Overall | Mission: Impossible: Special Collector's Edition (HD DVD) (1996) | Mission: Impossible II (HD DVD) (2000) | Mission: Impossible III: 2-Disc Collector's Edition (HD DVD) (2006)

Mission: Impossible-Ultimate Missions Collection (HD DVD) (2006)

Mission: Impossible-Ultimate Missions Collection (HD DVD) (2006)

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Released 18-Dec-2006

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Overall Package

    This box contains all three Mission: Impossible films in 1080p resolution, with Dolby Digital Plus audio. Here's a brief rundown of the films for you.

    Mission: Impossible Special Collector's Edition

    What's at stake?: Having been put on the IMF's 'most wanted dead' list, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) is in self-preservation mode.

    The MacGuffin: The "noc list"; a collection of names that identifies undercover agents across the globe.

    The Girl: Claire (Emmanuelle Béart), the young, beautiful wife of Jim Phelps (John Voight).

    The Action: The scene in which Hunt penetrates the CIA's highly secure main computer vault from a great height has been parodied in countless films.

    M:I-2

    What's at stake?: Ethan has to save the world from a psychopathic former colleague, Sean Ambrose (Dougray Scott).

    The MacGuffin: A mutant influenza virus, called Chimera. Ambrose intends to release the virus on an unsuspecting public so he might profit from the cure.

    The Girl:  Nyah Hall (Thandie Newton), a civilian professional thief who is 'recruited' by Hunt for her superb 'talents'.

    The Action: Only the most insanely-paced action film ever, full of rock climbing, motorcycle chases and explosions-a-plenty!

    M:i:III 2-Disc Collector's Edition

    What's at stake?: The life of Ethan's fiancé, Julia (Michelle Monaghan).

    The MacGuffin: The Rabbit's Foot. Dunno what it is, but it's expensive and it's got warning stickers on it, so it must be dangerous.

    The Girl(s): Besides Hunt's gorgeous fiancé, we also have an equally stunning Maggie Q (as Zhen), who was trained by none other than Jackie Chan, apparently.

    The Action: The best sequences take place in Shanghai, where we see Hunt swing from one skyscraper to another, then sky-dive out of a very high window.

    The million-dollar question is; which HD format is superior, HD DVD or Blu-ray? For me, the decision comes down to personal preference of picture quality, as well as disc features. I've made a table below, comparing the two formats side by side.

M:I Ultimate Missions Collection HD DVD Blu-ray
Disc Format (Main Feature) HD-30 (dual-layered) BD-25 (single-layered)
Exclusive Content Enhanced Video Commentary (M:i:III) 3 Easter Eggs (M:i:III)
Video Codec VC-1 MPEG2
Audio DD+ 1536Kb/s DD+ 640Kb/s
Region Coding None Region B (Australia, Europe, UK)

    In a perfect world, I'd be able to review both formats on the one player, comparing apples with apples so-to-speak. But, I've declared HD DVD the winner in this case and here's why:

    In terms of extra features, the M:i:III HD DVD disc includes an excellent Enhanced Video Commentary with Tom Cruise and Director J.J. Abrams. The restricted capacity of the BD-25 disc prevented it from being included on the Blu-ray edition. The video commentary appears as a small picture-in-picture, so the viewer can see the two gents speaking to one another. The enhanced portion also adds an additional 33 minutes to the film's length, in featurettes, deleted scenes and extra conversations while Cruise and Abrams pause the movie. The plain audio commentary is simply an edit of the audio from this feature, completely lacking in any interactivity.

    In a plus for the M:i:III Blu-ray Disc, the HD DVD version seems to be missing Easter Eggs 1, 2 and 7 from disc two. While they're lightweight and barely missed, it still is a strange omission.

    I found very little to separate the video transfers between formats. Despite the broad difference in bitrate the audio is almost identical, however, the video compression is different. Blu-ray uses the old MPEG2 codec, which is much less efficient compared to the new VC-1 codec used on HD DVD. Combine this with the fact that the lower capacity disc (BD-25) is using the most space-hungry codec (MPEG2), and one has to ask questions. The only discernable difference I could detect on my system is a slight softness in the Blu-ray image, that wouldn't be noticeable if I weren't comparing the two side by side. I also noted that grain seems to be a little more pronounced in the MPEG2 transfers, maybe exposing the codec's poorer ability to encode artefacted sources. The grain is particularly visible in the first two M:I films.

