Traffic: The Miniseries (2004)

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Released 3-Dec-2004

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama None
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2004
Running Time 250:28
RSDL / Flipper RSDL
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Eric Bross
Stephen Hopkins
Studio
Distributor

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Cliff Curtis
Martin Donovan
Balthazar Getty
Elias Koteas
Mary McCormack
Ritchie Coster
Nelson Lee
Tony Musante
Justin Chatwin
Belinda Metz
Brian George
Jennifer Rae Westley
Eden Rountree
Case ?
RPI $34.95 Music Gregg Lehrman
Jeff Rona


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles 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

††† The original mini-series of Traffik was a UK mini-series from 1989 that followed the heroin trade from Afghanistan to the UK where a British ministerís daughter was beginning her spiral down. It crossed political and personal barriers and was highly effective. In 2000, director Steven Soderbergh brought US audiences the blistering Hollywood movie adaptation Traffic which was closely based on the British mini-series and followed the drug trade from Mexico into the US.

††† In 2004, writer Ron Hutchinson adapted the concept to take in far more than the drug trade for the USA Network mini-series production Traffic. This new version pretty much follows four storylines. First, there is DEA agent Mike McKay (Elias Koteas) who goes missing in Afghanistan with a known drug dealer. Second, there is McKayís family, whose son Tyler (Justin Chatwin) is rapidly becoming mixed up with his junkie neighbour Angie (Jennifer Rae Westley), much to his mother Caroleís (Mary McCormack) consternation. Third, there is Fazal (Ritchie Coster), who is heartbroken after he discovers that his wife and daughter have died while being illegally shipped into the country and has made it his mission to discover what went wrong. And Fourth there is Ben Edmonds (Balthazar Getty) whose fatherís shipping company is being used by the ruthless Ronny Cho (Nelson Lee) to bring in illegal immigrants. While at the outset these four stories seem unconnected, little by little they begin to form a tapestry.

††† While broader in its canvas in some respects than some of the other incarnations of Traffic, this one spreads itself a little thin at times. The use and reuse of certain locales in Canada, doubling and sometimes trebling as the US, Afghanistan and Pakistan, was not always convincing and tended to detract from the series. Likewise, the use of stock footage, and the need to recap every hour or so for those members of the TV audience that had just joined or who could not keep up. Because of these things, it cannot belie its TV origins, and if this had had the budget that Soderberghís film did, I think it could have been a truly spectacular feature. As it is, it is still well above average, and kept me glued to my chair for its duration. However, in ex post facto analysis one finds oneself poking holes in various facets, although these were mostly to do with production.

††† If you liked the British TV series or the Soderbergh movie, chances are you will like this. It offers no easy answers and asks a few hard hitting questions, and ultimately, just like the other two, it leaves you asking for more.

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Transfer Quality

Video

††† Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1, this transfer is 16x9 enhanced.

††† The picture is a little soft overall, indicative maybe of an NTSC to PAL transfer. Colours are well saturated and shadow detail is very good. There is some mild film grain, but much of this is the product of the film stock chosen for the show.

††† The transfer has no glaring MPEG artefacts, however it is highly prone to aliasing and moire. Some of the more extreme examples of this are at 109:53 during Disc 1 on the roof of a house and at 113:25 onwards during Disc 2 on the arm of a cord jacket. Quite distracting. There is also an odd jerky panning shot at 42:08 on Disc 1.

††† There is next to no dirt on this print except for the stock footage which is noticeably dirty and of poor quality by comparison to the rest.

††† Subtitles are available in English for the Hearing Impaired. They are white with a grey edge and do not substantially deviate from the script.

††† The dual layer pauses occur at 64:58 on Disc 1, which is during a scene change where it cuts off the last beat of music, and at 55:31, on Disc 2 where it is barely noticeable.

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

Audio

††† Audio is available in English 5.1 Dolby Digital only.

††† Dialogue is clear and well rendered. There are no glaring audio sync issues, just some minor long distance ADR issues.

††† The range is excellent, with plenty of directional cues to boot. Plenty of gunshots and traffic sounds and the like from behind and left-to-right and so forth. The airstrike scene is particularly impressive in this regard.

††† The score by Gregg Lerhman and Jeff Rona is well mixed playing a subtle undertone to the action on screen.

††† The subwoofer is put through its paces, used not only in the music, but also put to devastating force in the aforementioned airstrike scene. Not quite We Were Soldiers, but impressive nevertheless.

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, and silent.

Censorship

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R4 vs R1

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

††† Aside from PAL/NTSC differences and region coding, these are identical.

Summary

††† Traffic is an interesting mini-series that could have been a lot better if given the budget and production values it required to be truly something.

††† Video is marred by aliasing and moire, but is otherwise acceptable.

††† Sound is extremely good for a TV production.

††† There are no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Edward McKenzie (I am Jack's raging bio...)
Sunday, December 19, 2004
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

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Plot Synopsis - small error! :) - Gav