The Missing (2003)

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Released 12-Jul-2004

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Introduction
Menu Animation & Audio
Dolby Digital Trailer
Deleted Scenes-5
Outtakes
Alternate Ending-2
Featurette-Ron Howard On...
Featurette-View Ron Howard's Home Movies
Gallery-Photo-Cast, Production, Location
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time 131:24
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (67:57) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Ron Howard
Studio
Distributor

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Tommy Lee Jones
Cate Blanchett
Evan Rachel Wood
Jenna Boyd
Aaron Eckhart
Val Kilmer
Sergio Calderón
Eric Schweig
Steve Reevis
Jay Tavare
Simon Baker
Ray McKinnon
Max Perlich
Case ?
RPI $39.95 Music James Horner


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Spanish
Dutch
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    I missed this film at the cinema and was very keen to review it on DVD. I think Cate Blanchett is a great actress and to my mind the best pure actress of the current crop of stars. The fact that she did not win the Oscar for Elizabeth when it was clearly the performance of the year, male or female, is a travesty. I enjoy some of Ron Howard's films, however, he has previously tended to sentimentality, even in his masterpiece, A Beautiful Mind. I was extremely interested to see how he would handle the darker material included in this film. I was not disappointed, either with Cate Blanchett's performance which is excellent or with the quality of the direction and the film in general.

    The movie is set in 1885 in New Mexico, a rough and desolate place at the time. Maggie Gilkeson (Cate Blanchett) runs a cattle farm and doubles as the local healer. Her husband died some years before and left her to run the farm. She is assisted by her two young daughters, one in her mid-teens, Lilly (Evan Rachel Wood) and one younger, Dot (Jenna Boyd) and Break Baldwin (Aaron Eckhart) who doubles as the farm manager and her lover. Into this seemingly settled arrangement comes Samuel Jones (Tommy Lee Jones) a man who dresses and acts like an Indian but is in fact a white man and Maggie's long-estranged father. He left Maggie's mother to fend for herself many years before and has lived amongst the Indians since.

    Shortly after Jones' arrival, the homestead is attacked by a gang of Indians who used to be scouts for the cavalry. They are lead by a powerful witchdoctor. During the attack, Maggie's older daughter is captured and taken away to be sold into slavery. The rest of the movie follows Maggie, Samuel & Dot's attempts to rescue Lilly before she is either killed or sold in Mexico.

    The movie is based upon a novel by Thomas Eidson (who also co-produced) called The Last Ride. The plot is vaguely reminiscent of a classic John Ford western, The Searchers, with the Cate Blanchett character replacing the character played by John Wayne in that film. The films are quite different however and the addition of a strong central female character is a big plus adding significant differentiation to the plot. Despite being a woman, Maggie's character has all the determination and toughness of The Duke, and will stop at nothing to ensure her daughter's safe return. Cate Blanchett gives the character a nobility and strength which belie her surroundings. She is determined to be a lady despite the problems that beset her.

    The rest of the cast also do fine work especially Tommy Lee Jones as the conflicted and certainly less than perfect Samuel Jones. The Indian leader (Eric Schweig) is suitably nasty and it is also interesting to see a slightly chubby looking Val Kilmer in a minor role as a cavalry Lieutenant who shows little interest in helping to rescue Lilly. The only minor criticism I would have of the cast is that Jenna Boyd as the younger daughter uses a reasonably impenetrable accent from time to time. Generally, however, her performance is strong.

    The film does an excellent job of building tension both between Maggie and her father and generally in relation to the main plotline of the chase.

    Overall, this is a top quality effort by Ron Howard, producing an interesting and thought provoking film which is really a character-driven action/drama in a western setting.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality is excellent.

    The feature is presented in a 2.40:1 aspect ratio 16x9 enhanced which is very close to the original aspect ratio of 2.35:1.

    The picture was very clear and sharp throughout, with no evidence of low level noise. Shadow detail was excellent except where the lighting used (especially candlelight) would have made deep shadow detail seem wrong. The blacks were excellent.

    The colour was excellent throughout with all colours being well saturated and free from colour bleeding. The skin colouring was very natural. Due to the barren and bleak environment used for much of the movie the palette was necessarily muted, however, when colour was needed it was excellently presented.

    There were no noticeable artefacts.

    There are subtitles available in English, Spanish, Dutch & English for the Hearing Impaired. I tested the English subtitles and found them to be excellent, easy to read and extremely close to the spoken word.

    This is a dual layer disc and the layer change is well placed and not terribly distracting at 67:57.
    

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

Audio

    The audio quality is excellent, surprisingly immersive with many directional effects.

    This DVD contains two audio options, an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack encoded at 448 Kb/s and the same in Spanish.

    Dialogue was clear and easy to understand except for the minor issue mentioned above regarding the little girl's accent.    

    There were no problems with audio sync.    

    The score of this film by James Horner is excellent and really adds to the film. To my ears this is one of the best scores I have reviewed.

    The surround speakers were used constantly and included a surprising number of complementary directional effects including gunfire, arrows and the sounds of storms and rain.

    The subwoofer was used constantly both adding to the score and for specific effects such as the excellent sound during the storm scene.

    

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

Extras

Menu

    The menu features an introduction to the film, excerpts from the score and gets you into the feel of the film very effectively. It includes options for audio setup, subtitles, scene selection and access to the special features. All extras are presented without 16x9 enhancement.

Deleted Scenes

    Five deleted scenes are included most being removed from early in the film involving extra setup. Only one comes from further into the film. None of these scenes would have greatly improved the film. They are

Outtakes (2:32)

    This is one of the best sets of outtakes I have seen. They are amusing and give insight into the movie making process. Well worth watching.

Alternate Endings (7:44 & 12:41)

    These are quite long alternate endings including much of the footage already in the movie. I believe that the ending included in the film is the best option as it avoids both an unnecessary subplot and some quite bad sentimentality. They are presented in approximately 1.78:1. Strangely, the one called Long Version is the shorter one. Not really worth the time.

Ron Howard On......

    These are five separate interviews with Ron Howard on varying topics and are the closest thing to a commentary on this disc. The various topics are:

Ron Howard's Home Movies

    This features the three westerns which Ron Howard made as a teenager, in full. As you would expect, the video quality is not great, however this is a very different and interesting extra. The films are:

Photo Galleries

    Three separate photo galleries are included with 50 photos in each one. I did not find them particularly interesting. The categories are:

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 (when compared to the Region 1 release) misses out on;

    The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;

    Based upon the above, the Region 1 double disc set is clearly the pick. The Region 2 release is the same as ours.

Summary

    This disc contains a very good western directed by Ron Howard, featuring a great performance by Cate Blanchett and a strong cast generally.

    The video quality is excellent.

    The audio quality is excellent.

    The disc has a good supply of extras, however it pales when compared to the Region 1 release.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Thursday, July 29, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 1200, using Component output
DisplaySony FD Trinitron Wega KV-AR34M36 80cm. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL)/480i (NTSC).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersBose 201 Direct Reflecting (Front), Phillips SB680V (Surround), Phillips MX731 (Center), Yamaha YST SW90 (Sub)

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