    As I stated in my M:i:III review, personal preferences differ, and some viewers may prefer the slightly softer MPEG2 image. Personally, I don't see the point in doing all this HD upgrading if we're going to stick with the same dated, inefficient video compression.

    HD DVD wins!

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Rob Giles (readen de bio, bork, bork, bork.)
Saturday, April 14, 2007
Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Mission: Impossible: Special Collector's Edition (HD DVD) (1996) | Mission: Impossible II (HD DVD) (2000) | Mission: Impossible III: 2-Disc Collector's Edition (HD DVD) (2006)

Mission: Impossible: Special Collector's Edition (HD DVD) (1996)

Mission: Impossible: Special Collector's Edition (HD DVD) (1996)

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Released 18-Dec-2006

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action 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)
Gallery-Photo-(40)
Teaser Trailer-HD
Theatrical Trailer-HD
TV Spots
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1996
Running Time 110:07
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
Studio
Distributor

Paramount Home Entertainment
Starring Tom Cruise
Jon Voight
Emmanuelle Béart
Henry Czerny
Jean Reno
Ving Rhames
Kristin Scott Thomas
Vanessa Redgrave
Dale Dye
Marcel Iures
Ion Caramitru
Ingeborga Dapkunaite
Valentina Yakunina
Case Amaray Variant
RPI Box Music Danny Elfman
Lalo Schifrin


Video Audio
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
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
German
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 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.

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Transfer Quality

Video

Disclaimer: Please note that this disc has a video resolution of 1080p. It has been reviewed on a display device with a maximum native resolution of 720p. More information can be found here.

    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.

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

Audio

    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.

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

Extras

    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.

Menu

    A simple language setup menu loads first, but the selection is not memorised by the player for future playback. The main menu pages are themed around the film, with a large IMF logo in the center of the screen. There are some very nice graphics here.

Featurette- Mission: Remarkable - 40 Years of Creating the Impossible (11:25)

    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.

Featurette- Explosive Exploits (5:08)

    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.

Featurette- Spies Among Us (8:39)

    Examines real intelligence operations and espionage, including interviews with former spies and disguise experts.

Featurette- Catching The Train (2:38)

    John Knoll and the visual effects team explain the helicopter/ tunnel sequence and how certain shots were achieved.

Featurette- International Spy Museum (6:30)

    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.

Character Biographies- Agent Dossiers (7)

    Several pages of background text on each of the seven agents featured in the film. Fictional, of course.

Featurette- Excellence in Film (9:14)

    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.

Featurette- Generation: Cruise (3:36)

    Another, shorter tribute to Cruise's career, this time at the MTV movie awards in 2005.

Photo Gallery (40)

    Forty still photos, a few behind the scenes shots, but these are mostly promo pictures.

Teaser Trailer (1:05) HD

    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.

Theatrical Trailer (1:55) HD

    Less moody than the teaser, but there's more storyline revealed.

TV Spots (3:46)

    Nine promo pieces in total, trimmed from the theatrical trailer in most cases.

R4 vs R1

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

Blu-ray vs HD DVD

    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.

Summary

    The first M:I film is a good quality actioner that holds up surprisingly well after more than a decade. If it were not for De Palma's stylish direction, this may have turned out to be yet another poor-man's version of Bond. This one is worth revisiting, if you haven't done so already.

    The video transfer is average, in HD terms.

    The audio transfer is good.

    The extras are lightweight EPK fare, but are welcome nonetheless.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Rob Giles (readen de bio, bork, bork, bork.)
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba HD-D1, using HDMI output
DisplaySanyo 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 DecoderBuilt in to DVD player. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVR3806
SpeakersOrpheus Aurora lll Mains (bi-wired), Rears, Centre Rear. Orpheus Centaurus .5 Front Centre. Mirage 10 inch sub.

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Mission: Impossible: Special Collector's Edition (HD DVD) (1996) | Mission: Impossible II (HD DVD) (2000) | Mission: Impossible III: 2-Disc Collector's Edition (HD DVD) (2006)

Mission: Impossible II (HD DVD) (2000)

Mission: Impossible II (HD DVD) (2000)

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Released 18-Dec-2006

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Menu Animation & Audio
Audio Commentary-John Woo (Director)
Featurette-Behind The Mission
Featurette-Mission Incredible
Featurette-Impossible Shots
Music Video-Metallica- I Disappear
Featurette-Alternate Title Sequence
Featurette-Excellence In Film: Cruise
Featurette-Generation: Cruise
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2000
Running Time 123:27
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By John Woo
Studio
Distributor

Paramount Home Entertainment
Starring Tom Cruise
Dougray Scott
Thandie Newton
Ving Rhames
Richard Roxburgh
John Polson
Brendan Gleeson
Rade Serbedzija
William Mapother
Dominic Purcell
Mathew Wilkinson
Nicholas Bell
Cristina Brogers
Case Amaray Variant
RPI Box Music Hans Zimmer


Video Audio
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
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
German
English Audio Commentary
French Audio Commentary
German Audio Commentary
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    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.

