Menu Animation & Audio
Dolby Digital Trailer-Canyon
Featurette-Spotlight On Location
Featurette-Breaking The Code
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Scene Selection Anim & Audio
|Year Of Production||2000|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (72:59)||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Jonathan Mostow|
Roadshow Home Entertainment
John Bon Jovi
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
|Subtitles||English for the Hearing Impaired||Smoking||No|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
After the initial disappointment, though, I began to understand director Jonathan Mostow's intentions. After all, the writer-director of the critically-regarded Breakdown obviously knew what he was doing, and as he explains in the informative commentary track, he wasn't attempting another Das Boot. Instead he sought to recreate the war films of his youth, such as Run Silent, Run Deep, complete with Big Jawlines, flag-waving and with the effects modern audiences demand. Go into the film with this understanding, and you should have a blast.
The plot is loosely based on several events that actually occurred in WWII, but the particulars are completely fabricated. After a German U-Boat is badly damaged by a fearsome depth charge assault, a US Navy crew disguise their submarine as a U-Boat and attempt to reach the Nazi vessel before the repair crew can arrive. The idea is to eliminate the crew and capture the Enigma machine, a sophisticated device used by the Nazis to co-ordinate U-Boat attacks (the transmissions sent with Enigma machines were so difficult to decipher that by the time Allied forces worked out the message, the attack had already taken place). Once the machine is captured, the plan is to destroy the Nazi sub so as to not alert the Germans that their device is in enemy hands, and the Navy can be out of the area scot-free.
Of course, if it was this easy, we wouldn't have much of a movie, and I'd recommend watching the film immediately without checking out the extra features beforehand. As usual, the trailer gives too much of the story away, and you wouldn't want a fun plot twist spoilt for you. Performances are reasonable, but the sheer number of characters mean that there's no time for them to be anything except War Movie Archetypes. Even Harvey Keitel has little to do except look staunch and occasionally give a word of advice to the usually-obnoxious Matthew McConaughey, who actually manages to be inoffensive (which is more than I can say for his role in Contact!). A few too many scenes were strongly reminiscent of Das Boot while never matching the level of suspense or drama that the earlier film did.
Overall, yes, big-and-dumb, but good big-and-dumb, if you get my drift (ha! I kill myself!), and (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) Jon Bon Jovi dies, which is always good to see.
This is a very impressive looking disc!
The disc is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, with 16x9 enhancement.
As you expect from a big-budget action film, detail is fantastic, with great shadow detail, contrast and black levels. The resolution is such that I could pick the computer-composited shots - this would be impossible with VHS and hit-and-miss with a laserdisc transfer. I didn't notice any harsh edge-enhancement, which was a criticism made by Widescreen Review of the Region 1 disc.
Colour is natural and well-saturated.
There were no film artefacts, MPEG artefacts or other film-to-video artefacts observed.
The disc is RSDL, and the layer change at 72:59 was completely unnoticeable the first time I watched the film. It was apparent when I was watching the commentary, but I'd say that a player with a fast layer change mechanism and a large data buffer will have similar results to my player. In any case, the layer change is very well placed, and unobtrusive.
Dialogue is clear, natural and intelligible throughout, except for some moments where the Navy crew are screaming at each other, where the young cast seem to be tripping over their own lips. The subtitles do a great job in revealing what they're trying to say!
Audio sync is perfectly fine, as always.
The soundtrack is by Richard Marvin, and is one of the biggest problems I have with the film. The score lacks subtlety and prefers to pound the audience into submission rather than letting the dialogue or visuals convey the mood of a scene. I do not need a full orchestral stab every time something 'exciting' happens. If it's naturally thrilling, I'll be thrilled. I don't enjoy being manipulated by a score (Titanic, anyone?).
The surrounds are used almost to excess, with some serious wall-shaking bass all around the room. Every creak and groan in the obligatory 'going below crush depth' scene is placed perfectly around the listening room.
There's an amazing amount of bass from the LFE channels, as well as every other channel. In fact, during a depth charge sequence at reference volume level, it felt as if my eyeballs were being pushed back into my skull. Personally, as a home theatre enthusiast, this is a feeling I enjoy on occasion. Think of the opening scenes in Saving Private Ryan and you're roughly in the ballpark. Some sequences are capable of damaging an underpowered system in my opinion, so be careful!
|Surround Channel Use|
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
Video and audio quality are both excellent, bordering on reference quality.
The extras are well-presented and consistently interesting, and could easily convince a fence-sitter to buy the disc.
|DVD||Pioneer 103S DVD-ROM with Hollywood Plus decoder card, using S-Video output|
|Display||Mitsubishi DiVA (78cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver.|
|Speakers||Front L/R: Richter Excalibur SE, Centre: Richter Unicorn Mk 2, Surrounds: Richter Hydras|