Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol hits REGION FREE US Blu-ray complete with a stunning, perfect, absolutely reference quality 1080p High Definition video presentation in the original, non-IMAX, theatrical aspect ratio of 2.4:1 widescreen. It’s one of the best looking films that I’ve come across on the format, easily up there with all the demo quality discs on the market, many of which have emanated from Paramount.
Of course there’s no question that fans will be disappointed by the fact that the film has not been presented in its original IMAX changing aspect ratios – i.e. opening up for the IMAX scenes like the home format releases of The Dark Knight and Tron: Legacy did – but that does not prevent this from being an absolutely stellar presentation in its own right.
Detail is jaw-droppingly good, and indeed this is the kind of movie which only benefits from such quality, with unparalleled fine object detail, rich textures, natural sharpness and absolute clarity, on everything from the facial close-ups to the longer, more panoramic shots. Sure, the IMAX scenes would have probably shown up even more detail, but arguably that’s just a stylistic preference, and it’s amazing what we get to see here; the glory of the tower that Ethan has to assault is just as impressive in the now-wider shots. There’s also a fine layer of suitably filmic grain running throughout which only further enhances the look of the movie.
The colour scheme is stunningly represented, with all of the tones represented as authentic and vibrant: from the high-tech neon blues and steel greys, to the golden desert sands and deep night skies. Skin tones are natural throughout, never looking too hot, and overall this is a beautiful palette that covers all the bases – from old to new, with the globe-trotting, technology-shifting content to push the boundaries. Black levels are strong and vivid, allowing for excellent shadow detail, and overall this is basically a flawless rendition; any issues you might have with it will almost certainly pale into insignificance when compared to the other 99% percent of this video presentation.
Promoting similarly stunning audio we get a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 that is also sheer perfection. Dialogue comes across clearly and coherently throughout, largely dominating the centre channels with some expansion over to the fronts where for directionality. The score is one of the best of the entire series, blending just enough classic thematic elements in with the modern beats, and providing a rousing accompaniment that gives the channels plenty to play with almost throughout the movie. Effects are superbly observed, from the smaller tech-derived bleeps which are finely picked up, to the heady ambience in some of the more atmospheric locales, to the louder moments – which include oppressive sandstorms, thunderous explosions and penetrating gunfire. With a thumping bass underscore to the whole piece this is a thoroughly immersive offering that excels from start to finish and will be the reference quality audio disc in your collection for quite some time, I suspect.
Shockingly, Paramount have really done fans over with this particular release, which is nothing short of a disappointment in every respect. Firstly, there is already a superior package available – but only through BestBuy. Secondly, even the superior BestBuy release does not boast the kind of extras you would expect from this benchmark title – like a PiP track, or just an audio commentary.
It’s a travesty, and more insulting when you consider what we are left with.
Firstly, they’ve stripped down the Featurettes from 14 down to just 4. Secondly, contrary to what many other sites are reporting, they’ve also stripped the Deleted Scenes down from 8 to just 3, and those three that are left are pretty worthless. The addition of a second DVD copy of the film and an Ultraviolet Digital Copy don't make up for it either.
The full set of extras includes 3 Mission Accepted Featurettes, entitled Suiting Up In Prague, Heating Up In Dubai, and Vancouver Fisticuffs; and 11 Impossible Missions Featurettes: The Russian Prison, Shooting In IMAX, Art Department, A Roll of Film, Life Masks, Stepping Into a Sandstorm, Dubai Car Crash, Lens on the Burj, Props and Composer. The 11 Deleted Scenes include Alternate Opening: Hendricks Practices His Speech, Mission on the Train, Confusion in the Van, Benji Almost Caught in the Kremlin, Hendricks and Leonid in the Hangar, Arrival at the Burj – Original Version, Ethan and Jane in the Jet, and Wistrom and Chips. They all come with Optional Director’s Commentary with Brad Bird.
On this release we only get:
Mission Accepted – Heating Up In Dubai, which runs at 18 minutes and the unusual location, the risks and benefits of shooting on the Burj, the set-up, the filming, the difficulties of IMAX and the danger of the stunts.
Mission Accepted – Vancouver Fisticuffs offers up a further 12 minutes looking into the Vancouver end run of the movie, including the car factory finale, as well as offering up an overview into the production of the film as a whole.
Impossible Missions – The Sandstorm gives us a brief 3 minute look at the Dubai-set setpiece which proved particularly difficult from a technical standpoint.
Impossible Missions – Props rounds out the Featurettes with a similarly short 3-minute look at the gadgets involved in this particularly outing.
Deleted Scenes – Alternate Opening: Hendricks Practices His Speech is an utterly worthless alternate start to the movie which would have immediately got the movie off on the wrong foot. I don’t even know why they bothered filming it, although the Director’s Commentary attempts to explain why.
Deleted Scenes – Confusion in the Van has a slightly more engaging, expanded conversation take place in the van immediately after Ethan’s recovery, where it seems that the missions of the two teams are not even related, leading to some confusion amidst the members. Still, it’s worth little more than a quick look.
Deleted Scenes – Benji Almost Caught in the Kremlin is another utterly pointless extra which does nothing but milk the same situation for even longer, having more of the same: Benji standing against a projector screen trying not to get caught. Disappointing.
In fact that just about sums up this package: disappointing.
It’s further frustrating that many other reviews would lead you to believe that you were at least getting the complete set of Deleted Scenes. I can assure you: that is not the case.
Cruise may be almost 50, the series may have been taken in myriad different directions by a selection of distinctive directors but, if anything, Ghost Protocol manages to not only reaffirm the classic original Mission: Impossible TV show ethos of a core team, but also leave Cruise’s Hunt still an integral part of it, and thus the series. Sure, Brad Bird’s instalment may well feel like Mission: Impossible in the style of The Incredibles, but that’s really a stroke of genius in terms of the stylistic direction of this franchise – this chapter feeling more family-friendly, and more fun, whilst remaining just as satisfying as the best of the previous entries in terms of both narrative strength and character development. Oh, and the stunts are utterly spectacular. Indeed this is one of those rare movies that provides a surprising amount of substance behind what is one of the greatest spectacles of 2011. And it only gets better on repeat viewings.
On Region Free US Blu-ray we get perfect video and audio presentations – truly demo quality in every way. Between the quality of the movie itself, and the stunning presentation, there is plenty of reason already to blind-buy this title. Unfortunately this feels very much like the first release in what looks to be a double-dip (or triple-dip, considering that there is a superior BestBuy version already out) scenario. Not only would I have expected the IMAX scenes to be opened up – something which could be made a part of any later release – but we don’t get any decent extras really: a couple of decent featurettes; a couple of throwaway ones; and three pretty worthless deleted scenes.
In the fullness of time I can imagine a special edition perhaps even sporting the option to watch it with fully expanded IMAX or with constant aspect ratio; with a video/audio commentary from Cruise and Bird (and maybe even Abrams), as well as a full-length Documentary or PiP track going behind the scenes; and with the full set of Deleted Scenes. But maybe I’m dreaming.
In the meantime, if you enjoyed the movie then you’re going to find it hard to resist picking up this early release, and if you missed this at the cinema then now’s the time to rectify that situation.
Recommendation: accept this mission.
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