Mission: Impossible Trilogy (HD-DVD Box Set) + Mission: Impossible III (DVD-Video)
+ C+ Sound: B+/B+/B+ + B Extras: C+/B-/B Films: B
The Mission: Impossible Trilogy is the
first to ever be available in all three optical formats: DVD, Blu-ray and HD-DVD. We have looked at the DVD of the first film,
but surprisingly not much else, which we are now happy to change. For starters, my review of the Special
Collector’s Edition of the first film (1996) can be found at:
second film landed no less that John Woo, much more known for action than the
thrillers De Palma was associated with and it did mark a shift to more outright
action. Mission: Impossible II (2000) decided to abandon the more confined
Cold War-like world and go somewhere between “Woo World” and a more outright
Spy Action mode closer to James Cameron’s True
Lies (1994), which is what the Bond people also did with Roger
Spottiswoode’s Tomorrow Never Dies a
year later with Michele Yeoh. The story
is similar to the first in getting that singular deadly object, but more money
and energy (plus a few digs at Goldeneye)
make this a fun romp that gets preposterous towards the end. Unless that throws you off, this is fun.
out here cast wise is Anthony Hopkins as Ethan Hunt’s (Tom Cruise) boss, who is
not a nice guy always and does not get along with him much. To the film’s credit, thing stay this way
throughout, instead of offering the usual juvenile reconciliation. Ving Rhames is back as his best co-worker,
Thandie Newton is his love interest caught in the middle of his mission and the
underrated Dougray Scott (in a role that stopped him from becoming Wolverine in
the X-Men films when this production
went over schedule) is the traitorous spy out to get Hunt for personal
reasons. Their adversarial relationship
is chock full of resentment that slowly builds to the bloody kickin’ finale.
work is pumped up and so are the gadgets, but not to the point where they
undermine Cruise the way they did in Pierce Brosnan’s last two Bonds films, the
money-machine disasters that are The
World Is Not Enough and Die Another
Day. Then Woo is a better outright
action director than Michael Apted and Lee Tamahari, though they are obviously
better dramatic directors (see Extreme
Measures and Once Were Warriors,
again, Robert Towne is on board as screenwriter and he knows what he is doing
to make the film both intelligent and commercial. Cruise grows more into the Hunt role and
having broke the curse of failed M:I
revivals of the past freed all to go all out here. Again, the film was a huge hit and kept
Cruise the #1 box office draw worldwide, something more remarkable since he had
been out of the blockbuster game working on prestige projects like Stanley Kubrick’s
Eyes Wide Shut and Paul Thomas
Anderson’s grossly underrated Magnolia,
which earned cruise another Academy Award nomination.
do you do about a third installment? Cruise originally and justifiably had
grand ambitions for a film that originally had a huge price tag rumored to be
in the $200 – 250 Million range. You can
understand the enthusiasm since these were the biggest so many big hits for
him, but the studio had Cruise scale back the budget for obvious reasons (too
expensive), several directors (including David Fincher at one point) came and
went, then there is the fact that the third parts of any franchise rarely work
out to be larger or better than their predecessors. Of course, Cruise was thinking (for good
reason) about how Goldfinger (1964) was
even bigger than the first two Bond films.
with a still-sizable budget, the surprise choice became TV phenom J.J. Abrams,
whose multiple-identity Spy show Alias
had been the biggest TV hit in the Spy genre since… Mission:
Impossible wrapped up in the early 1970s.
Even after The New Avengers
and less successful shows like A Man
Called Sloane and even likable revival attempts of The Wild, Wild West, The Man
From U.N.C.L.E. and even M:I
itself, Alias was a commercial
smash. So Mission: Impossible III arrived and despite being equal to its
predecessors in quality, worksmanship, action and putting the money on the
screen, the reception was mixed. Our
theatrical review of the third film is as follows:
liked it much more than my fellow critic, but even I had to admit that it was
the same singular deadly item chase one too many times and Abrams did not have
the cinematic grasp of De Palma or Woo, yet the film is better than I think it
has been given credit for. Many Alias fans thought it was too much like
the show, while others thought it was too self-contained to ever take off like
it could have.
not say the film was exactly playing it safe, landing Philip Seymour Hoffman as
the villain, bringing Ving Rhames back wisely again, adding Maggie Q and
Johnathan Rhys Meyers as partner agents, Keri Russell as an apprentice agent in
trouble, amazing Michelle Monaghan as Hunt’s love interest and both Laurence
Fishburne and Billy Crudup as Hunt’s higher-ups.
I like this cast and they more than make up for any qualms one could
have about the film. The screenplay by
Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and Abrams has its moments, though too bad Robert
Towne was not back again for synergy purposes.
worth noting that the film suffered because the press was too busy hounding
Cruise and any controversy he courted to really look at the film. Though it will not change the minds of those
who were disappointed, I believe the home disc release of the film will show
people that it was better than they were led to believe and if you forget about
Cruise the press image, it turns out the film is one of the best action films
of the year and a rare top-notch production where the money is on the screen.
is a fourth film, they need to find a new storyline and they know that. As a trilogy, it is the best we have seen for
a commercial franchise in a while.
