PictureCrimson Tide is presented in a theatrically correct 1080P transfer. I have not seen any previous incarnations of this on disc before - but I was singularly unimpressed with this transfer.
The major gripe I had with the transfer was a general softness and a lack of detail which sometimes made me wonder if I was watching an HD transfer. This is very noticeable in the early scenes, which take place on a wet base during a teeming rainstorm. Running this transfer alongside, for example Con Air (a film from a similar era) you really do notice the lack of detail in Crimson Tide. In the Bay actioner, you can see every rain drop and feel drawn into the scene. In Crimson Tide the rain merely forms a indistinct curtain, obscuring the action.
This softness and lack of detail is also noticeable throughout the film - particularly on faces once the submarine's mission begins. Surroundings in the submarine do not look noticeably sharp - and the whole 3d Pop that we are used to is missing.
On the positive side though, colours (although muted by design) do look well saturated and clear. When red light bathe the sub, for example, the result is a beautifully enhanced image that really underscores the atmosphere.
As previously mentioned, I have never seen the SD release - but the source for this HD release is pristine. Despite the age, there is no visible dirt or problems with the print, and despite the lack of detail you could be watching a more recent film.
I cannot deny that I was disappointed by the picture as it was presented here. The general feeling I came out with was one of feeling that this could have been a lot better than it was. Sadly I cannot confirm how much of an improvement this is (or isn't) over SD, but this is certainly far from reference material.
SoundLike other previous Bruckheimer releases on HD, we are here presented with a PCM 5.1 soundtrack, presented at 48Khz 16 Bit. I expected a lot from this release, and although I was more impressed than I was with the picture, I still feel there was room for improvement here.
The positive side is that the six speakers are constantly in use all the way through, preventing us with an expansive sound field. From the beginning, we are presented with a dynamic surround field, with dialogue pinned clearly to the center, and sound effects pinned well to the left, right, and rear. The sub is extensively used throughout, with low frequency effects underpinning the action intensely but never overpowering the rest of the effects.
My problem with the disc is probably more due to the original sound mix than the transfer presented here. Like many action films that are presented on HD, there seems to be a general lack of subtlety here. There must be many options for subtle effects on the sub to truly immerse you in the action. But it is only the true bombastic effects that are truly moved around the field. Simple machine noises, and footsteps are confined to the front or the mix.
Now, I should qualify this by saying that this is still a very good mix. It uses the speakers well, and never allows one aspect of the mix to dominate another. Your sub will get a great workout, as will your rears in extensive action scenes. But this is a subtle film that is far more about quiet moments than bombast. It is just a shame that the sound mix doesn't follow this outlook.
ExtrasUnfortunately, like the aforementioned Con Air, the cut presented here is not the Director's Cut, but the normal Theatrical Cut. However, the extras from the Director's Cut have made it over intact.
We start with the 20 minute documentary The Making of Crimson Tide. Whereas this sounds promising, but sadly it is just standard promotional fluff. They don't really go into any great detail about the production - and this is clearly designed more for those who haven't yet seen the film. The 11 minute All Access : On the set of Crimson Tide is similarly poor, presenting very little insight, and finally seven minutes of Deleted Scenes.
VerdictCrimson Tide is a great film in search of a decent disc. The film is a true actor's film, boasting superb performances, and a well written script. Dealing with weighty issues, and presenting a believable story, you are likely to want to watch this one again and again.
Sadly, the disc it is presented on is not quite up to scratch. The video is very poor, and although the sound mix is good, it lacks the subtlety of the film itself. Combine this with the lack of a director's cut and a poor selection of extras then you are looking at a likely re-release somewhere down the line.
True fans of the film are still likely to want to go for this, but owners of the director's cut DVD may want to wait a little longer in case of a superior release down the line..
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