Minority Report (Blu-ray) (2002)
Featurette-Original DVD Featurettes
Featurette-The Future According to Steven Spielberg
Featurette-Inside the World of Pre-Crime
Featurette-Dick, Spielberg and the World of Minority Report
Featurette-Props of the Future
Featurette-Highlights from the Set
Featurette-Commercials from the Future
|Year Of Production||2002|
|Running Time||145:07 (Case: 141)|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||Steven Spielberg|
Twentieth Century Fox
Max Von Sydow
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 (3254Kb/s)
Italian dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
Spanish dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.40:1|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.40:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
The works of science fiction writer Phillip K Dick have been regularly adapted for the cinema. The work commonly regarded as the most successful adaptation, Ridley Scott's Blade Runner (based on the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?), perhaps succeeded because it maintained a close eye on the dystopian themes of Dick's novel whilst adding entirely new plot elements. Even if it didn't always look like the novel, it felt like it. Though there have been many less successful adaptations, Paycheck and Next being clear examples, there are good reasons why Steven Spielberg's 2002 film Minority Report deserves to be considered amongst the very best Phillip K Dick adaptations if not amongst the better science fiction films of any era.
It is fair to say that the description "loosely based" applies as much to this as to other attempts to film Dick's work. This is no giant surprise as Minority Report was based on the short story of the same name written by Dick in 1957 and published as one of five stories in the anthology The Variable Man. The short story doesn't really have an action adventure aspect and there is no doubt that the protagonist of the story, a balding overweight cop in his 50's, little resembles the buffed physique of the still-young Tom Cruise. These are matters upon which the Dick purists may throw a snide glance. It also doesn't help that Spielberg, ever the puppy lover, feels compelled to throw a more upbeat and cynicism free ending in his rendition. In short, there are many things for the purist not to like about Minority Report.
The surprise, then, is that the film succeeds in so many areas. It is an almost peerless evocation of an imagined future and manages to combine a series of thrillingly directed chase scenes with the essential questions that lie at the core of Dick's work. For those who haven't seen the film yet, but like science fiction, and those who may be put off by the thought of a Spielberg/Cruise combination ,i.e., sentimentality meets flashy grin, this should be considered an essential purchase. It is one of those films that comes along all too rarely; an exciting film that makes you think.
For those who haven't seen the film or read the short story it is set in 2052. North America, we learn, is overrun with violent crime. Murder is an epidemic across the land. Everywhere, it seems, except the district of Columbia and the nation's capital, Washington DC. Six years ago an experimental crime fighting programme was introduced and now, as the experiment reaches crunch time, the results are on the board; there have been no murders in years.
How does it work? Inventor Eamon Burgess (Max von Sydow) has found a magical crime fighting team in the pre-cogs; three supernaturally gifted individuals, barely human, who have the ability to see the future. Unfortunately for them, the future they see is that most dramatic event - murder. Wired together and encased in a temple-like pond at the centre of the pre-crime division of the Columbia Police, the pre-cogs are kept as essential tools. Pre-crime chief, John Anderton (Tom Cruise) uses the video images sent by the pre-cogs and a knack of reading those images to determine the location of the crime, to catch the offenders before they commit the act of murder. Racing against time the pre-crime cops arrive on the scene and arrest the offender before any blood is spilt. For the most heinous crime of the taking of life the future criminals are incarcerated, entombed more like, in a holding facility where they pass their eternal sentence in a coma like state.
The 6 year experiment of pre-crime is at an end and it is now open to public referendum as to whether the experiment will continue. Not just that but whether it will expand to be a national scheme. Imagine the future where the murder rate drops to 0! The Justice Department wants to make sure that everything at Pre-crime is as good as it seems. Into the picture comes investigator Danny Whitwer (Colin Farrell) who is both desirous of Anderton's job and also conscious of his duty to get to the bottom of Pre- crime.
