Anti Trust (2000)

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Released 30-Oct-2001

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Theatrical Trailer-2:19
Music Video-When It All Goes Wrong-Everclear
Featurette-Anti Trust-Cracking The Code
Deleted Scenes-7
Alternate Ending
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2000
Running Time 104:06 (Case: 108)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (75:29) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Peter Howitt
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Ryan Phillippe
Rachael Leigh Cook
Claire Forlani
Tim Robbins
Douglas McFerran
Richard Roundtree
Case DV-7
RPI $36.95 Music Don Davis


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, during opening credits

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

Plot Synopsis

    Never show a movie to an expert in the industry that the movie is set in - they can always find something to criticise....

    In between writing reviews, I find time to write a bit of program code. Well, maybe more than a bit - coupla bytes, perhaps (geek joke). I started programming before the release of the IBM PC. I was on the developer beta programmes for Windows 3.0, and OS/2, and NT. I do know a bit about this industry. I've even visited Microsoft in Redmond a couple of times, and seen Bill Gates in person.

    This film is about Bill Gates, and Microsoft. Oh, they are very careful to say that it isn't - heck, there's one scene where the hero mentions Bill Gates and the Bill Gates character says "Bill who?" - I guess they did not want to get sued, particularly over some of the events in the later part of the film. Fact is, only one large software company has been going through a huge anti-trust case, and that's Microsoft (IBM's anti-trust case, years ago, was not about software - it was about hardware). Add in the fact that Tim Robbins is made up superbly with so many of Gates' characteristics (the hair and glasses are perfect), and you really cannot doubt who they are portraying. They have captured some of the Microsoft way of operating, too - even little stuff like referring to the central location as a "campus" (echoes of geek heaven). It's quite impressive. I also liked the fact that one of the bad guys is called Redmond.

    Sure, there are mistakes - I was highly amused by the idea of a software developer being presented with a large chunk of source code, having him glance at it, and exclaim about the awesome compression it is achieving. Fact: there is no way any developer (genius level or not) can appreciate the value of a compression algorithm from a superficial look at its source code. Modern compression algorithms are complex, subtle, and require intensive study - a single (good) compression algorithm is worth an entire PhD thesis. It was also amusing to see that the "source code" that scrolls over the opening sequence is mostly HTML (this review is written in HTML - it's a document format, not a programming language). Still, when they get around to showing code on screen it seems to be legitimate Java code, and it's quite believable that they'd be using Java for a project like this.

    But I don't intend to write an entire review pointing out holes in the script (I'm sure you can find lengthy screeds on this subject on the Web). At least the makers of this film tried to be authentic, and they didn't do too bad a job at it.

    This is quite a decent story, and mostly credible (especially if you aren't a developer). In many ways it's much more credible than most movies set in the computer industry - quite a bit better than War Games, or The Net, for example, and far far better than Hackers.

    Our hero, Milo Hoffman (Ryan Phillippe) is hired fresh out of uni to work for Nurv. He's recruited personally by the head of Nurv, Gary Winston (played superbly by Tim Robbins), because his genius is needed to make Nurv's ambitious new project meet its deadline. That project is called Synapse (any resemblance to an old Microsoft pitch about the digital nervous system of society is purely intentional). Milo and his girlfriend, Alice (Claire Forlani) move to Portland Oregon where Nurv headquarters is located. Milo meets the many developers working on the project, including Lisa (the gorgeous Rachael Leigh Cook), who is working on the scalable GUIs. Milo is given the task of working on a central piece of Synapse. It's difficult, but it's made easier by Gary throwing him the occasional piece of impressively good code. Milo exclaims about the quality of one piece, asking rhetorically "Where is this coming from?" (as one might ask, when granted manna from heaven) - Gary gets irate, triggering suspicion in Milo. Is Gary just angry because Milo is questioning Gary's coding skills? Or something more sinister?

    One of the best aspects of this film is that it works on two levels. If you understand something of large software development projects, you can appreciate what's going on at that level. If you don't, you can still enjoy the progress of the plot because it's clear enough what's happening anyway. In other words, this is not just a geek tragedy (sorry - that pun had to be made) - it's for non-geeks, too.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The DVD is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and is 16x9 enhanced. The film was made in Panavision, so the 2.35:1 aspect ratio is right.

