Hostage DVD Review
PictureThe image supplied with this transfer is very good, indeed. Coming in at an anamorphic 2.35:1, it is beautifully stable and handles the swift contrast changes with ease. Siri seems to have opted for a sort of sun-bleached, de-saturised look that emphasises the heat of the Californian valley, and it also offers a terrific cinematic feel that the disc captures excellently. The intentional grit that stipples the image gives a neo-noirish look that delivers a lived-in quality. Colour is well handled, with some great red tail-light revelations picked out with relish and the raging inferno towards the climax is stunningly vivid. The black levels are dead-on, too, immeasurably aiding the shadow-play, depth and menace of the plot.
However, I did notice a slight shimmering on intricate detail like patterns on furniture etc. And, whilst there is no pixilation or blocking, there was a certain loss of delineation on the tree-filled Californian valleys as the camera swooped overhead. Overall, though, this is a very fine and classy transfer with no serious defects to distract from enjoyment of the movie.
SoundHostage comes with a choice of either a Dolby Digital 5.1 or 2.0 mix. No prizes for guessing which one comes up trumps. The 5.1 mix is terrific, featuring very well steered sound that impacts upon every speaker. We get realistic sweeps across the front soundstage, awesome gunshots ripping across the living room and a truly great helicopter thundering overhead. When things go ballistic, you will be treated to some nice fizzing embers and flying debris hissing all around. The ambience is pretty good, too, with the rainstorm sounding authentic and voices emanating from all around. But, without a doubt, what benefits the most is Desplat's score, which takes centre stage throughout. To be honest, I love the soundtrack, but to some people it may comes across as slightly epic in realisation for what is essentially such a small drama, and the sound design that the 5.1 affords it only embellishes this all the more. But, if you're like me, then you won't complain. In fact, you'll revel in it. Dialogue never suffers throughout all this aural carnage you'll be pleased to know. Great stuff.
ExtrasSiri's Commentary is a quite detailed chat track that likes to heap praise upon Mr Willis's shoulders a lot of the time. We are enthused to look at how he reins emotions in, and the like. But he also offers some nice character motivations and is keen to explain how the script kept evolving as the filming proceeded. He is also quite adept at explaining how he achieved some of the trickier and elaborate shots. I still don't buy the justification he offers for the killing of Talley's dog, though. Tired old cliché, that is - just to get us angry at the bad guys, as if we weren't angry at them enough already. The track would have benefited from having someone else alongside him to bounce ideas and memories off, in my opinion.
Taking Hostage - Behind The Scenes is 12.37 mins of press kit, though. Ben Foster gives a gushingly obvious view on working with Bruce Willis, whilst from under his Stetson hat, Bruce tells us how his own daughter auditioned for, and got, the role of his on-screen daughter. Although she has the jaw-line of her mother, Demi Moore, the poor girl seems to have developed along the lines of Kelly Osbourne! It's fluff-filler, really, but there is a curiously serious coda for the real-life SWAT teams of America from the technical advisor on the film. Altogether, there are too many scenes from the movie included that just pad this out, but there are also one or two nice moments of behind-the-scenes filming during the action sequences.
The eight Deleted and Extended Scenes come with an optional commentary from Siri, but they don't really add up to a great deal, barring a spectacular, and fiery, ambush of an FBI team and a poignant reminder of an earlier suicide attempt. There is also some deeper character exploration, and what would have been an earlier introduction to the teen brothers, but overall, the film is better off without them.
VerdictA good thriller, then, lifted out of the ordinary by the ever-reliable presence of Bruce Willis, Siri's exuberant style and Desplat's awesome score. It won't linger in the mind afterwards, but it still offers meaty entertainment while it's on.
EIV's disc has walloping sound and a nice image, to boot. The extras, however, are workmanlike but still show some effort. So, in all, this is a perfunctory package for a film that certainly deserves nothing less but, realistically, deserves nothing more either. Fine old hokum, though, from a seasoned professional.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £19.99
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