PictureNoisy, especially for a movie of this budget. Not only that, but there is dirt on the print, too. Look at the orange patch next to James Cromwell's face in the opening underground meeting. Flecks periodically appear, and if you look at the walls as the group walk to this meeting, there is some artifacting too. Colour is well represented, despite some unremittingly bleak locations. Dark areas aren't as ably rendered as some other movies, appearing to be a black untextured smog. Despite these faults, the movie's picture is not crippled by them. I was just surprised such a high profile release has had a lacklustre treatment.
SoundThe reason you would want to buy this Japanese version of Sum of all Fears is because of the, half bitrate, DTS sound track. Now, the fact that there is a DTS option does not magically make the track better than a Dolby Digital only one, despite what some may say. In Sum of All Fears' case, the DTS track is better with dialogue clarity and a smidgen more depth. Bass is more profound with DTS, but marginally less controlled. Listen to the American football scene - the beeping of Cabot's phone over the noisy crowd is slightly clearer on the DTS track, the crowd slightly more convincing. Yet the attack on the a naval aircraft carrier is more enjoyable in Dolby digital where there is more punch and less roll to the bass than with DTS.
If you already have Sum of All Fears, for the difference in sound quality, buying this disc isn't worth it over the existing release, especially since the soundtrack is so good anyway.
ExtrasThere are two commentaries on this DVD. The one with director and cinematographer is fairly mundane - nothing wrong per se, just not that different to other commentaries that are out there. The other commentary, available on all versions of this movie, is a gem. By choosing to listen to this track, you will have the dubious pleasure of listening to the most opinionated person ever to grace a commentary. Tom Clancy is the most supercilious, contemptuous, aloof, peremptorily inclined individual I have ever heard. His goal in life, while in the undoubtedly sub par recording studio, is to point out militarily incorrect content and deviations from his unexceptional book upon which this movie is based. It is interesting to listen to the director steadily become irked by Clancy's continual disparagements to Sum of All Fears, at one point stating “...I wish that we had time to debate that point.”
VerdictI actually preferred this movie to the rather tiresome book. That said, Sum of All Fears is still a mediocre movie made better by a core of good parts and a less than certain ending. This Japanese version, however, does not justify its asking price unless you are a diehard DTS completest who only buys discs with a DTS track. In that case, there is a little more to worry about than being a few quid lighter...
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