    The picture is very impressive - sharp and limpidly clear, with beautiful detail - it's a picture that feels almost three-dimensional. Shadow detail is excellent and there is no low-level noise.

    The colour is perfect; vivid and rich. There is no oversaturation nor colour bleed.

    There are five film artefacts - I was able to count them easily because they stand out clearly against the quality of the rest of the image. Oh, they are all tiny - look at the tiny blue spot at 33:41, for example - would any one but a total fuss-budget pick that up? There's no background shimmer. There's next to no moire.

    And now for the bad news... The picture is so sharp that there is aliasing all over the place. Lots and lots of aliasing. This is the only artefact worthy of note, but it makes up for that by being so prevalent. If you hate aliasing, you really should avoid this disc. It's not unwatchable, and you may not even care about the aliasing (some people aren't bothered by it).

    The only subtitles are English captions - they are accurate, perfectly timed, and easy to read.

    The disc is single sided and RSDL-formatted. The layer change is at 75:29, and it's glaringly obvious - not a good change by any standard. The shame is that a fraction of a second later and it would be invisible. You'd think that quality control would pick up these kinds of mistakes.

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

Audio

    There are only two soundtracks, both in English. The movie soundtrack is Dolby Digital 5.1. The commentary soundtrack is Dolby 2.0, not surround-encoded (probably mono). I listened to both.

    The dialogue is clear and easy to understand. There are no audio sync problems.

    Don Davis has written a brilliant score. It enhances pretty much every scene, especially the tense ones. It's a superb full-range score, from driving bass through to ethereal woodwinds.

    The surrounds are not used for a lot of directional sound - there's some nice stuff around 52:00 - but they do add a third dimension to the soundscape. On the other hand, the subwoofer gets nothing to do - my sub switched itself off from boredom. I get the feeling there's no LFE information in this soundtrack - I think it's a 5.0 soundtrack, rather than 5.1. That's OK, because there are no explosions that need LFE.

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

Extras

Menu

    The menu is static and silent - we don't get the sexy animated menu that is on the Region 1 disc - but it is functional and easy to operate.

Audio Commentary - Director Peter Howitt and Editor Zach Staenberg

    This is not the best commentary you've ever heard, but it is interesting. More than a few spoilers.

Featurette - Cracking the Code (22:20)

    A fairly ordinary "making of" - nothing special, but rather fun. It is full of spoilers, so don't watch it before you've watched the film. There are a couple of interesting "behind the scenes" revelations, including the identity of the homeless man, and the point of some of those crane shots.

    They do get a bit precious about open source, but it's an important plot point, so I guess that's understandable. The credits even thank Linus Torvalds, the GNOME team, and W3C!

Deleted Scenes (7)

    These are really interesting, especially if you watch them after listening to the commentary - they've referred to them during the commentary, and it's quite interesting to see what they were talking about. The scenes are presented in 2.35:1 not 16x9 enhanced. You can watch them with production dialogue, or with commentary from the director and editor - they are worth listening to both ways.

Alternate Opening and Closing

    During the commentary there are a few references to the original opening and closing to the movie. Here they are. I definitely prefer the ones in the theatrical cut.

Theatrical Trailer (2:19)

    Not a bad trailer - as is not uncommon, it uses footage from deleted scenes - this time we've seen those scenes, and it's rather fun to play "that's in the movie", "that's a deleted scene"...

Music Video - When It All Goes Wrong Again - Everclear (3:42)

    It's a music video. It uses some footage from the movie. I'm not a fan of music videos - what can I say?

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 4 disc is missing:

    The Region 1 disc is missing:

    The discs have the same extras. The transfers are quite similar - the R1 has slightly less aliasing, but the 3:2 pull-down makes up for the difference (if you have 3:2 pull-down elimination you may find the R1 slightly preferable).

    There's not a lot to choose between the two - the layer change is a bit less obvious on the R1 (it's at 62:31, if you're looking for it). You can probably be happy with either version.

Summary

    Anti Trust is perhaps the best computer-industry thriller made so far, presented well on DVD.

    The video quality is excellent, except for a heap of aliasing.

    The audio quality is excellent.

    The extras are very good.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Saturday, July 20, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

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Comments (Add)
Seemed a bit like.. - Nick REPLY POSTED
VHS/DVD Difference? - REPLY POSTED