Blu-ray Disc REVIEW M:I:III Studio: Paramount Pictures Film Year: 2006 Film Length: 125 minutes Genre: Action/Adventure Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Theatrical Ratio Film Resolution: 1080p Special features: 1080p/480i Video Codec: MPEG-2 Colour/B&W: Colour Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround French Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish Film Rating: PG-13 Release Date: AVAILABLE NOW Film Rating: / Starring: Tom Cruise (Ethan Hunt), Philip Seymour Hoffman (Owen Davian), Michelle Monaghan (Julia Meade), Ving Rhames (Luther Stickell), Lawrence Fishburne (Theodore Brassel) Written by: Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci & J.J. Abrams Directed by: J.J. Abrams M:I:III is high on the list for many owners of an HD player. Paramount is again releasing DVD, HD-DVD, and Blu-ray day-and-date with each other giving the consumer the ultimate choice in picking what format they want to support. No more buying SD-DVD and then waiting later for an HD version. This is choice at its best! This special edition Blu-ray release is spread over two BD-25 discs and in the case there is a slip of paper with a chapter stop list that isn’t held in very well. I’m excited to see two disc releases as more HD content is being released for special features. It’s familiar DVD territory until more BD-50s become the norm. although I suspect that in the future we’ll probably see releases with two BD-50s in them as studios exploit the available resources and loading up their releases. Below is the film’s review from HTF reviewer Pat Wahlquist. While Pat and I were originally going to team up on this review, ultimately this isn’t possible because we live on different sides of the continent and we are evaluating these discs on different systems. Long-time readers are probably familiar with each of our reviews and get an idea of how we rank these titles in comparisons to others so hopefully these reviews, even though they are separate, can still give you a good idea how these discs rank among other BDs and HD-DVDs. In this review, my comments are strictly A/V related for those interested in Blu-ray. HTF DVD Reviewer Pat Wahlquist writes: Coming off the some of the critical issues that hampered the first two Mission: Impossible pictures, director J.J. Abrams applied his Alias sensibilities to this new impossible mission to make a very satisfying picture. Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) has taken a teaching job training new agents and he is about to settle down with his girl, Julia (Michelle Monaghan). However, he gets a call telling him one of those trainees has been captured and they want Ethan to get her back. He does, but not without some problems. Ethan learns there is a bad-ass weapons dealer, Owen Davian (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) who must be stopped before he gains the mysterious rabbit’s foot, a…something that is presumably, bad. After Ethan’s team captures Davian, he is promptly rescued and goes on to grab Julia. Ethan then must retrieve the rabbit’s foot and give it to Davian in order to exchange Julia. Oh, yeah, and there’s a double agent in the IMF agency. All in a day’s work for our man Hunt. If you noticed, I glossed over what seems to be the main point of the plot, the rabbit’s foot and the end of the world. This is not the case: Abrams tricks us by making this a picture about the characters and their motivations with an “end of the world” type story to move them along. I came out of the picture initially annoyed that there was no “end of the world” business, but in retrospect, this would have failed to set this picture apart from its previous counterparts. Abrams, as he did with the TV show Alias draws the audience in with new angles to Hunt’s character, putting him in a domestic setting, then quickly hurting him to show us that even our hero doesn’t win every time. Even though Hunt got beat up in the other two M:I pictures, this one made me think, at least for a second, they may kill him off. With all the non-sense that surrounds Cruise and his off screen antics (which may have led up to his split with Paramount), this was a fair assessment. Unfortunately, as much as I like Abrams, this picture maintains much of the same pacing and beats as Alias leaving me to wonder on a couple occasions when Sydney Bristow was going to walk in to save Ethan. Aside from that, we are given a lean, exciting picture that dwells in moments of great melodrama played out by a fine supporting cast. Hoffman and Laurence Fishburne get to play very directed characters that save their venom for just the right moment to make the point of their delivery very fine. Keri Russell plays a plot device that deserved a bit more screen time, and Ving Rhames reprises his role to keep Ethan, and us, laughing. VIDEO QUALITY 5/5 This MPEG-2 encoded 2.35:1 picture is a visual treat on large screens. The cinematography, while not award winning, continually captures the eye’s attention to draw you into the world of the secret agent. This Blu-ray disc is flawless with this mission’s execution. Everything about the image is amazing. The image has been tweaked to cast drab colours on the cast in the opening scene (and thus later in the film) and also allowing film grain to come through more. But grain isn’t obtrusive; this film is a combination of film and HD tape but only in a few select scenes which for the most part I’m sure I could distinguish. There is a feeling I get when I know something is HD if I’m thinking about it, but the integration of the two elements is virtually seamless on the final process of dumping it all to film and then mastering it for an HD release such as this. Contrast and