Once Whitwer begins investigating Anderton it becomes clear that not all is perfect in the Chief's life. Years ago Anderton's son was kidnapped from a local swimming pool, presumed murdered, and Anderton is wracked with deep guilt over the incident. Not only did it lead to the breakdown of his marriage but it also made him the perfect person to lead the pre-crime unit. After all, from a political perspective who could lead the experiment better than someone who suffered a terrible loss that would not have occurred had the pre-cogs been operating. Unfortunately, the death of his son and the loneliness of his life have resulted in Anderton becoming addicted to a modern drug of choice. By day a respectable police officer Anderton is by night a prowler of the sprawling bad areas seeking out a fix and using it to get himself to sleep. His only companions are the hologram images of his son and wife which he watches in the deep dark night. The pre-crime police keep themselves separate from the pre-cogs however Whitwer, using the authority of the Justice Department, demands a close inspection of the trio. Whilst down in the temple and when briefly alone Anderton is grabbed by the only female Agatha (Samantha Morton), the most powerful of the pre-cogs. Breathlessly questioning "can you see it?" Agatha shows Anderton a vision of a woman being drowned in a lake.
So begins a deepening mystery into the life and death of the woman, Anne Lively, and the existence of a Minority Report. While the mystery begins with Agatha it ramps up considerably when Anderton fronts up at Pre-crime and receives the prognostication from the pre-cogs that the next murderer is himself and the victim is a man he doesn't even know! Anderton has to use all his wits and strengths to escape his own unit and get to the bottom of the mystery.
In 1999 Spielberg held a symposium of some of the world's most noted futurists and other experts to discuss how the world would look in 2052. The result is inspired. Rather than silver suits and spaceships the team came up with a future that is both excitingly fresh and yet logical. The whole design team worked wonders, coming up with a Washington DC that was both familiar and new and a whole range of futuristic elements from retinal scanning on public transport, to maglev cars and advanced non-lethal weaponry for the police. In the extras Spielberg states that he was most concerned to achieve a level of familiarity with the new technology. When someone got into a futuristic car he wanted them to be just getting into a car as if it was a 2002 car. In other words he didn't want the technology to draw attention to itself. This results in an immersion in the new world that matches the level of immersion in Blade Runner.
Cruise is a fine actor, and a superstar when he lets loose the cheeky grin. That doesn't happen here. Cruise is playing a relentlessly downbeat character who is coming to question the system in which he has placed his absolute faith. The film itself was a rare hit with both the critics and the public earning almost $360 million worldwide and rating as the most critically lauded of Cruise's films. This is, as said, no surprise for Spielberg has achieved that rarity of making an intelligent science fiction action picture.
Minority Report was shot on 35mm film and presented in the cinema at a 2.40:1 aspect ratio. That ratio has been preserved for the Blu-ray release.
This is an amazing transfer and far and away the best the film has ever looked on home video. Does that make it a good looking film? Interesting question. In the extra materials director Steven Spielberg stressed that he wanted to make this the dirtiest, rawest movie he had ever made, more so than Saving Private Ryan. He and cinematographer Janusz Kaminski created a look that stressed the film noir aspects of the film, lots of dark and shadows. Spielberg also overexposed the film and used the bleach bypass process to strip the film of colour and give it a distinctive look. All this means that the film is denuded of colour and frequently overexposed with whites blooming and there is a grain structure than is fairly consistently heavy. This transfer, then, perfectly conveys the director’s intentions.
I must say that I never really understood Spielberg on this point. Yes, the film has noir aspects and deals with murder and mystery but the future it depicts is hardly dystopian. Society hasn't degenerated into a tribal bloodbath with the ferals eking out a living over the crumbled remains of civilization. It is pretty much an imagined future with problems not too dissimilar to our own time. I guess that it is his choice. I have rated the transfer very highly, including for grain, because the grain is meant to be there.
It is therefore hard to judge the quality of the transfer by ordinary standards. Some of the close-ups are extremely sharp and there are no technical problems whatsoever in this transfer. The flesh tones are accurate to the intended look of the film. All in all, an excellent representation of this film.
