|Category||Drama||Main Menu Audio and Animation
Listing - Cast and Crew
Audio Commentary - Wolfgang Petersen (Director)
Audio Commentary - Sebastian Junger (Author)
Featurette - HBO First Look: Creating The Perfect Storm (19:57)
Featurette - Witness To The Storm (4:35)
Featurette - Creating An Emotion (4:16)
Featurette - Conceptual Art with Director's Commentary (9:58)
Featurette - Yours Forever Photo Montage (4:06)
Theatrical Trailer - 1.85:1, 16x9, Dolby Digital 2.0 (1:22)
Trailer - Soundtrack Promo (0:19)
|Running Time||124:31 minutes|
Warner Home Video
Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio
John C Reilly
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384
German (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384 Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192 Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192 Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1|
|Theatrical Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||
English for the Hearing Impaired
German for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
The fishing port of Gloucester, Massachusetts, just north of Boston, is one of the oldest fishing ports in the United States and can trace its history to around 1623. Since that time, around ten thousand men have lost their lives fishing the Atlantic Ocean. Not only did the fishing port feel the full brunt of the storm but that fateful day in October 1991 was to add another six men to that tally when the fishing boat Andrea Gail was caught in the full fury of the storm out on the fishing grounds, heading back to port with a hold full of swordfish. The seventy foot fishing boat had little chance in the wild seas with waves running to a massive one hundred feet or more in height.
The Perfect Storm is the story of that fateful trip of October 1991 when the Andrea Gail headed out to sea for one last shot at a major haul of swordfish before the worsening storms of winter stopped the fleet for several months.
The fishing ports of the Northeast United States send a lot of fishing boats out to the fishing grounds of the Atlantic Ocean for months at a time. The two main fishing areas are the Grand Banks of Newfoundland and the more distant Flemish Cap. Both are on the very edge of the continental shelf and the ocean bottom drops off enormously from them. In summer they present a reasonably tranquil fishing area, but as the winter storms approach they present an area of great treachery. The Andrea Gail had gone as far as the Flemish Cap in search of fish, about 1,200 miles from Gloucester. It was attempting to return to port when it was caught in The Perfect Storm. Whilst no one really knows for sure what happened out there near The Grand Banks, the best guess is that the boat headed straight into the absolute middle of the storm and all hell broke loose. If you have ever suffered a Force 10 gale, you may well have an idea of what the six men on the Andrea Gail endured before she finally succumbed to the elements. I once had the unfortunate experience of suffering a Force 10 gale in the Southern Ocean on an ocean liner which came within a half a degree of list of capsizing and would never want to experience it again. Imagine if you can a Force 12 gale with waves running one hundred feet and more on a similar swell, winds gusting to a hundred miles an hour, and worse - nature at its absolute, awesome worst. They left port two weeks earlier in virtually perfect conditions and were despatched to the bottom of the ocean in a display of power never before recorded in history.
This is the basically true story that is told here by Wolfgang Petersen, based upon the book by Sebastian Junger. It is the story of the six men aboard the Andrea Gail - skipper Bill Tyne (George Clooney), Bobby Shatford (Mark Wahlberg), Dale Murphy (John C Reilly), Michael Moran (John Hawkes), Alfred Pierre (Allen Payne) and David Sullivan (William Fichtner) - and what they endured, as well as a story about the family and friends they left behind in Gloucester. But in the very grandest sense, it is a tribute to those brave persons who daily head out to sea in search of fish, often for months at a time, not really certain that they will return. It is a powerful story and to succeed requires a rare combination of great performances, terrific effects and great direction.
A lot of filming was actually done in Gloucester and many of the local community actually contributed actively to the film. The actors had in some cases the opportunity to meet the people they play in the film - they had the chance to meet the friends and family of the missing fishermen and in the extreme case of Mark Wahlberg, even spent time living above the bar depicted in the film! You can be assured that what you see here is about as authentic as can be. The fishing boat used to portray the Andrea Gail for instance is a sister ship known as the Lady Grace. About the only thing that is not authentic here are the actual swordfish - no actual live fish were used in the film. They are all either animatronic or rubber facsimiles...not that you would notice the difference without being told. It is rare that a film has production values as high as these, and the result is a film that is utterly believable. Even the special effects, both very large and very small, more than hold their own. The potential for very iffy effects was huge here, as anyone who has seen a film involving lots of water will readily attest to. Apart from a couple of minor instances, in general the work from the masters at Industrial Light and Magic is quite superb and you never really know where the live action ends and the effects start.
Good story, great performances, great special effects and great direction all add to make a film that generally lives up to its hype. Even though we know what the result of the film is, even down to the climatic scene being given away by the main menu and front slick cover (not a great move by Warners I might add), this is so well put together that it still manages to sustain the full two hour length. Sure some of it is a bit incredulous - just check out the scene of Tyne climbing out on the gantry to cut the drogue chain in the middle of the storm - but that is easily forgiven with the general pacing of the story and film. Whilst I would be loathe to call it a superb film, it is yet another worthy inclusion in the filmography of Wolfgang Petersen.