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Transfer Quality

Video

Disclaimer: Please note that this disc has a video resolution of 1080p. It has been reviewed on a display device with a maximum native resolution of 720p. More information can be found here.

    The 1080p transfer is presented in the film's original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1, in a native 16x9 frame. The left and right sides of the image are tight to the frame.

    There is an adequate amount of sharpness present in most scenes, visible in the detailed hair at 13:43. The clarity extends to darker scenes as well, such as the dimly-lit, well rendered street scene at 56:43. Black levels appeared to be deep and solid when need be.

    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 transfer has been compressed using the VC-1 codec. There isn't any compression artefacting 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 dual layered, HD-30 type. I didn't notice any interruption to the feature on my equipment.

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

Audio

    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.

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

Extras

    There is a good range of special features, all presented in a standard definition, 1.33:1 frame.

Menu

    An audio select menu loads first, which decides the default language audio for the feature. The selection is not memorised by the player for future playback. The menu pages are themed around the film and appear quite impressive.

Audio Commentary- John Woo (Director)

    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.

Featurette- Behind The Mission (14:27)

    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.

Featurette- Mission Incredible (5:12)

    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

Featurette- Impossible Shots (34:15)

    These eleven short featurettes are playable individually or via a play all function. These cover stunts and action sequences, along with simple storyboard comparisons.

Music Video- I Disappear- Metallica (4:33)

     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.

Alternate Title Sequence (0:37)

    Some slightly different graphics that were not utilised for the main title sequence.

Featurette- Excellence in Film (9:14)

    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.

Featurette- Generation: Cruise (3:36)

    Another tribute to Cruise's career, this time at the MTV movie awards in 2005.

R4 vs R1

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

Blu-ray vs HD DVD

    The Paramount HD DVD and Blu-ray editions of the 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, though 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.

Summary

    M:I-2 is the most over-the-top spectacle of the franchise so far, and the least satisfying.

    The video transfer could be better.

    The audio transfer is good.

    The extras delve a little into the production, but can be repetitive at times.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Rob Giles (readen de bio, bork, bork, bork.)
Thursday, April 12, 2007
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba HD-D1, using HDMI output
DisplaySanyo 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 DecoderBuilt in to DVD player. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVR3806
SpeakersOrpheus Aurora lll Mains (bi-wired), Rears, Centre Rear. Orpheus Centaurus .5 Front Centre. Mirage 10 inch sub.

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Greater Capacity? - Gavin Bollard (bio - updated 9 Nov 2005) REPLY POSTED
Additional - The Thing

Overall | Mission: Impossible: Special Collector's Edition (HD DVD) (1996) | Mission: Impossible II (HD DVD) (2000) | Mission: Impossible III: 2-Disc Collector's Edition (HD DVD) (2006)

Mission: Impossible III: 2-Disc Collector's Edition (HD DVD) (2006)

Mission: Impossible III: 2-Disc Collector's Edition (HD DVD) (2006)

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Released 18-Dec-2006

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Menu Animation & Audio
Audio-Visual Commentary-J. J. Abrams (Director) & Tom Cruise (Actor/Producer) HD
Audio Commentary-J. J. Abrams (Director) & Tom Cruise (Actor/Producer)
Featurette-Making Of-The Making of The Mission HD
Featurette-Inside the IMF
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Mission Action: Inside the Action Unit HD
Featurette-Visualising the Mission HD
Featurette-Mission: Metamorphosis HD
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Scoring the Mission HD
Featurette-Moviefone Unscripted: Tom Cruise and J.J. Abrams
Featurette-Launching the Mission
Deleted Scenes-(5) HD
Teaser Trailer-HD
Theatrical Trailer-HD
TV Spots
Gallery-Photo
Featurette-Excellence in Film (9:14)
Easter Egg-(4)
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2006
Running Time 125:16
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By J.J. Abrams
Studio
Distributor

Paramount Home Entertainment
Starring Tom Cruise
Philip Seymour Hoffman
Ving Rhames
Billy Crudup
Michelle Monaghan
Jonathan Rhys Meyers
Keri Russell
Maggie Q
Simon Pegg
Eddie Marsan
Laurence Fishburne
Bahar Soomekh
Jeff Chase
Case Amaray Variant
RPI $49.95 Music Michael Giacchino


Video Audio
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
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
German
English Audio Commentary
French Audio Commentary
German Audio Commentary
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    After an ordinary second instalment, the Mission: Impossible franchise redeemed itself in a big way with number three. With Director J.J. Abrams at the helm, M:i:III managed to combine superb action and great story telling with believable character motivations and genuine human drama, making it the best of the three by far.

    Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) has settled into domestic bliss with his new fiancé, Julia (Michelle Monaghan), complete with a house in the suburbs. Although Julia is completely unaware of Ethan's occupation, he is still active within the IMF, now focusing his skills on training new recruits rather than field work. The happy couple's engagement party is interrupted by a phone call, summoning Ethan to a secret meeting where he is asked to resume active duty in order to save one of his pupils. Lindsey Farris (Keri Russell), an ace student of Ethan's, has disappeared, presumed captured by those she was surveilling. Unable to let the assignment pass, he assembles a team and heads to her last known location.

    Along with his old colleague, Luther (Ving Rhames, Pulp Fiction), and young IMF graduates Declan (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) and Zhen (Maggie Q, Naked Weapon), Ethan saves Lindsey from the compound of one Owen Davian (Philip Seymour Hoffman, Capote), a known terrorist supporter and all-round bad guy who has been on the IMF wanted list for some time. Lindsey provides intelligence that shows Davian is planning to sell an unknown piece of hi-tech equipment, dubbed the Rabbit's Foot, at a function in the Vatican. Furthermore, the intelligence suggests corruption may exist within the higher levels of the IMF. The team successfully foils Davian's Vatican jaunt, and he is royally p*****. During interrogation, through gritted teeth he swears to exact cruel revenge on Ethan via those he holds dearest, providing he can get free. The corrupt upper echelons of the IMF see to that, and Ethan's new fiancé vanishes into thin air. Davian wants his hi-tech gadget back, or it's Julia's life.

    Abrams has done a superb job of blending action and suspense. I realise Cruise has said he wishes to use a different director for each film, but just quietly, I really hope Abrams comes back for another. The cast is equally excellent here, with Philip Seymour Hoffman joining Tom Cruise on screen for the first time since their brilliant pairing in Magnolia. Laurence Fishburne (Matrix Revolutions) and Billy Crudup double as Hunt's clashing IMF superiors, while Michelle Monaghan puts in a great performance as Hunt's loving, yet tormented fiancé.

    M:i:3 tops the previous instalments in every imaginable category. From the beautiful locations (Berlin, Rome, Shanghai) to the imaginative direction and scriptwriting, this is a must for action fans and movie-lovers alike. Do yourself a favour, and check it out.

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Transfer Quality

Video

Disclaimer: Please note that this disc has a video resolution of 1080p. It has been reviewed on a display device with a maximum native resolution of 720p. More information can be found here.

    This is a superb transfer that displays the strengths inherent in the format. If you're looking for a disc that will wow your friends, this is it!

    The film has been transferred to HD DVD in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1, at 1080p resolution. The left and right sides of the image are tight to the 16x9 frame.

    This is the sharpest, most detailed video transfer I have seen to date. The sheer clarity and depth in the image is exemplified in many shots, but I noted two that made particularly good examples. The long, interior corridor shot at 26:38 shows beautiful depth and texture, with superbly realistic tones in the woodwork. At 59:00 the stubble on Philip Seymour Hoffman's face shows the fine detail and skin textures the format is capable of. Shadow detail is excellent, as is shown in the dark tunnels and hallways around 43:40. Despite the dark surroundings, the complex brickwork is completely visible and finely detailed. I noted a distant set of stairs at 46:58 that appear a little edgy as the camera pans past, but this likely due to the limited resolution of my display rather than the transfer itself.

    Colours are vivid and lifelike throughout the transfer, without any bleeding or unsightly rendering issues to be seen. Skin tones appear to be very realistic.

    The video stream has been compressed using the VC-1 codec. I couldn't recognise any compression issues in the slightest, which is what I've come to expect from transfers of this calibre. After viewing the film many times, in both high definition formats, I began to notice a few tiny film artefacts here and there. These appeared as very small positive and negative specs that are not likely to trouble the average viewer. Similarly, there is a very mild degree of film grain visible in certain scenes more than others, but not to an obtrusive extent.

