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PLEASE NOTE: Michael D's is currently in READ ONLY MODE. Anything submitted will simply not be written to the database.
Lots of stuff is still broken, but at least reviews can now be looked up and read.
Equilibrium (2002)

Equilibrium (2002)

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Released 19-Apr-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Audio Commentary-Kurt Wimmer (Director)
Audio Commentary-Kurt Wimmer (Director) and Lucas Foster (Producer)
Featurette-Finding Equilibrium
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 102:25
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (61:50) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Kurt Wimmer

Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Starring Dominic Purcell
Christian Bale
Sean Bean
Christian Kahrmann
John Keogh
Sean Pertwee
William Fichtner
Angus MacFadyen
David Barrash
Dirk Martens
Taye Diggs
Matthew Harbour
Maria Pia Calzone
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music Klaus Badelt
Ramin Djawadi
Geoff Zanelli

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Auto Pan & Scan Encoded English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/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 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian Audio Commentary
Italian Audio Commentary
Italian Titling
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

   Equilibrium is the best example of low budget science fiction film making since James Cameron's The Terminator re-defined the medium in the early eighties. Set in the distant future after the devastation of a third world war, Equilibrium depicts a world devoid of emotion. The populace is reliant on the drug `Prozium', a narcotic designed by the government to eliminate all human emotion. The government has determined that emotion was the cause of man's near-destruction and therefore should be outlawed. Those who rebel against the system and refuse to submit to the drug are deemed `Sense Offenders' by the fascist state and are executed. Law enforcement is reliant on a select few individuals known as the Grammaton Clerics, whose primary goal is to seek out all Sense Offenders and bring them to justice. The clerics are trained in the art of `Gun-kata', a devastatingly effective fighting technique that combines martial arts with weapon control. John Preston (Christian Bale), regarded as the most lethally trained Cleric to ever emerge from the system, accidentally misses his Prozium intake which forces him to feel emotion for the first time in his life. Preston now faces the ultimate decision - succumb to the government's wishes or fight for his new found humanity.

    As a first-time director, Kurt Wimmer has made an astonishingly visceral sci-fi fable that leaves many of its big budget brethren floundering in its wake. Made on a budget approaching twenty million dollars and filmed in Germany, I was amazed at the production values Wimmer was able to deliver. The production design by Wolf Kroeger expertly combines elements of Fritz Lang's Metropolis and Nazi Germany to give the world of Equilibrium a palpably oppressive feel that serves the story well. The visual effects by Digital Firepower are first rate and seamlessly extend the practical locations to create vast cityscapes where Zeppelin-like airships dot the skyline as they deliver propaganda to the emotionless masses.

    To create a unique action style, Wimmer has developed a cinematic fighting technique that without the use of wires is absolutely breathtaking. Combining martial arts and multiple weapon control, the form is aptly name `Gun-kata' and produces some of the most jaw-droppingly brilliant action scenes since Neo decided to take the red pill in the Wachowski Brothers' seminal adventure.

    As a writer, Kurt Wimmer has proven himself in the past most noticeably with a wonderful screenplay for The Recruit starring Colin Farrell. For Equilibrium, Wimmer has slyly incorporated elements from other science fiction stories, most noticeably George Orwell's 1984, Logan's Run and Fahrenheit 451 to create a riveting tale that captures all the ingredients that make science fiction a fascinating genre. The screenplay has such heart and forward momentum that the tension becomes unbearable at times and the end payoff is a sheer delight.

    As far as the acting talent is concerned, Christian Bale (American Psycho, Reign Of Fire) is the revelation of the year. His performance is note perfect. The charisma this actor elicits while making his emotional discovery is riveting. Taye Diggs, Emily Watson, Sean Bean and Angus MacFadyen all deliver quality performances and bring a level of class to the production missing from most genre efforts.

    When Equilibrium was released theatrically in the United States it was met by total indifference from the the critical community and was dumped in a handful of cinemas by Dimension Films with little to no promotion. This was a real missed opportunity for audiences, because Equilibrium is a fabulous film that deserved a lot better. The film has since become an instant cult classic, especially in the on-line community. One look at the Internet Movie Database reveals that Equilibrium is held in high esteem. With a rating of 7.7 as voted for by over eight thousand users, the film is listed in that site's top fifty Science Fiction films of all time and deservedly so. Simply put, all fans of genre film making should see this wonderful film.

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Transfer Quality


    Equilibrium is presented in its original aspect ratio of 2:35:1 and is 16x9 enhanced for widescreen televisions.

    Sharpness levels are fine with excellent shadow detail that wonderfully captures the film's oppressive nature. I noticed two areas that had minimal grain during the film but they were of such a short duration that they were barely noticeable. There are no noise issues.

    The colour scheme was very muted and grey in nature to heighten the film's emotionless feel. Cinematographer Dion Beebe expertly uses colours to capture story elements that are sometimes almost subliminal in nature. For example, when a character shows emotion during the course of the story they are given a greater colour palette and more realistic flesh tones. The print provided here wonderfully showcases this.

    There were little to no film artefacts during this transfer.

    The RSDL layer change is at the 61:50 mark and is not obtrusive.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The film has been given four audio tracks. There are two Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks, one in English the other in Italian. There are also two audio commentary tracks in 2.0 surround.

    Dialogue is always clear and there are no audio sync problems.

    The musical score by Klaus Badelt is first class. It is a mixture of classical and contemporary arrangements that fit the on-screen drama like a glove.

    Surround channel usage was very pleasing. There are many fine examples of directional sound usage during the film. The rear speakers in particular get a real workout with the many gun battles and action sequences. I found this particular 5.1 track to be very dynamic in range.

    The subwoofer adds the required reverberation when needed.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Audio Commentary - Kurt Wimmer

    The first audio commentary is by Director Kurt Wimmer and I found it to be a fascinating listen. Wimmer has such enthusiasm for the project that you can't help but enjoy his comments. There are no dead spots during the commentary and he is extremely informative when discussing the creative process.

Audio Commentary - Kurt Wimmer and Lucas Foster

    This second commentary is also interesting, but less enjoyable. The two participants are Director Wimmer and Producer Lucas Foster. This is the more politically correct commentary and I found that Wimmer tended to hold back on his comments as opposed to the first one. However, Foster does add some differing opinions and there are no dead spots. Once again an enjoyable effort.

Featurette - Finding Equilibrium

    Running a scant 5 minutes, this featurette is a series of talking heads and interviews that doesn't reveal a whole lot, but is a welcome addition.

R4 vs R1

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

    All versions of this film are the same with the following exceptions: The R4 is devoid of trailers, whereas the R1 has a number of trailers including Kill Bill Vol 1, Dracula Ascension and Below. Either version of the film is acceptable, unless you just love trailers.


    Equilibrium is the find of the year. I was blown away by the story, the acting and most noticeably the action elements. As I stated earlier, this is an instant cult classic deserving of much greater acclaim. The disc has a fine audio visual presentation with a nice array of extras.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Greg Morfoot (if interested here is my bio)
Friday, December 12, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-535, using S-Video output
DisplayLG 76cm Widescreen Flatron Television. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderSony HT-K215. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationSony HT-K215
Speakers fronts-paradigm titans, centre &rear Sony - radio parts subbie

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