Mission: Impossible: Special Collector's Edition (HD DVD) (1996)
Menu Animation & Audio
Featurette-Mission: Remarkable - 40 Years of Creating the Impossible
Featurette-Explosive Exploits (5:08)
Featurette-Spies Among Us (8:39)
Featurette-Catching The Train (2:38)
Featurette-International Spy Museum (6:30)
Biographies-Character-Agent Dossiers (7)
Featurette-Excellence in Film (9:14)
Featurette-Generation: Cruise (3:36)
|Year Of Production||1996|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Language Select Then Menu|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||Brian De Palma|
Paramount Home Entertainment
Kristin Scott Thomas
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital Plus 5.1
French Dolby Digital Plus 5.1
German Dolby Digital Plus 5.1
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
The IMF (Impossible Mission Force) are called into action when their leader, Jim Phelps (Jon Voight), accepts an assignment to diffuse a dire threat to international security; a plot to steal a list of all undercover agents, detailing both their pseudonyms and real names. The IMF team are all too aware of the potential catastrophe such a leak could pose for spies across the globe, so measures are taken to stop the plot at all costs. The brief mission is a complete catastrophe in itself, with a young agent, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) being the only survivor along with Phelps' beautiful young wife, Claire (Emmanuelle Béart). It quickly becomes apparent that Hunt's survival is contrary to the wishes of his superiors, as Hunt is openly accused of being a double agent, thereby placed on the 'most wanted dead' list.
Now on the run and keen to clear his name, with former colleagues attempting to kill him at every turn, Hunt enlists the aide of ousted agent Luther (Ving Rhames) and Krieger (Jean Reno) to break into the Mount Everest of fortresses: the CIA headquarters' main computer vault. Hunt believes that the information he needs to steal from the vault will cure all his problems, but in the spy game all is most certainly not what it seems.
This first Mission: Impossible instalment was produced in 1996, generally to wide acclaim. The action and special effects were state of the art in their time, and remain quite impressive even by today's standards. As you would expect of a film of this calibre, there are superb locations used in London and, in particular, Prague. The Bond-like gadgetry isn't quite as impressive, but if there's one thing this instalment did have going for it, it's the talent behind the camera. Brian De Palma brought a unique air of tension to the film, along with a gorgeous fluidity that bears his instantly recognisable trademark.
The entertaining twists, turns and double crosses in this tale will have you guessing until the very end. While it's not my favourite of the franchise, it certainly outdoes M:I-2 by a mile and manages to succeed simultaneously as a thriller and an action film. This is a fact rarely achieved in the genre, and one that makes it worth your time.
The 1080p video transfer retains the film's original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1, in a native 16x9 frame.
Maybe I've been spoilt by such stellar transfers as World Trade Center and King Kong, because this effort didn't impress me all that much. Sure, it probably tears shreds off the SD disc, but there are too many little issues here that in total add up to an average presentation. The image is not as sharp as a recent production, but being only eleven years old I would expect a bit more detail than what we have here. I'm not certain if this is due to the grain in some scenes, or perhaps the additional extras limiting the disc space. A good example of the transfer's resolution issues can be seen at 54:37, where there are ceiling vents in the background that should be sharp and detailed. There is distracting moiré effects in their place, which would indicate to me a limited source. All in all, I've come to expect a much more solid level of detail in HD material.
Unfortunately, the colour reproduction is similarly flawed. This is a decidedly rosy transfer, particularly visible in skin tones and the like. The lifelike, vivid colours I'd expect of a HD transfer are a little lacking here.
Pale surfaces are particularly susceptible to grain and noise, which I presume is due to the source. Voight's collared shirt at 9:00 is alive with grain, while the pale bathroom walls at 67:10 exacerbate the problem even further. Actual film artefacts aren't overly problematic, but they are certainly visible in most scenes. Both positive and negative specs of dirt and dust can be seen, but the source is in an otherwise good condition.
Optional English subtitles may be activated on the fly, and appear to be quite accurate.
This disc is a dual layered, HD-30 type. There was no interruption to the feature as far as I could see.
There are three soundtracks in total, two of which are foreign language dubs. The default soundtrack is decided by the viewer's selection from an initial language setup menu. The film's original English audio is presented in Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 as are the additional French and German dubs.
The overall mix is very crisp, with good dynamic range. Gunfire and foley effects are very well presented.
The English dialogue is clearly audible for the most part, however, I did find the vocals a little too quiet in some scenes, requiring me to turn my listening level up a few notches. The film's ADR looping is fairly natural and free of any major issues. Audio sync is perfect.
