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DVD Reviews

HTF REVIEW: "Runaway Jury" (with screenshots)

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#1 of 19 Adam_Reiter


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Posted February 04 2004 - 10:45 AM

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Runaway Jury

Studio: 20th Century Fox

Year: 2003

Rated: PG-13

Directed by: Gary Felder

Film Length: 127 Minutes

Aspect Ratio:Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1

Audio: English 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish and French Dolby Surround
Subtitled in English and Spanish

Bonus features:
-Full-Length Audio Commentary by Director Gary Felder
-Scene-Specific Commentary by Gene Hackman and Dustin Hoffman
-Deleted Scenes with Commentary
-5 Additional Featurettes (Acting, Making-Of, Cinematography, Production Design, Editing)

Release Date: February 17th, 2004



I have to say. I really, really like Runaway Jury. I have seen it 3 times now. It is an excellent film! I like how it was written, directed and cast. It is enjoyable to watch a movie with such an all star cast, as everyone is at the top of their game. Seeing Dustin Hoffman and Gene Hackman in the same movie was a real treat as well. Runaway Jury was definitely one of my top three movies from last year!

Here is the synopsis from the back cover:
From master storyteller John Grisham and the director of “Don’t Say A Word” comes a taut suspense-thriller that “grabs hold of you and never lets go” (Philadelphia Metro)

In their first film together, screen legends Gene Hackman and Dustin Hoffman face off in this electrifying nail-biter about a ruthless jury consultant who’ll do anything to win. With lives and million of dollars and stake, the fixer plays a deadly cat-and-mouse game with a jury member (John Cusack) and a mysterious woman (Rachel Wiesz) who offer to “deliver” the verdict to the highest bidder. Packed with danger, intrigue and pulse-pounding twists and turns, “Runaway Jury” rules!

I am going to try and new thing with this review. Most of the times Fox sends me a press release with the DVD’s, and along with that press release is sometimes a thorough synopsis of the film. When that particular synopsis is present, I am going to start including that with my review. Especially since I think the majority of you out there are reading the review for the audio, video and extras portions, rather than the “Ebert and Roeper” section.

So here it is, the debut “long synopsis” section:

From master storyteller John Grisham (“The Firm,” “The Pelican Brief’) comes
Runaway Jury, a suspense-thriller about a high-priced and ruthless jury “consultant”
(Gene Hackman) who will stop at nothing to secure a verdict on an explosive trial. With
lives and millions of dollars at stake, the fixer wages a deadly battle with a jury member
(John Cusack), a mysterious woman (Rachel Weisz) and an honest lawyer
(Dustin Hoffman). The film marks the first pairing of screen legends
Gene Hackman and Dustin Hoffman.

When a young widow in New Orleans brings a civil suit against the powerful corporate consortium she holds responsible for her husband’s murder, she sets in motion a multi-million dollar case. But it’s a suit that may be won even before it begins — based solely on the selection, manipulation and, ultimately, the attempted “theft” of the jury.

Representing the widow is Wendall Rohr (Hoffman), a courtly Southern lawyer with a moral center and a heartfelt passion for the case he’s presenting. His opponent is ostensibly the attorney representing the corporation. But in reality, defense counsel is only the front man for Rankin Fitch (Hackman), a brilliant and ruthless jury consultant.

At a high tech command center set up in an old French Quarter warehouse, Fitch and his team work on the surveillance and assessment of potential jurors. He will know everything about their lives, and strategically manipulate the jury selection process. The only acceptable result is the perfect jury to vote in favor of his client.

Fitch and Rohr soon realize they’re not the only ones out to win the jury. One of the jurors, Nick Easter (Cusack), seems to have his own plan for swaying the panel. And a mysterious woman known only as Marlee (Weisz) contacts both Rohr and Fitch telling them the jury’s for sale to either of them — and that the verdict won’t come cheap.

While the case is argued in court, a dangerous cat and mouse game begins to play out in New Orleans’ French Quarter. Rohr’s morality put to the test, and Fitch is poised to cross the line from selecting a jury to stealing it — no matter who gets hurt in the process.



Picture quality for this DVD was outstanding!!

I tell you what, while watching this DVD, I was just floored at how good it looks. This is one of the best looking DVD’s I have ever watched. I am sure a lot of it has to do with Gregg Loewen calibrating my Sony, and it being the first modern anamorphic DVD for me to review, but damn, this DVD looks fantastic!!

The detail is really stunning. The colors are just perfect! Lush, and saturated, they just pop out at you from the screen! The black levels are deep and rock solid. This DVD is also superb in the background video noise! There is almost none of it! No video noise that you can really see unless you really looked for it. It could be because of the lack of white backgrounds, as there are a lot of night scenes or dark backgrounds for most of the film.

I can’t really say that I noticed too much edge enhancement either. It is in a few scenes, but very minimal. The picture is just rock solid all around. There are few flaws for this DVD. I did notice some film dirt/dust, but that is about it. One of the nicest looking pictures you will ever put in your DVD player! Even my girlfriend mentioned how nice the picture looked!

