High Crimes: Special Edition (2002)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 17-Mar-2003

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Audio Commentary-Carl Franklin (Director)
Featurette-A Military Mystery
Featurette-FBI Takedown in Union Square
Featurette-A Different Kind Of Justice
Featurette-Liar Liar: How To Beat A Polygraph Test
Featurette-Together Again
Featurette-Car Crash
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 110:28
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (55:29) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Carl Franklin
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Ashley Judd
Morgan Freeman
James Caviezel
Adam Scott
Amanda Peet
Case ?
RPI $36.95 Music Graeme Revell


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.40:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles Croatian
Czech
Danish
English for the Hearing Impaired
Finnish
Hebrew
Hungarian
Icelandic
Norwegian
Polish
Portuguese
Swedish
Turkish
English Audio Commentary
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement Yes, mildly
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    If there is one reason why the average young male like myself would do a review of High Crimes sight unseen, it is just for the sheer hope of seeing Ashley Judd's bare butt, something that anyone who has seen Double Jeopardy will understand. However, unlike Double Jeopardy, High Crimes is actually worth watching, and it doesn't stretch credibility far past its limits and then some. As a matter of fact, I enjoyed watching High Crimes in spite of my expectations, and in spite of the fact that its two female leads don't really show any bare flesh at all.

    Claire Kubik (Ashley Judd) is a successful lawyer who has two main focuses in her life, aside from her work - her desire to have a child, and her husband, Tom (Jim Caviezel). However, what Claire doesn't know is that Tom used to be in the Marine Corps, and has been hiding from them for around a decade due to some nasty things that happened in El Salvador. When the police arrest Tom, however, Claire finds herself battling with the protocols of military law and trying to work out exactly why someone would want to prosecute Tom, or Ron Chapman as he is known to the Marines. In order to help with dealing with the military style of justice, and to counter the inexperience of Tom's appointed defender, First Lieutenant Terence Embry (Adam Scott), Claire enlists the aid of a character (in every sense of the word) called Charlie Grimes (Morgan Freeman). She is also aided in whatever way possible by her somewhat aloof sister, Jackie (Amanda Peet).

    Questions begin to arise from day one. Who is Major Hernandez (Juan Carlos Hernández), and why is he so painfully ugly? Why does Brigadier General Bill Marks (Bruce Davison) want Tom convicted so badly? Most important of all, who is the mysterious Salvadoran Man (Emilio Rivera) who chases Tom and Claire around while waving an old-fashioned six shooter? Thankfully, unlike an episode of The X-Files, when this film promises an answer to such questions, it actually delivers, which makes it worth watching a few times. However, it seems to be Ashley Judd's lot in life to appear in whodunnits that never really rise above the average, and Amanda Peet's sole function seems to be to tease the men in the audience. Still, Morgan Freeman is worth watching in anything, even if it is only to see his latest variation on the "what the hell has happened to my career?" facial expression.

    In the end, High Crimes is a fairly obvious, predictable film that, while entertaining and providing a lot of demonstration moments for one's home theatre system, is ultimately hobbled by a feeling of being all too familiar. Hell, I enjoyed it, but I have a funny feeling that I would enjoy the Joseph Finder novel a lot more. If A Few Good Men meets a very tamed-down version of Wild Things sounds like your cup of tea, then you could certainly do worse than High Crimes.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    High Crimes is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and it is 16x9 Enhanced. This is a slight divergence from the theatrical aspect ratio of 2.40:1, but it is doubtful that anyone will really notice.

    This is a very sharp transfer, one that detail junkies will find very much to their liking. Some of the shots, especially the one in the supermarket, reveal the anamorphic photography in their backgrounds, but the fine lines in Ashley Judd's face are shown well here. The shadow detail is excellent, with the break-in at the Kubik house at 7:22 showing just how dark a scene can get without losing any important detail these days. No low-level noise was apparent in this transfer. There are some sections of the film that show events in El Salvador, which are smeared and grainy, but this is a deliberate effect.

    The colours in this transfer are quite vivid and vibrant, enough so that viewers will wonder how they added the black marks on Morgan Freeman's face in some shots. No composite artefacts or smearing were noticed.

    MPEG artefacts were not found in this transfer, although the aforementioned El Salvador sequences (which were shot in Mexico, apparently) had me worried. Film-to-video artefacts consisted of a handful of minor instances of aliasing. The worst offenders in this regard were stacks of paper at 41:53 and 83:07, which were just bordering on distracting. Film artefacts consisted of some small black and white marks on the occasional frame, but nothing that was really worth worrying about.

    English for the Hearing Impaired subtitles are available on this disc. They are quite accurate and easy to read, although they are somewhat lacking in sound cues.

