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20th Century Fox presents
"If you hear me say, 'Might I be of some assistance'—it's too late, that's your ass!"
DVD ReviewI am perfectly content to watch Michael Crichton films, because that means I don't have to read his novels. Like Pat Conroy and others, if you only read one of their books you think they are a genius. If you pick up another of them you see that the scope of their craft is somewhat limited. Crichton is a great storyteller. The only problem is that I personally find his characters to be pretty boring and at times the dialogue in his books only ankle-deep.Which is probably the reason why Spielberg opted for another writer to pen the screenplay for Jurassic Park, and why it seems (in my evil, speculative head) that on this particular film it took two additional writers (Philip Kaufman and Michael Backes) to prop Crichton up and drag him through the screenplay like a drunken sailor at closing time. Certainly there are those that disagree with me. Michael Crichton has sold millions of novels and the presses just keep on humming. Don't get me wrong--I think he's a great storyteller indeed. So if the presses are rolling, that's good, as it means that there are bound to be more adapted movies on the horizon. As for Rising Sun, it all starts with a phone call to Webb Smith (Wesley Snipes) in the middle of the night when a prostitute is found dead on a boardroom table at the Japanese company owned Nakamoto building. The Japanese businessmen would like for the investigation to go as quickly and quietly as possible so that negotiations can continue for a buyout of an American microchip company. On the way to the scene, Webb is instructed to swing by and pick up John Conner (Sean Connery) to help out.From here the story takes one of several well-worn paths through the thicket and comes out on the other side with two very different men kinda sorta respecting one another. Although you've been on this trail before, this time it fortunately only serves as the undercurrent for a few pretty snazzy twists and turns using now outdated technology and some effective bait and switch. By the time you have a handle on all the scenery, you are near the end of the film rabbit-fast and on your toes trying to figure out who, what, and where. Nice footwork, boys. Harvey Keitel plays . . . well, Harvey Keitel pretty much, which means sometimes he's a nuisance and other times he steals the scene. I feel like I would have seen Harvey as Tom Graham while reading the book, had I read it, that is. Am I confusing you yet?
Rating for Style: C
Rating for Substance: B
Image Transfer Review: Ah, the color red. It blows the cover off a bad DVD pretty quickly. Red is a tough color to compress and use well, and this DVD is a fine example of what happens when you just push an old LD release print off onto the DVD disc and don't spend a lot of time in the monitoring booth. Unfortunately for Rising Sun, the color red is used liberally. Overall the image is pretty good, with minimal crawl and only a breath of speckles here and there. The real problem for me was the lack of shadow detail, which is pretty evident on my ten foot diagonal front projection system. I don't know how prevalent the flaws will be on others, but for me it was glaring in a couple of places. Don't get me wrong, this is not to detract from the image on the whole, but there are a couple of places where the transfer is weak. I wish they had started over with this transfer and perhaps enhanced it for widescreen TVs.
Image Transfer Grade: C
Audio Transfer Review: Although the soundtrack is without a subwoofer, many might not recognize it at all, as the bass is moved through the system's main speakers handsomely. And since lower frequencies tend to be difficult to pinpoint in regards to location, this disc gets away with it. Panning is well realized, and the soundstage is a little deeper than wide. A very good soundtrack that holds its own with most of the better ones out there. The two channel English mix, however, is a different story. The down-conversion is a little on the sloppy side and there are gaps in the sound stage that can be measured in feet. There are even a couple of audio dropouts, though so quick they almost get by you. Stick with the 5.0 soundtrack if your system permits it.
Audio Transfer Grade: B
Disc ExtrasStatic menu with music
Scene Access with 0 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
1 Other Trailer(s)Packaging: Alpha
Extras Review: The extras are a little weak with no behind-the-scenes footage and a short cast list. The menu is dull and the accompanying music on the opening screen is clipped at the end. Nothing special here. I did however, go through the Entrapment trailer, slowing down and analyzing that one rear shot like it was the Zapruder film!
Extras Grade: D
Final CommentsSean Connery carries yet another movie on his capable shoulders. A young looking Snipes is good as always and Keitel is ill-tempered and looking for a fight, just the way we like him. All in all, a good popcorn flick that will stop you mid crunch over a dozen times. If you have yet to see it, then you might want to rent it before buying.
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