A Time To Kill

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Details At A Glance

Category Drama Theatrical Trailer(s) Yes, 1
Rating Other Trailer(s) None
Year Released 1996 Commentary Tracks None
Running Time 143 minutes Other Extras Cast & Crew Biographies
RSDL/Flipper Flipper (72:50)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Movie
Region 4 Director Joel Schumacher

Warner Brothers
Starring Sandra Bullock
Samuel L. Jackson
Matthew McConaughey
Kevin Spacey
Brenda Fricker
Oliver Platt
Charles S. Dutton
Ashley Judd
Patrick McGoohan
Donald Sutherland
RRP $29.95 Music Elliot Goldenthal

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

Plot Synopsis

    Something that has begun to irritate me about the movies is the fact that star status determines top billing rather than who actually is the lead performer in a movie. A perfect example of this was L.A. Confidential, where Kevin Spacey was given top billing over Guy Pearce and Russell Crowe. A Time To Kill suffers the same affliction, with Sandra Bullock and Samuel J. Jackson billed ahead of Matthew McConaughey. This problem aside, A Time To Kill is an excellent movie.

    A Time To Kill tells the story of a black man, Carl Lee Hailey (Samuel J. Jackson) whose 10 year old daughter is raped and left for dead by two white men in Mississippi. Carl has serious doubts about the ability of the legal system to adequately deal with these men, so he takes matters into his own hands and kills these men. As a result, he is put on trial for murder. His lawyer is Jake Brigance (Matthew McConaughey), assisted by Ellen Roark (Sandra Bullock). The prosecution is led by Rufus Buckley (Kevin Spacey).

    The movie depicts the events of the trial and the surrounding racial hatred that it ignites. The film moves along at a cracking pace, and is marvellously shot. The attack on the little girl at the start of the film is particularly notable in that virtually nothing is seen of the attack and yet it is brutally horrifying. This is a testament to great cinematography, great editing and great sound. The acting is top rate, as is the excellent script.

Transfer Quality


    This is an excellent transfer, with only minor faults marring it.

    The transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, 16x9 enhanced. Subtitles default to ON with this disc.

    The transfer was mostly crystal clear, with a few scenes a little blurry. Shadow detail was satisfactory. No low level noise was apparent.

    The colours were vivid and fully saturated throughout, almost to the stage of being oversaturated at times.

    No MPEG artefacts were noted. Aliasing was present in a few scenes, but not in a major way. Film artefacts were present early on in the movie, but rapidly settled down to a very acceptable level.

    This disc is a flipper, with the side change occurring at 72:50. This is well placed, but as always an RSDL disc would have been preferred, particularly since subtitles default to ON on both sides of the disc and require turning off twice. I note that the Region 1 version of this disc is also a flipper.


    There is only one audio track on this DVD, English Dolby Digital 5.1.

    Dialogue was generally very clear and easily audible, with a very few lines of dialogue a little hard to hear.

    There were no audio sync problems with this disc.

    The music is by Elliot Goldenthal and is superb at complementing the movie.

     The surround channels were used extensively for frequent ambience, music and some special effects. There was very little in the way of dramatic use of the surrounds, but they were subtly active thoughout most of the movie. This provided an excellent surround experience, drawing you into the on-screen action very effectively.

    The .1 channel was used effectively for the special effects and for some of the music, but didn't do a lot. Nonetheless, it was used well by this soundtrack.


    The extras on this disc are very limited.


    The menu design is the typical old-style Warner Brothers menu, and very plain. Only selected scenes are directly accessible from the menu.

Theatrical Trailer

    This is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced. The sound mix is Dolby Digital 2.0, surround-encoded.

Cast & Crew Biographies

    These are extensive and interesting to read.


    A Time To Kill is a great movie on an above average DVD. Recommended even though it is a flipper.

    The video quality is very good with only minor defects.

    The audio quality is nicely enveloping.

    The extras are very limited.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Michael Demtschyna
15th February 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