Out Of Sight Blu-ray Review
Out of Sight comes to Region Free UK Blu-ray with a quality 1080p High Definition video presentation in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of widescreen 1.85:1. It must be exactly the same transfer that US viewers found with their purchase of the equivalent stateside release and, to be honest, I can’t imagine it’s any different from the transfer that adorned 2007’s HD DVD release. And that’s not bad news either, as, for a somewhat indie-styled flick that was made well over a decade ago, Out of Sight has always somehow managed to end up looking pretty damn good in 1080p High Definition.
The colour scheme is what really sets this movie apart visually – as each segment of the narrative is given its own tones, inherent to the setting: the drab prison locale, lit up by bright yellow uniforms; the red-dominated boot of the car; the sun-drenched Miami scenes; the glitzy hotel; or the icy-cold, gunmetal blue Detroit finale. Each and every scene has a particular feel to it, and the colours are richly saturated, deep and vibrant throughout. Black levels are superb too, and it’s really hard to fault this rendition – but if you’re going to quibble with it, it’s got to be in the area of crush, where hints of crush affect some of the darkest sequences. Grain is only to be expected for this kind of production, not only was it shot on film, but it is also the style of movie which requires a certain level of filmic grain, and don’t be worried, there’s no overwhelming DNR getting in the way of this being an excellent video presentation. A little 3D pop and this could have been demo-quality, but there’s no denying that it’s still a fantastic transfer.
Out of Sight also comes boasting a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track that does just nicely. It needs to be notched up an extra level in terms of volume, but is otherwise pretty good, particularly for a medium-budget movie that’s well over a decade old. Dialogue is of prime importance here, and comes across as crystal clear and coherent throughout – you get every muffled mumble, and every shout – emanating largely from across the fronts and centre channel. Effects are quite limited, but there are still some nice atmospheric touches, from chirping crickets (which, in the commentary, you will find were exaggerated to drown out other background noises) to honking cars and bustling streets. There are, of course, some more punchy moments – most notably gunshots – which punctuate the proceedings (the scene where they all shoot the safe is quite suitably deafening), occasionally engaging the surrounds. The score is almost as important as the dialogue, the jazzy, funky track really brings out the best of the movie, and also gets the most action from the LFE channel, rumbling around in the background to great effect. It’s not a standout, demo-quality offering, but it’s perfectly decent enough for this production.
Out of Sight hasn’t received any retrospective material – there’s nothing new here beyond the previous SD-DVD release – but thankfully all of the primary bases were covered already.
First up we get a feature commentary with director Steven Soderbergh and screenwriter Scott Frank. They talk mostly contemporaneously, discussing the scenes as they take place, whilst occasionally dipping out into background information. We hear about Soderbergh’s style, his shooting locations, his reluctant adoption of the music, the fact that Barry Sonnenfeld (who directed Get Shorty first) did not want to do the duties on this script, and the way in which they brought the characters to life (and what each of the key players brought to the proceedings, including Clooney’s impersonation of James Garner when he imitates a prison guard). They discuss the differences between the book and the screenplay (Foley was much older, the book was chronological, there was no birthday present scene between Sisco and her dad, and all of the scenes between Foley, Glenn, Snoop and Ripley – i.e. quite an integral chunk of the narrative), and between the original script and the final cut (there were two early bank robberies by Foley, the car boot scene was different – and there are several references to the included deleted scenes), and it’s quite an interesting, engaging offering from this duo.
Inside Out of Sight is a 25 minute behind the scenes Featurette, which has none other than Elmore Leonard, talking about how he came up with the story (seeing a real female Marshall with a shotgun propped on her hip), and his favourite moments; the director discussing how he got involved, the colour scheme that he went for in each of the locations, how he decided to mess with the chronology of the production through using flashbacks, and the freeze-frame moments; and a young George Clooney, ruminating on the material and how great the script was. They discuss the lead characters, with lots of interview excerpts from the key players involved (Cheadle, Rhames, Lopez and Zahn), and there is plenty of interesting behind the scenes footage playing out in the background. Clooney does his usual messing around on set, cracks a few jokes to the camera, and the whole cast contribute to a running gag over how bad Soderbergh is, and how he’s always drunk on set. Well worth checking out.
We get 22 minutes of average SD-quality footage, which amounts to both Deleted Scenes and Alternate Cuts, including a longer car-boot ride with Foley (Clooney) and Sisco (Lopez), running at 6 minutes and coming across as not quite as good (but interesting nonetheless); an unnecessary scene where Glenn (Steve Zahn) first contacts Snoop (Don Cheadle) to do a job; an odd and slightly out of place scene between Buddy (Ving Rhames) and Foley discussing the merits of a warm bath (if you listen to the commentary, you will realise that this was actually an extension of Sisco’s fantasy, and not some homoerotic exchange – and that the confusion was why it was wisely cut); a further conversation between Sisco and her dad (Dennis Farina), where they discuss her interest in Foley; a longer moment between Sisco and Foley’s ex-wife (Catherine Keener) in her apartment; Foley talking to Ripley (Albert Brooks) in prison; the aftermath of the Glenn incident; a longer cut of Sisco investigating the resulting crime scene; a scene with Foley on the day of Ripley’s release; a slightly longer incident where Foley goes for a job working for Ripley; an extra scene with Foley and Buddy, talking about Sisco; and finally an extra moment in the van as the crew go to do the final home robbery.
1998’s Out of Sight marked a breakthrough for the careers of almost all those involved – from the director Steven Soderbergh, to the upcoming cast, including early performances from George Clooney and Don Cheadle. After the successful adaptation of Elmore Leonard’s novel Get Shorty just two years earlier, Barry Sonnenfeld, it’s director, chose not to return to helm this, the next planned Leonard production, and instead left it in the capable hands of Soderbergh, who went on to prove that he was far from just another small-time indie director – indeed his visionary style would see critical and commercial success with everything from Traffic to The Ocean’s Trilogy. However, Out of Sight still remains a perfectly blended cocktail, made from all the best ingredients, handled right and prepared right – from punchy story to witty script; from superb performances and great chemistry, to funky score; and all the while bearing the director’s stamp on it thanks to an assured amount of masterful style. It delivers drama, thrills, romance and comedy in a heady mix, and remains today one of the coolest movies ever made.
On Region Free UK Blu-ray we get great video and audio, and all the solid extras that previously adorned the decade-old SD-DVD release – basically mirroring the US Blu-ray released a few weeks earlier – and fans shouldn’t hesitating in picking this up as an upgrade. It’s not demo-quality, but it’s a quality package for an outstanding movie, so you can’t really complain. Newcomers? If you even vaguely likes the sound of it, I’d recommend a blind buy – it’s that good. Seriously, Out of Sight is simply the epitome of cool.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £19.99
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