DVD Review HTF REVIEW: Mystic River (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED).

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Herb Kane, May 30, 2004.

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  1. Herb Kane

    Herb Kane Screenwriter

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    [​IMG]

    Mystic River
    3 Disc Deluxe Edition




    Studio: Warner Brothers
    Year: 2003
    Rated: R
    Film Length: 138 Minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Enhanced Widescreen
    Audio: DD 5.1
    Color/B&W: Color
    Languages: English & Spanish
    Subtitles: English, French & Spanish
    MSRP: $39.98
    Package: 3 disc set in a 3 panel gatefold Digipak with cardboard slipcover





    The Feature:
    It seems as though a couple of times a year, we as DVD enthusiasts file a title or two in the back of our minds, almost incessantly anticipating its eventual release. For the early part of 2004, for me, that title was Mystic River. The acclaimed film which was directed by one of my favorites, Clint Eastwood and stars a veritable buffet of some of the best and brightest actors and actresses we have today such as Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon, Marcia Gay Harden, Laura Linney and Laurence Fishburne. The film was based on Dennis Lehane’s crime novel and Brian Helgeland was responsible for the screenplay.

    The film starts out almost thirty years earlier when three neighborhood friends are playing street hockey in a quiet Boston blue collar neighborhood. The three boys (Jimmy, Sean and Dave) discover a new sidewalk repair that’s just been made and they decide to etch their names in the wet cement. Just as Dave starts, a car pulls up and out comes an undercover police officer who immediately starts to lecture the boys about damaging city property. After he warns Jimmy and Sean of their actions, he decides to take Dave home to his mother and places the terrified young boy in the backseat. What they don’t realize is that the men aren’t police officers and they wind up abducting Dave where he’s help captive in a basement for four days and used for sexual gratification by his captors until he makes good his escape.

    Fast forward almost three decades and the Massachusetts State Police locate an abandoned car that belongs to Jimmy Markum’s (played by Sean Penn) nineteen year old daughter, Katie (played by Emmy Rossum), which is filled with blood and a bullet hole. A search of an adjoining park quickly results in the recovery of Katie’s body, badly beaten and shot to death. As is the case with most of our childhood friends, we grow up and go on our separate ways. However, the tragic death of Jimmy’s daughter and a strange twist of fate are about to re-acquaint the friends once again.

    One of the lead investigator’s with the State Police is Jimmy’s longtime childhood friend Sean Devine (played by Kevin Bacon) whose brash partner is Sgt. Whitey Powers (played by Laurence Fishburne). Dave Boyle (played by Tim Robbins), who is still traumatized from the event that took place during his youth, is drawn into the equation as one of the last people to see the young girl alive. Katie and her friends had been drinking in the same bar as Dave and left just minutes prior to his departure.

    The investigation reveals a number of individuals who might be considered suspects, all of whom have motives to some extent. Unbeknownst to Jimmy and his wife Annabeth (played by Laura Linney), Katie was dating a young man named Brendan Harris (played by Tom Guiry) who she knew her dad wasn’t fond of. Not only does Brendan’s relationship become suspect, but we eventually learn that his father was responsible for sending Jimmy to prison for two years after a series of robberies that took place almost twenty years earlier. However, all evidence points to Dave. On the night of the murder, Dave returned home with a badly bruised hand and a slash wound to his abdomen. His wife Celeste (played by Marcia Gay Harden) is beginning to doubt her husband’s story of his being the victim of a mugging. Don’t be too sure, just when you think you’ve got it figured out, another twist unravels.

    If I were limited to using two words to describe this film, those two words would be powerful and disturbing. Central to the plot is the abduction that takes place when the boys are in the midst of childhood. Through the development of the characters, we see that not only Dave was affected by the evil torture that occurred years earlier, but Jimmy and his circle of friends clearly demonstrate that they too are troubled and damaged goods as a result. On the surface, Sean looks to be the only one who has gotten over the hurdle of torments, but he too is not immune as his wife has up and left him, having taken their newborn baby to New York. Even though she calls him frequently, she never speaks. One old timer who appears to be sharp as a tack is Eli Wallach who makes an uncredited cameo as a liquor store owner. It was great seeing Clint Eastwood’s old co-star from The Good, The Bad and the Ugly in the cameo.

