Insomnia (Rental) (2002)
|Year Of Production||2002|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Language Select Then Menu|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Christopher Nolan|
Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
|Smoking||Yes, only by teenagers.|
|Annoying Product Placement||Yes, "ViewSonic" jumps out at me every time.|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Set in the fictional town of Nightmute, Alaska, the story follows LA detective Will Dormer (Al Pacino), who has been sent, along with his partner Hap Eckhart (Martin Donovan), to the sleepy Alaskan town to help out the local detectives - who usually encounter nothing more troublesome than drunks - on the case of a brutal bashing murder of a teenage girl. Initially, things seem to go well, and Dormer leads the locals in setting a trap for the killer, who shows up right on queue. But then things start to go wrong, and in a very thick fog, Dormer does something that he will come to regret. Blaming his actions on the escaped killer, Dormer continues to work the case of the murdered girl, but his conscience starts to get the better of him, and between that and the 24-hour daylight - the midnight sun - he cannot sleep (and therein lies the title). As the days go by, and sleep still eludes him, local crime author Walter Finch (Robin Williams) becomes the main suspect - until he tells Dormer that he witnessed what happened in the fog, and that he wants Dormer's help to escape justice, or he will talk. What should be an easy decision for Dormer is anything but, as now he has gone days without sleep, and maybe, just maybe, the bright-eyed young detective Ellie Burr (Hilary Swank) is starting to suspect that Dormer isn't telling the whole truth.
This is a very gripping plot, and it is aided by both the utterly stunning scenery (almost every shot out-of-doors features scenery that is simply jaw-dropping in both harshness and beauty), and some very solid performances. This was the final in Robin Williams' "trilogy of evil" (three films in a row in which he played thoroughly nasty individuals, the other two being Death To Smoochy and One Hour Photo), although it was the first to actually hit Australian shores. It was almost as if he was building up for this role in the first two, as in this film he is the ultimate in degraded human beings - there is nothing to like about him at all. This isn't the Sy from One Hour Photo who was as much a sympathetic character as a frightening and despicable one. Finch has nothing at all to like about him. Pacino carries the films lead role well, although his "insomniac" doesn't really seem all that different to his normal characters, while Hilary Swank is convincing as the green detective who worships the ground Dormer walks on.
This movie has one major problem, however - the ending is a complete catastrophe. With less than five minutes to run, the film unravels completely, and we get an ending that almost seems to be a stop-gap. It is as if the writers simply could not come up with a way to finish the film that was workable, so we have the tacked on rubbish that is there now. It is a real let-down and takes away from from the previous hundred minutes of excellent work.
Overall, however, Insomnia is very much worth seeing. It is really just a very bright film-noir. See it for the breathtaking scenery, the good story, and the solid performances. Enjoy it for its attention to detail and ability to compose scenes that are very memorable. Just don't be disappointed by the ending - you have been warned!
Finally, if you are interested in seeing this movie but are yet to do so, I recommend not reading the back-cover blurb, as it contains what I would consider to be a large spoiler.
Presented at the original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1, this transfer is 16x9 enhanced.
Sharpness is extremely good, and is one of the most impressive aspects of this transfer. The shots of Alaskan scenery are detailed and lush, while all the important action is crisp and clear. Grain is not normally a problem, however when the fog rises at 25:04, the level of grain becomes quit disturbing, and serves to bring the viewer out of the experience somewhat. It only lasts for that sequence - around ten minutes - but it is certainly far from desirable. Shadow detail is almost as good as the sharpness, and the darkly lit scenes (of which there are few, due to the constant daylight) come across very well indeed. There is no low level noise.
Colours are excellent. From the lush greens of the Alaskan forest, to the blue of the police cars, the rendering is smooth and natural.
There is only one compression artefact present in this transfer, and that is some fairly obvious pixelization on the fog from 25:04, but in all fairness the increase in grain combined with the swirling fog serve to make a video compression nightmare, and the fact that it is handled as well as it is could almost be commended. Aliasing is also a problem, as it occurs frequently and quite obviously, starting with the plane wings from 3:08 to 3:15, and continuing throughout, mostly affecting indoor scenes, but also playing havoc with some panning shots outdoors as well, such as on the railing next to the road at 100:23. On the upside, there are no film artefacts at all in this transfer.
The subtitles are generally accurate, although every now and then a sentence is re-structured to make reading it simpler. This mostly affects Al Pacino's dialogue, which given his acting style is not really surprising.
Despite the label on the packaging that states this is a dual layered disc, it is not - it is single layered, and therefore has no layer change.
There is one solitary audio track on this disc, and that is the original English dialogue in Dolby Digital 5.1 (at 448 Kbps).
Dialogue is clear and easy to understand at all times, and is one of the things this soundtrack does best. It must be said that the audio mixing is very well done overall, as the use of incidental sounds is quite important to the story, yet it never interferes with the dialogue.
Audio sync is a mixed bag, starting out quite badly for the first few lines of dialogue (at 3:54), but these are possibly looped. Later however, there are moments (such as at 97:40) where the sync does seem to be out, and there are no real explanations. Mostly, it is quite good, although if watched closely enough it does give a feeling of being ever so slightly wrong.
The score is credited to David Julyan (and he manages an actual credit this time too, after missing out for no apparent reason in Memento), and as with his work in Christopher Nolan's previous film, is extremely good. It may not be particularly noticeable, but it suits the mood perfectly, and works well to build both tension and a sense that something just isn't quite right.
Surround use is the biggest disappointment in this transfer. For the most part the surrounds lie dormant, never really conveying any ambient noise, while the score is very much frontal. The only real use the surrounds get is for a few well designed sequences that track Dormer's descent into sleep deprivation, and while these are quite impressive, the lack of use at other times makes them feel slightly forced.
The subwoofer on the other hand is extremely good, backing up effects noises where necessary, as well as the score, and for some of the designed sounds used, really gets a chance to rattle the furniture.
|Surround Channel Use|
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The video quality is generally good, although there is one sequence where grain and compression artefacts become a problem, and aliasing is a constant presence.
The audio quality is sufficient to enjoy this film, but it could have been quite a bit better in terms of surround use.
Extras? What extras? There are none. Not even a trailer.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-555K, using Component output|
|Display||Loewe Xelos 5381ZW. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Amplification||Onkyo TX-DS787, THX Select|
|Speakers||Rochester Audio Animato Series (2xSAF-02, SAC-02, 3xSAB-01) + 12" Sub (150WRMS)|