PictureThe film might be tepid but this is a terrific looking picture. The striking desert landscapes and the aforementioned crash are shown off in a pristine print with a 2.35:1 aspect ratio anamorphic widescreen transfer. No sign of artefacts, grain, dirt, dust, flecks or any flaws of any nature. Clean and clear is the order of the day. The night scenes have a wonderfully alien look to them with strange hues of green and blue colouring the sky and giving the visuals an unearthly glow. There's no colour bleed or murkiness at all. Daytime skies remain a vivid blue and the quality of detail on show in the picture is high, with a nice heavy contrast giving everything good definition.
SoundAh, the sound is excellent as well. There are two English tracks, DTS 5.1 and Dolby 5.1. They both RAWK as our American friends might say. The Dolby loses out a tad on the depth and bass front but it's still great. The DTS is spectacular in all the right places. The plane crash is a wonderful example of how to mix a frenzied, LFE quaking monster of a set piece. Boy, it's loud! If you want a disc to show off your sound system then this would make a good one just for the crash alone. There's exemplary immersion and panning right from the start with a groovy Johnny Cash tune easing us into the film as the massive silver behemoth of a plane soars through the sky. All sound channels fire up as it swoops through the air. The film's dialogue is always audible and the whole film keeps up a high standard of sound, particularly bass driven sound for the duration.
ExtrasThe first extra is an audio commentary by the director, the producer and the designer. Practically all aspects of the film is discussed including script changes which are always interesting to find out about. There's a nice balance of trivial musings and technical know how. The three people are obviously passionate about their work and are pleased to discuss it in depth and this comes across well.
The second extra is an exceptional one, a very well made forty minute documentary entitled 'The Phoenix Diaries'. It's almost feature quality all by itself. It's an unusually frank behind the scenes piece that is quite raw and has a wide variety of contributors that aren't afraid to swear and give forthright opinions. There are some confrontational moments and the director does not come out smelling of the proverbial roses. This feature is far from the usual promotional guff you get from major studios, being more of a 'Hamster Factor' kind of documentary. An excellent addition to the disc.
There are also extended scenes, all in a finished full quality state. The first shows the group almost getting spotted by a search plane as they rush to fire a flare, the second shows their own plane buried after a storm with the threat of all their work being for nothing, the third shows more of Eliott's technical skills and the final one extends the ending. These scenes must have been cut purely for reasons of pace, as they're not bad at all. There are two deleted scenes (with commentary) that while watchable wouldn't add much to the film. Strangely, the deleted scenes feel more familiar than the extended scenes as there seems to be more fresh, unseen material in the latter.
So we have a nice bunch of extras on this disc, with a 'making of' being a shining light for once.
VerdictA cornball film with a great presentation.
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