PictureMission Impossible 3 comes gleaming to Blu-ray with a glorious 1080p High Definition presentation in the movie's original theatrical widescreen aspect ratio of 2.4:1. Detail is fantastic throughout, pretty much picture-perfect, presenting the predominantly HD-shot footage well, complete with some intentional gritty grain and no significant softness. Everything from the close-up perspiring brow of the hero, to the many, many explosive set-pieces is amazingly rendered. The bridge sequence looks amazing, the interrogation sequences look appropriately claustrophobic and the night-time pendulum swing showcases some solid and deep blacks that make for great shadowing. The colour scheme is bright, vivid and varied, from the sunny blue-sky daylight sequences, to the homely, warm house party and the clinical greens and blues of the security agencies. It looks clean and polished and the scenes often have the 3D quality that you get with only the best Blu-ray presentations these days. There is absolutely no damage and there are no digital defects - as you would expect from such a recent production - and the movie is given a visual treatment totally in line with its high budget and glossy style. It is one of the best High Definition presentations that I have come across thus far and it is easily a title that can be used to showcase the superior capabilities of these next-gen formats.
SoundFor such a big-budget blockbuster, with so many powerful, explosive action sequences, the first thing I would have expected on Blu-ray is one of the format's great uncompressed PCM audio tracks. It's what gives the format the edge in many circumstances, and it is a missed opportunity not to have one in place for such a loud action movie. All that said, the standard Dolby Digital 5.1 track that we do get to accompany the movie is, without a doubt, one of the best standard DD5.1 mixes that I have ever heard. Dialogue gets given clear and coherent presentation, predominantly across the frontal array, with Cruise often shouting and yelling louder than anything else on the fronts and centre channels. The effects are - as you would only expect - a huge part of the track, with explosive set-pieces one after another, mounting in scale as the movie progresses. They allow for great bass and some good spatial dynamics across the rears and the surround array in general. The score, which finally gets the Mission Impossible theme usage right (just enough, but not so much as to annoy, and without too much modification - it the classic theme, with a little more punch here) is also pretty impressive, powering up the frequent action sequences to push your senses to the max. It's a boisterous effort, and despite all my reservations about the lack of Uncompressed PCM here, I find it hard to see how the movie could sound better than this.
ExtrasThe Blu-ray release of the third instalment in the Mission Impossible franchise comes with all of the extras from the standard DVD, but shamefully once again marks one of those Blu-ray disc that fails on the interactive extras front when compared to its HD DVD counterpart. It is somewhat understandable that this, one of the Blu-ray front-runner releases, does not boast such a feature, but, to this day, Sony still haven't sorted out whatever is required to enable IME on Blu-ray media. Whilst we do generally get all of the footage that is presented on the HD DVD IME track (M:i:III being no exception) it is simply presented in standard Featurette form, and as such marks no step up from the capabilities of DVD.
As an overall package, however, the Blu-ray release of M:i:III is still so meaty that they had to make it a two-disc edition, which is a first for me in terms of Blu-ray reviews. First up - on the movie disc - we get a Full Length Audio Commentary by the Star Tom Cruise and the Director J.J. Abrams, who make for an extremely entertaining duo of commentators. They are quite scene-specific, often talk like they have had far too much caffeine, and occasionally appear to be just watching the movie themselves, but between Cruise's humorous anecdotes and Abrams' production input, it makes for great listening. Fans of either Cruise or the man behind Alias are likely to find much of interest here.
On the second disc we get the rest of the wealth of extras. First up, The Making Of The Mission is a frantic half-an-hour Making-Of Documentary that jams quite a lot of information and footage into its runtime. Kicking off with contributions from the two main players - the Star Cruise and the Director Abrams - we hear about how Cruise was a big fan of Abrams' Alias series, and that was what persuaded him to seek him out as director, how they were trying to achieve more of a love story for this instalment and what Abrams felt like making his first feature film. There's loads of background footage of the movie being filmed, with location shots, clips of the on-looking fans cheering, and the packed sets brimming with busy crew members. There are even some nice anecdotes - like how Maggie Q pranged the Lambo - complete with footage! Cruise himself, really comes across as The Man, advising his fellow stars on the stunt-work, performing almost all of his own work, and even seen goofing around on set. Most of the main stunts are discussed and dissected, with split-screen, pre- and post-effects sequences, and as Documentaries go, this is an interesting, involving and informative offering.