SEE FOR YOURSELF!: (click on the picture for a bigger version of the screen-shot)

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More screen shots here

Picture Quality Rating:
Picture: 5 / 5
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The DVD is encoded in Dolby Digital 5.1.

Sound was great. The audio was rock solid! Runaway Jury is a lawyer movie, so we are not talking explosions and flyovers, but the audio was perfect in what it needed to do. Dialog was bold and clear without any crackling or hissing. Dialog was very centered on screen, only panning to the left or right if the camera panned. The soundtrack was clear, had nice separation between the left and right channels. The audio threw a very pleasing front soundstage. The surrounds were mostly for echoing and ambience, but they did get a few instances to come alive. The first scene of the movie, and a few fight scenes towards the middle and end gave the rear a little bit of action.

LFE: The subwoofer was definitely active at times, particularly in the opening scene with the gun shots! It sounded great. Bold clear gunshots that packed a punch! My girlfriend jumped a few times, actually. There are also a few spots in the soundtrack where the bass kicks in as well.

Sound Quality Rating:
Sound: 4 / 5
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This DVD has a lot of good extras for a one disk DVD![/b]

Commentary by Director Gary Fleder

Ahhh, one of the only commentaries that matter… the Director’s commentary. This is a full length commentary by Gary, and I highly recommend watching the film with it when you have time. Lot's of goodies!

Deleted Scenes with optional commentary by Director Gary Fleder

Nick calls Marlee from the Motel
Total Running Time: 01:05

Someone is on the take
Total Running Time: 00:50

Selected Scene Commentary

The Washroom: Dustin Hoffman

This shows the great bathroom scene with Dustin and Gene. Dustin Hoffman gives background on the scene, and behind the scenes conversations between himself and Gene Hackman. Very cool@!

Total Running Time: 03:52 / Aspect Ratio: 4:3 Letterboxed and Split screen

The Bar: Gene Hackman

Gene Hackman gives his commentary on the second to last scene of the movie. He gives a little bit of info on the scene and the bar that it was filmed in. Gene likes the scene and thought it was very clever. I’d have to agree with him!

Total Running Time: 02:32 / Aspect Ratio: 4:3 Letterboxed and Split screen

Exploring the Scene: Hackman and Hoffman Together

This was a really interesting extra. It turns out that the washroom scene wasn’t even in the original script. They Director wanted a scene between Dustin and Gene, but there was no time to write one. So Dustin filmed and wrapped his scenes, and then Gene filmed all of his scenes. Then with two days left of filming, the two of them came back to film this great washroom scene that was finally written.

The whole piece is background info on the scene, and a lot of filming of the rehearsals for the scene. This is a really great extra!

Total Running Time: 13:59 / Aspect Ratio: 4:3

Off The Cuff : Hackman and Hoffman

Gene and Dustin tell of the story of how and wear they met for the first time back in 1956. We also find out how Dustin Hoffman originally got into acting.

Total Running Time: 08:56 / Aspect Ratio: 4:3

The Ensemble: Acting

This is an extra the starts out with John Cusack and Rachel Wiesz talking about how Runaway Jury is about, and what their characters represent. There is also some throwing back and forth of compliments.

Total Running Time: 04:23 / Aspect Ratio: 4:3

The Making of Runaway Jury

This is your standard snippets of interviews with the cast and director, giving background on the movie and the characters in the movie. Also some behind the scenes stiff as well.

Total Running Time: 12:02 / Aspect Ratio: 16:9 / 4:3 / 4:3 Letterboxed

Shadow & Light: Cinematography

This is a piece about the cinematography for Runaway Jury. We hear from Director Gary Fleder and Cinematographer Robert Elswit.

Total Running Time: 05:48 / Aspect Ratio: 4:3

A Vision of New Orleans: Production Design

This is a piece where Nelson Coates, Production Designer for Runaway Jury walks us through the courtroom set, and give us info on all aspects of the set.

Total Running Time: 05:07 / Aspect Ratio: 4:3

Rhythm: The Craft of Editing

This extra gives us interviews with Film Editor, William Steinkamp, and Director Gary Fleder. As you might have guessed, they discuss film editing aspects of Runaway Jury. We do see a very interesting tidbit on how one of the important sections of the film, started out completely different before it was re-edited.

Total Running Time: 05:04 / Aspect Ratio: 4:3

Man On Fire Trailer

Total Running Time: 02:33 / Aspect Ratio: 16:9

Extras / Bonus Features Rating:
Extras: 4 / 5
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"Runaway Jury" is a superb single DVD offering. It’s a great movie, and the video transfer is gorgeous. Audio is solid, and the extras are great too.

I can surely RECOMMEND buying this DVD! Run out and buy it….. NOW!

This has been,
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#2 of 19 Robert Harris

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Posted February 04 2004 - 12:11 PM


Runaway Jury is a superb entertainment with a to quality dvd.

and the Cusack kid isn't half bad.

Also recommended from these quarters.

