Miami Vice DVD Review
PictureMiami Vice comes presented with an aptly broad 2.40:1 aspect ratio anamorphically enhanced widescreen transfer, exactly the kind of presentation you would expect from Mann. Detail is generally superb, ignoring his momentary handheld camera segments (which he often uses to add a sense of realism) where there is a distinct drop in quality, and there is generally very little softness, no grain (apart from those handheld scenes and some night-time sequences) and no edge enhancement. The colour scheme is broad and luscious, beautifully observing the sunny and exotic locations used, and accordingly, the palette is rendered lovingly. Overall it is a superb transfer with no signs of any print defects whatsoever.
SoundThe audio accompaniment we get comes in one main flavour - Dolby Digital 5.1 Given the power of the soundtrack, it is a shame that we don't have DTS-ES or at least Dolby-EX on offer, but the standard 5.1 track does surprisingly well. The dialogue, can be occasionally muffled due to the cop lingo and characters' mumbling which does sometimes leave you reaching for the volume control, but it does not detract too much from what is, overall a superb sonic rendition. The effects are well-observed, from the crashing waves and racing cars at the outset to the latter explosions, gunshots and helicopters rattling the surrounds, but it is the aforementioned brilliant score that truly permeates many of the scenes and brings your whole room to life. Right from the outset, the menacing LFE offering signifies the power of this track and it is easily one of the best soundtracks and correspondingly, one of the best audio representations I have come across recently.
ExtrasFirst up we get an Audio Commentary by the Writer/Director of Miami Vice, Michael Mann. It is a slightly dry, monotonous affair at times, but Mann is also capable of injecting his dialogue with sporadic trivia that is of remarkable interest. At once he can be describing locations in detail, and then explaining remixes of songs you may recognise (like Nina Simone's classic, Sinnerman, the main theme for the recent Thomas Crown Affair remake). He compares quite a lot to his old TV series, from the topical police themes (at the time of the 80s series, drug running by speed boat was commonplace) to the suave qualities in Don Johnson that they tried to port over to Colin Farrell (in my opinion, largely unsuccessfully). Some of the information is also quite dumbfounding, like the research that Mann went into to get a solid background for the character of Isabella and her heritage/upbringing. Mann also briefly notes some of the extra sequences, and overall this is an occasionally highly interesting listen.
Next up we have a 13-minute Featurette entitled Miami Vice Undercover, where the Director, most of the cast (including Farrell and Fox) and some of the consulting crew (including several ex-undercover agents) contribute in interviews. The director reveals how some of these real undercover operatives played small parts as bodyguards, and draws dubious parallels between working undercover and playing a character in a movie, but the real highlight is a segment narrated by Farrell, where he explains how they put him through a mock shady deal which he genuinely thought was real.
Then there is a 10-minute Miami & Beyond: Shooting on Location Featurette where Mann explains the importance of authentic settings, with plenty of location footage, contributions from the location scout and the Director of Photography and discussions of the background scenery, landscapes and skies shot. There is also a 12-minute Visualising Miami Vice Featurette which looks at how the movie was shot, with Mann openly giving instructions on set, explaining his photo-storyboarding process and being discussed by other members of the cast and crew. It is particularly interesting to hear others talk about his fondness for creating '3-D' imagery, where there are lots of things going on in the background to draw your focus between the front and rear (with shots showcasing this trademark style that Mann offers).
Finally we get a three-part Behind the Scenes Featurette split into: Gun Training, Haitian Hotel and Mojo Race, each lasting little over three minutes. Here, respectively, we get to see the cast on the firing range trying out different weaponry, how they filmed the scene where Crockett and Tubbs clear the hotel room and lastly how they filmed the opening speedboat sequence.
VerdictI love Michael Mann's movies. He has shown us very different sides to the likes of Russell Crowe (The Insider), Tom Cruise (with his first bad guy role in Collateral) and Will Smith (a very convincing Ali) and he is, of course, the man behind the definitive cops and robbers thriller Heat, but here he revisits his original baby, the 80s TV show Miami Vice, with a Big Screen adaptation that largely succeeds but does come with its flaws. The DVD release boasts an extended unrated director's cut, which is not significantly better than the theatrical version, as well as a superior video presentation and an outstanding audio rendition of one of the best soundtracks I have come across recently. We also get a few nice extras to dissect the creation of this movie. Stylish, sexy and thrilling from start to finish, the slightly unsatisfying Miami Vice is definitely one for fans of cop thrillers, and generally comes highly recommended.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £17.97
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