A VIEW from the TOP Studio: MIRAMAX Year: 2003 Rated: PG-13 Film Length: 87 minutes Aspect Ratio: 16X9 encoded 2.35:1 Audio: DD 5.1 (English, French) Extras: Behind-the-scenes featurette, History of the Flight Attendant short, About-the-music short. Release Date: Sept. 9, 2003 Movie... It’s a chick flick. But it’s a good one. If you like movies like Legally Blonde and My Best-Friend’s Wedding, and I think you’ll enjoy View from the Top (“View” for short). Screen-play writing isn’t as witty as Legally Blonde, and humor isn’t as slap-stick over the top as in My Best Friend’s Wedding, but it shares shelf-space with these other well-liked titles just the same. There’s romance, and a bit of contrived strife and controversy like you get about 1/2 way through your favorite sit-com drama. But just like the dependable romance that it is, it manages to pull everything back in place before the credits roll. Worst case it’s a tolerable way to earn points with your girlfriend after making her sit through Terminator 3 (and there are some nice shots of pretty gals in well-fitted swimsuits to help make it easier). Best case you’ll enjoy the movie too and just not want to talk about it too loudly in the locker-room at the gym. Story... Gwyneth Paltrow does a convincing job of portraying Donna, a small town girl with sights set higher than the crumbling TV antenna on her trailer-park home. She seems as adept here amid the trials of Walmart America as she did quoting Jane Austin in “Emma”. After the near-fatal emotional blow of her romantic breakup, she becomes inspired by an infomercial and finds herself magnetically drawn to becoming a Flight Attendant to leave her cares earth-bound. We get some very entertaining performances from a great cast and even though ultimately everything works out predictably as planned, it’s lots of fun getting there. Rob Lowe (Austin Powers) also does a fun job of playing a good secondary character in this film and to his credit manages to deliver it well and entertain without intruding too much into the Gwyneth’s space. Not quite the “great” film that I’d call Legally Blonde or Clueless, but a “good” film and one that many of you will enjoy. And besides...isn’t it her turn to pick a movie? Picture... On my 16x9 Proscan the image looks truly reference. Black level is solid but most of this film involves brightly lit scenes that abound in rich color. There is some visible film-grain in some shots but it looks natural and source-related and doesn’t speak to any “video” artifact. Resolution is outstanding...detail is excellent and many scenes take on a 3-D look. Compression artifacting is also a non-issue and glad to say that I didn’t find any distracting halo-artifacting from over-applied edge-enhancement. Many of the scenes are really wonderful...long distance shots that really take advantage of 2.35:1 aspect ratio and make dramatic use of the frame. All that fine-level detail is right there keeping things in focus even when the camera is locked onto a small object in the distance. I really can’t wait to take this over and screen it on my friend’s Sony 10HT...it’s just the kind of transfer that really says “I’d really look good on a projection system...start saving!” I must say that Miramax has really been putting out some impressive DVD transfers lately (ie, transfers that look like the film sources they are intended to represent)...at least the discs that I’ve seen. Well, here’s another one. Picture Rating: Picture: 5 / 5 Sound... Except for a little less surround activity than I would have hoped for, a truly fantastic sound mix. Dialog sounds great and is intelligible without having to adjust volume during the film and fidelity is outstanding. Lots of “space” in the mix...you can hear subtle acoustical cues that make it sound more like a real sound-space environment and less like a mixing console. But where this film really rocks is in the musical sequences that are edited into the scenes for dramatic effect. We’ve got a wide gamete of such musical interlude...from Jackson 5 to classic rock, the songs just burst out of the 5.1 mix and really sweep you off your feet. I found myself wishing that I could pause the movie for a few minutes and listen to the complete songs in 5.1. Once you watch the DVD you’ll see what I mean. Only negative is again just a little front-heavy for me to feel the mix deserves a full 5 out of 5...however the great fidelity of the soundtrack deserves some serious kudos. So, shaving off a tad for slightly underutilized surrounds: Sound: 4.5 / 5 Extras... Not much but just about what I would expect. We get a cute short about the history of the Flight Attendant and a entertaining but not groundbreaking behind the scenes short (Miramax is just loving those behind-the-scene featurettes these days...nice to have them). Both 4x3 encoded with 2.0 DD sound. One extra sort of left me dazed and confused...it was the “music of “view from the top”” featurette. Having just watched the film and just been so bedazzled by the great use of music mixed into the scenes I was really ready to get into this one. Instead what it ended up being was more or less a “teaser” where you got to see a few seconds of several music-videos of songs that were featured in the film...but not the actual music videos! To make matters worse...the clips of the videos you see clearly show montages from the movie in them and the creative artists talk about how they wanted their song in the movie or wrote their song just for the movie...and you STILL don’t get the actual music-videos on this disc! What gives? With Lizzie we got the complete music videos in tact, and same with Lilo/Stitch. All I can assume is that some sort of royalty issue with the various artists kept them off the disc but it’s just so hard to imagine given how each of the songs featured in this short were clearly written explicitly for the movie or the artist had asked to have their song included! Ok, I’m calm now. But this particular “special feature” actually left me frustrated. I would have preferred not had it at all and not known about the great music-videos that I was missing. Quibbles about the music-video aside, nice balance of extras given how a title like this could have easily fallen into Paramount-lackluster “chapter-stops are bonus material” land. Conclusion... It’s cute. And as long as you can handle a cute chick-flick with style and grace you should give it a try. Those of you who already planned to buy this disc and had the usual concerns for transfer quality can place your preorders confident that great picture and sound await you... RECOMMENDED.