CSI: Grave Danger (2005/CBS Blu-ray)/Rabies
(2010/Image DVD)/The Son Of No One
(2010/Anchor Bay Blu-ray)
B & C+/C+/B- Sound: B & B-/B-/B- Extras: C/D/C Main Programs: B-/B-/C+
some recent thrillers arriving on home video.
CSI: Grave Danger (2005) is actually a two-part
episode directed by Quentin Tarantino (who also co-wrote with three regulars
from the series) about one of the regular investigators being kidnapped by a
madman and the team’s search to find him.
William Petersen was still the lead here and it is easily one of the
best episodes of any of the variants of this series and maybe being a
two-parter helped. Tarantino is in his
element joining the many great filmmakers of the 1970s who made gritty feature
films, but also worked on the plethora of crime television shows in the same
period from TV’s last golden era. This
can be tough to watch as expected, but I also liked the guest cast. Besides Tony Curtis and Frank Gorshin showing
up as themselves in some of their last work anywhere, the guest cast includes
Scott Wilson, Lois Chiles, Andrew Prine and John Saxon in his best TV work
since the early episodes of The Six
Million Dollar Man, reviewed elsewhere on this site.
use of Saxon is creepy, clever, effective and adds to the many elements that
make this feel grittier than these over-technologized police procedurals have
typically been. You do not need to be a
fan of the series or even Tarantino (though I am) to enjoy what was
accomplished here. Makes me miss the
original cycle of such shows, which many companies (especially CBS) have also
been issuing of late. Extras include the
bonus DVD version and featurette CSI -
the first Israeli Horror film, Navot Papushado‘s Rabies (2010) is the big surprise here, starting with the fact that
no one gets the actual disease rabies and this is not a corny natural disaster
genre film. Instead, we get a
surprisingly smart, clever outright thriller that easily outdoes the thousands
of bad U.S.
torture porn duds and second-rate genre works we have suffered through over the
last decade or so. A woman is out in the
woods with her brother, but she has been trapped in an underground pit and we
join her as her brother is trying to free her, but someone else comes along and
attacks him. In the meantime, two teen
couples are on there way to the same place.
of the four unexpectedly facing the killer and shock of what is going on, the
script has all kinds of interesting developments, asides and twists in advance
that make this more suspenseful than most such films in a long time. Though we have still seen some of this and
there are a few holes in logic, I was impressed and would not be surprised if
someone tried to remake it or rip it off soon.
There are sadly no extras.
we get yet another police drama about corruption (and again in New York) with Dito Montiel’s The Son Of No One (2010) with Channing Tatum as a new police officer
in New York City
with a strange past secret. He has a
wife (Katie Holmes) and child, a goofy partner and somewhat peculiar boss (Ray
Liotta) as he is about to strangely be haunted by events in the projects he
grew up in. We have seen more of this
before than I would have liked to and the ending’s attempt to imitate Clint
Eastwood’s Mystic River is a big
mistake and idiotic.
Al Pacino also shows up in three scenes but like Liotta’s performance here,
they are repeating themselves in the worst way and Tatum sometimes underacts
too much in some scenes where that approach otherwise works. Juliette Binoche is the newspaper reporter
who is getting strange letters about the cover-up of two murders and this just
never adds up to being believable. Too
bad, because a better script with more originality could have made this one
work as the cast at least makes sense for the most part. Extras include Deleted Scenes and a feature
length audio commentary track by Montiel and Producer/Editor Jake Pushinsky.
1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on CSI is the best-looking of the discs here, as the 1080p 2.35 X 1
digital High Definition image on Son
is a little softer and weaker than expected, even with its styling. All in all, they Blu-rays are presentations
faithful to the original productions, so I don’t think they could be any
better. The anamorphically enhanced DVD
version of the CSI program also
included is softer and weaker than expected, being no match for the
Blu-ray. The anamorphically enhanced
1.78 X 1 image on Rabies is also on
that weak side, but I bet a Blu-ray version would look nicer.
MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on the CSI
Blu-ray also happens to be the sonic champ among the new mixes here. Its lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 DVD counterpart
is more lively than expected. The Dolby
TrueHD 5.1 mix on Son could be
better and though the production can be dialogue-based, the mix is more towards
the front channels than I would have liked.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix on Rabies
is better than the Dolby 2.0 version and the recording and mixing is a plus,
integrated into the narrative well.
- Nicholas Sheffo