arguable his best non-Hollywood work. Other co-stars have also proven themselves in other notable smaller movie projects.

The directing is superb. Enough said.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 17 May 2006
Irvine Welsh's startling novel is bought to life for the silver screen and it does the compelling, best-selling book total justice. Director, Danny Boyle shows imagination and inventiveness with this origanal, provocative story of four Edinburgh lads going on a self destructive rampage and focuses harshly on the characters physical decline into heroin addiction and the harrowing situation that revolves around this. Some scenes are admitedly disturbing but thats solely down to its superb performances from the cast which features Ewan Mcgregor, Robert Carlyle, Ewen Bremner, Johnny Lee Miller and Kevin Mckidd. They all put in powerful, very commendable performances (particularly Robert Carlisle as the demented psycho yob) and compliment the razor sharp scripts that are totally astounding and eerily realistic. Despite its deeply unpleasant content the film welcomingly has its fair shair of laughs although is pure black comedy. This well balanced film evokes the harrowing atmosphere and some hard hitting facts brilliantly resulting in a stunningly unique piece of work that is nothing sort of a masterpiece. Highly recommended!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 25 August 2014
Highly recommended blu ray movie. Danny Boyle directed this in a very personal, in your face manner. I realised how low the camera is when watching on projection screen. Usually the big expansive movies, the Cinerama greats are enhanced by projection screen. But Trainspotting is so well framed, usually so that you can always see the ceiling of the rooms these drug addled fugitives from normalcy occupy. We are with them all the way. Subtitles essential not because of the accents but due to the poor centre speaker dialogue.

And now I can pick up certain details. Like that hilarious scene when Carlyle realises he is fondling a man. The knickers are firm when they should be 'giving way.' And one scene of a close-up of a spoon being prepared for lunar flight I could actually inhale its allure. Intoxicating cinema.

It is a great movie. For some reason I compare it with another British film, one that I love viewing on dvd: Notting Hill. Both poles apart in terms of lifestyles portrayed but both made by Englishmen. The best of British, is the media hook, since Ewan McGregor and others hail from Scotland. Yet one movie shows how to deal with failing and the other shows how to deal with failing.

Education should be radically overhauled. But you can't do that when tied to the statutes of England.
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