DVD Review HTF REVIEW: S.W.A.T.: Special Edition

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Michael Osadciw, Dec 23, 2003.

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  1. Michael Osadciw

    Michael Osadciw Screenwriter

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    Michael Osadciw
    [​IMG]


    S.W.A.T.





    Studio: Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment
    Year: 2003

    U.S. Rating: PG-13
    Canadian Rating: 14A

    Film Length: 117 minutes
    Genre: Action

    Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 widescreen enhanced
    Audio: English & French Dolby Digital 5.1
    Subtitles: English & French

    SLP: US$36.90





    Release Date: December 30, 2003

    Well, the end of 2003 is wrapping up and it’s been a great year for DVD releases and for films in the theatre. While not all of them have reached a level of praise that will make them be remembered and go down into film history books, some of those did make an impact at the box office. Take S.W.A.T. released by Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment – it was the hit summer 2003 film starring Colin Farrell and Samuel L. Jackson that grossed over $116 million. The film is based on a popular TV series from the ‘70s that ran a season and a half, or to be more exact, 39 episodes. The executives above pulled the plug on the show because it was viewed to be too violent for the masses for daily TV. The show was based on five S.W.A.T. guys going out to kick some butt, and in retrospect the guns and the violence in this show was really tame and is perceived as comical by today’s standards.

    Of course, all TVs shows can find their way to the big screen somehow especially if an action flick. There is already a familiarity with the title by some, throw in a couple of well known actors, mix it up with crafty camera work and editing and voila! a summer blockbuster. Can it be good? $119 million of consumer dollars says it is.

    The opening sequence of the film captures the viewer to experience a re-enactment of a real event that took place in North Hollywood – a bank shoot-out. Looking at original tapes the producers recreated this as accurately as possible by using both film and news-video shot from the sky to set the mood of our special weapons and tactics team entering the bank. We learn that S.W.A.T. team members are people who one day will be sitting back enjoying a nice coffee and donut and in the next moment will have to make split second decisions against those who pose a threat and terror against hostages and property. These guys are under high-stress conditions and the opening sequence tries to communicate this to us somewhat successfully. I actually felt like I was watching Top Gun because of the events just all seemed to fall in the same sequence – partners working together, one disobeys, the get called into the office, one quits. The rest of film needs this for story development right to the ending.

    The middle of the film is really just Jackson’s character putting some new S.W.A.T. recruits to work in training including the talents of Michelle Rodriguez, LL Cool J, Brian Van Holt, Josh Charles. Jeremy Renner plays the outcast S.W.A.T. member and Oliver Martinez as the captured foreign guy offering $100 million to anyone who can help him escape from the authorities.

    The movie’s direction isn’t well focused as I found myself watching unlikely events. I felt that some parts were rather pointless, and characters of the S.W.A.T. recruits weren’t developed at all to help me understand them and their decisions. A lack of character development leaves me not knowing them and thinking, “Who cares?” when things come into full circle to it’s rather anti-climatic ending. But knowing this is a popcorn action flick who cares about development and enjoy the movie!


    Video Quality? [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]/[​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    This stylized 2.40:1 widescreen enhanced picture features a wide use of both film and a video appearance to set the mood of the scenes. The video looks just like news footage and is smeared and undefined to give it a claustrophobic experience using amateur camera operators. When switched to film the picture is sharp but rather dim. I recommend a dark viewing environment for this movie because any ambient light will make the details difficult to see in the nighttime scenes especially at the end of the film. Cool blues and swampy greens are some of the few mood colours used throughout. Colour rendered good with accurate looking flesh tones. While not a reference looking picture it is sure to please.

    A separate 4:3 release is available and is not reviewed.


    Audio Quality? [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]/[​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Presented in Dolby Digital 5.1, the front soundstage is wide and dynamic and has some great imaging. Frequencies seem well balanced with either sound effects of music. The music score, emanating from the theme of the television show, is very prominent during the action scenes that sound effects seem to take the backseat to the music. I felt that I was taken out of those scenes’ action because all the sound effects of gunfire were rather quiet sounding in comparison to the music score. So if you want to wow your friend with the sounds of shoot-out scenes, I wouldn’t recommend this title for it. Regardless, the audio is very clear, and when gunshots are fired there is a great kick in the bass each time the trigger is pushed. It is very directional and it will give your sub(s) and all channels a good bass workout. It is nice to hear punctuating bass in the surround channels to enhance the listener in all kinds of sounds. Surround use is used but sparingly. There are times of directional effects but for the most part they don’t seem to draw too much attention to themselves. They also sound a few dB lower than the main channels when all of them are engaged at the same time.


    Special Features? [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]/[​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    This special edition DVD’s features include two commentaries, one from the cast and director (featuring Van Holt, LL Cool J, Rodriguez, Jackson, Charles, and Director Clark Johnson) and the other from the technical consultant and screenwriters. Johnson isn’t the most exciting person to listen to but nevertheless when the rest start chatting about the film it can make it more enjoyable.