There are subtitles in a wealth of languages.
Minority Report features a mighty 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio track. There is also an Italian and a Castellano (Spanish) 5.1 DTS track running at 768Kb/s.
This is a film that makes the most of the sound palette. There is extra material where the sound designers talk about the challenge of creating a futuristic soundscape. One challenge was providing the sound for the maglev cars when technically they would be silent. The solution; the designer recorded his new washing machine to get a whirring machine noise. There are bangs, smashes and sounds from all over the field and the transfer creates a perfect ambience for the movie.
The inimitable John Williams provides the score. He strove to create an actual soundtrack for the film rather than a series of strong themes, to echo the visuals and the noir approach. The film has been skilfully scored. Just check out the Spyder scene to hear the intricacy and quality of the writing.
The dialogue can be heard clearly and there are no technical problems with the sound. The actors all appear to be in audio sync.
|Surround Channel Use|
There are oceans of extras on this release (no commentary track though!). The screener provided for review was on a single Blu-ray although I have noticed that some stores are selling the film on two Blu-rays.
The past special edition of Minority Report contained a bundle of extras. These extras have been ported over to the Blu-ray release. They are:
The following extras are all presented in 1080P HD:
Perhaps echoing the futuristic nature of the film this feature seeks to combine an interview with Spielberg which was conducted on the eve of the theatrical release of Minority Report with other footage. It has, according to the maker, been “edited and re-ordered for this interactive presentation on Blu-ray”. As the interview progresses various clickable links pop up on the side of the screen, allowing you to access separate short related documentary sequences taken from other bonus materials. The materials are divided into three categories:
The material is actually culled from the special features. Where the extra is in High Definition it appears full frame, otherwise it appears in a window.
The effect is interesting but ultimately I found it more a chore than a helpful guide to the film and the presence of the documentary snippets actually fractures the interview making it more difficult to get an overview of the film.
This is a fake documentary/puff piece about the wonders of pre-crime and the hopes for the future. An interesting watch though ultimately a little long.
An interview with both the daughter of Philip K. Dick and a prominent Dick biographer. Her story is about his solitary existence and somewhat monastic writing habits.
John Underkoffler, science and technology advisor to the film, shows off his "special gloves" which perform the same tasks as those of the Pre-crime unit. A step up from the Wii-mote!
Production Designer Alex McDowell has a ball showing how the props for the film were put together. He is amazed to find that Spielberg still has all the props in a secret vault. Gloves, guns, and hoverpacks get an explanation.
A behind the scenes look at the creation of two of the film’s most elaborate action set pieces. The featurettes show the close and detailed work between directors, stars and stunt team to get the job done.
Through retinal scanning and tailored advertising Minority Report shows how advertising in the future can be tailored exactly to your personal requirements. Scary but definitely imaginable.
Two pre-visualizations are included. Each is shown in a window with the pre-viz above. It is interesting to note that the final scenes were very close to the early pre-visualizations. They are:
This is an All-Region Blu-ray with identical features worldwide.
Minority Report is as close as a sci-fi fan can get to a perfect synthesis of thought and realisation, recognizing the need to supply enough action to keep everybody happy. Spielberg and Cruise may not have seemed like the ideal pairing for a Phillip K. Dick adaptation but the stars aligned and even the purest of Dick purists must give them some credit for the attention to detail and serious investment in the project.
The Blu-ray gives a fantastic presentation of the film, notwithstanding the efforts the filmmaker went to in order to make it look gritty.
The extras are comprehensive. Those who haven't seen the earlier extras may be surprised at how much new material has been produced. The whole "interactive experience" doesn't work all that well but I can appreciate the effort.
A must buy.
|DVD||Cambridge 650BD (All Regions), using HDMI output|
|Display||Sony VPL-VW80 Projector on 110" Screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.|
|Amplification||Pioneer SC-LX 81 7.1|
|Speakers||Aaron ATS-5 7.1|