The Insider (1999)

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Released 29-Nov-2000

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Featurette
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1999
Running Time 151:32
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (75:57) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Michael Mann
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Al Pacino
Russell Crowe
Christopher Plummer
Diane Venora
Philip Baker Hall
Lindsay Crouse
Debi Mazar
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $36.95 Music Lisa Gerrard
Peter Bourke


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/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 English for the Hearing Impaired
Hebrew
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Lowell Bergman (Al Pacino) is a reporter for 60 Minutes. Jeffrey Wygand (Russell Crowe) was a senior chemist at a large tobacco company, but he has just been sacked for disagreeing with management. Lowell approaches Jeffrey and asks him to look at an internal report from another cigarette company. Lowell wants to get a professional opinion on the content and its legitimacy.

    After looking over the internal report, Jeffrey advises Lowell that he has no problem discussing the content of the report, but he can't discuss any areas outside of the report because of a confidentiality agreement he has signed. This piques Lowell's curiosity as to what Jeffrey can't say.

    When Jeffrey's old company learns that he is talking to a 60 Minutes reporter, Jeffrey is called in for a meeting where he is basically threatened and asked to sign an even more restrictive confidentiality agreement in an effort to frighten him and stop him talking. This really annoys Jeffrey, since he had no intentions of disclosing any company secrets or breaking his confidentiality agreement.

    The rest of the story is about how Jeffrey's old company tries to stop him from talking. With superb acting by all the lead characters, this movie is pretty powerful stuff. The fact that it is based on actual events just makes it even more interesting.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

    The picture detail and sharpness can only be described as exemplary for both the foreground and background. Some type of low-level noise artefact is present at 100:22 - 100:27. What is strange about this artefact is that the scene is brightly-lit and only the grey building in the background is affected. No edge bleeding or excessive edge enhancement was ever noticed.

    The colour is excellent and has faithfully reproduced the original films' cinematography. The footage at around 40:30 takes on a green tinge which is because of the car's windscreen tinting and the colours exhibited in TV interview footage are skewed somewhat, but both of these effects were deliberate so in essence the colour and picture detail should be considered perfect.

    This transfer is almost totally grain free, with only three minor instances noticed; at 120:50, 123:40 and 136:50. No pixelization was seen.

    No MPEG artefacts were seen. There is some minor telecine wobble in the opening credits, but it is nothing to worry about. There isn't any aliasing as such, which is totally amazing since the picture is just so sharp and clear, but because of this sharpness you can see the lines that make up the picture structure on fine and sharply-contrasted objects, such as Russell Crowe's glasses and Al Pacino's desk phone at 105:30 - 105:39. There is some intentional hand-held camera-like footage, which is of equal quality to the rest of the movie, but it does shake a lot.

    There are quite a lot of small film artefacts. I would estimate that there is at least one every minute, but since they are almost always small they really don't disrupt the picture. This is the aspect of the transfer that was most responsible for stopping it from receiving a reference quality rating.

    This disc is an RSDL disc, with the layer change occurring at 75:57 in Chapter 17 on a scene change. There is a definite pause, but it is well placed. All things considered this is a very good layer change, even though it is easily spotted.

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

Audio

    There is only one audio track on this DVD, which is an English 384Kb/s Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. Since there is only one soundtrack on this DVD I feel it should have used a 448Kb/s bitstream.

    The dialogue was clear and easy to understand throughout the movie, with only a couple of minor exceptions where the dialogue became a little harder to make out. The dialogue is perfectly integrated into the soundstage.

    No audio sync problems were noticed with this transfer. There is a brief dialogue drop-out at 56:51, but it sounded like a editing induced fault rather than a transfer one.

    Lisa Gerrard and Peter Bourke's musical score is fantastic. It really enhances the on-screen drama and tension.

    The soundtrack sounds fantastic, and sounds like it has loads of surround channel use, but this is actually not the case. The ambience actually comes from the superb sound separation in the front soundstage, which manages to create a totally convincing and enveloping sound field on many occasions with little or no additional information coming from the rear speakers. I was quite amazed at this and had to put my ear to the rear speakers on several occasions just to confirm that there was in fact little or no sound actually coming from the rear speakers. Afterwards, I put on The Matrix just to confirm that my system hadn't developed a fault!  There is still some very good surround channel use, but it is infrequent.

    The subwoofer is used frequently and superbly to add real depth to the music and effects.

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

Extras

    The extras are extremely limited, consisting of just one seven minute featurette.

Menu

    The Menu is presented in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio and has the following selections; Chapter Selection (30), Setup, Production Featurette and Play.

Production Featurette (7:06 minutes)

    The featurette is of very good picture quality, and is your standard interviews mingled with movie footage featurette. The interviews are presented in 1:33:1 and the movie footage in 2:35:1, with a 192Kb/sec Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;     The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;     Even through the R1 disc has a couple more extras, I personally feel that the superior picture quality of PAL over NTSC tips the scales in the favour of the R4 disc.

Summary

    The Insider is a powerful and superbly acted movie. I found it just as riveting this time round. It is presented on a superb DVD.

    The video transfer of this movie is superb, but is not reference quality because of the number of small film artefacts.

    The audio transfer is excellent.

    The extras are extremely limited.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Paul Williams (read Paul's biography)
Tuesday, December 05, 2000
Review Equipment
DVDSony DVP-725, using Component output
DisplaySony Projector VPH-G70 (No Line Doubler), Technics Da-Lite matt screen with gain of 1.0 (229cm). This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SV919THX
SpeakersFronts: Energy RVS-1 (3), Rears: Energy RVSS-1 (2), Subwoofer: Energy EPS-150 (1)

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