Crash DVD Review
PictureCrash is presented with a 2.35:1 aspect ratio anamorphically enhanced widescreen transfer. The detail is reasonably good throughout, with decent clarity, occasional softness, negligible edge enhancement but a strange amount of grain lingering throughout most of the scenes. I think that the effect was intentional, to give the movie a warmer, lived-in feeling, but it is not the hallmark of good picture quality. The colour scheme is fairly broad, from the neon street lights to the bright headlights, but is definitely limited by the fact that it is often glazed with darkness and shadowing, although the moments drenched in sunlight look suitably blissful. Blacks are reasonably good but, again, impaired by the aforementioned predominance of grain. Overall, however, there are no particular problems that interferes with your visual enjoyment of the movie and there are certainly no print defects exhibited on the transfer.
SoundCrash comes with a very powerful, strong Dolby Digital 5.1 mix that only adds to the emotional significance of the narrative. Using a score composed predominantly of ambient tracks (occasionally reminiscent of the Solaris score, which had similarly powerful resonance), all of the climaxes reached within the drama are carried along well by the music. It is not only the most significant aspect of the track, but it easily makes this one of the most emotionally powerful tracks that I have come across recently. Of course dialogue is presented clearly at the forefront and there are plenty of tiny little effects spaced out throughout the drama, which are all keenly observed, but the really stellar aspect is still the score and it should be noted as such. Bass-wise, there is more to offer from the occasional hip-hop music tracks exhibited (one particular track springs to mind) than anything else, but there is some rumbling bass that kicks in normally when things reach a climax as well. There is a Dolby Digital 2.0 option as well, but it is nowhere near as potent.
ExtrasFirst up we get an Audio Commentary with the Writer, Producer and Director, Paul Haggis, Writer and Producer Bobby Moresco and Actor and Producer, Don Cheadle. Kicking off as quite a fun, jolly offering, the contributors soon dour down and start to make more serious observations, of course still offering up some pleasant and fun anecdotes. Don Cheadle tends to take the main stage, with a few interjections from the Director but, oddly enough, the third commentator - Bobby Moresco - barely says a word. They talk about casting the movie, how the whole process took some eighteen months, discuss the way the movie was shot and how they cut from scene to scene using clever touches like doors opening and so forth. They dissect scenes, with the Director mentioning how he never intended it to be a commentary on racism (which seems hard to believe considering that is the overwhelming effect of the narrative) when he wrote it and them expanding on the characters and stories of their encounters. It is a reasonably interesting commentary but I think I would have expected more than what we get from three such integral contributors to the production.
There is a DVD Introduction by Paul Haggis, but it is almost not worth mentioning, running at barely fifteen seconds in length and not containing anything worth even that much of your time.
The Behind the Scenes Documentary is ten minutes in length and features plenty of behind the scenes footage, with the Director and the Screenwriter, along with the Producer Cathy Schulman, all in interview talking about how they wanted to paint a ensemble morality play about racism and prejudice, but without any of the characters really knowing one another - just strangers interacting with strangers. Thandie Newton, Sandra Bullock, Don Cheadle and Brendan Fraser also all make their points about the production and there is plenty of background footage spliced in with clips from the final film. It is an interesting offering that is worth your time.
There is a Music Video for the track “If I...” by Kanasascali, with contains audio and visual excerpts from the movie and there is also a trailer for the main movie, cheekily set to Adagio for Strings (which well never be more poignant than when it was used in Platoon) and which does give away a little bit too much from the movie.
VerdictCrash is a tough but rewarding drama about the intersecting lives of a group of interesting, if almost all prejudiced, people living in Los Angeles. With its ensemble cast who all provide stellar performances, it is surely one of the must-see movies of the year. The DVD release gives it a distinctly average transfer (although that is probably more indicative of the method of filming than of the transfer itself) but a superior Dolby Digital 5.1 track, which is not only a high point of the disc but also of the movie itself. Adorned with a wealth of extras, some of which are well worth a look (particularly for fans), this is a recommended rental or even a potential blind-buy for those who like the sound of it.
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