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HTF Review: Mission: Impossible Special Collector's Edition



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#1 of 44 PatWahlquist

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Posted April 08 2006 - 04:13 AM

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Mission: Impossible: Special Collector’s Edition

Studio: Paramount Home Video
Rated: PG-13 (Some intense action violence)
Aspect Ratio: 2.38:1 enhanced for 16x9 displays
Audio: English DD 5.1; English DD 2.0 surround; French 2.0 surround
Subtitles: English; Spanish
Time: 110 minutes
Disc Format: 1 DVD-9
Case Style: Keep case
Theatrical Release Date: 1996
DVD Release Date: April 11, 2006

Everything is not as it seems, and that is the charm of these impossible missions.

The picture opens with Jim Phelps (Jon Voight) receiving a video briefing of a potential mission for him and his IMF (Impossible Mission Force) should they choose to accept it. The CIA has a NOC-list that contains code names and true names of all their agents working deep cover in Eastern Europe. A traitor has stolen half of the list, and he is attempting to get the other half. Only when the two halves are merged will they match the code name to the true name of the agent. The team is to shadow the traitor to a party at the Prague embassy where he is going to steal the second half of the list. They are to obtain photographic proof of the theft, shadow him and apprehend him and his buyer.

Phelps heads to Prague to meet up with Ethan Hunt (Cruise) and his team and brief them about the mission. We get to see tech master Jack’s (Emilio Estevez, in an un-credited role) fun gadgets such as the video glasses, TV wristwatch and gum stick explosives. The mission begins and it seems to be going as scheduled until Jack is killed. The mission continues to go horribly wrong, eventually putting Ethan on the run for his life and letting the disc containing the NOC-list go into the open. He contacts the higher- ups to help him out and realizes there was an overall plot to set up him and his team. It turns out they were just a part of a much larger and complex plot to flush out a mole in the organization believed to be Ethan. They think, since $100,000 mysteriously wound up in Ethan’s parents bank account, he was working in conjunction with an arms dealer, Max, to secure the NOC List. By surviving the mission, Ethan is now “disavowed” and he’s off to clear his name and find the mole.

Ethan makes a double deal with Max to steal the real list from Langley, so he assembles a new team of disavowed agents, including Franz Krieger (Jean Reno) and Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames). IMF’s head honcho Kittridge is still hot on his trail too, looking for any sign Ethan is active. Kittridge, becoming increasingly frustrated with Ethan, uses Ethan’s family as a way to aggravate him in order to get him to come in. Phelps “resurfaces” while Ethan is in London, and he helps him to uncover the conspiracy. What happens next uncovers the truth in the lies and shows not everyone is what they seem.

“Mission: Impossible” features a fun opening sequence that hearkens back to the opening of the TV series, with quick cuts of upcoming scenes to entice the viewer. It also welcomes us to a Brian De Palma picture. While the plot itself gets convoluted at times and even close attention can yield minimal understanding of what’s going on, De Palma keeps you interested visually. Plot aside, this picture is a pleasure to watch to see De Palma in action. Some consider De Palma a master of suspense, and his previous pictures seem to affirm it (check out “Carrie” and “Body Double”). De Palma uses tricky camera shots (such as the party at the embassy where we are in first person perspective of Cruise) to put you, the viewer, square in the middle of the action and make you feel what it’s like to be Ethan Hunt. To heighten the tension in a subsequent scene, De Palma uses split screens from the elevator and the floor while they’re tracking the traitor, Golitsyn.

The best example of De Palma’s style in this picture, however, is the nail-biting scene in the computer room at Langley. Those of you who have seen the movie know what I’m talking about, and those of you who have yet to see it are in for a treat! De Palma and the picture’s editor Paul Hirsch artfully meld music, sound and picture in the scene at the restaurant in Prague where Ethan meets Kittridge. De Palma uses low shots to make Kittridge seem more imposing and evil while framing Cruise in such a way to make you feel as he does, that his whole world is off kilter.

As an aside, having not seen this picture since ’96, I found it has begun to date itself. At the time, we were in the early days of the Internet and the picture reflects what was “hi-tech” at the time: Ethan searches for info on Job 3:14 via Usenet searches, not Google; floppy disc capacity was a whopping 230mb; one of the characters mentions “686 prototypes”.


Video:
The picture is finally anamorphically enhanced (which is reason enough to upgrade) and it appears to have a correctly framed 2.38:1 image. Close inspection of the picture, however, shows edge enhancement and blurring of fine details. Overall, color detail is rendered very well almost to the point of over saturation, especially in the flesh tones. The flesh tones seem too red to me, and they don’t always appear natural. Black levels are deep and show good detail.
Note: Since this is the first time the DVD was presented anamorphically, I did not see much of a reason to do a side-by-side comparison of this release with the previous release.


