Customer Review

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Superlative Blu-ray Presentation Improves Spielberg's Best 'Adult' Film Further Still, 16 July 2011
This review is from: Minority Report [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
I really like this film. It is a superlative sci-fi story (inspired by a short novel from the hugely gifted, imaginative and influential author Philip K Dick - also responsible for the storylines to other classic movies such as 'Blade Runner' and 'Total Recall', to name just two) brought to life with plot embellishments, superb special-effects and the talented directorial touch of the 'modern-day' master, Steven Spielberg.

Already the owner of 'Minority Report' on DVD, I was uncertain how much it could be improved by an HD transfer as the picture is so inherently (and intentionally) grainy, 'shiny' (for want of a better description !) and washed-out. I needn't have worried: to my amazement even an upscaled DVD playback is blown out of the water by what we see and hear on Blu-ray, even when considering the DVD was perfectly acceptable and had the option of a thumping DTS 5.1 soundtrack. Add to this the bonus of additional 'extra' material on the disc (all too often Blu-ray issues don't add anything new) and the digital copy my version had on a 2nd disc and the 'upgrade' is essential to get the most out of what I think is Spielberg's best film.

'Minority Report' sits firmly in the mature/adult section of the Spielberg collection, alongside other notable productions such as 'Saving Private Ryan', 'Schindler's List' and 'Munich' (for example). The storyline is portrayed in a gritty, often ruthless manner without ever really relying on gore or bad language (only once is a swear word uttered) - but there is violence and the overall premise of murder obviously ensures it is not the typical Spielberg type of family entertainment - hence the '12' viewing classification...

Considering the complexity of the overall premise, the start to the story is actually quite simple. Centred on Washington DC around the middle of the 21st century, the local murder-rate has gradually been reduced to zero as the population became fully aware of the repercussions courtesy of a specialized police department which is able to act on precognition 'visions'/thoughts and hence thwart the act before it is committed. This 'pre-crime' department is headed by the flawed/disturbed personality of Captain John Anderton (played by Tom Cruise, for once excelling in a serious acting role) and relies on the crime warnings by 3 so-called 'pre-cogs' - a woman and twin brothers who have had their precognition abilities exploited, to the detriment of them leading 'normal 'lives.

And to avoid spoiling things for first-time viewers (of which I hope there will be many), that's just about all I'm going to explain - except to add that after that opening situation things rapidly go horribly wrong (of course !), on many fronts, as several sordid and disturbing secrets are revealed which provoke ruthless conspiracy and (despite the pre-cogs !) murder. Please read the Amazon synopsis and entries elsewhere if you want to learn more than you need to before watching the movie !

IMHO, please don't believe what you might read elsewhere: this film has no plot-holes (though some situations might be inexplicable they are NOT errors in themselves) and on Blu-ray offers a major improvement over DVD. Yes, I've read the various chat-lines and am left amazed how some people can criticise a story when they have clearly misunderstood either what they have seen or, worse still, 'invented' proceedings in the film (in their own mind apparently) to support their 'theories'; another example of a film afflicted by such misguided maligning would be 'Knowing'....

As already hinted at, developing the presentational style first seen in 'Saving Private Ryan' then latterly, the much underestimated, 'A.I. Artificial Intelligence' this film has an unusual grainy/washed-out type of appearance with a relatively low contrast - which is not to say it is unpleasant, it's just different from most films. However, the specifics of what you see are superb, with the special-effects as a result seeming less 'obvious' or prominent - to make everything appear totally realistic. The portrayal of a future metropolis, lifestyle, inherent technologies and the various pieces of hardware/vehicles are fantastic.

The many action (ie fight) scenes are also, naturally, quite superb - being choreographed to the usual high level we have come to expect of Spielberg. Curiously however, he was unable to maintain 100% the 'straight' nature of the action with a number of chirpy one-liners included for the more eccentric characters we see, as well as some of his trademark visual gags (look out for an unusual way to grill some beef burgers !). He obviously just couldn't stop himself putting them in.....

Yes, Cruise for once impressed me in a serious role (and thankfully he has continued in a similar vein since) with the addition of (European) notables Max von Sydow, Colin Farrell and Samantha Morton really playing their part to ensure the right level of gravitas and mystery prevails throughout. Finally, the often uncredited support provided by a forceful, but often very lyrical, orchestral musical soundtrack from the ubiquitous John Williams ensures maximum enjoyment; I don't think he has ever written a finer, more varied score...

On Blu-ray the picture is elevated to another level of clarity; everything is noticeably more vivid and sharp. The massive improvement was, for me, not perceived or imagined as I checked by comparing it with the DVD side-by-side. The improvement in audio side is far less significant as the DVD DTS soundtrack is already very good; the Blu-ray English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 offering is no more forceful, but as expected it adds a noticeably wider spatial effect and is a little bit clearer to my ear.

Extras are significantly improved (still no Spielberg commentary though, as usual): there are a load more featurettes and an interactive facility - all as yet uninvestigated but they look promising...

This Blu-ray issue shows what can be done with just a single disc and a bit of effort: an already excellent, intelligent thriller is given the HD treatment to great effect with the bonus of new material in the 'extras' department. 'Minority Report' was already a hugely enjoyable and entertaining film, it is now as good as it gets !
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