The Edge (Blu-ray)
Directed by Lee Tamahori
Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 1080p MPEG-2
Running Time: 117 minutes
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English; Dolby Digital 5.1 French, Spanish
Subtitles: SDH, Spanish, Cantonese, Korean
MSRP: $ 24.99
Release Date: May 11, 2010
Review Date: May 10, 2010
Wilderness survival movies are difficult to pull off nowadays what with the preponderance of cell phones and small engine planes that can go seemingly anywhere. Still, Lee Tamahori’s The Edge pulls off the feat of making itself more than reasonably suspenseful while not always being successful at being totally logical. What it lacks in believability, however, it usually makes up for with tension which the director milks to the max. And if one needs the dictionary definition of “foreshadowing,” he’ll find it in the first fifteen minutes of this movie which sets up all of the perils to come in succinct if overly ironic fashion.
Bob Green (Alec Baldwin) is a celebrated photographer for billionaire Charles Morse’s (Anthony Hopkins) conglomerate. On a photography expedition in Alaska, the plane they are flying in runs into trouble and is forced into icy waters in the middle of nowhere. Their attempts to get back to civilization through eighty miles of totally unknown territory facing tremendously perilous weather, animals, and their own fear of the unknown make for the nightmare to end all nightmares. Luckily for the three survivors of the crash, Morse is a kind of storehouse of trivia for all occasions, and it is his insight into their plight that gets them through many a harried moment in the wilds.
Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Mamet has written a rivalry between the handsome Bob and the wealthy, older Charles which is intensified when we learn that Charles’ much younger and quite voluptuous wife (Elle Macpherson) might be carrying on an affair with Bob. Is Bob actually interested in doing away with his rival somehow that would clear his path to the luscious widow? Mamet has to put that on hold at least for the first three-quarters of the picture while the men scramble to survive the harsh, unforgiving climate. It’s very clear that the script has been written by a playwright, however, with his overuse of characters calling other characters by their names in almost every sentence, so much so that it almost becomes comical as the picture unfolds. Director Lee Tamahori has caught the sweeping majesty of the Canadian Rockies (substituting for Alaska) with a breathtaking grandeur that is unforgettable. Panavision widescreen does wonders for the mountains, lakes, and forests of this rarely seen prickly paradise, and there’s much pleasure to be gained simply by watching the scenery of the film. Tamahori also peaks early in the absolutely stunning crash sequence that gets the picture shoved into high gear. Also memorable is the climactic face-off with a Kodiak bear (Bob the Bear) where neither Bob nor Charles seems to have much of a chance against this overpowering force of nature.
Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin have the show pretty much to themselves which is a shame since writer Mamet isn’t at the top of his game in order to serve them well. Hopkins is given a stolid, ice-cold character which he can act in his sleep, and while he gives it his all, it’s not the galvanizing characterization he’s capable of at his finest. Baldwin’s role gives him a wider range of emotions to play, and he’s as good as always playing the callous charmer and even better keeping us guessing about what his end game might be. Harold Perrineau as the third member of the survival trio expresses fear and doubt quite well. Elle Macpherson as Hopkins’ much younger wife is as ineffectual here as she was in the same year’s Batman and Robin (as beautiful as she is, she doesn’t sparkle before the camera and her acting is dull) while L. Q. Jones doesn’t have much time to develop his worldly wise trapper Styles to any conspicuous degree.
The Panavision 2.35:1 theatrical aspect ratio is delivered in a 1080p transfer using the MPEG-2 codec. Sharpness is above average but disappointingly is not always exemplary in this transfer though color is quite vivid (blues often pop) and flesh tones are well delineated. Black levels are nice and solid. The film has been divided into 23 chapters.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 is almost everything one would wish for an action-adventure movie such as this. There is plenty of split surround activity, some interesting pans across and through the soundfield, and Jerry Goldsmith’s stirring music is given impressive attention in its placement in the fronts and rears. The LFE channel also gets a good workout during several hair-raising moments in the film. There are a few scenes, however, where the surrounds are just a bit underused in presenting the wilderness sounds for their optimum effectiveness.
The film’s theatrical trailer is presented in 1080p and runs for 2 ½ minutes.
There are additional promo trailers on the disc presented in 1080p for Broken Arrow, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Flight of the Phoenix¸ and The Siege.
4/5 (not an average)
The Edge is an above average survival/suspense film that milks its wilderness trek for all it’s worth in involving its audience. Though this Blu-ray release is light on bonus features (both leading actors are still around and likely willing to talk about their experiences in filming this), the video and audio will make fans of the film want to snap up this release, its best ever appearance on a home video format.