The Rock

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Details At A Glance

Category Action Theatrical Trailer(s) None
Rating Other Trailer(s) None
Year Released 1996 Commentary Tracks None
Running Time 130:45 minutes Other Extras None
RSDL/Flipper Flipper (62:08)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Movie
Region 2,4 Director Michael Bay

Warner Home Video
Starring Sean Connery
Nicolas Cage
Ed Harris
Michael Biehn
William Forsythe
Case Amaray
RRP $34.95 Music Nick Glennie-Smith
Hans Zimmer

Pan & Scan/Full Frame None MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Dolby Digital 5.1
16x9 Enhancement Yes Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
French (Dolby Digital 2.0 )
Italian (Dolby Digital 2.0 )
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
Macrovision ?
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking No

Plot Synopsis

    The Rock stars Nicolas Cage as Stanley Goodspeed, an FBI Chemical Weapons specialist, and Sean Connery as John Mason, the only man ever to escape from Alcatraz.

    Ed Harris (General Hummel) is a disgruntled and highly decorated army officer who demands recognition for the numerous U.S. covert soldiers killed in combat over the years and ignored by the U.S. government. When negotiations fail to advance his cause, General Hummel resorts to considerably more desperate measures. He steals a large quantity of an extremely toxic nerve gas and commandeers Alcatraz as a stronghold. He demands $100 million dollars, mainly for compensation for these victims of war, but also to pay his motley band of mercenaries. He threatens to launch the nerve gas into San Francisco if his demands are not met.

    Many spectacular stunts and action sequences ensue.

    This is the third time I have viewed The Rock, and the story gets weaker every time. The first time through, it was a spectacular, exciting thrill ride. Now, the glaring plot holes are all too evident.

Transfer Quality


    The transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 2.35:1. It is 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer was razor sharp and crystal clear at almost all times. Some scenes were a little blurry, but this is more likely the cinematography rather than the transfer. Shadow detail was reasonably good, though I felt it was a little lacking at times. There was no low level noise.

    The colours were well saturated throughout, with no evidence whatsoever of any under or oversaturation.

    No MPEG artefacts were seen. Film-to-video artefacts consisted of some trivial aliasing at times, and some moiré effects on some of the TV monitor displays. Film artefacts were excessively present, with far too many distracting white flecks for a transfer of this recent vintage. This was one of the disappointing aspects of this transfer.

    This disc is a flipper. The side change occurs at 62:08, and is highly intrusive. It is placed at the point where the incursion team has just entered Alcatraz, and it is a major disruption to the flow of the movie.

    I had the opportunity of comparing the video transfer of this disc with the Region 1 version. The Region 4 version has clearly more resolution, with no visible scan lines, versus the non-16x9 enhanced Region 1 version. Judder is also evident in the Region 1 version, which is completely absent in the Region 4 version. Nonetheless, the Region 1 version of this disc remains an excellent transfer, even though the Region 4 version of this disc has a clearly better video transfer. Of course, this comment is tempered by the fact that the Region 1 version of this disc is not a flipper.


    There are three audio tracks on this DVD; an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, a French Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded soundtrack and an Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded soundtrack. I listened to the default English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack.

    You cannot change audio selections on the fly, and must do this via the main menu.

    Dialogue was occasionally hard to make out, but this was not particularly distracting.

    There were no audio sync problems with this disc.

    The musical score by Nick Glennie-Smith and Hans Zimmer was somewhat clichéd, but achieved the aim of keeping the tension going throughout the movie.

    The surround channels were aggressively used for explosions and for music, and were kept active throughout the majority of this movie. A nicely enveloping soundfield was created, though I felt that some of the gunshots and explosions seemed a little limited in their intensity.

    The .1 channel was kept busy supporting all the explosions and supporting the music. It was very well integrated into the overall mix, never calling attention to itself, but anchoring the bottom end of this soundtrack nicely.

    I compared the Region 4 soundtrack with the Region 1 soundtrack. The Region 4 soundtrack sounded at the same pitch as the Region 1 soundtrack, so it has been post processed to accomplish this. It was hard to put a finger on it, but the Region 1 soundtrack sounded better than the Region 4 soundtrack. There was more punch in the gunshots and the explosions, and more overall clarity.


    There are no extras on this disc. Nada. Nil. Zip. The Amaray case has a small booklet which lists chapter stops, but this doesn't count as an extra. Neither does the little piece of paper stating that the disc is compatible with Region 4 players even though the disc label says Region 2.

What's Missing / What's Extra

    We miss out on;     The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;


    The main menu is plain and functional. It is 16x9 enhanced.


    The R4 version has had a number of scenes censored in comparison to the uncut R1 version. See here for details of the cuts.


    The Rock is a big budget action movie, which is just fine for a one-off thrill ride, but will wear thin with repeated viewing.

    The video quality is generally excellent, and marred only by an excessive amount of film artefacts present in the transfer.

    The audio quality is also almost of reference quality, though the Region 1 version's soundtrack sounds better.

    The extras are non-existent.

    So which version is better? That's a really hard call with this disc. The video transfer is clearly superior with the Region 4 disc, but it is a flipper, and the audio sounds better on the Region 1 disc. I would tend to favour the Region 1 disc in this instance. I suspect that I would reverse this call if the Region 4 version was RSDL instead of being a flipper, which in this case is a huge negative feature of the disc.

Ratings (out of 5)

Extras nil

© Michael Demtschyna
29th June 1999

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-505, using S-Video output
Display Loewe Art-95 95cm direct view CRT in 16:9 mode, via the S-Video input. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Denon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital AddOn Decoder, used as a standalone processor. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Amplification 2 x EA Playmaster 100W per channel stereo amplifiers for Left, Right, Left Rear and Right Rear; Philips 360 50W per channel stereo amplifier for Centre and Subwoofer
Speakers Philips S2000 speakers for Left, Right; Polk Audio CS-100 Centre Speaker; Apex AS-123 speakers for Left Rear and Right Rear; Yamaha B100-115SE subwoofer