"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible. This I did." T.E. Lawrence

#3 of 19 Tim Glover

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Posted February 04 2004 - 01:29 PM

Great review Adam. I really fell for this movie too. I'm glad this still works after your 3 viewings. I was worried that with so much revealed would this movie still hold up with repeat viewings???? Guess so. And really glad the transfer is wonderful. A definite purchase for me. Posted Image

#4 of 19 Joe Schwartz

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Posted February 04 2004 - 02:02 PM

When I saw this in the theater, I was particularly aware of (and annoyed by) those red copy-protection dots appearing several times during the washroom scene. Adam, can you please confirm that those dots are not present on the DVD?

#5 of 19 Rob Speicher

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Posted February 04 2004 - 02:36 PM

I doubt they're there. I've only ever seen them in theaters, never on DVDs.

#6 of 19 Daniel Kikin

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Posted February 04 2004 - 03:58 PM

My favorite movie of last year after LOTR: ROTK. Fast paced, well written and great performances. One of the few time I was so involved in the film that I forgot to look at my watch until the end.

#7 of 19 Ian Currie

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Posted February 05 2004 - 02:28 AM

Great review, Adam.

I didn't see this in the theater but I'll be buying this one blind without hesitation.
Ian Currie

#8 of 19 SteveK


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Posted February 05 2004 - 03:53 AM

Great review, Adam. Looks like I'll have to add this to my list. I've never seen the film, but I have read the book, which is quite good.

I must admit I'm somewhat ambivalent about the "long synopsis". I don't like it when a review describes the plot in too much detail, and I believe the long synopsis comes uncomfortably close to doing that. I don't want to know everything that happens in a movie before I see it. I usually stay away from reading Roger Ebert's reviews reprinted in my local paper because I think he says too much about the plot of the movies he reviews. So please be judicious in the long synopses you include if they give away too much of the film. Just my opinion, obviously.

Thanks for the thorough review.

Steve K.

#9 of 19 Dan Hitchman

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Posted February 05 2004 - 06:11 PM

Great review! The only little teensy nitpick I have is that the movie's soundtrack was encoded in Dolby Digital 5.1, not mixed in it. Posted Image

Usually, today's film soundtrack masters are recorded using uncompressed, multitrack PCM 24/48 or 24/96 technology.


#10 of 19 Adam_Reiter


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Posted February 06 2004 - 06:58 AM

Sorry Dan, you are correct. I will go back and change it.

Can I get anymore input on the "Long Synopsis" section. Do you guys prefer they are.... "IN"... or ... "OUT"

#11 of 19 Ian Currie

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Posted February 06 2004 - 07:33 AM

I don't care whether it's a short or long synopsis - either would work for me. What's more important to me is:

a) what your impressions of the movie were - your enjoyment level, etc. We all know this is subjective, but I enjoy learning what others thought of a movie - in what way they were entertained (different flics can entertain in different ways...)

b) the picture quality - combined with a example descriptions of the visuals in the movie itself (i.e. does the movie have a colorful palette, is it dark, etc).

c) audio quality (including genera level of surround activity, LFE presence, etc).

Supplemental material rarely influences my purchases, however I do skim quickly through that part of a review to find out if there's anything out of the ordinary.

Obviously, everyone's opinion will vary... Oh, and I apologize if all you really wanted was a simple "short" or "long" response... :-)
Ian Currie

#12 of 19 TonyD


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Posted February 09 2004 - 03:38 PM

the press release synopsis os nice but i prefer the reviewer's opinion of the movie not the pump it up press piece.

#13 of 19 James Sarno

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Posted February 09 2004 - 03:50 PM

Blind buy for me...
nice review

#14 of 19 DaViD Boulet

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Posted February 10 2004 - 01:58 AM

Great review Adam. I haven't had the chance to see this film but looks like I'll need to add it to the list...

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#15 of 19 Eric Estrada

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Posted February 10 2004 - 04:57 AM

Thanks for the review Adam. I'm glad to see the video presentaion is awesome. Great film, great cast, and great script. I'll be picking this up for sure.

#16 of 19 Chris_Marin


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Posted February 15 2004 - 08:29 AM

Great review... you can find ours here.

#17 of 19 Chris_Morris



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Posted February 18 2004 - 09:24 AM

Even though the book was much better (my favorite Grisham to date) since it could go into more detail about Nick's control over the jury, and Fitch's attempts to regain it, the movie did it justice (no pun intended). The switch to the gun company over the tobacco industry was handled well, and the portryals of the characters was excellent. This was a great rental, and I may end up purchasing it.

Great review Adam, and if you are keeping score, I prefer the personal thoughts on movies over the press-release synopsis too.


#18 of 19 Harlan



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Posted February 20 2004 - 03:14 PM

Great review but unfortunately I did not like the movie. There was much to much propaganda for my tastes.


#19 of 19 Adam_WM



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Posted February 21 2004 - 02:14 AM

I think it would have worked much better using cigarettes (which I believe they did in the book) than with guns. Finding a gun company liable for murders? Come now.

I liked the movie and good review. Thanks.