    This disc is RSDL formatted, with the layer change taking place between Chapters 20 and 21, at 55:29. This is just after Ashley Judd poses the immortal "Do you consider me a friend?" question, and while the placement is fairly obvious, the layer change is so quick that I had to turn on the director's commentary in order to find it.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There are two soundtracks on this DVD: an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack at 384 kilobits per second, and a director's audio commentary, which has been recorded in Dolby Digital 2.0 at 192 kilobits per second. I listened to both of these soundtracks. I note that the Region 1 version of this DVD has a 448 kilobit per second English soundtrack, but neither version has the DTS sound that the film was presented with theatrically.

    The dialogue on this DVD is pretty easy to understand most of the time. Some lines are mumbled, with one instance of a rather muffled, indistinct piece of dialogue later in the film, but these were the exception rather than the rule. I did not detect any problems with audio sync.

    The music in this film consisted of a standard assortment of contemporary numbers, and a score by Graeme Revell. According to Widescreen Review, this score is apparently an exceptionally well-recorded one, and although the lower bitrate on the local DVD obscures this somewhat, it is still quite clean and easy to listen to. Indeed, the music here is often better than what the film really deserves, adding an atmosphere and a sense of tension to scenes that would otherwise have nothing to engage the viewer.

    The surround channels are subtly utilised in order to provide a soundfield that, while not particularly aggressive, manages to draw the viewer in and place them in the action. One particularly good use of the surround channels occurs when Ashley Judd and Emilio Rivera visit an abandoned factory at 71:21. Most of the time, the film is very quiet and dialogue-driven, so the fact that the soundtrack never really collapses into stereo is a testament to the talents of the people who mixed it.

    The subwoofer was only used on a few occasions for such things as the smoke bomb at 10:24 or the satchel bomb at 20:41. It called attention to itself in these places, but given the nature of these scenes, I think that would have been the intention of the filmmakers. These moments almost had me jumping out of my seat, as they were generally right in the middle of more quiet, peaceful sequences. This is an excellent soundtrack for demonstrating the dynamic range that DVD can offer.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    All of the extras on this disc are presented in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio with 192 kilobit per second Dolby Digital 2.0 audio unless otherwise noted.

Menu

    The menu features a 2.35:1 introduction before it reverts to a 1.78:1 shape. It is 16x9 Enhanced and accompanied by Dolby Digital 2.0 audio.

Audio Commentary - Carl Franklin (Director)

    Some directors can do an audio commentary alone, but Carl Franklin is not really one of them. While this Dolby Digital 2.0, surround-encoded commentary is rather informative, it is not particularly engaging.

Featurette - A Military Mystery

    This seven minute and six second featurette is actually an interview with author Joseph Finder.

Featurette - FBI Takedown In Union Square

    This three minute and twenty-six second featurette is a sort of making-of for the scene described in the title.

Featurette - A Different Kind Of Justice

    This four minute and forty-seven second featurette features a real military lawyer talking about the differences between civilian court and a military court. It is presented with some footage in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio.

Featurette - Liar Liar: How To Beat A Polygraph

    The title is somewhat deceptive. This five minute and thirty-eight second featurette features a real FBI polygraph expert talking about why polygraphs aren't admissible in court, some methods that have been used to deceive polygraph operators, and how spies can be trained to fool said operators naturally.

Featurette - Together Again

    This seven minute and thirteen second featurette basically goes on about the chemistry between the two lead actors, and is little more than an extended kind of trailer. It is presented with some footage in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio.

Featurette - Car Crash

    This two minute featurette shows a little bit about the filming of the car crash sequence, and it is very revealing of some of the tricks used. It also features a split-screen comparison between footage of the scene being shot and the finished shots from the film.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Aside from a higher bitrate Dolby Digital soundtrack and different subtitle options, the two versions of this disc are fundamentally identical.

Summary

    High Crimes is not exactly a great film, but it will make for a pleasant evening's viewing, so it is worth trying out on a rainy night. It just disappoints me because it had the potential to be more, or perhaps it is because we don't get to see Ashley Judd or Amanda Peet in the buff, but your mileage may vary.

    The video transfer is excellent, with only a few instances of slightly annoying aliasing denying it reference status.

    The audio transfer is an excellent example of what can be done with a subtle soundtrack.

    The extras are limited, but mostly quite enlightening.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Dean McIntosh (Don't talk about my bio. We don't wanna know.)
Thursday, February 20, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 2109, using S-Video output
DisplaySamsung CS-823AMF (80cm). Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony STR DE-835
SpeakersYamaha NS-45 Front Speakers, Yamaha NS-90 Rear Speakers, Yamaha NSC-120 Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Active Subwoofer

Other Reviews
The DVD Bits - John Z
DVD Net - Terry K
AllZone4DVD - Toan B

Comments (Add)
meh. - grug (there is no bio.)