The Perfect Storm is well worth seeking out.
The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and it is 16x9 enhanced. This is very close to the theatrical aspect ratio of 2.40:1.
And just exactly how do you say sharp and detailed? Try The Perfect Storm. With all the emphasis on water and storms in the film, I have to confess that I was sort of expecting a lot of iffily focused shots and blurry details. I need not have worried, as this is a generally very sharp transfer with no loss of sharpness throughout the course of the film. There is nothing here in the way of distracting edge enhancement either, which is another big bonus as the whole thing still looks very natural. However, the truly impressive thing in this transfer is the detail and even when the waves really get rolling, there is still an incredible amount of detail in the storm, and every breaking wave top and white streak in the broiling sea is clear and contributes to one of the best examples of background detail that I have seen recently in film. Obviously this all requires a gorgeously clear transfer to make the detail shine and that is what we get here, with nary a hint of grain to be concerned about. Shadow detail is very good indeed, and the people at Industrial Light and Magic should take some kudos here for how much detail can be seen in all the storm scenes. There is no low level noise problem here.
Let's see - lots of water and a huge storm. Not much in the way of colour here right? Well, almost right. You would not be too surprised by the lack of colour for the second half of the film since it is in a huge storm and deep ocean water would have only one colour - dark, dark green to reflect the dark clouds. However, that is not to say that some nice bright colours don't get a run here and the first half of the film really looks a treat with plenty of natural colour giving a really vibrant look. It may not be a kaleidoscope of colour but what we get is very fine indeed and certainly has a very natural feel. Nothing in the way of oversaturation or colour bleed affects this transfer in any way.
The one main problem with the transfer, and to be honest about the only problem with the transfer, is a tendency towards some minor aliasing in the transfer. This mainly affects things like fishing lines and so on, and whilst it is by no means a really noticeable and annoying problem, it is just a little too obvious on a couple of occasions to completely ignore. Other than that there are no MPEG artefacts in the transfer, there are no other film-to-video artefacts and this is an almost pristine transfer as far as film artefacts are concerned.
This is an RSDL
formatted DVD with the layer change coming at 67:26.
It is just a little noticeable as there is a slight pause in the music
as the layer change is navigated. Overall though, not too bad and not really
disruptive to the flow of the film.
There are four soundtracks on the DVD, being an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, a German Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, and two English Audio Commentaries in Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded soundtracks. The only thing I did not check out was the German soundtrack. The English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack may be an EX soundtrack, although this is not confirmed. Whilst the packaging makes no reference to it being so, the promotional blurb for the DVD certainly does. Unfortunately PowerDVD does not support EX at this time and only reports this as being plain old 5.1. If any one has definite confirmation of this being an EX soundtrack, we would sure appreciate hearing from you.
The dialogue was wonderfully clear and easy to understand, although of course with a Force 12 gale running at full steam there are naturally times when the sound effects dominate the dialogue. There was no indication of any audio sync problems at all.
I suppose that if one is making a nautical film nowadays, it is perfectly logical to get James Horner to write the music. I generally have not had a huge regard for his work, which I tend to find quite banal and repetitive. This film must have inspired him as the resultant score, whilst in my opinion still not a marvel, is certainly a wonderfully supportive effort that really adds to the drama of the film no end. The end result is also something that is not quite so obviously from James Horner, which is a really big plus in my view.
Where to start with this superb soundtrack is the question. If you want reference quality audio demonstration, then this is the baby you want. Whilst it might not be the flashiest audio soundtrack you have ever heard, the second half of the film provides you with some of the best use of rear surround channels you will ever hear. There are chunks of great ambience in the rear channels with wind and waves competing against each other, the occasional input from the struggling engine in the boat and assorted other delicacies to behold. This is well worth cranking up just a little, just to hear how good great surround channel use can be.
Surprisingly, the bass channel has been quite subtly
used here so that the bangs and crashes are not over-resonant nightmares,
but rather wonderfully natural-sounding. The bass kicks in very nicely
to support the crashing waves in a beautifully rumbly way, but even when
called upon to be really dramatic and dynamic it does so in a magnificently
supportive manner. The first half of the film, which is comparatively quiet
in just about every way, features a much more frontal sound that befits
the more dialogue-driven nature of the film (although it does get lively
in the bar scenes), but the totally enveloping second half of the film
is a joy to hear. There is nothing at all wrong with the soundtrack here
and you will rarely hear anything as good or better than this.
|Surround Channel Use|
© Ian Morris (have
a laugh, check out the bio)
12th January 2001
|DVD||Pioneer DV-515; S-video output|
|Display||Sony Trinitron Wega 80cm. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in|
|Amplification||Yamaha RXV-795. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL|