25th Hour (2002)

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Released 19-Apr-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Menu Animation & Audio
Audio Commentary-Director's Commentary
Audio Commentary-Screenwriter's Commentary
Featurette-Evolution Of An American Filmmaker
Featurette-Ground Zero
Deleted Scenes-6
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 129:15
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (56:16) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Spike Lee
Studio
Distributor

Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Starring Edward Norton
Philip Seymour Hoffman
Barry Pepper
Rosario Dawson
Anna Paquin
Brian Cox
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI ? Music Terence Blanchard


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Russian Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 1.0 (96Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 1.0 (96Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Danish
Spanish
Greek
Norwegian
Russian
Swedish
Estonian
Finnish
Danish Audio Commentary
Spanish Audio Commentary
Greek Audio Commentary
Norwegian Audio Commentary
Russian Audio Commentary
Swedish Audio Commentary
Finnish Audio Commentary
Danish Audio Commentary
Spanish Audio Commentary
Greek Audio Commentary
Norwegian Audio Commentary
Russian Audio Commentary
Swedish Audio Commentary
Finnish Audio Commentary
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Spike Lee is a very interesting filmmaker. His frenetic film about drug addiction and murder, Clockers, was one of the finest films of the mid-1990s, and his biopic Malcolm X is a powerful piece of work. He has also done some very strange films, and some films, such as Girl 6, that I find just do not work. With 25th Hour, Lee uses his favourite set piece, New York, to make what is, in my opinion at least, his masterpiece.

    Monty Brogan (Edward Norton) is a man with a nasty future. He is on bail for twenty-four hours, waiting for the release of a prisoner so he can fit into New York’s already overcrowded jails, thanks to the Zero Tolerance policy, after being busted with a couple of kilos of heroin. He has exactly one day to put his affairs in order before he spends seven years in jail. His closest friends Frank (Barry Pepper) and Jacob (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) have problems of their own. Frank is trading heavily on the stock market against the advice of his boss and making a killing. He is also attracted to Monty’s girlfriend, Naturelle (Rosario Dawson), while Jacob is strangely drawn to one of his more alternative students (Anna Paquin). Naturelle does not know how to handle Monty’s going away, and people are suspicious that it may have been her who called the police. Monty’s father (Brian Cox) cannot shake the reality that he had some responsibility for where his son is today. And on top of all that, Monty is afraid he might be executed by the Russian Mafia boss he works for in order to prevent him from talking.

    Lee’s abandonment of the conventional linear narrative makes this film a wonder to view. Based on the novel by David Benioff, who also wrote the screenplay, Lee has taken the structure and made this film a very New York movie rooted squarely in the impact of the September 11 attacks. While drawing no direct political commentary on the issue, he nevertheless examines in various small ways the effect these attacks have had on the collective psyche of New York. A very interesting sequence with Monty staring into the mirror cursing every ethnic minority in New York has a strange poignancy post-September 11, and one intense scene staring into the gaping cavity of Ground Zero, where the Twin Towers once stood, just brings out gooseflesh.

    Furthermore, the acting in this film is superb. Norton has not done a job this good since American History X, but the real stand-out is Pepper whose every scene has you fixated. From his bloodshot eyes staring at the stock market numbers tumbling past on his computer screen to the tragic scene down by the river, Pepper exudes a powerful screen presence. This achievement is undoubtedly in part due to the skilful direction of Lee, but there is little doubt that Pepper will be moving on to bigger things in the future. Another very impressive performance was the young Anna Paquin, as Jacob’s young student Maria. Her energy and youthful madness makes every scene she is in captivating.

    At its core, 25th Hour is a very intense and yet rambling drama that somehow manages to capture you in its grasp and carry you in its current all the way to the end. The 130 minute running time flies by virtually unnoticed. The only other film I can think to compare it to is Magnolia, but they are still different on many fundamental levels, not the least of which is the heavy reliance on each film’s location. All that aside, this film is powerful, evocative and ultimately poetic stuff, and is definitely a must see.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Presented in 2.35:1, 16x9 enhanced, this is the original aspect ratio of the film.

    Lee has chosen an intensely grainy film stock to shoot this film and the result is an intensification of the grittiness of New York even though it has been cleaned up by heavy-handed policing and regular maintenance. I am pleased to say that the director’s intentions here have been superbly reproduced, with a hard edge of grain throughout the film which never dissolves into low-level noise or MPEG blocking. Nice work.

    Despite the grain, there is a high level of detail to this image. At times you could pause and count the pores in Monty’s cheeks or the fine stubble on Frank’s face. This is an incredibly well defined image that thankfully has not been ‘augmented’ by edge enhancement.

    Shadow detail is grainy, as was intended, but yet still exhibits that high level of detail that Lee was after. I can remember noticing this effect at the cinema during the club scene which is very shadowy and lit with only ghostly blue or red lighting which has a tendency to colour bleed on video but which just looks astounding here despite the graininess. Again, excellent transfer work.

