Studio: Paramount Pictures
US Rating: PG-13 For Violence, Brief Language, Some Sexuality and Drug Content
Film Length: 146 Minutes
Video: Color / 1080P High Definition 16X9 - 2.35:1
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 2.0 Dolby Digital
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, and Spanish
Release Date: April 20, 2010
Review Date: April 4, 2010
“You see the dilemma don't you. If you don't kill me, precogs were wrong and precrime is over. If you do kill me, you go away, but it proves the system works. The precogs were right. So, what are you going to do now? What's it worth? Just one more murder? You'll rot in hell with a halo, but people will still believe in precrime. All you have to do is kill me like they said you would. Except you know your own future, which means you can change it if you want to”
The Film: 4 out of 5
The short stories of Phillip K. Dick have proven to be fertile ground for cinema. Both the successful (Blade Runner, Total Recall), and the underappreciated (Imposter, Screamers), have at the very least attempted to deliver contemplative concepts amidst futuristic settings, and often with explosive action. Minority Report, based on one of Dick’s short stories of the same name, provides both adaptation staples – the action and the philosophy - without missing a beat.
The film opens in the year 2054, and a program known as PreCrime has been in place for 6 years in the D.C metropolitan area, effectively wiping out murder. The success of the six-year pilot has led to the possibility of pre-crime going nationwide. The prevention of murder is possible because of the pre-cogs; three humans blessed (or rather cursed) with the ability to see the traumatic events of murder before it occurs. They simply exist; perpetually immersed in a trance like state, floating in a premonitory conducting substance, and only speaking to repeat the words of a villain, or victim to be, from the future echoes that they are receiving. Premeditated murder can be seen days in advance; however, unpremeditated murder, born of passion, is much harder to see, giving detectives less than an hour at times to prevent that crime from taking place.
The team of detectives tasked with administering the pre-crime justice is led by Chief John Anderton (Tom Cruise), under the mentoring eye of the program’s director, Lamar Burgess (Max Von Sydow). On the verge of becoming a national initiative, a cocky representative from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Danny Witwer, arrives to evaluate the system, and look for flaws. Shortly after Witwer’s arrival, Anderton is identified as the committer of a future murder and becomes a fugitive from his team, racing against the countdown to a murder he is seen to commit in the future in an effort to find out why, and, risking the fabric of the system he exalts, try to change that future.
Tom Cruise is an exceptional action star; unfairly maligned in tabloid nonsense, his propensity for choosing good projects and portraying characters with skill and intensity is almost uniquely his. Cruise has long had a willingness to portray characters with flaws, albeit more superficial flaws; but occasionally he leaps with faith in to characters that are almost unlikable, in films like Magnolia, and as an irrepressible sleaze in Vanilla Sky. I genuinely believe his performance as John Anderton is strikingly well played and of more depth than even, I think, the screenplay intended – with demons, full-fledged imperfections and weaknesses, and without a strong footing in his world now turned up-side-down. He is excellent in this role.
Comfortably playing his foil is Collin Ferrell, portraying a gum-chewing, smugly by-the-book type who fails to see beyond his mandate in prodding around the PreCrime facility. Farrell is confident here, straightforward, and straight-laced. As the steward of Pre-Crime, Max Von Sydow is unsurprisingly solid and well cast. But the real standout in this film is Samantha Morton as Agatha. At once distant and integral to the story, her performance requires compassion, and she throws herself whole into the childlike panic and fear of her precognitive burden, with emotionally resonating results.
Spielberg treats the subject matter with staid intention, never conceding even during the more fantastical elements of the story. And this is where Minority Report triumphs the most. The even-handed, creative directing, and gritty, washed out feel of the celluloid add gravity to this daylight Blade Runner-esque adventure. Helping too is the exceptional production design. From the commercialism abound in public places to the hive of tagged and stored criminals in the ‘Hall of Containment’; there is fluidity to the spaces designed and built, and movement through and among them, that works very well. The room holding the precogs in particular is an interesting design. That room, referred to as a ‘temple’ (the three precogs are given reverence, as Anderton early in the film displays when, after the description of their sterile existence is explained, states “its better if you don’t think of them as human”), is simple, functional, and futuristic, and is just one example of a plethora of fine design work.
