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|Category||Thriller||Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Dolby Digital Trailer - City
Audio Commentary - Martin Campbell (Director) & Lloyd Phillips (Producer)
Featurette - Surviving The Limits
Featurette - Vertigo Magic
Featurette - Trekking To K2
Featurette - As Easy As Falling Off A Cliff
Featurette - Avalanche!
Featurette - The Death Zone
Featurette - Peak Performers
Featurette - The Elixir Of Life
Featurette - Credits & Acknowledgements
Featurette - National Geographic Channel's Quest for K2
Cast & Crew Filmographies
Trailer - All The Pretty Horses
Trailer - The Mask Of Zorro
|Running Time||119:21 Minutes|
Columbia Tristar Home Entertainment
|RPI||$36.95||Music||James Newton Howard|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 448Kb/s)
Hungarian (Dolby Digital 5.1, 448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||
Dutch Audio Commentary
|Annoying Product Placement||Yes, mainly of camping products and related attire|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
The film begins with a climbing expedition led by Boyce Garrett (Stuart Wilson) scaling up the side of a mountain in an unspecified location that appears to be part of the USA. Also present are his son Peter (Chris O'Donnell) and daughter Annie (Robin Tunney), with all three being held to be the greatest mountain climbers in the known world. However, this doesn't stop them from belaying one another in the incorrect order (the third belaying the second up the pitch they are climbing), or trouble brewing when other members of the expedition lose their footing and fall. Never mind the fact that anyone who ends up with two people hanging off their stomach would receive severe, possibly even fatal, injuries as a result - this is Hollywood after all. The factual errors just keep rolling along, threatening to utterly sink this film except for the breathtaking action that director Martin Campbell manages to inject into nearly every scene. Anyway, the climb ends with Boyce falling to his death, and Peter being put off climbing for life, or at least until a disaster occurs where he is the only man who can clean up someone else's mess.
From there, we fast forward about three years to the Himalayas, where the Pakistanis and Indians continue to fight a war while rich mountain climbers come to scale the treacherous heights of the face known as K2. Annie is now the number one mountain climber in the world, and hasn't spoken to her brother in all that time (and this isn't the only plot element borrowed from Cliffhanger, although the others are much less obvious). Also present in the camp are the rich thrillseeker Elliot Vaughn (Bill Paxton), the mysterious recluse Montgomery Wick (Scott Glenn), and helicopter pilot Major Rasul (Temuera Morrison). Elliot wants to scale the mountain range in time to wave hello to the first flight of his new airline, and so he leads a party up the beaten track against all warnings that he should turn back because of an approaching storm, and getting trapped as a result.
As the original party struggle to survive, Peter
decides to mount a rescue mission, and thus he takes along another group
idiots mountain climbers, including the very attractive
Monique Aubertine (Izabella Scorupco), the wisecracking Cyril Bench
(Steve Le Marquand), and his brother Malcolm (Ben Mendelsohn)
to go in search of Annie. Now, I don't care what planet you're from, but
I think you have to agree with me that when you climb up the most dangerous
mountain peak in the world in spite of being repeatedly warned about an
imminent storm, you deserve to get stranded up there. This isn't helped
by the fact that Robin Tunney fails to inject so much as an iota
of character to sympathize with into her role.
Nonetheless, what we're looking for here is action, not brilliant character development, but the [Ed plot spoiler - highlight with mouse to read.] sacrifice of so many likeable characters to save one who really isn't is hard to get past. Nonetheless, standout performances from Scott Glenn and Bill Paxton, along with some great cinematography, help this film salvage itself into an evening's worth of enjoyment.
The transfer is presented with the mattes opened slightly to 1.78:1, and it is 16x9 Enhanced. The transfer is sharp enough to almost make it possible to count each individual flake of snow, with so much detail on offer that the product placements become just that little bit more obvious. The transfer's shadow detail is, in a word, excellent, with plenty of subtle gradations between light and dark on offer during the night-time sequences, or the scenes within the crevice. There is not so much as a hint of low-level noise.
The colours are faithfully rendered in this transfer, with not so much as a hint of oversaturation or misregistration. A perfect example of this is when the blood pack is used to mark the first expedition's position at 101:38. On other mediums, the edges of the blood and the ice would be bleeding into one another with abandon, but they are smooth and well-defined here.
MPEG artefacts are not a problem in this transfer, which is saying a lot about the quality of the MPEG encoding system that Columbia Tristar are using when you consider how much video information there is on this disc. Film-to-video artefacts consisted of maybe a handful of very slight instances of aliasing, none of which were in any way distracting, even when they were noticeable. The only instances I considered noteworthy were at 12:19, 20:04, 28:57, and 42:52, with these being very slight examples indeed. Film artefacts consisted of some minor black and white marks on the picture, none of which were intrusive at any time.
This disc is RSDL formatted, with the layer change taking place during Chapter 20 at 82:55, which is just after Chris O'Donnell has straightened out Izabella Scorupco's finger. Although the layer change is noticeable, the positioning could not be better.
There are three soundtracks on this DVD: the original English dialogue in Dolby Digital 5.1 with a bitrate of 448 kilobits per second, a Hungarian dub in Dolby Digital 5.1 at 448 kilobits per second, and an English Audio Commentary in Dolby Digital 2.0 with surround-encoding and a bitrate of 192 kilobits per second. I listened to the original English dialogue and the audio commentary.
The dialogue is clear and easy to understand at all times, even during the avalanche sequences when the only dialogue is the characters screaming in fear. There were no perceptible problems with audio sync.
The score music in this film is credited to James Newton Howard, and an interesting effort it is, at that. Much of the score consists of bold, overstated cues on strings that wouldn't sound out of place in a Bond film. Some have accused the score music of telegraphing the action, while others claim that it tries to replace the character development. Both of those accusations sound like pretty fair claims to me.
The surround channels were used quite aggressively to support the music, the wind, and even a voice or two. One excellent example of the surround channel usage is at 20:58, where Bill Paxton's voice radiates inward from the fronts and the rears during his little speech. At no time did the soundfield collapse into mono, although this is to be expected from a film that is basically one disaster action set piece after another.
The subwoofer had a whale of a time supporting the music, explosions, and helicopter sequences. It added a nice little floor to the stunt sequences, which account for pretty much the entire second half of the film, without calling attention to itself.
The video transfer is excellent, with less faults in two hours than a lot of recent discs that I've seen have in twenty minutes.
The audio transfer is also excellent, with a stunning example of surround channel usage early on in the film setting a consistent standard.
The extras are comprehensive and enlightening.
|DVD||Toshiba SD-2109, using S-video output|
|Display||Samsung CS-823AMF (80 cm) in 16:9 and 4:3 modes, calibrated using the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.|
|Audio Decoder||Built In (Amplifier)|
|Amplification||Sony STR-DE835, calibrated using the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Yamaha NS-45 Front Speakers, Yamaha NS-90 Rear Speakers, Yamaha NS-C120 Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Active Subwoofer|