The Rock: Special Edition (1996)

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Released 6-Nov-2001

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Main Menu Audio & Animation
Teaser Trailer
Alternate Subtitles-Tour Of The Rock
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 1996
Running Time 130:56
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (72:09) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Michael Bay

Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Starring Sean Connery
Nicolas Cage
Ed Harris
John Spencer
Michael Biehn
William Forsythe
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $34.95 Music Hans Zimmer
Nick Glennie-Smith

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Czech Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Hungarian 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
English Information
French Information
Dutch Information
Italian Information
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    The Rock is not a deep and serious study of human interaction. Nor is it a romance, nor a comedy. This is an action film. A fine action film, with a soundtrack designed to allow you to test your sound system (not quite to destruction...). If that doesn't appeal, then I suggest you continue to the next film. If you are interested in action films, then don't pass this one up - it is one of the best.

    The action begins less than 5 minutes into the film; the soundtrack begins before they clear the first logo off the screen. But this is not a mindless action movie - we get introduced to each of the main characters in turn. First, Brigadier General Hummel (Ed Harris), whom we meet as the opening credits roll. As we are meeting him, we meet another of the protagonists - a nasty substance called VX gas; we are left in no doubt as to its properties, because they are demonstrated in gruesome detail by an accident. Second, Stanley Goodspeed (Nicholas Cage), who we meet as he is defusing a nasty little combination of C4 plastic explosive and sarin gas. And in a little while we get to meet John Mason (Sean Connery) - he is brought out of an ultra-high security prison, because they need someone who knows the innards of Alcatraz prison (Alcatraz is "The Rock"), and he is their only choice, as he is the only man ever to escape from Alcatraz (What, you thought no one had escaped? Well, that's what the FBI wanted you to think - conspiracy theory stuff).

    This movie has a plot, which is a feature of only the best action films. Admittedly, most of the plot exists to set up the primary scenario, but it does give depth and motivation to the characters. Our bad guys are not simple evil people - they are honourable men pushed too far. Our good guys are not lily-white, either. This gives more texture to the interactions; gives more meaning to events. Sure, you can see it as good guys versus bad guys, if that's the kind of movie you want to watch, but if you want a little more, there is more.

    I liked the bit lifted from Aliens: a Seal team wearing mini-cams, led by Michael Biehn. There are references to an awful lot of other films, but I'll leave it up to you to spot them - it is much more fun that way.

    All in all, this is one of the best examples of an action film you could ask for.

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Transfer Quality


    The picture is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, 16x9 enhanced. Exactly as it should be.

    The image is razor-sharp, and beautiful to look at. Some images are foggy, but I'm convinced that is intentional, part of the interesting lighting effects that Michael Bay has chosen to use. Shadow detail is excellent. There is no low level noise.

    Colour, where appropriate, is strong and well-saturated. There is no colour bleed, and no oversaturation. Quite a bit of the action takes place in low light, but we still get decent colour and clear imagery.

    There are film artefacts, but they are negligible - tiny and not especially noticeable. There are a few fine traces of aliasing (the cost of a razor sharp image), but none of them are exceptionable; perhaps the most noticeable is at 48:06. There are no MPEG artefacts. This is a nice clean transfer.

    There are heaps of subtitles. I checked the English subtitles; they are accurate and easy to read, even though they are placed mostly on the picture, rather than under it. See the extras for details on the second set of English subtitles.

    The disc is single-sided and dual layered, in RSDL format. The layer change is placed at 72:09. The layer change is quite obvious - it is a shame that they spoiled such a great transfer with a bad layer change.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    There are several soundtracks; English, French and Italian in Dolby Digital 5.1, and Czech and Hungarian in Dolby Digital 2.0 surround. I listened to the one in English.

    The dialogue is easy to understand at all times. I could have done with a little less in the way of coarse language, but it seems to be symptomatic of American action films of this vintage, so I guess we don't get a lot of choice. There are no visible audio sync problems.

    The score is fabulous - it is part of what makes this movie a great experience. It is credited to Nick Glennie-Smith and Hans Zimmer, but I think a lot of the credit is due to Hans Zimmer - it is involving, exciting, and drives the movie forward. Really good stuff.

    The soundtrack uses the surround speakers continuously for score, and intermittently for directional effects, and very good directional effects they are. The subwoofer gets plenty to do, too.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



    The menus are animated with music, and are well-themed to the movie. The transitions between menus are cool, but the accompanying sound is a little too loud.

Teaser Trailer (3:08)

    Rather fun, but, as usual, it gives away one or two plot points.

Featurette (5:00)

    Not very long - more an extended trailer with some behind-the-scenes footage than a real featurette.

Tour The Rock

    This is the coolest extra. It switches on a different subtitle track. The subtitles are filled with (mostly) entertaining snippets. Some are information about Alcatraz (as advertised in the title of the extra), but many of them relate to the actors and other films they have been in. If you don't need the subtitles to understand the dialogue, then I suggest you consider turning this on before viewing - it's fun.


    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

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

    This is complicated. The Rock has been released in Region 1 at least twice. The best Region 1 version is part of the Criterion Collection - it is a two disc set. The video transfer on the Criterion edition is of equal quality to this one, although it is a touch darker. The Criterion edition has nothing but English (soundtracks and subtitles) - this version has lots of languages. The only other thing this one has that the Criterion edition doesn't is the Tour The Rock subtitle track.

    The Criterion version has (in addition to the features of this disc):

    That's a lot, but apart from the dts soundtrack, none of it affects the experience of the movie itself. The Criterion edition is expensive. If you want the most detailed background to the movie, then I have to recommend the Criterion version (even though it doesn't have the extra subtitle track). I suppose you could always get both the Criterion and this Region 4. On the other hand, if you are primarily interested in the movie, then this Region 4 version is the obvious choice - much cheaper. One thing I must say: do not buy the earlier editions - the quality is not up to this standard.


    The Rock is an exciting movie, presented brilliantly on DVD.

    The video quality is excellent.

    The audio quality is superb.

    The extras are not bad, but nothing like the Criterion edition.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Saturday, November 17, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDArcam DV88, 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 and Right: Krix Euphonix, Centre: Krix KDX-C Rears: Krix KDX-M, Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

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Comments (Add)
R2 Version - cztery
R2 Version is cut. - cztery
R2 cuts have been restored in special edition - cztery