A- Sound: A- Extras: B Film: B
nobody knew it at the time, Michael Bay’s The
Rock would be the last big action hit for one of the greatest of all
international film stars Sean Connery.
A great actor, Connery still continues to be known as the first big
James Bond and here he plays a criminal who the government has kept in prison
for many years. The dangerous figure has
aged, but is now needed to help the U.S. Government to stop a potential
domestic terrorist from one of their own soldiers (an intense Ed Harris) whose
patriotism has gone overboard.
case is a desk bound employee (Nicholas Cage) who is an expert on biochemical
warfare, the kind the head of the group is willing to launch on the populace
nearby Alcatraz, which they have taken over and secured to a fault. They need the veteran prisoner to get in
there and stop him to save millions of lives, but it will not be easy,
especially since the angry prisoner trusts no one. Then Stan (Cage) meets him and the first
problem will be if they can even get along.
is in top form here and steals the show from some very good actors at their
best, but the action is never far behind in some of the few truly memorable
action sequences of the 1990s. The
makers went all out and with Connery, they should have done nothing less. It also reminds us of how smart the late Don
Simpson was; a perfect match for Bruckheimer in what may be the peak of their
prolific (and highly profitable) partnership.
This also helped put Cage on the map beyond art films as Connery handed
one of his many action mantle torches to the next generation.
Weisberg/Douglas S. Cook/Mark Rosner screenplay holds up well enough, though
you can tell it was written pre-9/11 as this film would never be made the same
way today, but it is enough of a winner to own and its arrival on Blu-ray is
something to be happy about. With
Connery, it will be a big seller too, especially since his Bond films have no
sign of being announced yet. Even
afterwards, it will be on the shelf next to them for most fans. John Spencer, David Morse, William Forsythe,
Michael Biehn, Danny Nucci, Danny Nucci and Claire Forlani also star.
2.35 x 1 digital High Definition image definitely is the best
Bruckheimer/Simpson back catalog title in either format for picture
performance. Shot in Super 35mm by John
Schwartzman, A.S.C., this was the last time and Bay would shoot this way before
they switched back to real anamorphic Panavision for Armageddon. Their
partnership sadly ended when Bay left Disney.
Following Terminator 2 and
along with Die Hard With A Vengeance,
they took advantage of being able to shoot a scope frame without a squeeze
lens. Sure, this means more grain and
weaker definition, but when handled well, you can still get fine results if you
try and all three films added a new kinetic sense to scope lacking in many
later Super 35mm and digital variants.
The Criterion Collection DVD was the best-looking version of this film, but
this Blu-ray version far surpasses that with detail and depth unseen since its
original 35mm theatrical release with fine color, good detail or the format,
depth and an overall solid look that impresses throughout.
mix on this film has always been a top notch favorite and has been available in
two DTS versions that were always home theater favorites. First was a 12” DTS LaserDisc and The
Criterion Collection DVD was the second, though it had a few glitches. Now, the new PCM 16/48 5.1 mix outdoes them
both with terrific soundfield and a clarity that makes even the DTS sounds
limited, though the Dolby Digital 5.1 mixes in the past are as poor as the
alternative versions offered here. The
Nick Glennie-Smith/Hans Zimmer score can get carried away, but has its moments
and is nicely reproduced in this smooth mix still featuring more character than
moist we get today.
to include those from The Criterion Collection, first in a 12” LaserDisc box
set edition (without DTS) and then in their DTS DVD release, including TV
spots, theatrical trailers, outtakes, Bruckheimer interview, action effects,
special effects, world premiere party piece showing the classy launch they gave
the film at Alcatraz, Navy SEALS On The
Range featurette, Hollywood:
Humphries & Teague piece and terrific audio commentary by Bay,
Bruckheimer, Cage, Harris and Humphries.
I always enjoyed how they showed the sloppy dumb way characters in
movies handle guns, which they are still doing.
But The Rock is an exceptional action film,
even with its flaws, corniness and awkward spots of comedy. But with Connery on board, it is a minor
- Nicholas Sheffo