The film moves at an extremely brisk pace; the action sequences are as tense as they are thrilling, and you’ll find that you rarely, if ever, stop to question the plausibility of the events. In this superb creative ground, where the future is as misguided as it is advanced (much like the world of of A.I.), Spielberg is happy to take risks, and explore ways to adapt his directorial sensibilities. The seedy underbelly of the city, the rat infested-run down apartment complexes, and the dire commercialism of the American shopping experience are all explored here; each with swift camera movements and moments of tongue in cheek humor, and each with the maturing stamp of the director’s hand.
Steven Spielberg changed somewhat after he directed the devastating and powerful Schindler’s list. It could have been the deeply personal material he was bringing to the screen, or it could simply have been the influence of his newfound Director of Photography, the keen and dark eye of Janusz Kaminski. Spielberg had rarely been so enamored with a DP until his experience on his Oscar winning film about the WWII holocaust of the Jews. He worked with a blend of greats on his pictures before then, including the great Dean Cundy (Jurassic Park, Hook), Allen Daviau (The Color Purple, Empire of the Sun, E.T.), Douglas Slocombe (Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom) and Mikael Solomon (Always). But the grittier, more light innovative qualities of Kaminski’s work proved an important influence; most notably in Spielberg’s return to blockbuster material directly following List, The Lost World, where bleeding white lights from off-frame, and in-frame sources, and a reliance on the gravity of shadows, provided a somber tone to certain scenes. That visual look and feel perfectly suits the material of Minority Report, and Spielberg handles the look, and the material, with his experienced hand very well.
Science Fiction is at its peak when complex moral or societal quandaries are explored via analogy or allegory with visions of possibility. The blazing visual and special effects that accompany the very best; those with concepts that tweak the resting state of general moral ambivalence, or force contemplation of social constructs and norms, or of deeper matters of beingness, sentience, and humanity, are just the cherry on top. Minority Report isn’t the quintessential concept sci-fi thriller (that, in my mind, is Blade Runner’s title to own), but it succeeds in faithfully delivering thrills, action spectacle, and ruminations of moral quandaries – and it’s just so darn good!
The Video: 4.5 out of 5
Presented in its original theatrical ratio of 2.35:1 in 1080p High Definition (reportedly created by LaserPacific, who struck a new 4K master), Minority Report looks just as I recall it did when I saw it theatrically. Compared to the sDVD release, this edition is richer with the saturated colors, the few spots of brighter colors (reds, orange) that show up infrequently are not muted as before, and the depth of blacks is impressive. But the true triumph here is the retention of the film grain. It is present in all scenes and it is faithfully left alone. The saturation of colors brings out the grain inherent to the 35mm (Kodak Vision 500T, Vision 800T 5289, Eastman EXR 200T5293, Fuji Super F-500T 8572) film on which it was shot, and its presence is consistent with the gritty tone of the material. This won’t be the best material to showcase to the uneducated about film grain, just what HD can do, but the more discerning viewer will watch with pleasure an image loyal to its source.
The elements are all here; deep blacks, remarkably bright, clean, and issue free whites (no crush or blooming), and the presence of the use of digital noise reduction appropriate, and edge enhancement missing. This is exactly how this film should be seen.
The Sound: 4 out of 5
Paramount Pictures brings Minority Report to blu for the first time with an aggressive English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track, and the results are terrific. While the sDVD version delivered healthy Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 audio tracks, the performance of the DTS-HD MA track is filled with greater clarity, heavy boom, more pervasive rumbling from the LFE, and is free of issues. The surround speakers deliver, especially in the entertaining action sequences (the Maglev escape, the car factory), where the hum and whiz of cars zip through the speakers, or the clang, cut, and crash of machinery assembling cars are pronounced in the front, and strong in the subwoofer. Clear and rumble heavy, this is a solid audio.
The Extras: 4.5 out of 5
This release houses all of the special features on a second blu-ray disc.