Audio
“Mission: Impossible” features a very dynamic Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack that delivers a great workout for the surrounds. There are a lot of good stereo effects sweeping across the front channels, while the center channel accurately contains most of the voices of the characters. The bass is good and punchy, giving the subs a good workout. Mid’s and highs are also well represented in the musical soundtrack. The effects and music envelope you and put you in the center of the sound field.


Bonus Materials:

The original release of “Mission: Impossible” contained only a theatrical trailer. Paramount’s Special Collector’s Edition makes up for that with this new release.

Mission: Remarkable- 40 Years of Creating the Impossible (11:25) A background doc on the origins of the initial update as well as information on the two sequels, with interviews with Cruise, Producer Paula Wagner, De Palma, John Woo, J.J. Abrams and others. It only goes into M:I-2 and M:I-3. This doc seems like they just took the two electronic press kits and slapped them together, and for touting “40 Years…” in the title, it sure doesn’t cover enough of the TV show.

Mission: Explosive Exploits: (5:08): Information on the stunts with a lot of background footage, especially of the tank explosion at the restaurant in Prague.

Mission: International Spy Museum (6:30): This is pretty cool: a tour of the International Spy Museum that shows us all kinds of real world gadgets used by real world Ethan Hunt’s!

Mission: Spies Among Us (8:40): Could there be spies among us? Plain looking men and women who take on impossible missions? Watch and find out!

Mission: Catching the Train(2:38):John Knoll, who was also the effects supervisor for the “Star Wars” prequels, briefly explains how the train shots were done.

Mission: Agent Dossiers: Video “dossiers” of the seven main characters.

Tribute Montages – Excellence in Film: Cruise(12:20): A video montage of memorable Cruise scenes from his movies that was produced for BAFTA/LA’s Stanley Kubrick Brittania Award for Excellence in Film. Also included is Cruise’s acceptance speech at the event. The “Generation Cruise” Tribute Montage (3:32) is followed by his acceptance speech at the MTV Generation Awards (3:40).

Mission: Marketing: Theatrical trailers for M:I-1 and M:I-3.

TV Spots: Nine of ‘em.

Photo Gallery


Conclusions:
Plot complications and weak character development aside, “Mission: Impossible” is a fun picture. There are some great effects and it is a pleasure to see De Palma in action. This upgraded DVD also features a new anamorphic transfer, a new set of extras, and a ticket for “Mission: Impossible III”. I recommend you choose to accept this new mission.
ISO "Lost" ARG prints from Kevin Tong, Olly Moss, Eric Tan and Methane Studios.  PM me if you want to sell!

All reviews done on a Marantz VP11S1 1080p DLP projector.

Displays professionally calibrated by Gregg Loewen of Lion AV.

#2 of 44 norrisMc

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Posted April 08 2006 - 05:01 AM

Cool! I might get the double-pack (MI-1 and MI-2). Thanks for the review!
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#3 of 44 Jack _Webster

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Posted April 08 2006 - 05:44 AM

I've held off on the original dvd for years (not an easy task), so it will be with great pleasure that I pick this up on Tuesday! Posted Image

#4 of 44 EnricoE

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Posted April 08 2006 - 07:33 AM

pat, can you give some infos about the trailers quality, aspect ratio and audio format?

thanks

#5 of 44 Aaron Garman

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Posted April 08 2006 - 08:49 AM

Does this new DVD compare to the original Laserdisc's audio? I know the original DVD release couldn't hold a candle to it. It'd be nice to have anamorphic picture, but the AC3 track on the laserdisc is just, well, perfect.

AJG
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#6 of 44 Dale MA

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Posted April 08 2006 - 09:42 AM

Thanks for the review Pat, I've got mine preordered Posted Image

I've been waiting for an anamorphic copy for sometime now.

#7 of 44 AaronMK

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Posted April 09 2006 - 06:17 AM

Thanks for the great review Pat!

Unfortunately the trailers and teasers for M:I and M:I III are all non-anamorphic 2.0.

I wish the "Catching the Train" feature went into a little more depth than "we saw the story boards and put them on screen." The "Explosive Events" was a bit better in this regard.

Don't get me wrong, Tom Cruise has played his roles well in many great movies, but four features devoting to him seemed a bit overkill, especially since these aren't specifically M:I related.

The spot on the International Spy Museum was great, mostly because it shows some exhibits that relate to the reality of things depicted in the movie instead of comming off as promotional fluff. (Though the Museum itself is well worth visiting if your in the area. Posted Image) The "Spies Among Us" feature was a nice addition, but vague in real information (for good reasons, of course).