The surround channels are active now and then, but I wouldn't rate this as demo material. I noted some great mechanical noises in the rear channels at 12:50. Elements of the score encompass the viewer at 105:50. Voices are generally confined to the front centre channel and rarely stray.
The score by Danny Elfman is a little chaotic at times, but flows with the film's mood faithfully. The main Mission: Impossible theme is reinterpreted here by Larry Mullen and Adam Clayton of Irish rockers U2.
The subwoofer augments explosions and other effects nicely, and can be heard adding bottom end to the score during some passages. I wouldn't say the LFE channel is used to the full extent of its capabilities, but it is present.
|Surround Channel Use|
This is a relatively modest package, barely extending beyond promotional fluff. The featurettes are presented in a 1.33:1, standard definition frame. The two trailers are the only HD content.
Producers Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner guide us through the Mission: Impossible franchise beginning with the original TV series, then going through each of the three films. Included are interview clips with each of the respective directors, along with excerpts from popular scenes.
This piece goes behind the scenes to show Cruise's dedication to his stunt work. A surprising amount of the stunts were done by Cruise, not stunt men.
Examines real intelligence operations and espionage, including interviews with former spies and disguise experts.
John Knoll and the visual effects team explain the helicopter/ tunnel sequence and how certain shots were achieved.
Peter Earnest guides us through Washington's Spy Museum, full of glass cases with all kinds of gadgets. The dog-shit surveillance device is a favorite among spies in France, apparently.
Several pages of background text on each of the seven agents featured in the film. Fictional, of course.
A series of clips from Tom Cruise's career, shown at the BAFTAs in 2005, where he was awarded the Kubrick Award for excellence in film. There are clips from a lot of his films, forming a good reminder of how many classics he has actually been involved in. An enlightening piece, but it hardly deserves inclusion on all three M:I discs.
Another, shorter tribute to Cruise's career, this time at the MTV movie awards in 2005.
Forty still photos, a few behind the scenes shots, but these are mostly promo pictures.
A good example of the film's atmosphere, giving away very little plot. There's some dirt on the print, but it's nice to have it included in HD.
Less moody than the teaser, but there's more storyline revealed.
Nine promo pieces in total, trimmed from the theatrical trailer in most cases.
The Paramount HD DVD and Blu-ray editions of the Mission: Impossible Special Collector's Edition contain the same range of special features, and are identical across all countries. There are no region coding restrictions on HD DVD discs at the time of writing. The Blu-ray disc is coded Region B, for Australia and Europe.
The HD DVD disc is a dual layered HD-30 format, while the Blu-ray is single layered (BD-25). This allows an additional 5Gb disc space to the HD DVD version.
The Blu-ray video transfer has been encoded using MPEG2 compression, while the HD DVD uses the more recent VC-1 codec. Despite what I would expect to be vast differences in compression efficiency, as well as disc capacity, there is very little to separate these transfers. The Blu-ray transfer does have a slight softness to the image that I wouldn't say is detrimental, but would certainly come down to a matter of taste. The grain I mentioned, particularly on pale surfaces, seems slightly more pronounced in the Blu-ray transfer.
The audio properties of each format are identical. There was a slight difference in overall output level between Blu-ray and HD DVD on my equipment, but I would put this down to bitstream decoding algorithms inherent in the player rather than the actual disc coding.
The menu systems and navigation are identical on both formats. The packaging only differs slightly in graphic presentation, however the box materials, "foil enhancement" and hard Amarays are the same (besides the colour tinting, of course). The graphic art on the rear of the slick is slightly rearranged between formats, but has the same content. The Blu-ray discs have sharp corners on their art, whereas the HD DVDs have smooth, rounded edges.
The verdict? I realise this title is only available in the Ultimate Missions Collection box set (at the time of writing), but my instincts lean towards the HD DVD camp. Greater disc capacity and more efficient video compression have to be a good thing, and would certainly sway my opinion even if I hadn't viewed both box sets in their entirety. In terms of personal taste, I prefer the HD DVD transfer for its slightly sharper image.
The video transfer is average, in HD terms.
The audio transfer is good.
The extras are lightweight EPK fare, but are welcome nonetheless.
|DVD||Toshiba HD-D1, using HDMI output|
|Display||Sanyo PLV-Z2 WXGA projector, Screen Technics Cinemasnap 96" (16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to DVD player. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Orpheus Aurora lll Mains (bi-wired), Rears, Centre Rear. Orpheus Centaurus .5 Front Centre. Mirage 10 inch sub.|