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Universal Studios Home Video presents
Miami Vice Combo Format HD-DVD (2006)

Tubbs: This is the type of stuff CIA does. In Baghdad.
Crockett: Yeah. What's it doing in a dope deal?

- Jamie Foxx, Colin Farrell

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: January 09, 2007

Stars: Jamie Foxx, Colin Ferrell
Other Stars: Gong Li, Naomie Harris, Ciarán Hinds, Justin Theroux, Barry Shabaka Henley, Luis Tosar
Director: Michael Mann

MPAA Rating: R for strong violence, language and some sexual content
Run Time: 02h:19m:04s
Release Date: December 05, 2006
UPC: 025193003225
Genre: crime


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
C C-B+B+ B+

DVD Review

In yet another updating for the movies of decades-old television series, Michael Mann revisits his influential 1980s program Miami Vice, on which he served as executive producer and guiding light. Although most famous then for pastel colors and high fashion, there's little of that on display in the 2006 updating. Instead, the vice is overwhelming and the darkness and grittiness come almost without relief.

Sonny Crockett (Colin Farrell) and Ricardo Tubbs (Jamie Foxx) are partners working the Miami vice detail undercover. When one of their confidential informants ends up being betrayed to a white supremacist group thanks to a leak within the FBI offices, Crockett and Tubbs go deep, deep undercover in an elaborate effort to identify that group. This involves becoming a transportation organization for one of the group's suppliers, José Yero (John Ortiz) and his overlord, Montoya (Luis Tosar). But Montoya's business supervisor Isabella (Gong Li) falls hard for Crockett, leading to a number of complications.

The story doesn't work terribly well, largely because the central romance between Crockett and Isabella isn't given an opportunity to develop in any sort of natural manner; instead they just go through the motions simply because the script says that they do. The central story is complicated beyond reason, to the point where it feels like the main characters are losing sight of their own motivations. The rest of the picture is mostly devoted to macho posturing and drug slang, punctuated by a number of gun battles. It doesn't help that those gun battles are so chaotically edited that it's impossible to follow what's going on or who's being shot by whom. As a result, it's hard to care other than enjoying the mayhem of the moment.

Instead of giving any depth to the central characters, the leads mostly just glower at other characters. They show no particular warmth or affinity for each other, so one shouldn't expect a buddy movie. Tubbs' relationship with detective Trudy Joplin (Naomie Harris) is never set forth very clearly, other than the obligatory sex scenes. But how do they know each other? What is their relationship about? No one bothers to indicate, so apparently we're not meant to care. The superficiality of the picture is deadening throughout, leaving little to appreciate beyond the loud noises and the gouting blood.

While the series used music effectively, the soundtrack recycles a handful of 1980s tunes by anonymous cover artists. The result is a lot like the movie itself: there's something kind of recognizable there, but it's not particularly enjoyable or entertaining. The darkness is unrelenting, and the corruption is everywhere. Indeed, the attractions of the drug trade are so pumped up that one can't help but think Crockett and Tubbs are being ridiculous to keep up the pretense of law enforcement. They clearly enjoy being the bad guys more than anything, and the cynical attitude makes them look ridiculous by contrast. As a result, it's a silly kabuki show that has no lasting impact.

The HD DVD side includes an unrated cut, while the standard DVD side bears the R-rated version. Mann in his commentary is careful to note that both versions are director's cuts, though the unrated version sticks closer to the script.

Rating for Style: C
Rating for Substance: C-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio2.40:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: Note that the disc, like the HD DVD of King Kong, will not play unless you upgrade the standard Toshiba player to firmware 2.0. Miami Vice was shot on HD video, so the transfer looks pretty sharp. The HD helps with the differentiation of degrees of black, and the stylized color palette comes across pretty well. The water of the ocean in particular looks stunning. Shot during hurricane season, the air has a persistently threatening quality to it, which comes across well in HD. There is quite heavy grain, a style that Mann favors and which relates back to the style of crime movies during the 1980s, when low-light filming was very much in vogue. True to those originals, in low light sequences the grain here is very heavy. It's rendered quite well, without significant sparkle.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
+
English, French, Spanishyes


Audio Transfer Review: The HD DVD side with the unrated cut includes only a DD+ 5.1 English track (and a director commentary, switchable on the fly). It has a nice impact, with a deep bass thumping during the gunfights and explosions. A few segments have an odd hiss in the background that may or may not be intentional. The standard DVD also contains French and Spanish 5.1 tracks in addition to the English one, as well as a Descriptive Video Service (DVS) track.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
2 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by writer/director Michael Mann
Packaging: Elite
Picture Disc
1 Disc
2-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. U-Control feature
Extras Review: Universal provides a 30/9 disc, dual layered HD-DVD and RSDL standard DVD versions of the movie. Chaptering is a bit skimpy. The standard side includes a pair of featurettes. Miami and Beyond: Shooting on Location (10m:02s) covers the logistics of dealing with filming in South and Central America as well as the slums of Miami and Santo Domingo. eMiami Vice Undercover (13m:04s) discusses undercover police work in the Miami area, including some talks with undercover agents who were technical advisors. There's an amusing tale of Farrell being put on to believe that a faked deal was the real thing. Both featurettes are susceptible to combing and other artifacts that make them pretty hard to watch.

The HD side includes a commentary from Mann, who spends far too much time narrating the action. Interspersed in that is a good deal of interesting information, but it's a hard slog to make it through. The main attraction here is the U-Control feature, which is Universal's version of Microsoft's HDi interface. It's very nicely implemented, being switchable on the fly and it allows one to disregard certain kinds of materials. There are the standard picture-in-picture comments (many of them lifted from the featurettes), text trivia about the machines, bios, drink recipes, photos and othr material. One amusing feature is a GPS locater function that identifies where the peoplen the are heading on the map; it's unfortunately too infrequent to be a major contribution, but it's a clever idea. The best aspect of the implementation is the ability to switch back and forth, or turn the U-Control on and off at any point without the disc starting over, which is a major annoyance in Warner's implementation of the feature (their 'In-Movie Experience'). There are nonetheless a lot of dead spots where there are no such materials to check out, keeping this from a higher grade.

Extras Grade: B+

 

Final Comments

A lackluster and dismal updating of the 1980s series, but there are plentiful extras of varying quality. Fans of the series are likely to be disappointed and the rest shouldn't waste their time.

 


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