The forced content on the disc is a highly annoying. Does Paramount really think anyone wants to sit through their long company logo sequence everytime they insert the disc. They obviously don't since they have to disable every player function to make you do so. The fact that one of the things they less forcefully try to shove in your face is the M:I III teaser is little consolation.

That annoying aspect aside, an anamorphic transfer, a couple of decent features, and the ticket made it well worth the purchase.

#8 of 44 PatWahlquist

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Posted April 09 2006 - 08:00 AM

I'm a huge SW geek, mostly for the pre-production art teams (McCaig and Tiemens, in particular), and the effects guys. I would have loved to have seen an hour long special from Knoll on the effects, but at least he was recognized.

Aaron, thanks for the info on the trailers, you beat me to it today.

Pat
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All reviews done on a Marantz VP11S1 1080p DLP projector.

Displays professionally calibrated by Gregg Loewen of Lion AV.

#9 of 44 Mike Frezon

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Posted April 09 2006 - 11:05 AM

Pat: Thanks for the review! The disc sounds great.

And with the terrific prices for these new releases of MI, MI2 and the combo (MI/MI2) Collector's Set...I think I'll be picking one of these up.

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#10 of 44 David (C)

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Posted April 09 2006 - 01:21 PM

The non-anamorphic disc could very well have a better color transfer.
Quote:
Note: Since this is the first time the DVD was presented anamorphically, I did not see much of a reason to do a side-by-side comparison of this release with the previous release.


#11 of 44 JediFonger

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Posted April 09 2006 - 04:21 PM

i wonder if this'll be on HD-DVD =). always waiting we are =). hopefully, affordable universal players will be here by 2007 along with cheaper titles.

#12 of 44 Mark Lucas

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Posted April 09 2006 - 08:41 PM

Quote:
Close inspection of the picture, however, shows edge enhancement and blurring of fine details.


The hell with that. I'll wait for the Blu-ray release.

#13 of 44 Dave Simkiss

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Posted April 09 2006 - 08:48 PM

Hmmm, the genius that is DePalma ignored in favour of the ego maniac that is Cruise... can't say Im totally surprised.

This so called special collectors edition doesn't seem very special to me. It's gonna take a bit more than a slightly cleaned up picture for me to double dip on this. Think I'll stick with my anamorphic R2 for now.

#14 of 44 JediFonger

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Posted April 10 2006 - 12:56 AM

do/will they do edge enhancement for hi-def discs? one would think they don't need to. will they?

#15 of 44 PatWahlquist

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Posted April 10 2006 - 01:01 AM

Quote:
Hmmm, the genius that is DePalma ignored in favour of the ego maniac that is Cruise... can't say Im totally surprised.


Has De Palma contributed to any of the DVD releases of his films? I don't recall anything from him on "The Untouchables", for example. The clips that are on "M:I" seem to be from c.1996.
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All reviews done on a Marantz VP11S1 1080p DLP projector.

Displays professionally calibrated by Gregg Loewen of Lion AV.

#16 of 44 Tom Brennan

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Posted April 10 2006 - 01:14 AM

Laurent Bouzereau always gets a new De Palma interview on the discs he is involved with, including The Untouchables. Was Bouzereau not involved with Mission: Impossible?

And is the Dolby Digital track on this disc as good as the LDs?
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#17 of 44 Travis Brashear

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Posted April 10 2006 - 01:47 AM

The reddish skin tone issue was prevalent in the original non-anamorphic transfer, too; I can't speak to how accurate it is to the original film master, but it doesn't sound like the new release has screwed up anything done right on the old one.
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#18 of 44 PatWahlquist

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Posted April 10 2006 - 03:58 AM

Quote:
Laurent Bouzereau always gets a new De Palma interview on the discs he is involved with, including The Untouchables. Was Bouzereau not involved with Mission: Impossible?


I don't think Bouzereau was involved, as I did not see his name anywhere. He also digs pretty deep to get great bonus material, and what is presented here certainly isn't up to his standards.

Quote:
And is the Dolby Digital track on this disc as good as the LDs?


I don't have the LD. I invite anyone who does to check and let us know.
ISO "Lost" ARG prints from Kevin Tong, Olly Moss, Eric Tan and Methane Studios.  PM me if you want to sell!

All reviews done on a Marantz VP11S1 1080p DLP projector.

Displays professionally calibrated by Gregg Loewen of Lion AV.

#19 of 44 David_Blackwell

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Posted April 10 2006 - 05:00 AM

the extras disappointed me on this SCE. The way to do a good SCE is what was produced for the two disc Event Horizon SCE.
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#20 of 44 Tim Glover

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Posted April 10 2006 - 10:11 AM

but the AC3 track on the laserdisc is just, well, perfect.


AMEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Here's hoping that the new dvd mix is close to this one.


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