Mission: Impossible III (Extreme Collection) Blu-ray Review
Unlike the previous two chapters – particular the first film – which have really not been presented very well at all on Blu-ray, Mission: Impossible III was a demo quality rendition several years ago when it was first released on Blu-ray (and HD DVD) and is still a demo quality presentation today. Of course it helps no end that this was the first film in the series to be shot digitally (and the first Paramount film to be released to cinemas in digital format), and it was also obviously much more recent, but it’s also clear that the Studios took a great deal more care with this release than with the preceding two.
The film 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 HD footage well, complete with some intentional gritty grain and no significant, unintentional 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-pop quality that you get with only the best Blu-ray presentations out there. There is absolutely no damage and there are no digital defects – as you would expect from such a comparatively recent production – and the movie is given a visual treatment totally in line with its high budget and glossy style. It was one of the best early Blu-ray High Definition presentations, and it is still one of the better-looking renditions out there, and certainly the best in the series.
It seems like, at the same time as being one of the last studios to go down the digital route, Paramount also took their time getting around to providing lossless audio tracks, so much so that these ‘new’ back-catalogue releases have still not been given an HD upgrade. Whilst this was a bit of a disappointment for the previous two instalments, and may have even given this chapter the edge in some respects, this is still one of the best standard Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks that I have ever heard.
Dialogue gets clear and coherent presentation, predominantly from 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 classic Mission: Impossible theme usage right (just enough, but not so much as to annoy, and without too much modification – it is the classic theme, only with a little more punch) is also pretty impressive, powering up the frequent action sequences to push your viewing experience to the next level. It’s a boisterous effort and, despite my reservations about the lack of lossless-ness about the track, I find it hard to see how the movie could sound much better than this.
It’s interesting because even the original 2-disc Blu-ray release of Mission: Impossible III was lacking some of the HD DVD exclusive extras – most notably the In-Movie-Experience track – when it was first released, and now, released as part of a new, purportedly ‘extreme’ edition, we find that even more extra features have gone – in fact a whole disc’s worth of them! Yes, the entire second disc has been dropped from this shamefully lacking release, leaving just the Audio Commentary which, whilst excellent, certainly does not make up for the downright terrible treatment of this title.
The Audio Commentary is with the Director J.J. Abrams and the Producer/Star Tom Cruise, who talk energetically, enthusiastically, and in great detail about their joint project. It’s a solid commentary, genuinely informative and consistently engaging, made yet more enjoyable from the fact that the two of them clearly have a great deal of love for their work. Although, as stated, it does not make up for everything that’s missing from this release, at least fans should be glad that the best extra has still been left intact.
Rounding out my look at the original Mission: Impossible trilogy – after Brian De Palma’s thrilling and intricate first entry, and the entertaining excesses of the John Woo’s sequel – we come to the 2006’s third instalment. Between the work done during Joe Carnahan’s 18-month pre-production stint as director, and the input of his replacement, TV director J.J. Abrams, making his theatrical debut, the film blends an unusual amount of brutality with witty exchanges, offering reasonably developed characters who you actually care about and excellent action sequences that, for once, genuinely appear to be organically integrated into the plot. The end result, whilst it never lives up to the stunning first five minutes, is a thoroughly good movie, a great summer blockbuster and a worthy addition to Tom Cruise’s reliably entertaining Mission: Impossible franchise.
Also completing my look at the recently-released Extreme Trilogy Collection Blu-rays, we find that, just like the other instalments, this third movie comes with exactly the same video and audio as it had on its first release. Fortunately, at least this time around the video and audio were pretty damn good in the first place; unfortunately, the second disc of extras is completely missing, adding insult to injury on a box-set which is far from an upgrade, other than for those who don’t already own the movies on Blu-ray – in which case, plentiful problems notwithstanding, it’s still pretty good value for money. Those flush with cash should stump up for the superior Japanese release – also in an identical, but perhaps less mislabelled ‘Extreme Trilogy Collection’ – and if you take the (much) cheaper option then you’ll have to settle for a fairly average package and a supremely low price. Either way, you really ought to own these movies, and there’s no better time to pick them up than on the eve of going to see Ghost Protocol.
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