Eleven years had yielded more of the kind of smarter blockbuster
Hollywood used to make all the time, even if this is not as cynical or edgy
throughout as it could have been, but that is the approach they took. Even if Cruise does not return if there is a
fourth film, which would be odd, the films are meant to entertain their
audience and show them a good time. The
new HD-DVD editions prove this, even in their performance.
films are here in 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition presentations and look
better than their DVD predecessors, all of which I have seen. The first 1996 film is thankfully better
looking than the standard DVD already covered, if offering some flaws and
limits in its transfer. Color and the
wide use of the scope frame just play better here and are closer to the 35mm
prints. I bet this is an early HD
transfer because the film is a key Paramount title, which would explain some of
the limits in the image occasionally where detail is concerned. Video Black is thankfully better.
second 2000 film was shot by Jeffrey L. Kimball, A.S.C., and has a great
wide-open look to it making all the locations look exceptional and capturing
the action in a way where you actually see it without stupid cutaways! This transfer is even better than the 1996
film and therefore more of an improvement over the regular DVD versions. This is one of the few American Woo films
where the look is closer to what you would expect from a Woo film, if still
limited versus The Killer and Hard Boiled.
2006 third film is interesting as the DVD is really washed-out looking, while
the HD-DVD is one of the best in the format to date. Video Black is flat and Grey Scale very
disappointing on the anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 standard DVD, while it
looks amazing on HD-DVD. The no-brainer
#1 reason is that this is the first time a real Panavision scope film has come
to either format instead of the usually inferior Super 35mm too many films settle
for these days. Cinematographer Dan
Mindel does a great job in his use of the scope frame and even those who did
not like the film will not be able to argue how good this looks.
picture, Cruise has had the series do what the James Bond films have done in
sticking with real anamorphic Panavision for the most part since it look so
much better than Super 35mm or digital High Definition, though the latest
installment tried some HD in parts, like capturing Shanghai since it was far
too expensive to light. M:I:III has a picture in particular
that is inarguably demo quality and is a must see for the least interested just
to see how good real Panavision can look at 1080p.
was a 5.1 theatrical release, with every film from the start being a digital
theatrical release in all three formats going back to the first, which was one
of the first films to do so. The mixes
are all good, all getting a little better as the years and films go on, though
all have good character and are above most such mixes in the genre. Danny Elfman did one of his more refined
scores for the first film and that worked, Hans Zimmer turned in one of his
better scores for the second and Michael Giacchino did as good a job in the
third, including some great referencing to the original TV score. Of course, none of them would work without
the classic Lalo Schifrin theme song, all of which are here. U2 members rethought it for the second film,
while Kanye West did his own reformulation for the third.
standard Dolby Digital on the regular DVD set of the latest installment is one
of the better such Dolby mixes you will hear, even as the format becomes
obsolete in the face of its TrueHD counterpart.
The sound is Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 only on all three HD-DVDs, though I
still think something is not there in the details of the 1996 film’s mix, yet
it is strong despite this. The latter
two fare better, with the latest being the most dynamic, if limited by not
being here in DTS HD or Dolby True HD for whatever reasons. Maybe more advanced audiophile versions will
be issued later, but all three are great for home theater playback for their
own reasons, so these will be more than worth your time.
the first film were already covered in the previous review. The second 2000 film includes the Metallica
Music Video “I Disappear”, alternate
titles that were interesting, two pieces on Cruise, three featurettes about the
making of the film and a solid feature-length commentary by Woo himself. Most of the extras for the third film are all
on a second disc in all three formats.
Why that does not help the film’s performance on regular DVD is a
mystery, but deleted scenes, another Cruise tribute piece, a behind the scenes
piece and full length audio commentary by Abrams and Cruise appear on the first
disc. Maybe in the regular DVD’s case,
it should have been the commentary only, which is more about the fun of the
film than production detail.
second disc adds deleted scenes in HD, "Mission Action: Inside The Action Unit" featurette in HD, "Visualizing The Mission" featurette
in HD, "Inside The IMF"
featurette, "Mission: Metamorphosis"
featurette in HD, “Scoring The Mission"
featurette in HD, "Launching The
Mission" featurette, Moviefone Unscripted: Tom Cruise/J.J. Abrams, Tribute
Montage: Generation: Cruise, photo gallery and trailers. Go
Behind The Camera With The Making Of The Mission is on standard DVD 1, but
HD-DVD 2, plus is in HD in the latter case.
The two trailers for the first film are also in HD on its single
HD-DVD. Now that’s a nice upgrade.
set is virtually identical for the most part (no blue vs. red color jokes,
please) to the HD-DVDs, so no matter which set or single you buy in which
format, you’ll enjoy what you read about here.
Overall, the Mission: Impossible
Trilogy is underappreciated and often written off as just a money machine,
but especially when you can see it in HD-DVD, you realize it is much more and
even challenged the James Bond films for a brief time. All in all, this is an excellent set and the
first of many to come in HD-DVD. It is
an early HD-DVD winner you’ll have to experience to believe.
- Nicholas Sheffo