    An English subtitle stream may be selected on the fly, or via the setup menu. There is also an English subtitle stream for the commentary.

    This disc is HD-30 formatted, which is dual layered. I didn't notice any interruption to the feature on my equipment.

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

Audio

    There are four soundtracks available, all of which are presented in Dolby Digital Plus 5.1. These include the film's original English, as well as dubs in French and German. The fourth option is an audio commentary. The default soundtrack is determined by the viewer's choice in the setup menu that loads upon insertion of the disc. The language selection is not memorised by the player for future use.

    As far as active soundtracks go, it doesn't get much better than this. Effects are crisp and very clear and gunshots ring out with beautiful depth, while the score is bright and full of intensity. The mix uses the full range of each channel, without making concessions for small 'satellite' surround setups. I'm certain the audio mix will still sound fantastic on such equipment, however, to get the best of this experience I recommend you use equally matched front and rear speakers.

    The dialogue is always distinct and never obscured by effects or score. Despite the often frenetic pace of the action, I never found the spoken word hard to follow. The ADR looping is seamless and virtually unrecognisable. Audio sync is perfect at all times.

    The surround channels are utilised for all manner of effects, from overhead passing vehicles at 21:25, to breaking glass and falling debris in many scenes. Voices shift from front to rear in keeping with their placement according to the viewer. The mix is clear, solid and never disorienting in the slightest.

    The orchestral score by Michael Giacchino is first rate. The music flows delicately when need be, but adds bombastic weight in the right scenes. The light, engaging piano melodies are a particular standout for me.

    Your subwoofer will earn its money with this soundtrack, my friends. Explosions, gunfire and mechanical sounds are delivered beautifully by the LFE channel, particularly the passing helicopter at 16:10. All this makes for fantastic listening, but I can't help feeling that a lossless equivalent would have yielded even better response.

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

Extras

    This is a superb package, filled with quality extras that reveal some exciting potentials of this format. High definition features are marked with a red HD. Most of these are available with optional English, French or German subtitles.

Menu

    The menu pages are very nicely animated, with audio clips of the score in the background. A language select menu loads first, determining the default audio for playback. The selection is not memorised by the player for future use.

Disc One

Enhanced Commentary- J. J. Abrams (Director) & Tom Cruise (Actor/Producer) HD

    This is a fantastic enhanced feature that allows the viewer to watch Cruise and Abrams in conversation, in a picture-in-picture window one sixteenth the size of the main frame. The smaller window often fades to other footage while the two men are talking in order to illustrate a point; footage such as clips of the previous M:I films, behind the scenes clips and the like. In addition to the verbal commentary side of the video feature, there are also short video pods available. These are additional, full frame commentary clips that are branched with the feature, some of which play automatically when one of the guys say "...hey, let's pause the movie for a moment". Other optional video pods can be activated by pressing enter when an IMF logo appears on screen. The optional pods cover a range of subjects, including scene extensions, work print clips, pre-viz animatics, behind the scenes footage captured on set and location scouting. I counted 23 pods in total (including the optional ones) that add roughly an extra 33 minutes to the runtime of the film.

Audio Commentary- J. J. Abrams (Director) & Tom Cruise (Actor/Producer)

    This is a much more conventional audio commentary, edited from the above session. The guys get along very well and cover most aspects of the production, including locations that were used, anecdotes from filming and changes that were made in post production. As far as commentaries go, this is informative, entertaining and very worthwhile.

Disc Two

Featurette- The Making of The Mission (28:36) HD

    This Making Of follows the principal photography in chronological order, covering obstacles that were faced by the crew and stunts that were undertaken. We begin in Italy for a great deal of ornate location shots, then transfer to soundstages in L.A. where a lot of the interior sets were built. Industrial Light and Magic contributed many special effects shots, that are also covered extensively. We then travel to Shanghai, China for more location work. Although some of the information is also covered in the commentary, this is still very worthwhile viewing.

Featurette- Inside the IMF (21:14)

    This basically introduces the main cast, describes the characters they play and includes a lot of back slapping. This piece appears to have been made for television and is presented in a standard definition, 1.33:1 frame.

Featurette- Mission Action: Inside the Action Unit (25:39) HD

    Stunt Supervisor Vic Armstrong, Tom Cruise, Director J.J. Abrams and the action unit discuss their initial reaction to the script and the work that was involved to bring the many action sequences to the screen.

