Syriana (2005)

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Released 11-Jul-2006

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio
Interviews-Character-Conversation With George Clooney
Deleted Scenes
Featurette-Make A Change Make A Difference
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2005
Running Time 122:29
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (62:00) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Stephen Gaghan
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Kayvan Novak
George Clooney
Amr Waked
Christopher Plummer
Jeffrey Wright
Chris Cooper
Robert Foxworth
Nicky Henson
Nicholas Art
Matt Damon
Amanda Peet
Steven Hinkle
Daisy Tormé
Case Amaray-Opaque-Secure Clip
RPI $31.95 Music Alexandre Desplat


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.40:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Arabic
Hebrew
Icelandic
English Titling
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

   

'Everything is Connected'

    An intelligent, thought-provoking film from America about international terrorism and its links to oil, big business and US intelligence agencies, involving big name actors? Who'd have thought it would happen in the post 9/11 world of the US? Well, it does happen and, certainly in this case, that is definitely a good thing. This film from the writer of Traffic, Stephen Gaghan, is an excellent film and one of the best I have seen recently. I saw this film at the cinema and was amazed at how frank and honest it was but also what a well made film it was. It's a fictional story based on a non-fiction book by ex-CIA operative Robert Baer which is certainly an interesting genesis. It has obviously caused problems for award givers as the screenplay has been nominated in different categories for different awards. For example, it was nominated for an Academy Award for screenplay written directly for the screen but then for adapted screenplay by the Writer's Guild. Regardless, Gaghan has fashioned an excellent screenplay which shows the confusing and duplicitous nature of the global oil business and how it links to intelligence agencies and terrorism.

    The plot follows multiple threads in a similar way to Traffic and then over the course of the movie we see how all those story threads are connected as per the catch phrase of the movie I included at the top of this review. Although this structure means that we have to think, it also provides a more rewarding movie experience that only increases during repeat viewings. The threads include:

    This film is beautifully shot and wonderfully acted by a great ensemble cast, which was recognised with many ensemble cast nominations and awards. The sound design is wonderful, featuring excellent use of silence along with an evocative and tension filled score by Alexandre Desplat, rewarded with a Golden Globe nomination. Some of the stunning imagery will stay with you, particularly the final shot. The film tries to open up the issues raised rather than show glib and simple answers. This is certainly not a film for the squeamish as it contains one fairly graphic torture scene.

     For those particularly annoyed by anti-piracy ads this disc has one which can be fast-forwarded but not skipped.

    This is a wonderful, intelligent film which I would highly recommend.

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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 the original aspect ratio.

    The picture was very clear and sharp throughout, with no evidence of low level noise. Shadow detail was excellent, with darker scenes showing all required detail, even those obviously shot using natural lighting.

    The colour was excellent, very accurately replicating the look of the film as I remember it at the cinema.

    The only noticeable artefact was one spot of extremely minor aliasing on a patterned couch at 40:58. I know it's pedantic but I mention it for completeness.

    There are six subtitle streams. If you do not actively choose a subtitle stream, an automatic stream displays specific captions replacing those included in the original film. These are for place names, people's names and foreign language translation. The other streams are English, English for the Hearing Impaired, Arabic, Hebrew and Icelandic. The subtitles are clear and easy to read.

    The layer change occurs at 62:00 and was well placed between scenes.
    

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

Audio

    The audio quality is very good.

    This DVD contains three audio options, an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack encoded at 384 Kb/s, an English Dolby Digital 2.0 surround soundtrack encoded at 192 Kb/s and an English Descriptive Audio track surround encoded at 192 Kb/s. It is slightly disappointing that the 5.1 track is not encoded at the full bitrate, however, considering the nature of the soundtrack this is certainly not a major issue.

    Dialogue was clear and easy to understand and there was no problem with audio sync.

    The score of this film by Alexandre Desplat is excellent, evocative, tension-filled and very memorable. It sounds excellent in this transfer.

    The surround speakers added some mild atmosphere. The nature of this film does not lend itself to overt surround effects.

    The subwoofer added bass to the music.

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

Extras

    Whilst this disc only includes a small selection of extras, they are all interesting and worth seeing. All extras are 4x3 except for the trailer.

Menu

    The menu included music, stills and the ability to select scenes, languages and subtitles.

A Conversation with George Clooney (9:12)

    An interesting interview with Clooney where he discusses the ensemble approach to the casting, the screenplay, location issues, the story, the politics, his physical appearance changes for the film, language training and other topics. Also includes scenes which are not in the final film. Worthwhile.

Make a Change, Make A Difference (11:20)

    This featurette focuses on the political issues raised by the film and includes interviews with George Clooney, Matt Damon, Stephen Gaghan, Jeffrey Wright, Robert Baer and other cast and crew members. They discuss their own views about the film and the issues raised. Interesting.

Deleted Scenes

    Three deleted scenes are included all involving the Bob Barnes character. Two of them include a character which was cut from the final film, Bob's wife, played by Greta Scacchi. They are worth watching, however, there is no explanation about why they were cut. The scenes included are:

R4 vs R1

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

    This movie is available in Region 1 in either a very similar form to our release or in a HD-DVD release. The normal release has the same extras as our with some different audio and subtitle options. It does not include the audio descriptive option. The HD-DVD release also includes some more extras including a documentary and an extra interview with Matt Damon. On a direct comparison basis I will have to call this a draw. If you have a HD-DVD player then the Region 1 release is the only one currently available.

Summary

    An excellent, intelligent and thought-provoking film about the global oil industry, terrorism, intelligence agencies and how they are intertwined.

    The video quality is excellent.

    The audio quality is very good.

    The extras which are included are certainly worthwhile but there are not that many.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Monday, August 21, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV667A DVD-V DVD-A SACD, 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
SpeakersMonitor Audio Bronze 2 (Front), Bronze Centre & Bronze FX (Rears) + Yamaha YST SW90 subwoofer

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