Mission: Impossible II (Blu-ray) (2000)
Menu Animation & Audio
Audio Commentary-John Woo (Director)
Featurette-Behind The Mission
Music Video-Metallica- I Disappear
Featurette-Alternate Title Sequence
Featurette-Excellence In Film: Cruise
|Year Of Production||2000|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Language Select Then Menu|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||John Woo|
Paramount Home Entertainment
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital Plus 5.1
French Dolby Digital Plus 5.1
German Dolby Digital Plus 5.1
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital Plus 2.0
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
English Audio Commentary
French Audio Commentary
German Audio Commentary
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Director John Woo brings the Mission: Impossible franchise into an Aussie setting, with more nail-biting action and hair-raising explosions than any sane person would consider adequate.
Strange things are going on over at the Biocyte pharmaceuticals lab. While in search of the ultimate flu vaccine, the Sydney-based firm's molecular biologists have spliced together a monster influenza virus, dubbed Chimera. Problem is, some crazy megalomaniacs have swiped it while in transit, and it would seem these are the same men whose duty it was to protect the cargo.
Ethan Hunt's (Tom Cruise) holiday is interrupted with a mission to pursue the suspected thief, a former IMF colleague by the name of Sean Ambrose (Dougray Scott). The first goal of Hunt's mission is to "recruit" the stunningly beautiful Nyah Hall (Thandie Newton), a civilian professional thief whose initial reluctance to work for IMF is swiftly melted away by Hunt's suave machismo and steely stare. Happens all the time!
In a predictable twist torn straight from Hitchcock's classic Notorious, it turns out Nyah is Sean's former squeeze. Hunt is swiftly ordered by IMF heavies (Anthony Hopkins) to have his new girlfriend resume her old relationship with Sean, with the view of gathering valuable intelligence on his evil schemes. Of course, Hunt is as emotionally ravaged by Nyah's willingness to carry out the operation as he is by the orders themselves, proving that hardened action types can be emotionally fragile once in a while. Sweet irony! She is planted with a homing device and is thrown out as bait, straight into Sean's waiting arms.
Hunt assembles a team to monitor Nyah's whereabouts, including his old buddy, Luther (Ving Rhames), and helicopter pilot Billy (John Polson). The team traces Nyah, Ambrose and his henchmen to their Sydney hide-out, but what begins as a simple surveillance operation sparks a race to infiltrate the fortress-like Biocyte high-rise building. Can Hunt and his team destroy the virus, save Nyah and defend Sydney from a madman hell-bent on releasing the virus on an unsuspecting public in order to reap billions of dollars profit from stocks in a company that owns the patent on the cure? You bet!
As is confessed in the extra material on this disc, this second Mission: Impossible installment began production as a sequence of elaborately devised action scenes, which were later strung together with a barely visible thread of plot, and it shows terribly. The style-to-substance ratio is off the scale here, and there's no shortage of cheesy action-film clichés to keep you laughing in disbelief. Watch in amazement as evil henchmen spray their automatic weapons into thin air, while our hero dispatches them with one bullet at a time. Gasp at automobiles so finely tuned, they have the ability to explode into flames when a single tyre is shot out. Are you having some difficulty in discerning which characters are the bad guys? Just listen for the blokes with the most over-the-top foreign accents and it's a safe bet they're evil as hell itself.
Sure, M:I-2 makes for good eye-candy and is decent fun, but it begs the question, how could a pairing of such potential (Cruise and Woo) yield such a shallow result? Judging by the interview footage, it would appear the producers may have been a little over-awed by "The Woo Factor".
Rest assured, in a triumph for cinema-goers everywhere, they managed to redeem themselves several times over with the third installment.
This 1080p transfer is presented in the film's original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1, in a native 16x9 frame.
The level of sharpness presented here doesn't match up to more recent productions, but still goes beyond standard definition. Take the nicely detailed hair at 13:43, for example. The clarity and depth extends to darker scenes as well, such as the dimly-lit, yet well rendered street scene at 56:43. Black levels appeared to be deep and solid when needed.
Like the transfer of the first film in this set, this one also has a problem with a noticeable sepia, almost rosy hue throughout the film. At 7:40 a red halo can be seen around Cruise's figure as he hangs from the cliff, and the effect extends to most skin tones as well. I did note some very pleasing greens toward the end of the film at 118:35, but as a whole I would hardly call the transfer's palette realistic.