    Not that I should be surprised, but I feel let down by the Academy, who in my opinion, failed to recognize this film as the Best Picture of 2003. That’s not to say that Return Of The King wasn’t worthy of the statues it garnered last year, it most certainly was. Perhaps not a popular one but I am of the opinion Peter Jackson and his marvelous film(s) should have been recognized as the best film in 2001. Instead, an almost nostalgic-like vote went to longtime favorite Ron Howard. In my opinion, that caused a domino effect thereby creating a vote-by-default for the franchise that had, up until that point, gone virtually unrecognized. As a result, the creme de la creme of Clint Eastwood’s career paid the price. Fortunately, the cast members were recognized. Sean Penn and Tim Robbins both took home Oscars for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor respectively, while Marcia Gay Harden was nominated for Best Supporting Actress and Clint Eastwood was nominated for Best Director. Not only were all of the performances brilliant but (and this is something when poorly crafted drives me bananas), their perfected assimilation of the Bahston accent was commendable.

    Similar to the Warner Bros. 2 Disc Special Editions, this package is almost identical with the exception of one thing - basically my only complaint with the entire set. Disc one is housed on its own hub on the middle panel whereas discs two and three overlap on the last panel. In other words, in order to get at disc three, you must clumsily remove disc two before doing so. This could have been avoided by simply adding the extra panel adding very little to the cost of the package. Keep reading… this is a very small price to pay.

    And finally, there is also a single disc version available which will be a film only version and will list for $27.95. As for whether or not you’ll want to pony up the extra funds for the Deluxe Edition for the extras and the CD is a decision you’ll have to make which frankly, I consider a bargain.

    The Feature: 5/5
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]



    Video:
    This is yet another gorgeous looking transfer from Warner Brothers which is shown in 2.35:1 enhanced widescreen.

    Colors were mostly vibrant with a slightly warm quality to them and were nicely saturated which appear quite natural and realistic, but never garish. Flesh tones always looked natural. Blacks were as deep as imaginable while whites were always crisp and clean. The film is slightly dark at times, however, image definition is rarely affected.

    The overall image detail was most impressive with only occasional instances of slight softness. There were many instances of depth and dimensionality offering up a most pleasing film-like image. There was a very slight hint of fine grain present throughout the entire picture which allows the film to retain a feel of grittiness. In fact this very issue and a couple of 70’s films are discussed in the special features including The French Connection.

    As we would expect the print was absolutely immaculate and free of any dirt, dust or debris, nor were any scratches visible.

    There were no compression errors to speak of and although I may have detected a couple of minute instances of edge enhancement, it’s barely worth mentioning.

    This isn’t the bright and polished look similar to many new releases we see on a regular basis. Given the subject matter, location and general overall atmosphere of the film, I’m absolutely confident it’s perfectly representative of the theatrical presentation. A superb job – virtually flawless.

    Warning: A single disc FULLSCREEN version exists.

    Video: 5/5
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    Audio:
    Presented in Dolby Digital 5.1, I wouldn’t necessarily, call this an aggressive soundtrack. I would however say it became aggressive when it needed to.

    The vast majority of this film is dialogue driven which was always exceptionally bold and clear throughout the film. The track is free of any hiss or other distracting anomalies. The overall fidelity of the track was rather natural and never became harsh or edgy. There is a great deal of music that accompanied the film which always remained subtle and never became competitive.

    There was a relatively wide soundstage which offered up a pleasing and spatial feel. Other than a couple of gunshots there really isn’t much to speak of in terms of dynamics although its range was more than adequate.

    As for the surrounds, there was a nice sense of envelopment as they were tactfully deployed - such as helicopter flyovers, cruiser sirens etc. They were never overbearing but effective. There was occasional use of LFE that was also subtle but effective.

    Not a track that you’ll want to use as a demo but it is very capable.

    Audio: 4.5/5
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    Special Features:
    For the purpose of the review, I was sent the 3 Disc Deluxe Edition. Besides the feature film, disc one contains:
    [*] A Commentary with Tim Robbins and Kevin Bacon. Generally, I find commentaries that feature the stars of the film, to be the least informative. In this case, there is a fair amount of dead time, but the information discussed by Robbins and Bacon is more of a recount of the film; “oh, remember him?”, “yeah she was great to work with”. They go into some interesting detail about working for Clint Eastwood and how the shoot compared to others although very little technique is discussed. They did discuss the look of the film and drew comparisons to some of the films from the 70’s relating to the “grittiness” of the film. Although both are equal contributors, Robbins clearly takes the lead with aspects that are of interest. If you can get past much of the dead time that does exist, there are some tidbits here for the taking.

