Cliffhanger, the Superbit Edition, on DVD
Perhaps its kind of fitting that the Superbit edition of this Sylvester
Stallone flick isnt really up to the standards of the Superbit Collection.
After all, while it certainly has a lot going for it, when push comes to shove,
as a movie Cliffhanger also leaves something to be desired.
Pretty good guilty pleasure, though!
Stallone stars as an angst-filled ex-climber/rescue guy who lost his nerve
after the films spectacular-but-tragic opening sequence. Fortunately,
theres a criminal megalomaniac with delusions of grandeur out for no good,
because otherwise Stallone might never climb again.
But that bad guy (John Lithgow with an affected British-compatible accent),
is there along with his people of hench and theyre not only trapped on
the mountaintops after a spectacular attempted heist, but theyre still
bound and/or determined to find the caches of cash theyve lost up there.
So Stallone is pressed back into service to rescue what at first seems to be
a group of climbers lost in the snow.
Forget the plot. This movie is about thrills, and it delivers on that count.
In fact, except for its unnecessarily graphic violence, this could almost be
a primer for how to make an action/adventure flick, and sequences in it seem
to have inspired films that came after such as Air
Force One and Vertical Limit.
Stallone is actually pretty good here. If you can get past his macho guy image,
youll find quite a sensitive performance. Lithgow chews the scenery and
probably had a good time doing it. Everyone else is pretty well window dressing
for the action. Well, Stallone and Lithgow probably are, too...
Director Renny Harlin (Die Hard 2, among others) and his crew have staged some
spectacular and vertiginous high mountain stunts and situations; its just
too bad they overdid it with the violence and under did it with the screen play,
which is about as predictable as they come.
Still, this is a popcorn movie with lots of action, stunts, gorgeous locations
and good special effects. So in the end, it works for the most part.
Perhaps the Superbit process here was envisioned more as an audio extravaganza
than a video one, because while the picture quality isnt up to Superbit
snuff, the audio track (which features whirring helicopter rotors, gunfire,
and an avalanche, all of which apparently combined to earn Cliffhanger Oscar
nominations for sound and sound editing) is a marvelous example of what you
can do with Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound.
The video, on the other hand, looks a tad washed out. The detail is good, but
the colors just dont have the richness weve come to expect from
Columbia Tristars Superbit process. Not that its bad; it just doesnt
seem that much better than a regular DVD (though we must confess to not having
seen the earlier digital disc version).
Ah, but the audio, which is offered in Dolby Digital and dts 5.1 surround,
is worth the price of admission. It may be a tad bass heavy, but overall its
clean and loud and uses the surround channels very effectively.
Cliffhanger, the Superbit Edition, from Columbia Tristar Home Entertainment
113 min. anamorphic widescreen, (2.35:1, 16x9 TV compatible), Dolby Digital
and dts 5.1 surround
Starring Sylvester Stallone, John Lithgow, Janine Turner, Ralph Waite, Michael
Produced by Alan Marshall and Renny Harlin
Written by Michael France and Sylvester Stallone, directed by Renny Harlin
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