Monday 31 May, 2010 15:57
There’s a good film buried somewhere in MINORITY REPORT, but it gets lost amid a cacophony of muddled action and information, tasting suspiciously like the cooking of a few too many chefs. It also ends about half an hour after it should, thanks to the emotional and philosophical high point of the film occurring at the end of the second act, meaning that everything which follows feels both irrelevant and anticlimactic. It’s impeccably photographed, the production design is exquisite, the performances of everyone involved are faultless (even when trudging through page after page of po-faced expository dialogue) and the CGI visual effects haven’t dated unduly, all of which give the film a certain degree of leeway that it wouldn’t otherwise have had, but you’re left with what my brother described as a “glass ceiling” effect, where it’s difficult to shake the feeling that something is holding the film back from being as good as it might have been. What should be the high points feel decidedly muted, resulting in a film that ambles along for two and a half hours without ever providing a single true “wow” moment. MINORITY REPORT is characterised by dull thuds rather than loud explosions, and I found myself reflecting on how strikingly unSpielbergian it all felt. I don’t just mean that the plot doesn’t revolve around a Very Special Child - it’s lacking the sense of adventure and wonder that characterises so many of his best films (whether it’s the INDIANA JONES movies or E.T.: THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL). For a director so renowned for tugging at the heartstrings (sometimes to cloying effect), MINORITY REPORT is strangely heartless.
Argentophile alert: in addition to the presence of Max von Sydow, SUSPIRIA’s Jessica Harper also has a small but pivotal role in the film.
Image quality: When I first read that Steven Spielberg was being decidedly cautious in terms of allowing his films to be released on BD, I must confess that my initial reaction was “Wow, what a tight-ass.” Having now seen what the few Spielberg films released on the format look like, I can only say that I hope he continues to adopt this stance. Of course, the true heroes of releases like SAVING PRIVATE RYAN and MINORITY REPORT are the talented technicians responsible for the creation of the new HD masters and encodes, but the evidence seems to point strongly towards Spielberg being a director who both understands and cares about the home video presentations of his films, AND is in the enviable position of being able to demand nothing but the best.
From start to finish, MINORITY REPORT looks wonderful and is hands down the best-looking catalogue title I’ve seen on BD. (BRAVEHEART came close, but was let down by the aliasing present during the first 20 minutes.) Detail is astounding, film grain is immaculately retained and the overall effect is one of those presentations where you forget you’re watching an optical disc and begin to think you’re actually looking at a print being projected. Even the numerous optical shots, with their inherent decrease in overall clarity, look sharper than many entire digital intermediate-derived BDs I could mention. My sole concern lies with a single shot towards the end of the second act, which appears to have been quite heavily degrained (see Example 8). Judging by the increased presence of print damage and the overall texture of what is left of the grain, one potential explanation (and this is just a hypothesis, so don’t take it as gospel) is that, for whatever reason, this particular shot couldn’t be sourced from the original negative and had to be taken from a lower generation source. Their way, it’s an incredibly minor flaw in an otherwise stunning presentation, and one that I don’t feel prevents me from awarding the disc the score is justly deserves. 10/10
studio: 20th Century Fox; country: UK; region code: ABC; codec: AVC;
file size: 27 GB; average bit rate (including audio): 26.71 Mbit/sec