    Disc two contains the remainder of the special Features. First up:
    [*] Mystic River: Beneath The Surface which features Dennis Lehane and Brian Helgeland who discuss the release of the book and the process of adapting the film from the novel. Clint Eastwood also discusses the ensemble and how little the film relied on special effects. Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon, Marcia Gay Harden, Laura Linney and Laurence Fishburn individually discuss their styles and how they applied them in the film. These are all pretty intense snippets, unfortunately they’re too brief. Duration: 22:51 minutes.
    [*] Next up is Mystic River: From Page To Screen which features basically the same participants and is by and large a carry over from the previous feature. Though I would have preferred one single feature with longer intervals from each participant, these are still pretty informative. Duration: 11:31 minutes.
    [*] The Charlie Rose Show – Interviews. There are three individual interviews included here. The first interview is with Clint Eastwood – 10/08/2003 duration: 41:49 mins. The second is with Tim Robbins – 10/13/2003 duration: 50:24 mins. The final interview features Kevin Bacon 12/26/2003 duration: 19:05. All of these interviews are outstanding. As usual, Charlie Rose does an absolutely outstanding job of eliciting tons of great information from all three of the interviewees relating to the film. The common theme throughout all of the features is one thing; most of those involved with this film seem to say that participation in this film was perhaps the experience of their career. These interviews top the list of the special features and are most certainly deserving of your time.
    [*] The Theatrical Teaser is next which is voiced by Clint Eastwood himself. Duration: 1:15 minutes
    [*] Lastly, the Theatrical Trailer is included. Both teaser and trailer are in great shape. Duration: 2:20 minutes.

    Disc three is a CD which contains the original motion picture soundtrack music composed by Clint Eastwood, with pianist Brad Hatfield, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and the Tanglewood Festival Chorus. I am a huge fan of soundtracks and movie scores and I’m delighted to have this available as an extra.

    The tracks are as follows:

    1. Mystic River – Main Title 1:53
    2. Abduction 2:37
    3. Communion/Katie’s Absence 2:02
    4. Jimmy’s Anguish 3:08
    5. Meditation #1 – Piano 2:16
    6. Orchestral Variation #1 of music from Mystic River 7:34
    7. Escape From the Wolves 1:32
    8. The Morgue 2:03
    9. Brendan’s Love of Katie 1:30
    10. Meditation #2 – Piano 2:21
    11. Dave’s Past 1:57
    12. The Confrontation 7:09
    13. The Resolution 3:15
    14. A Full Heart 2:53
    15. Meditation #3 – Piano 3:36
    16. Orchestral Variation #2 of music from Mystic River 3:26
    17. Theme From Mystic River 5:05
    18. Cosmo/Kyle Eastwood 5:30
    19. Black Emerald Blues/Kyle Eastwood 2:00

    All of the music was composed by Clint Eastwood with the exception of tracks 18 and 19 which were composed by Kyle Eastwood.

    Special Features: 4.5/5
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    **Special Features rated for the quality of supplements, not the quantity**



    Final Thoughts:
    Mystic River takes a look at the power of evil and the effects it brings to the lives of three grown men years after a life altering incident takes place that’s almost unfathomable. After an exploration of fate, the film reinforces, that regardless of our role in such an incident, many of us can be and will be affected for the rest of our lives. Clint Eastwood takes us on that journey without the use of any fancy vehicles in a film that epitomizes substance over style with some of the greatest acting performances we’ve seen in years.

    Aside from one of the best films to come out of Hollywood in the last couple of years including several pinnacle career performances, Warner Bros. has delivered another outstanding set with a presentation that simply couldn’t get much better and they have complemented it with a number of interesting and worthwhile special features. If you’re annual DVD budget doesn’t exceed $30, make this your 2004 purchase. It’s that good. I can’t recommend this set enough.

    Overall Rating: 5/5 (not an average)
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    Highly Recommended…!!




    Release Date: June 8th, 2004
     
  2. ZacharyTait

    ZacharyTait Cinematographer

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    Terrific review Herb. I would pick up the 3-disc set if it wasn't for the fact that I'm currently unemployed. Man, it sucks having to wait to pick up a DVD.
     
  3. Jonathan Dagmar

    Jonathan Dagmar Supporting Actor

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    I know how horrible it is being unemployed. I have been so since just after Christmas. There were no jobs here! I finally landed a job at a new Best buy store opening up, which will be good as I can pick up all my backlog on a discount. hehehe.

    But on topic now, I LOVED THIS MOVIE! BUY THIS MOVIE!

    ok. That is all.
     