    There are four featurettes on this disc. First is Anatomy of a Shootout (9m08s) and discusses the weapons used in the film as well as the opening sequence based on that live event. S.W.A.T. – T.V.’s Original Supercops (6.58) reflects on the past television series that the film is based on. The Making of S.W.A.T. (21m40s) reflects a little more into the making of the film and S.W.A.T. team members. Interviews with actors and S.W.A.T. members are the highlight, but I found this featurette to be pretty snoozy… Lastly, the 6th Street Bridge – Achieving the Impossible (5m22s) discusses the use of CGI for this sequence because yes – this scene would probably be impossible to do in reality (not to mention when the plane tries to take off). All of these featurettes are enhanced for widescreen TVs and in DD2.0, except for The Making of S.W.A.T., which is 4:3.

    Next up is eight deleted scenes, all are widescreen and not enhanced, DD2.0, and some are unfinished with blue screen in the background. They total about six and a half minutes and are mostly small scene extensions cut for length.

    A neat little interactive piece called Sound & Fury: The Sounds of S.W.A.T. goes into a little more detail into the sound design for certain gun fights and how the sound designers go out to make the perfect gun sound using various mikes. You can click your remote over different guns showed on screen to hear what they sound like in a weapon demo. Also, with the use of the “audio” button on your remote, you can toggle between different sound layers for gunshot effects for four different scenes in the film. Neat! I think more interactive features should be on DVDs because they are more fun and add a break when just watching featurettes for five hours.

    Lastly, a gag reel, filmographies, and theatrical trailers are included. Oddly enough, the theatrical trailer for S.W.A.T. is not on this disc.


    Thoughts…

    Bring S.W.A.T. home for the New Year if you want to start it off with a bang! While the movie isn’t the greatest thing I’ve seen, others will find it exciting and full of action. With the talents of the cast and the positive press, most people will find this movie a “to-get-to flick”. This film will give you a little insight to a day in the life of a S.W.A.T. member and maybe make you appreciate your job a little more if you are not one to sit on the line of danger. Go get ‘em boys.

    03.12.23
    Michael Osadciw
     
  2. Matt Butler

    Matt Butler Screenwriter

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    I might pick this up. It was a fun flick in the theatre.

    Nice review!
     
  3. Chad A Wright

    Chad A Wright Supporting Actor

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    I liked this enough in the theater to pick it up. I recall enjoying it quite a bit at the time.
     
  4. Larry Talbot

    Larry Talbot Second Unit

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    On second thought, I've decided to send my negative critique of Michael's review directly to him rather than post it here. Suffice it to say I feel a reviewer should give a bad film, a bad review, not an "ambivalent" one - no matter how many other people might like it or how much money it makes at the box office.
     
  5. Ron-P

    Ron-P Producer

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    This is one film where it is better to spend $16 on the DVD rather then $18 at the box-office. I'll be picking it up sight unseen. Thanks for the review.


    Peace Out~[​IMG]
     
  6. Scott Kimball

    Scott Kimball Screenwriter

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    Obviously, you're not.

    It is possible to be critical without being offensive and tactless.

    I'll pass on purchasing this one, since I was as ambivalent about it as Michael apparently was.

    -Scott
     
  7. Larry Talbot

    Larry Talbot Second Unit

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    "Obviously, you're not."

    But I am. If this review were done by someone who gets paid to review movies in a newspaper, I wouldn't hesitate to send my response as a letter to the editor. But since Michael donates his time as a reviewer here to the HTF, I think in retrospect I have been too harsh and yes, perhaps tactless in slamning his review in the same thread rather than sending my criticisms directly to him (how anything I wrote was "offensive," however, escapes me.)
     
  8. Michael Osadciw

    Michael Osadciw Screenwriter

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    Real Name:
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    Did I miss something here? Feel free to email me if you have any concerns.

    Regards,
    Michael
     
  9. Larry Talbot

    Larry Talbot Second Unit

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    Not to keep dragging this out but I emailed my original post to you, Michael.
     
  10. Garrett Lundy

    Garrett Lundy Producer

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    This looks more like a "Rent it and watch it once" kind of movie.... been a few of those lately. [​IMG]
     
  11. Joseph J.D

    Joseph J.D Cinematographer

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    The film itself got mixed reviews - from what I've read anyway. However, some people I know really liked this film so I'll go by their recommendations as well. Anyway, I saw it this evening in a store that broke street date and decided to pick it up.[​IMG]
     
  12. Paul Chi

    Paul Chi Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks for the fantastic review. Like Mr. Garrett Lundy said, will rent it and probably watch it once.
     
  13. chris_clem

    chris_clem Second Unit

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    I watched this in the theater and the sentence above captures exactly what I was thinking after the film! The ending was probably the biggest letdown I've seen in a while. Considering that this should be a "mindless" action flick I think it was unforgivable that it ran out of gas in the end. If you want mindless action get Bad boys 2 instead.[​IMG]
     
  14. Greg S

    Greg S Supporting Actor

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    When I check out an "HTF Review" I am looking for one thing ...... HOW GOOD IS THE DVD??

    I am not looking for an endorsement on the movie itself. The movie could suck all but be a nice DVD presentation, have tons of extras and so on and THAT'S what I think the HTF reviewers should be commenting on.

