Minority Report

Minority Report on Blu-ray disc

By Jim Bray

Steven Spielberg is in his best form since “Jurassic Park” with this futuristic mind game that continues the tradition of terrific movies inspired by sci-fi author Philip K. Dick.

Tom Cruise is John Anderton, head of the Precrime unit that uses the precognition abilities of three “precogs” to prevent murders before they happen. It’s kind of a neat concept the way they’ve written and filmed it; it’s very believable and the story really pulls you along, with enough curves thrown at you along the way to keep you paying attention. This movie is a treat for the mind, with typically Spielberg state of the art filmmaking that also makes it a treat for the eyes and ears.

Well, maybe not quite a treat for the eyes, because Spielberg chose to give the film a kind of film noir look and that gives it a deliberately grainy and washed out appearance. This isn’t a criticism of the choice, or the film, and in fact it doesn’t hurt the film’s mood - but it means this isn’t a Blu-ray you’ll use to show off your home theater.

Anyway, when the precogs finger (or is it “brain”?) Anderton for an upcoming murder the foot is suddenly on the other hand for our intrepid hero, and rather than stay and fight what he believes to be an inaccurate charge he goes on the run. This gives plenty of opportunity for slam-bang action through an intriguing extrapolation of our how our society will be in a few decades.

The visualization of the future is really good; not necessarily good as in it portrays an extremely positive future, because it doesn’t in many ways, but it’s well thought out and very believable. The universal identification of citizens is even more timely in the post September 11, 2001 world, and the way the marketers of the future have tied that in with their damn talking billboards may turn out to be annoyingly prescient.

So does Anderton get caught or does he actually commit the murder, even though he’s never heard of the guy he’s accused of being about to off? We won’t spoil that for you but rest assured the outcome isn’t cut and dried, nor is it what you expect. And everything is well rationalized; there are no major holes in this plot.

Of course, you know things are going to go to hell right near the beginning when they talk about the Precrime unit being incapable of error…

Minority Report shares some things with the other great Philip K. Dick-inspired movies. Like “Blade Runner” we have a cerebral crime drama of the future, and like “Total Recall” we have enough action, and enough mind games, for about two movies.

Cruise doesn’t seem to command the respect as an actor that he deserves, and he’s very good as Anderton. He gets to play action hero and frightened fugitive victim in the same screenplay, and though you’re kind of beaten over the head by it his character also has real human depth.

The supporting cast is very good, too. We have Max Von Sydow, who’s always great when not appearing in “The Greatest Story Ever Told,” as Anderton’s friend and mentor and Colin Farrell as the government hotshot who initially appears as if he's there to second guess Anderton or jiggle his elbow in other ways. Rounding out the lead quartet is Samantha Morton as Agatha, the "head" precog.

Minority Report is far, far better than Spielberg’s previous big foray into sci-fi, A.I. Artificial Intelligence. A.I. had some neat Kubrickian ideas, but ended up being more or less a bloated, high tech version of Pinocchio that went on far too long. Minority Report never drags and it feels shorter than its 146 minute running time.

The Blu-ray quality is very good, but as mentioned above because of the film’s look the video quality isn’t going to jump out of the screen at you. Don't get me wrong: the 1080p image (2.35:1 aspect ratio) is as sharp as you could want. In one flashback, where the color isn’t washed out, the picture quality looks great. Spielberg made a good choice for the film’s overall look, but as a videophile I wish they could have done it without all the grain.

Oh well, at least when art and technology met Spielberg chose art.

Audio is dts HD Master Audio and it is very good, indeed. Especially notable is the scene in which Anderton's car is tooling along the highway when it's taken over by the authorites. All the channels get a good workout, with excellent fidelity and nice low frequency effects.

There's an entire second disc of extras, too. Some are recycled from the previous video release, but there's plenty of new stuff, which is presented in HD. They include "The Future According to Steven Spielberg," in which Spielberg opines accompanied by picture-in-picture branches you can follow for more background info (though most of it is also presented in other features). There's also: Inside the World of Precrime (HD), Philip K. Dick, Steven Spielberg and Minority Report (HD), Future Realized (HD), Props of the Future (HD), From the Set, an inside look at the Hoverpack and Car Factory Sequences (HD), the Commercials of the Future (HD)and more.

The bonus material released before is in standard definition, except for the trailers. It includes "From Story to Screen", "Deconstructing Minority Report" a look at the stunts, ILM's special effects work, Production Concepts, storyboards, etc.

Minority Report is a neat movie and a pretty neat Blu-ray as well, and deserves to be in the Blu-ray library of all science fiction fans.

Minority Report, from Paramount Home Entertainment
146 min. 1080p (2.35:1),,dts HD Master Audio
Starring Tom Cruise, Colin Farrell, Samantha Morton, Max Von Sydow
Produced by Gerald R. Molen, Bonnie Curtis, Walter F. Parkes, Jan De Bont
Written by Scott Frank and Jon Cohen, directed by Steven Spielberg

Jim Bray's columns are available from the TechnoFile Syndicate.

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