  4. Dane Marvin

    Dane Marvin Screenwriter

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    Going for the 3-Disc. It'll look good with my collection of Warner 2-Discers. Great review, Herb! I'm sold -- it'll be a blind buy. [​IMG]
     
  5. DanaA

    DanaA Screenwriter

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    Yes, very nice review. Saw this at the theaters and found it to be a very fine film. Tim Robbins is, to me, a quiet actor - meaning one who does fine performance after fine performance, yet never reaches the heights of popular recognition that he warrants. He is an actor, not a celebrity and he's pretty amazing here.

    Sean Penn has long established his credentials too. This, again to me, was only his second best acting job of the year, the first being his unbelievable work in 21 Grams. In other words, he did two of the best acting performances of the year in my book.

    I'm also very happy that Clint Eastwood is getting some dues for his fine directing.
     
  6. Justin Bauer

    Justin Bauer Supporting Actor

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    I agree 100%. Although, I feel that ROTK did not deserve half of the Ocsars that it took home.
     
  7. Robert_eb

    Robert_eb Supporting Actor

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    I loved the book but missed the film at the theaters. I usually don't care for "the extras", but I'm looking forward to these. I just love the Charlie Rose interviews that are included on some dvd's and wish more dvd's had them as they are always informative.
     
  8. Jake Lipson

    Jake Lipson Supporting Actor

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    Thanks for this.

    I loved the movie in theaters -- ti was one of my biggest suprises as I continue to branch out into new types of films -- and even though I can't see myself listening to the score much (it's good for the film but not rich enough on its own to warrent repeated listens for me) I'll definately be going for the 3-disc if I can afford it. Looking forward to seeing the movie again, and those extras, too, especially the Charlie Rose interviews.

    May have to pick up the book and read it, too.

    Also would like to add, just in case people may misinterpret the warning above, the fullscreen version is only available as a single-disc barebones disc in snapper packaging form, as is a seperate widescreen version. The 3-disc SE set, however, is to my knowlege widescreen only.

    Thanks again!
     
  9. Herb Kane

    Herb Kane Screenwriter

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    That's correct Jake... I'll re-word that - it isn't very clear. In light of all the recent keep case releases, I'm curious to see if the single disc version will be in a snapper or a keep case.
     
  10. David Brashear

    David Brashear Stunt Coordinator

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    Now, I'm confused. The DVD File review said that the "standard" edition is actually two discs, meaning the only extra feature on this three disc set is the soundtrack. Are they mistaken?
     
  11. Herb Kane

    Herb Kane Screenwriter

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    David, the above paragraph was taken from the WB press release. Perhaps there's been a change...? I was sent the 3 Disc version for the review, so I can't confirm the others.

    EDIT: Besides the Deluxe version, there is a single disc version (in either Widescreen or Fullscreen) available in a snap case.
     
  12. Sam Davatchi

    Sam Davatchi Producer

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    Yes. I got both editions in my hand and the single edition has no extras and is only ONE disc. So with the 3 disc edition you get an extra DVD too.
     
  13. AndrewW

    AndrewW Stunt Coordinator

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    Post removed by owner - do not repost political rhetoric here
     
  14. Robert_eb

    Robert_eb Supporting Actor

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    Thanks for your input.
     
  15. Dave S.G.

    Dave S.G. Stunt Coordinator

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    Hate to add more useless input, but no one I know in the real world would understand how I feel...

    "Crappy, crap, crap, crap." - Bart Simpson

    This release will have to wait.

    Sincerely,

    An apparent tree hugger[​IMG]
     
  16. Sam Davatchi

    Sam Davatchi Producer

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    Could you elaborate more? What do you mean? That the 3-disc edition is not good enough?
     
  17. Herb Kane

    Herb Kane Screenwriter

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    Sam... thanks for your post. Is the single version a snap case...?
     
  18. Sam Davatchi

    Sam Davatchi Producer

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    I never learned the names! If snap case is those cardboard WB cases that the first Matrix was in, then yes!
     
  19. Dave S.G.

    Dave S.G. Stunt Coordinator

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    Hmm... well... I've got a budget and believed that I wouldn't have to shell out the extra for a soundtrack I don't really want. No, it's not a condemnation of Warner Bros., but rather I'm merely sharing a *minor* frustration that the deluxe puts me out more than I can do right now. So I'll wait.[/elaboration]
     
  20. Dome Vongvises

    Dome Vongvises Lead Actor

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    I have no money..... I have no money..... I'm overqualified for hiring.....

    [​IMG]
     

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