Featurette- Visualising the Mission (10:38) HD

    Takes a specific glimpse at the pre-viz process and the import role it plays in pre-production. Cruise, Wagner and Abrams explain how the pre-viz tools actually save them a great deal of money in planning the day-to-day production.

Featurette- Mission: Metamorphosis (8:08) HD

    The prop department reveal the development of their superb mask-making machine, a highlight of the film designed by futuristic artist Syd Mead.

Featurette- Scoring the Mission (4:58) HD

    We see Composer Michael Giacchino and his orchestra in the studio, working on the 87 minutes of music they contributed to the film.

Featurette- Moviefone Unscripted: Tom Cruise and J.J. Abrams (8:03)

    Cruise and Abrams fire questions at one another, but spend a lot of time laughing rather than talking. Humorous at times, but not the most valuable inclusion.

Featurette- Launching the Mission (14:02)

    Follows an always-smiling Cruise as he premieres the film in five major capital cities across the world; New York, Rome, Paris, London and Tokyo. It's comforting to see Tom doesn't shy away from couch-jumping jokes.

Deleted Scenes (5:21) HD

    There are five bonus scenes, most of which are also shown in the enhanced commentary. These can be played individually or via a play all function and, although they're presented in HD, they have been sourced from a time-coded work print that has limited resolution.

Trailers (5:09) HD

    We have four different trailers, all revealing slightly different angles of the film.

TV Spots (3:12)

    There are six promo spots, all similar in tone to the above trailers.

Gallery- Photo

    Over a hundred stills, promo shots and photos taken throughout the production.

Featurette- Excellence in Film (9:14)

    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.

Easter Egg 1 (0:53)

    Shows some of the on-set Halloween antics. Highlight TV Spots/ Madness and press the right arrow on your remote to highlight the Classified Data logo, then press enter.

Easter Egg 2 (0:58)

    Actor Dermot Mulroney explains how he came to perform cello with the orchestra on the film's score. Highlight Mission: Metamorphosis and press the left arrow on your remote to highlight the Classified Data logo, then press enter.

Easter Egg 3 (0:44)

    Shows Cruise and Fishburne rehearsing some lines. Highlight Movifone Unscripted and press the right arrow on your remote to highlight the Classified Data logo, then press enter.

Easter Egg 4 (0:47)

    Shows some nuns and priests hanging around the set in Rome. Highlight Launching the Mission/ Rome and press the right arrow on your remote to highlight the Classified Data logo, then press enter.

R4 vs R1

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

Blu-ray vs HD DVD

    The Paramount HD DVD and Blu-ray editions of M:i:3 differ slightly in their 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.

    In comparing the main feature discs, the HD DVD disc is 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 HD DVD utilises this extra space for an enhanced video commentary that is not included on the Blu-ray disc. The enhanced feature is of great value and contains many small branched featurettes that add an extra 33 minutes to the feature. These featurettes differ from the bonus material on disc two.

    The Blu-ray format has an additional 3 Easter Eggs that don't seem to be included on disc two of the HD DVD version. They are relatively lightweight and aren't missed much.

    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 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 players rather than the actual disc coding.

    The Blu-ray video transfer has been encoded using MPEG2 compression, while the HD DVD uses the more recent VC-1 codec. Despite an overall greater disc capacity in the HD DVD, as well as a more efficient video codec, it is difficult to separate the transfers of the two formats. At a stretch, I would say that the HD DVD seems slightly sharper, a little more defined than the Blu-ray. Mind you, the difference is so minor it isn't liable to be an issue to the average viewer, and would more than likely come down to personal taste. Some people prefer a slightly smoother image and may lean towards the Blu-ray based on this attribute. For me personally, a lesser capacity disc combined with an inferior, less efficient video compression codec makes the decision very easy. Make mine HD DVD!

Summary

    M:i:III is great entertainment. If you're HD capable, this release is a must-own.

    The video transfer is outstanding.

    The audio transfer is excellent, but a lossless alternative would have been ideal.

    The extras are worthwhile and great value.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Rob Giles (readen de bio, bork, bork, bork.)
Friday, April 13, 2007
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba HD-D1, using HDMI output
DisplaySanyo 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 DecoderBuilt in to DVD player. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVR3806
SpeakersOrpheus Aurora lll Mains (bi-wired), Rears, Centre Rear. Orpheus Centaurus .5 Front Centre. Mirage 10 inch sub.

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Slightly warped logic - Simon O'Connor (I wouldn't suggest reading my bio) REPLY POSTED