All New HD Special Features:
The Future According to Steven Spielberg (HD): This is an interactive guide to the film that allows you to access “relevant excerpts from the disc’s bonus-feature documentaries and still galleries” while watching an extended interview with Steven Spielberg. The interview is broken in to 18 sections, covering everything from designing the future to the morality of Precrime. As is noted when you watch the special feature, the interview was conducted on the eve of Minority Reports theatrical released and has been “edited and re-ordered for this interactive presentation on Blu-ray”.
Inside the World of Precrime (HD) (10:11): A faux mini-documentary on Precrime as if it were real, cut with artwork, previsualization images, and scenes from the film.
Philip K. Dick, Steven Spielberg and Minority Report (HD) (14:18): An interview with the daughter of Philip K. Dick, as she recalls her life with her father; she describes his solitary, and almost reclusive writing habits. Others discuss the history and life of Dick, and examine the essence of the author’s prescient ideas, and how the original short story varies from the adapted version. An interesting extra.
Minority Report: Future Realized (HD) (6:22): The hand-guided geo-spacial technique for interfacing with computers and data, used to great effect in the film, was based on actual technology in development. While today we have a variation of the technology with the iPhone, iPad, and other touch driven interfaces, handing media in the abstract is not quite here for broad use, but it is already here!
Minority Report: Props of the Future (HD) (9:42): Production Designer Alex McDowell shares a number of props, carefully secured since the end of filming by Spielberg himself, describing their function in the film and how they were designed.
Highlights from Minority Report: From the Set: A behind the scenes look at the creation of two of the films key action set pieces, including Spielberg’s direction, the rigging, special effects set up, and the laboriousness of wirework prepping and execution.
- The Hoverpack Sequence (HD) (6:06)
- The Car Factory Sequence (HD) (2:57)
Minority Report: Commercials of the Future (HD) (3:55): Privacy, commercialism, and the seemingly inevitably evolution of advertising were explored in the film (via retinal recognition and tailored advertising by billboards), and are explored here, including a closer look at several of the commercials created and used.
Previz Sequences: The previsualiztions created for two of the more complex effects laden sequences are shown side-by-side with the completed sequence, showing just how closely the final product became to the early visualizations.
- The Hoverpack Sequence Previz (HD) (1:43)
- Maglev Chase Previz (HD) (2:10)
Previously Released Special Features (from the DVD release)
From Story to Screen (19:03): Split in to two sections, the Story/Debate (9:36), and the Players (9:27), this extra kicks off the features ported over from the previous 2-Disc standard DVD release. A solid look which includes interview clips with both Spielberg and Cruise, and how they had wanted to work together for years before Minority Report -their first collaboration - came about.
Deconstructing Minority Report (42:06): Split in to five sections, (The World of Minority Report – An Introduction), Precrime and Precogs, The Spyder Sequence, Precog Visions, and Vehicles of the Future), some of the key elements of the film are explored in more detail, in what is another valuable look at how this film was assembled.
The Stunts of Minority Report (26:45): A look at three key stunt sequences (Mag Lev escape, Hoverpack Chase, Car Factory)
ILM and Minority Report (19:30): Broken in to five sections (An Introduction, Holograms, Hall of Containment, Maglev, and Hovercraft and Hoverpacks), the excellent work of Industrial Light & Magic is explored.
Final Report (3:58): More interview clips with Spielberg and Cruise
Production Concepts: Production concepts for Precrime, the hoverships, hoversuit, Hall of Containment, Spyders, Precog, Cyber Parlor, building architecture, roadways systems, vehicles, city apartments, greenhouse plants, and objects are covered.
Storyboard Sequences: Available for the Maglev, alley chase, and car factory sequences
Trailers (HD): three versions of Minority Report’s trailer are available in superb HD.
Minority Report is a rare find in science fiction thrillers. A story of suitable complexity and intrigue that does not fail in the visual effects, the direction, the acting, or the pace, and maintains an elusive moral certainty throughout as we, the audience, are given time to contemplate the morality, science, and the mystery presented (in between the terrific action sequences).
This first time collaboration between Steven Spielberg and Tom Cruise is intelligent, exciting, and is a superbly crafted science fiction thriller – and this blu-ray release is a wonderful way to experience it.
Overall 4 out of 5