PictureFramed in 2.40:1, this anamorphic print could easily have been a DVD nightmare. However, I'm pleased to report that the dark, rain-soaked scenes are realised well. Shadows are deep and solid, but detail amongst the darkness is retained to a high degree. Artefacts are elusive, and grain - whilst not entirely absent - is never really noticeable. Surprising, really, as both the Full frame 1.33:1 and widescreen versions are presented on the same disc, and it's a credit to the Columbia encoders that I was hard-pressed to find any faults with the transfer at all.
Blemish free, what we get is gritty, soaking wet darkness, with the rain looking 3-dimensional and crisp detail - see the polythene in the rain (26:00) for a good example of this. It's important to note that you really need a calibrated display to get the most out of this DVD: with incorrectly set contrast and brightness balances it is easy to get either a washed out image or one so dark that you can hardly see what's going on. But get it right, and this DVD is a good example of how transfers can look cinematic in the home.
SoundFrom the opening seconds, rolling thunder echoes across and around the soundstage, and this sets the tone for the entire movie. Presented to us in 448kbps Dolby Digital, the soundtrack is atmospheric with an almost constant downfall of rain surrounding the viewer. Surround speakers are in use for the majority of the film, although this is mainly for ambient effect: add to this mix sporadic thunder which punctuates the action regularly, and you have an involving - if basic - surround experience. I say basic, but the thunder really adds to atmosphere in what is obviously a dark movie. Thunder peels over your shoulders, around the room, and in places extends low on the bass scale. It's a pleasingly guttural sound, and it's moments like this when you really appreciate buying that subwoofer.
Aside from this, however, LFE is used sparingly with just a handful of other moments - Sign collapsing (1:08:00) is one good example, and "the" explosion will have your subwoofer thumping bass across your living room. Used sparingly, yes, but to good effect.
Steering across the front soundstage is competent, with dialogue locked mainly to the centre channel, and coming across clear and crisp, despite the background rain and thunder. Effects pans effectively across the front three, although the surround channels are retained mainly for ambient effects.
Overall this is a reasonable surround soundtrack; it's nothing spectacular but efficient. Does exactly what it needs to.
ExtrasThe highlight here is James Mangolds commentary, which is certainly worth your attention: interesting, informative, and - surprisingly - not at all boring, he offers insights into the production, with lengthy discussions on almost every aspect of the film, from the cast, the location, and pretty much every other element of the production you can think of. We are also treated to 4 deleted scenes, of which the first two are the most interesting (and amusing), with the remaining 2 being rather forgettable.
Also on offer here is a "Starz Special: On the Set of Identity", which predictably given the title is a puff-piece which frankly wastes valuable space on the disc. Rounding off the package we also have 3 short storyboard comparisons, the obligatory filmographies and the theatrical trailer, framed at 1.85:1 in anamorphic and presented in Dolby Digital 5.1.
It's also worth mentioning that when the movie starts you are also offered the option of watching the "Theatrical Version" or the "Extended Version", which suggests you get rather more than the reality - which is effectively the same ending with additional moments of dialogue thrown in. Wholly missable.
VerdictA slick thriller with a few chills and a twist which almost works, this release boasts some reasonable extras, an excellent video transfer and good sound. Worthy of attention.
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