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Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Drama > The Perfect Storm (HD-DVD)

The Perfect Storm (2000/HD-DVD/Warner Home Video)


Picture: B†††† Sound: B+†††† Extras: B-†††† Film: B-



Note: This has since been issued in a Blu-ray edition that is a bit better in picture, but dead on the same otherwise, as reviewed elsewhere on this site.



Not many films are made about the working class in the U.S. and of the ones that are made, few are hits.Michael Ciminoís The Deer Hunter (1978, reviewed elsewhere on this site) was one of the rare ones that hit and went over well critically, but it is rare indeed.Though it was wrapped up in the Action/Adventure genre, Wolfgang Petersenís The Perfect Storm (2000) is such a film, which is why it was such a hit, then suddenly it was not as discussed as much later for the simple reason of who it celebrated.


The iffy political shift in the country did not help, nor does the media obsession with a mindless, soulless version of youth and wealth.Still, the film stands up well and deserves revisionist thinking about what did work, especially since Petersen followed it up with two commercial bombs: Troy and Poseidon.Nevertheless, the film reteams George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg from David O. Russellís sadly prophetic Three Kings (1999) as two workers in the New England fishing trade who are among a team who go out to do their work and make money, not knowing that three smaller storms are about to combine into one catastrophic one that earned the film its title.


There are the usual concerns and unlike the theatrical cut of Poseidon, the film very smartly takes the time for us to get the know the characters, their lives, their socio-economic situation, the place where they live that is as much of a character as the storm and the traditional way of working life that helped to build the town.The leads are convincing, as are Diane Lane, Karen Allen, William Fichtner, John C. Reilly and the underappreciated Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio (White Sands, a title that never made it to HD-DVD title and Warner should issue in Blu-ray ASAP) are the kind of name talent cast that is supposed to make a good movie better and this is one of those rare films where it all works.


Bill Whitliff adapted the Sebastian Junger book into a solid, tight 130 minutes that is never boring, stupid or wastes time.Petersen is in fine form making a film some considered to be overblown, but is a much smarter version of the big budget Hollywood production than we usually get.Of course, there is plenty of real water here for all the cast members to endure and digital is still not (and in many ways never will be) a substitute as effective.No matter how it looks, most people know subconsciously the difference.


The 1080p 2.35 X 1 image was shot by the reputable John Seale, A.C.S., A.S.C., and there are some flaws here that hold back his work.The picture is a bit off in its color throughout, plus there are some other pixel issues in parts of the frame throughout and the digital work is nothing awful, yet nothing great.The picture could look a bit better, but is still better than the standard DVD with larger Video Black, Grey Scale and definition issues, plus the older format cannot capture the subtle detail and nuance a superior cameraman like Seale brings to even a Super 35 production with digital work.


The sound is interesting because it is one of only four titles so far in the new format so far to offer Dolby TrueHD, roughly the same sound format as the Meridian Lossless Packing (MLP) format from the DVD-Audio format (reviewed often on this site) that Dolby has been licensing for years.When first introduced, TrueHD promises to be up to three times as clear, but that has not been the case, in part because it has to share room with HD video information, menus and more.For this review, we felt at the time of its original posting that we were not able to adequately test the new format due to the limitations of current hardware, but will note that with only Phantom of The Opera, Training Day and Constantine (all from Warner) offer TrueHD as of this posting.Revisiting the sound when the Blu-ray was finally released showed we were not off the mark.The film has a score by James Horner and was issued as a full 8-track sound film in Sonyí SDDS (Sony Dynamic Digital Sound) format, which this mix does a decent job reproducing.†† Finally though, two recent action films join two music driven films in this respect.The Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 mix is much better than the smaller, standard Dolby Digital 5.1 on the standard DVD, which needed DTS so badly it was not funny.


Extras include no less than three solid audio commentary tracks (author Junger on one, visual effects team of Stefan Fangmeler & Helen Ostenberg Elswit on the next and Petersen on the third and last), a photo montage, the original theatrical trailer and three documentary/featurettes covering the score by James Horner, HBO First Look behind the scenes and behind the events that inspired the film dubbed Witness To The Storm.The repeat of the extras from the previous DVD releases were good then and hold up very, very well now, much like the film.Sure, some things are stretched to make the film work, but it is great tribute to the men and women it addresses and The Perfect Storm is great, smart action entertainment like we used to get all the time.



-†† Nicholas Sheffo


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