The Featurette Inside the IMF takes just over twenty minutes to look at the team of the third Mission Impossible movie. The cast (including Lawrence Fishburne, Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Ving Rhames) and crew discuss how this is closer to the original TV series in its story and depiction of the team, looking at each individual character and the respective actors who portray them. There is some on-set footage, and whilst the comments can drift into mutual back-patting, there is plenty of background information into the characters and the ideas the producers had and overall it makes for a nice companion footage to the main Documentary.
Mission Action: Inside the Action Unit is a twenty-five minute Featurette that looks specifically at the many action sequences within this movie, expanding on the comments made in the main Documentary with detailed exposition into how the stunts were performed and how the effects were created. Cruise and Abrams, side-by-side in interview, offer some quite light-hearted input into the process of shooting the pivotal scenes, again with talk of how Cruise did so much of his own work, and there is so much storyboard-to-scene comparison and effects breakdowns that you will end up quite exhausted after having polished off this meaty Featurette. Despite being quite technical and in-depth, it never feels too stodgy, with good pacing and plenty of visuals to keep your attention.
Visualising the Mission spends ten minutes looking at the detailed computer animations that they used to prepare the movie's main action set-pieces. I don't quite know why they didn't incorporate this into the other Featurettes, but I guess it is such an involving concept that they thought they would separate it from the rest. The cast and crew are once again on hand to discuss the sheer amount of pre-visualisation before actually filming the sequences. It is extremely interesting to see the animated scenes, particularly when shown in split-screen comparison to the final footage, and it is almost a shame that we do not have just one long pre-vis montage on offer here.
Mission Metamorphosis takes eight minutes to look specifically at the mask-making sequence in the movie. The cast and crew talk about how important the mask scenes were in the original Mission Impossible series, and how they brought them to life in the first two movies but how Abrams wanted to develop the concept and show it in a slightly more realistic fashion. There's still lots of CGI used, and they spend a little too much time here looking at the making of props, but overall this is another nice little addition to the Featurettes.
Scoring the Mission is a short, five-minute Featurette that looks at the Lalo Schiffrin-based original theme that was finally used to good effect in this instalment. We see the orchestra performing, the composer talking about how he chose the prime moments for playing the central theme and how he tried to use it just enough without overdoing it.
Moviefone Unscripted: Tom Cruise and J.J. Abrams is one of those question-based offerings that you find more and more commonly done for big Hollywood movies. The two spend eight-minutes asking questions of one another that have been posed previously by the public. They offer some nice answers, and also get a bit more involved in the proceedings, bouncing back and forth with each question rather than just answering them and then moving on.
Launching the Mission is split into five different locations: New York, Rome, Paris, London and Japan (why couldn't they have just said Tokyo) and showing, for each one, how Cruise made his grand entrance - whether by motorbike, fire engine, speedboat or helicopter, or - in the case of London - just wandering up Leicester Square signing autographs. We get glimpses of the other cast members as well - the lovely ladies Maggie Q and Michelle Monaghan making their glamorous entrances and even Robert De Niro himself introducing one of the Premiere events - and these Premiere clips, totalling some fourteen minutes of footage, are actually quite interesting.
There is also a selection of 5 Deleted/Extended Scenes. Totalling an extra five minutes of footage, there is plenty more violence, including an extra fight scene for Cruise (and a vicious neck-break), some fighting for Maggie Q and a couple of minor character-based scene extensions that probably could be skipped. The fights are nice to watch, despite the fact that the quality of the Deleted Footage isn't spectacular, and it's a shame that they did not consider re-inserting them, but it's nevertheless nice to see them here.
Finally we get four Trailers - the Teaser, the Japanese Trailer, and two Theatrical Trailers, all of which I remember working wonders to make this a highly anticipated event - some TV Spots, a Photo Gallery (with nearly 100 shots, both on- and off-set, promotional and just film stills) and clips from the presentation of the 2005 Excellence in Film Award that Cruise was given.
VerdictWhilst the cinematic interpretations of Mission Impossible have never quite managed to capture the absolute strengths of the great 60s TV series, this third instalment certainly comes closest, and probably marks the most enjoyable of the three. Cruise is once again thoroughly entertaining and the action here simply never lets up, grafted to a cleverly-crafted story and shot with the same panache that made Director J.J. Abrams ' TV show Alias so great. It never quite reaches the dark depths of the likes of The Bourne Supremacy, or even Casino Royale, it puts Cruise's Mission Impossible character Ethan Hunt an easy third in the top film spy rankings. On Blu-ray, this recent movie gets given the deluxe treatment, with a gorgeous video presentation, a solid soundtrack and a wealth of extras brimming over even with a second disc to hold them all. Whilst it probably doesn't have the edge over its IME-benefited HD DVD counterpart, the release is still very favourable indeed and comes recommended to fans and newcomers alike.
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