The Blu-ray transfer has been compressed using the old MPEG2 codec. There isn't any compression artefacting in the transfer that I could recognise, but there are other issues that seem to be common to both HD formats. I recognised mild haloing on foreground objects in some scenes, which to my eye appeared a lot like edge enhancement. For a good example of this, see the outline on Cruise's face at 28:34. As far as film artefacts go, this is a fairly clean source. A persistent hair occupies the opening shot of Sydney, in the bottom right of the frame and a few tiny specs of dirt can be seen here and there. The level of film grain fluctuates between scenes and becomes quite noticeable at times. At 18:00 there is an outdoor shot with a veil of smoke on a dark background, however there is very little visible grain present. This is contrasted by scenes with a distracting wash of noisy grain, for example, the blue sky during the opening titles at 6:10. Perhaps this is due to alternate film stocks being used? It's hard to say.
An English subtitle stream is provided and appears to be accurate. The text is easy to read and flows well with the dialogue. The commentary by Director John Woo is also subtitled.
This disc is a single layered, BD-25 type.
There are four soundtracks accompanying this film, including the original English audio in Dolby Digital Plus 5.1. The default soundtrack is decided by the viewer's selection from an initial language select menu that loads upon insertion of the disc. The setting is not memorised by the player, so the selection needs to be made each time the disc is inserted. Additional foreign language dubs in French and German are included, also in Dolby Digital Plus 5.1. The fourth audio option is a director's commentary.
Like the first Mission: Impossible disc, the audio manages to outdo the lackluster video presentation. Gunshots and foley effects are crisp and realistic. The English dialogue is always clear and easy to discern above effects and score. The film's ADR looping is very well done, and barely recognisable. Audio sync is perfect.
The surround channels are applied in a variety of ways, from subtle atmospherics to bold directional panning. At 1:47 a loud plane can be heard passing overhead, while during a busy street scene at 20:00 the horn of a passing car is panned clearly in the rear left channel. Other immersive effects are used, such as the cheering crowd at 46:04, placing the viewer in the middle of the action. Character voices are generally confined to the front centre channel and rarely stray to the surrounds.
The score by Hans Zimmer mixes orchestral and electronic elements, all while keeping up with the film's relentless explosions. Metallica make a contribution to the score, which is included in the extras below. Limp Bizkit provide a reinterpretation of the Mission: Impossible theme that is surprisingly good, in my opinion.
The LFE channel is utilised to add bottom end to the many explosive effects, such as at 77:12. The electronic beats and such that can be found in the score also benefit from healthy subwoofer activity.
|Surround Channel Use|
There is a good range of special features, all presented in a standard definition, 1.33:1 frame.
John Woo discusses how he and Tom Cruise collaborated on the film and what most appealed to him in the project. Woo also mentions time constraints that were encountered during production and how the final film differs from their original intentions. I was interested to learn that Ian MacKellan was originally cast as Hunt's boss, but it seems Woo was more thrilled to be working with Anthony Hopkins. There are some interesting anecdotes from filming, such as the challenges they faced with the weather and how this affected continuity. Woo shares some of his approaches to film making, including the way he utilises different camera speeds. This is an overall good commentary, but John tends to describe what is happening on screen unnecessarily, and there are some lengthy pauses. The commentary is subtitled in English, German and French.
This Making Of includes contributions from producers Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner, director John Woo, screenwriter Robert Towne and the main cast members. Some small clips are taken from the film, combined with footage taken on the set. Towne joined the production late and was hired to basically write around the intricately organised action sequences.
This piece replicates some of the above, with a focus on Tom's stunt work, the film's action scenes and how they were executed for the camera
These eleven short featurettes are playable individually or via a play all function. These cover stunts and action sequences, along with simple storyboard comparisons.
Metallica contributed this song to the soundtrack and it's featured in the closing credits. The video clip sees each band member endure an impending doom of some kind. The overall quality is below average.
Some slightly different graphics that were not utilised for the main title sequence.
A series of clips from Cruise's career, shown at the BAFTAs in 2005 where Cruise 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.
Another tribute to Cruise's career, this time at the MTV movie awards in 2005.
The Paramount HD DVD and Blu-ray editions of M:I-2 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. Again, like the transfer of the first disc in this set, the Blu-ray image appears to be very slightly softer, not enough to be a major issue, but certainly worth mentioning. The grain I mentioned, particularly on distant skylines and the like, seems a little 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 delve a little into the production, but can be repetitive at times.
|DVD||Panasonic DMP BD-10, 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.|