Minority Report on DVD
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. Its kind of a neat concept the way theyve
written and filmed it; its very believable and the story really pulls you
along, with enough curves 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 isnt a criticism of
the choice, or the film, and in fact it doesnt hurt the films mood
- but it means this isnt a DVD youll use to show off your home
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 about fifty years.
The visualization of the future is really good; not necessarily
good as in it portrays an extremely positive future, because it doesnt in
many ways, but its 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 hes never heard of the guy hes accused of being
about to off? We wont spoil that for you but rest assured the outcome
isnt 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
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 doesnt seem to command the respect as an actor that
he deserves, and hes very good as Anderton. He gets to play action hero
and frightened fugitive in the same screenplay, and though youre 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, whos
always great when not appearing in The Greatest Story Ever Told,
as Andertons friend and mentor and Colin Farrell as the government
hotshot who initially appears 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 Spielbergs last 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 DVD is of good quality, but as mentioned above because of the
films look the video quality isnt going to jump out of the screen
at you. The image is sharp; in one flashback where the color isnt washed
out you can get a better idea for the picture quality, and its fine. As a
movie lover I think Spielberg made a good choice for the films 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
One aspect of the video quality needs to be trumpeted loudly and
clearly, though. Dreamworks is joining other studios on their journey to the
dark side of the force by releasing the Minority Report DVD in separate widescreen and Pan&Scan versions.
Were really against this; while wed love it if everyone would watch
the original aspect ratio, whether widescreen or the 4x3 shape of early TV and
movies, we understand some peoples aversion to black bars. But studios
used to solve this by offering both versions in the same box, so the DVD would
satisfy customers regardless of their TV. Now, people who buy the so-called
full screen version will have to buy a widescreen version when they move to
16x9 TVs which is nearly everyone.
To prove the point, we were sent the Pan&Scan version and
that meant we had to watch it zoomed and stretched to fill our 16x9 reference
rear projection TV, which distorts the picture to a certain extent and costs
apparent resolution and therefore the ultimate picture quality.
And yet studios continue to offer audio choices between Dolby
Digital 5.1 and DTS with many discs (including this one). Go figure. Minority
Reports's audio quality is excellent, however, and theres plenty of great
Rather than putting the different aspect ratio on the second disc, Dreamworks
has used that disc to shower us with extra material. A lot of its
pretty interesting stuff, too. It's basically one long "making of"
documentary broken up into a series of featurettes, not that there's necessarily
anything wrong with that.
First up is "Minority Report: From Story to Screen" in which
Steven Spielberg and Tom Cruise give us their thoughts. "Deconstructing
Minority Report" focuses on how director Spielberg brought together some
renowned minds to dream up the convincing near-future world of the film. "The
Stunts of Minority Report, not surprisingly, recounts how the action
scenes and stunts were done.
ILM is on hand for "The Digital World of Minority Report" a
feature looking into the terrific special effects. Theres also a Minority
Report Archives of production concepts, storyboards, photographs, production
notes, and bios.
In all, Minority Report, at least in its widescreen incarnation,
deserves to be in the DVD library of all science fiction fans.
Minority Report, from Dreamworks Home Video
146 min. Pan&Scan (not 16x9 TV compatible) / anamorphic widescreen
sold separately, Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 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
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