Fulvue Drive-In.com
Current Reviews
In Stores Soon
In Stores Now
DVD Reviews, SACD Reviews Essays Interviews Contact Us Meet the Staff
An Explanation of Our Rating System Search  
Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Thriller > The Fugitive (1993/HD-DVD)

The Fugitive (1993/HD-DVD)


Picture: B     Sound: B     Extras: B     Film: B



The vast majority of feature films that remake classic TV shows bomb because the studios that greenlight them think all they need is the name, meaning they do not care what the final result is, except in the profitability department.  In the case of the big hit 1993 version of The Fugitive, producer Arnold Kopelson tried to find the right script for years and years.  Finally, one penned by Jeb Stewart and David Twohy worked enough for him that he went forward with it.  Director Andrew Davis would helm the film, and in one of the best commercial pairings of the 1990s, Harrison Ford would play title character Dr. Richard Kimble and hunting him down would be Tommy Lee Jones as federal officer Sam Gerard.  So many things could have gone wrong, but in a rare instance, the best decision was made at almost every turn.


As in the original 1960s series, Kimble is out one evening when his wife is murdered by another party who turns out to be the now-famous “one armed man”, but he is found guilty instead and it turns out, framed for the murder.  In a wild twist of fate, he is being taken away in a prison transfer when the bus overturns!  He barely escapes and the chase is on.  From there, the editing, pacing, mystery, suspense and acting are top rate; the kind we used to see in big Hollywood production all the time before things became so lame and bad.  Jones actually won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar® for his great work and performances by Sela Ward, Joe Pantoliano, Jeroen Krabbe and Daniel Roebuck fill out each scene with just enough character development to get further involved.  Though you may know what is coming, especially if you have sent he film before, half the fun is getting there and in that way, the film holds up well.  It also reminds us why Ford is such a big worldwide movie star.  This is one of his best.


The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image is better than the previous DVD editions, but still not as sharp and clear as it was in 35mm.  The film was originally issued in nice 35mm prints back in its first theatrical release, but not only did they use regular print material, but Warner was also experimenting with a new kind of more durable film print material over the usual celluloid in vinyl.  Warner decided to experiment with a very durable polyester release print that held up remarkably well, but had some color issues that were never resolved.  Still, it had its pluses and was a rare treat to see at a later run screening in 1993.  This transfer has some good color, but both prints demonstrated better color, clarity and definition, while there is also some noise in the Video Black region that is similar to the problem on the HD-DVD of Goodfellas (reviewed elsewhere on this site) if not as often.


Cinematographer Michael Chapman did an amazing job of shooting the dark scenes as well as the bright ones, which made the film very rewatchable.  This HD-DVD does justice to his work more often than not, but could have been better.  Whether it is a VC-1 encoding issue or transfer issue of another type, it is hard to tell, but this is still the best version of the film on the market by default and a comparison to Warner’s planned Blu-ray version should be very interesting indeed.


As for the sound, this was a great showcase for theatrical Dolby Digital and even the advanced analog SR (Spectral Recording) prints had amazing sound on them.  Offered here in Dolby Digital Plus 5.1, the sound mix holds up very well for its age with exceptional character and articulation for its age.  The score by James Newton Howard is also very good, enhancing the narrative and especially the chase itself.  Extras include an intro by Davis, a Jones/Davis audio commentary, the original theatrical trailer and two featurettes that show more on the making of the film.  Warner tried to follow up the film with a very misguided spinoff feature called U.S. Marshals with Jones only in 1998 and a TV series revival starring Tim Daly, but neither worked.  This Fugitive may be no classic, especially since it owes too much to Hitchcock and the original series, but it is an adaptation so good, you still forget it was a TV series.  To have any remake work that well is rare indeed.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


 Copyright © MMIII through MMX fulvuedrive-in.com