Public Enemies at times, thanks to the HD, looked like watching a high priced TV show beamed up on the screen. If I wanted that kind of photography when I go to a theatre, I'd just skip paying and stay home and watch something on my TV. But even then it would probably look better than what Mann has done with his latest as I'm not sure he's even remotely aware how bad this looks. The HD in Public Enemies is too crisp, too plastic, too digital.
The film is set in the mid 1930s in the world of bank robbers, John Dillinger and Baby Face Nelson, and the early days of the FBI but by choosing to go the route of HD he has chosen to strip some of the nostalgia of that era. That's fine. I've got no problem with trying to play with our preconceived notions of how history should "appear" but does it then have to look like absolute garbage? The film just looks awful. The interiors are dark and look like crap with over/under saturated pixels blinking away. The clinical, over crispness of the HD is distracting and just comes off as a gimmicky, attention grabbing gesture by Mann.
Public Enemies is the new poster child for digital v. film for me. Vern Snackwell mentioned to me how good Zodiac looked and that's true, when I saw Zodiac a couple of years ago I was surprised something filmed in HD could look so good--this is a major step back. While I wasn't completely enamored by the movie--shooting it in HD ruined it. Shooting this in film would have made it more inviting, more warm, more realistic and more pleasing to the eye. Nice job destroying your movie Michael Mann. Film wins again!