    Many people may like a movie and the reviewer dislike it does mean he should give a negative DVD review if everything else is great about the disc (ie good video/audio, nice extras/commentaries etc.)??

    I think if you are looking for an endorsement on the film check one the MILLIONS of movie review sites around and see for yourself. I think a DVD review should 95% about the DVD and what it offer and 5% about the film (ie what's it about etc.).

    Just because someone disagrees with a reviewer's opinion of the movie doesn't mean he/she should get slammed. Afterall we are all entitled to our own opinion.

    Just my $1.98s worth.

    Myself I will be getting this as a blind buy as I was dying to see it in the theaters but missed out.

    Greg
     
  15. Colin Jacobson

    Colin Jacobson Producer

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    So write your own reviews. It's a reviewer's prerogative to do it the way he sees fit - if you don't like that, it's very easy to skip to the DVD-centered portion of the review. Michael DOES comment on the technical elements, and in detail. He didn't check out all the extras, but he still mentioned them.

    If you want to see a site that'll drive you nuts, go to DVD Journal. They write very good MOVIE reviews but devote at most 5% of their reviews to the DVDs themselves - there's usually no detail at all about picture/sound/extras...
     
  16. Greg S

    Greg S Supporting Actor

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    Colin,

    Thanks for the "slam".

    My comments were posted because of the individual that was giving Michael a hard time since he didn't give a negative review of the DVD because the movie was so bad(in the poster's opinion). That's the only reason I said something.

    I was not criticising the review as I thought it was very appropriate -- He spoke about the quality of the DVD(audio/video) and what it had to offer(extras) and commented on his opinion of the movie(good or bad).

    That's what kind of DVD REVIEW I am looking for, plain and simple!!


    Greg
     
  17. Steve K.H.

    Steve K.H. Supporting Actor

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    Hmmm...

    Everyone's opinion is welcome. One of the slight struggles or challenges faced by HT's reviewers is potentially prejudicing their current eligibility to receive films as a pre-release.

    HT's reviews can't go off the handle dissing the films or the DVD Software they have been reviewing. There needs to be tact within the review.

    When the film sucks *cough* Gigli *cough*, the reviewer must still review the film and highlight their take on the positives and the negatives.

    The reviewer hopes that the membership is sophisticated enough to catch on to what the review is or is not saying, without having to resort to big neon lights saying "OMG!!! THIS IS A PILE OF BILE!"
    [​IMG]
    The reviewers are asking us to open our minds a little bit.

    ---

    On this review:

    Is Michael wetting the bed with endorsements... or is he suggesting there are some puzzling misses on the film?

    To me, the message was clear. This is not a classic run out and buy action flick, but there are some good reasons to rent it.

    The review is very cleverly written. What is said is worth reading... twice. What isn't said is spoken in volumes.

    [​IMG]
     
  18. Larry Talbot

    Larry Talbot Second Unit

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    "My comments were posted because of the individual that was giving Michael a hard time since he didn't give a negative review of the DVD because the movie was so bad(in the poster's opinion). That's the only reason I said something."

    As the "individual" you refer to, allow me to point out you have your facts wrong. I did not give Michael a hard time because he failed to give a negative review to a film I thought was bad. I haven't seen S.W.A.T.
    No, I gave Michael a hard time because he failed to give a negative review to a film HE clearly thought was bad (while stressing the fact that it made a lot of money at the box office and other people liked it, etc.)

    As to your other argument, I see no reason why a reviewer can't review picture and audio quality AND artistic quality. In fact, reviewers do it all the time.

    "One of the slight struggles or challenges faced by HT's reviewers is potentially prejudicing their current eligibility to receive films as a pre-release.
    HT's reviews can't go off the handle dissing the films or the DVD Software they have been reviewing. There needs to be tact within the review."

    If this is true, Steve, then I think that's really too bad. I did not know reviews here were predicated on not offending the source of the DVDs under review. If this is so, then perhaps reviewers should not focus on the artistic quality of a film itself at all, rather than do it with their hands tied (or "tactfully," as you put it.)
    But, if this IS true, then what's to stop a reviewer from going easy on picture and audio quality too? After all, if a reviewer does justifiably slam a discs picture and audio quality, isn't that likely to anger the source of the DVD as well? You've opened up a can of worms here.
    I've learned not to trust DVD reviews from several sites because what was written seemed designed more to curry favor with a distributor or studio than to impart objective scrutiny (see many of the online reviews for Gangs of New York for obvious examples.)
    It would be a shame if the same were to hold true here.
     
  19. Colin Jacobson

    Colin Jacobson Producer

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    How did I slam you? You presented the thought that DVD reviews shouldn't review the program itself and I stated a different viewpoint. I also mentioned you don't actually have to read the movie comments if you don't desire to do so. I admit I don't understand why people complain about DVD reviews that DO discuss the movies as long as those reviews also cover the discs in detail - why complain about it if you don't have to read it?
     
  20. Jordan_E

    Jordan_E Cinematographer

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    Dang! No gift cards this Christmas, so I guess this will be a rental for me. Since I'm not expecting much at all, maybe the movie will surprise me.
     

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