    Colours are real and lifelike, without the Hollywood gloss. Flesh tones are fantastically rendered

    There are no MPEG artefacts, and only the very faintest of film-to-video transfer artefacts in the form of some very light aliasing on the edge of Monty’s dad’s car towards the end. I expect that those with better equipment than mine (which is getting a little dated now) would not notice these faults.

    There is very little dirt on the print.

    Subtitles are available in a multitude of languages. They are white with a black border, and the English subtitles do not seem to substantially deviate from the actual dialogue.

    The dual layer pause is at 56:16. Sadly, this occurs during a line of dialogue and we lose a couple of words as a result. This is a very poorly timed layer pause given that there is a fade to black only a few minutes previously that would have been an ideal spot, and plenty of other places where it would have been less irritating and distracting. Indeed, this is the one let down of the entire disc. Given that this is only a rental version, here is hoping that Buena Vista can remedy this fault for the commercial release.

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

Audio

    Audio is available in English, French and Russian, all in 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround.

    A lot of thought went into the sound design of this movie, and unlike a lot of dramas which are almost entirely centre-speaker driven, there is a lot going on here if you take the time to listen. I can remember being acutely aware of the surround information when watching this in the cinema, and thankfully this detail has been reproduced for DVD.

    Dialogue is clear barring the instances where it is has been intentionally drowned out by other noise or by intentional audio effects. There is one audio sync fault that was a glitch I remember in the cinema. At 28:01, Edward Norton’s lips are moving, but his line of dialogue is already well gone. This is not a transfer fault, but a fault in the original print that Lee has, for whatever reason, chosen not to remedy.

    The fantastic score by Terence Blanchard, one of the best I have heard since Magnolia, is beautifully rendered and gives the film a very operatic feel at times. Better yet, it makes intense use of the rears, sometimes assaulting you from the rear only while the front soundfield is dominated by dialogue. Very, very impressive stuff.

    Indeed, this is one of the best discs I have heard for surround information. The “f*** you” scene in the bathroom is amazing in its use of the surround field, and the music in the club circles the room and hits you from behind in a cyclical motion. There are more directional cues than I could keep count of.

    The subwoofer was used aggressively to add weight to the music and to create various ambient techniques. The scene at the club is just awesome.

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

Extras

Menus

    All menus are presented in 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced. The main menu has the theme playing in 2.0 Dolby Stereo.

Audio Commentary 1 – Spike Lee (Director)

    Presented in 1.0 Dolby Mono, Lee is a relatively interesting character but he has a tendency to be a bit laconic. This commentary, while worthwhile in some respects, is also shot through with long periods of silence. Not so captivating.

Audio Commentary 2 – David Benioff (Author / Screenwriter)

    Also presented in 1.0 Dolby Mono, this commentary is outstanding. Usually I don’t think much of this form of extra, believing that it detracts from space which could better be used to improve picture and sound quality. However, Benioff is actually a very interesting speaker, with lots of insight into his book and screenplay and the making of the film, not to mention himself and where all those ideas came from. This guy had me hooked for the whole commentary.

Featurette – “The Evolution Of An American Filmmaker” (22:20)

    Presented in 1.33:1, non-16x9 enhanced, 2.0 Dolby Stereo, this is a documentary about the movies of Spike Lee and where 25th Hour fits into that career.

Featurette – “Ground Zero” (5:31)

    Presented in 2.35:1, non-16x9 enhanced, 2.0 Dolby Stereo, this is various footage shot of Ground Zero with the haunting theme music from the film played over the imagery.

Deleted Scenes

    Presented in 2.35:1, non-16x9 enhanced, 2.0 Dolby Stereo, there are a total of six deleted scenes. Some of these, while interesting as asides, were best left out of the film and I understand why they were cut. Strangely, there is no commentary available as to why they were cut.

R4 vs R1

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

    As far as content goes, the R1 version of this disc would appear to be identical barring the NTSC colour format used in the US. There are, however, a couple of minor differences. The R1 release is THX Certified. It also has a French 2.0 Dolby Surround audio track. However, it lacks the Spanish and Russian 5.1 Dolby Digital tracks and our slew of subtitle options. Given that there is no substantive differences, I would suggest working out your language requirements and the price difference and go with that. I would be curious to know if the R1 release has a better timed dual layer pause as that might still make it the winner. For the moment, I am going to mark these as the same.

Summary

    25th Hour is one of the finest films I have seen in a long time. It has a lot to it, is full of fantastic performances, and rewards repeat viewings.

    The video is excellent, recreating the intentionally grainy style that Lee was after. It does, however, lose many points for the poorly timed dual layer pause that actually robs the film of a line of dialogue. Shameful.

    The sound is amazing, and definitely one for the demo shelf.

    The extras were very good, particularly the commentary by Benioff.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Edward McKenzie (I am Jack's raging bio...)
Monday, November 03, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPanasonic DVD-RV31A-S, using S-Video output
DisplayBeko 28" (16x9). This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver.
AmplificationMarantz SR7000
SpeakersEnergy - Front, Rear, Centre & Subwoofer

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Comments (Add)
layer change on R1 - Ron
great film - Johnny Wadd (i am bionic)