colour are bright and vibrant. Sharpness is exceptional and there isn’t a trace of compression artefacts. The edge enhancement that plagued the first batch of Paramount releases is not present here. If any was applied it certainly isn’t noticeable. AUDIO QUALITY: 4.5/5 I’m just as amazed with the audio as I am with the video. The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio encoding sounds very good – actually, I lied. It sounds excellent! The only reason why I didn’t give this soundtrack full marks was because of the restriction of sounds to the center channel at many points in the film. All channels are very active throughout the film the three front channels don’t always work together to make above average depth to the image. The sounds are too “channel specific” and ambience doesn’t radiate between channels. Each channel delivers almost every nuance of this soundtrack (well, as much as lossy audio can provide!) I am surprised with how good this lossy presentation is; I mean it’s so comfortable to listen to at loud volumes and it’s fairly dynamic. You can clearly tell that this is a great motion picture audio recording. From bass to treble all sounds are balanced and that really shows with the film’s original music soundtrack! It projects a clear, wide, expansive soundstage that is just as dynamic as the sound effects! LFE is used sparingly for such effects as the explosions on the bridge sequence as well as the helicopter chase through the wind turbines. All five channels have deep bass well into the 20s. TACTILE FUN!! / TRANSDUCER ON/OFF?: ON A tactile transducer is highly effective when watching this film! Set with just the right amount of “shake” with a signal from original LFE content only, it makes the helicopter chase much more engaging while watching it on a big screen. The combination of visual, audio, and touch turns the films we watch into a sensation! SPECIAL FEATURES / The special features on this Blu-ray disc are the same as on the HD-DVD and DVD. They are spread over the two discs. HTF DVD Reviewer Pat Wahlquist writes: Commentary with Cruise and Abrams: this is the only extra on disc one and you can watch the enhanced version or the audio only. The enhanced version branches out to “related video pods” automatically or user activated when they see the IMF logo. A small video window pops up to show us J.J. and Tom watching the picture and making the usual comments and joking around. At times, the little window grows to a big window and it allows Abrams and Cruise to take an aside about things not specifically related to the scene or to go into further depth on the current scene. The commentary windows also shift off Abrams and Cruise to show some of the other behind the scenes documentary footage. This was the first time I watched one of these enhanced commentaries and I enjoyed the new level of interactivity since it allowed Abrams to visually point out certain things that would not be possible with a traditional audio commentary. Making of the Mission (HD, DD+, various aspect ratios) (28:36): A tour of the making of the picture from the first day. This is a usual EPK type of doc, covering the sets, stunts, costuming, visual effects, etc., traveling from Italy to the US to “Shanghai” (or LA, as it were) and China. Inside the IMF (21:14): this doc focuses on the supporting cast, and everybody explains how great each of them are. My vote is for Simon Pegg’s Benji to take over as the hot shot IMF agent if there’s a Mission: Impossible: IV. 5 deleted scenes (HD, DD+, 2.35:1) (5:30): Ethan fight at top of stairs, Zhen fight in computer room, Musgrave Cemetery conversation, Lindsey graduates and Vatican entry extended. While they are encoded in HD, they are taken from the uncompleted sequences so they still have the time codes and other film mumbo jumbo on the bottom of the screen. Mission Action- Inside the Action Unit (HD, DD+, various aspect ratios) (25:38): Abrams makes some funny comments about watching the second M:I picture and wondering how John Woo and Cruise ever did it. Now he got the chance to figure it out for his picture. There are some great behind the scenes footage of the stunts to see how they look on set compared to the final film. Visualizing the Mission (HD, DD+, various aspect ratios) (10:38): this one covers computer pre-visualization and storyboards. It’s amazing how good the pre-vis computer shots look these days. Mission: Metamorphosis - Solving the Mystery: The Mask Making Process (HD, DD+, various aspect ratios) (8:07): a cool look at the movie magic behind the masks the characters use. Syd Mead comments on the sketches he did for the mask making device, then how the prop department made the machine, and finally ILM’s touchup. Scoring the Mission (HD, DD+, various aspect ratios) (5:00): spotlight on the music! Launching the Mission (14:02): on the red carpet at the openings in New York, Rome, Paris, London and Japan. In case you missed Entertainment Tonight when the movie premiered… Moviefone Unscripted (8:03): Abrams and Cruise question and answer one another as well as sent in queries. Excellence in Film (9:15): for the third time! This was on both of the previous M:I discs and it shows clips from other Cruise films as part of an awards presentation. Teaser, two theatrical trailers and Japanese trailer (HD, DD+, various aspect ratios) (5:30). TV Spots: six TV spots. Photo Gallery IN THE END... I wasn’t a fan of the first two Mission Impossible films. I did, however, love this one. Lots of great action, an entertaining storyline for a third film (you know movies usually go downhill by the third one!), and a killer Blu-ray disc having awesome audio and video quality. Recommended! Michael Osadciw November 02, 2006.