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HTF REVIEW: "Minority Report" (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED)


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#1 of 104 Ronald Epstein

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Posted December 07 2002 - 11:18 AM

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Minority Report






Studio: Dreamworks/Twentieth Century Fox
Year: 2002
Rated: PG-13
Film Length: 146 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (2.35:1)
Subtitles: English, French and Spanish



Everybody Runs

Posted Image

Count me as one of the minority of movie goers who
wasn't initially impressed with Minority Report
when it was released. Though I was fascinated with
Spielberg's vision of a future world and its crime
technology getting out of hand, I thought the film
played more as a predictable murder mystery story
with action scenes that felt rather flat.

Time has passed since my initial viewing, and
watching Minority Report for a second time
now on DVD, I have begun to realize that this film
has grown on me. I find the story to be ultimately
fascinating and dialectic, broadening my appreciation
toward the film itself, but I still feel the movie
runs exceedingly too long.

Posted Image

The year is 2054, and technology has given us hover
cars that ride on super highways that run vertically
straight up, automated homes that react to spoken
commands, and the ability to interact with computer
holographic images. Alas, with all this advancement,
nobody has found the cure for the common cold.

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Perhaps the greatest advancement to date is that
homicide is down a whopping 90%, thanks to a new
development called "precrime", where here in the
future, criminals are caught before the crimes they
commit. As the film begins, we witness a vision of
a husband committing murder out of passion. This
vision is being channeled through three twins
(one female, two male) known as precogs. These
precogs have the ability to see the future as their
visions are electronically captured on video screens
for the District of Columbia precrime unit to act upon.
The names of the KILLER and the VICTIM are embedded
on wooden balls that drop out of chutes as if a live
lottery were being held. As the visions of the precogs
quickly appear on elaborate data screens, we watch
Detective John Anderton (Tom Cruise)-- the head of
the Pre-Crime Unit, carefully sort out the evidence
before him. Within minutes, the entire force descends
upon the crime scene and arrests the husband moments
before he commits the murder.

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Anderton has thrown all of his passion into a system
that could potentially spare thousands of people
from the tragedy he lived through. The psychic
technology of precrime is foolproof. The precogs are
never wrong in their predictions. Now is the time
where Director Burgess (Max Von Sydow) must
successfully sell this new era of crime fighting to
the public, and he is banking on the fact that
nothing will go wrong.

Something suddenly does go wrong, however. A precog
envisions a murder. As images quickly flash across
the screen, the killer is revealed to be Detective
John Anderton, who is now being accused of a "future"
murder of a man he hasn't even met. Anderton goes on
the run as he has 36 hours to uncover the truth
behind the murder, despite the notion that the precog
visions are never wrong.


How is the transfer?


It's difficult to judge this transfer. Had I not
seen this film theatrically, I would think that
there was some sort of problem with the transfer.
The problem is not really a problem. Spielberg
intentionally shot most of this film in high contrast
that completely washes out colors but also gives the
film a very coarse background. All of this is evident
on the DVD. The picture never looks smooth nor
completely color accurate. You are always at the
mercy of Spielberg's so-called stylish filmmaking. I
understand he probably wanted to paint the future in
washed out textures, but I did not personally like
the way he lensed this film. Nearly every shot has
a hint of fuzziness in the background. Whites are
awfully bright and overexposed. In Chapter 12, where
John visits a "eyeworks" doctor, the entire scene
is so visibly grainy, you would think someone popped
in a VHS copy of the film.

But you know what? This is how Spielberg filmed it.
Annoying as it may be, this is probably the most
accurate representation of what I saw theatrically.
In this case, consider the transfer to be quite good.

The 5.1 DTS mix is outstanding. Here we have
a full-bodied 360-degree soundtrack that is amongst
the best I have heard. Sound is very wide-opened
here, not sounding the least compressed. As the
film opens to starling images of murder, the score
begins to rise across the entire sound stage as the
LFE channel provides intense bass rumble that climbs
to an ear-piercing crescendo only to halt suddenly.
It is a preview of just how amazing this audio track
is. Sounds are extremely well defined here, almost
never coming from the same channel at any time.
Watch as Anderton listens to Schubert's Unfinished
Symphony while looking for clues. The symphony
envelopes the entire listening area, while the
"whooshing" noises of the screen's images seem to
fly from one channel to another. Below his
station lies the pool containing the precogs.
You can hear the watery sounds of their living
environment in the rear channels. LFE activity is
very pronounced here, starting with the vibrating
rumbles of police transporters. An escape on a
freeway produces some terrific bass reverb as
futuristic cars zoom across the front and rear
channels. Overall, this is an absolutely
electrifying audio experience.

Special Features


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Minority Report has been released as a 2-disc
set. Disc One is entirely the movie and
nothing else. This includes a lack of any sort of
audio commentary. Perhaps the good news is that this
left enough bandwidth to include a 5.1 DTS surround
track, a 5.1 Dolby Digital track and a 2.0 Dolby
Surround track.

Posted Image

Let's go to Disc Two and see what has been
included on the supplementals...

The first area we come to is From Story to
Screen
.......

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The Story - The Debate begins with Steven
Spielberg talking about always wanting to work
with Tom Cruise. The problem was, there never seemed
to be a project that either one of them could come
to terms on. It was actually Cruise that first came
across the story for Minority Report, read it
and then sent it over to Spielberg, who got very
excited about the project and put it into development.
Screenwriter Scott Frank talks a little about bringing
back genre movies for grownups, something that has
been missing from film for a long time. Spielberg
gets a little personal with his opinions about how
he would feel if the Precrime system actually existed
in the United States today. This leads to the debate
as if such a system would ever work.
(length: approx. 9 minutes)

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The Players brings most of the entire cast
together to talk about the film and their individual
characters. We have Steven Spielberg, Tom Cruise,
Max Von Sydow, Colin Farrell, Kathryn Morris and
Samantha Morton. It's kind of cool to hear Colin
talk about the kind of person Spielberg is -- a man
who sees the world through a child's eyes. The cool
Max Von Sydow talks about the director's trained
style and the fact he (Sydow) was able to often
improvise. Samantha Morton talks about being able
to freely communicate her ideas to Spielberg, and
the fact that he often took them into consideration.
(length: approx. 9 minutes)

Let's now take a look through Deconstructing
Minority Report
....

The World of Minority Report is a fascinating
introduction to this entire area of supplements as it
features Spielberg and Cruise who discuss how the
future was ultimately envisioned. Spielberg actually
brought together some of the greatest minds in
technology, crime fighting and medicine to determine
what the future would most likely be like fifty
years from now. We hear from the film's Production
Designer and Director of Photography about the
challenges of making a futuristic film that falls
into film noir (a world of shadows and darkness
with extreme camera angles). Spielberg talks about
wanting to make this the darkest, dirtiest and
grainiest film he could. I think he succeeded well.
(length: approx. 9 minutes)

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Precrime and Precogs takes a look at the
construction of the precrime set with its curves,
straight lines, lots of glass and metallic surfaces.
Director of photography Janus Kimisnki and Production
Designer Alex McDowell talk about the importance of
creating a transparent set and how it relates to
the many layers of the film itself. With the aid
of Spielberg, we learn how the Precog set was built
and the ideas that went into developing who these
individuals really were. The mechanical effects
department was greatly responsible for maintaining
the precog pool by filtering it and giving it a
proper temperature. Costume Designer Deborah Scott
talks about the challenges of creating the costumes
for the Precogs, from original ideas that were too
high-tech, to the finalized idea of an amphibian-like
covering. Finally, Steven takes us through the many
gadgets (sonic guns, sick sticks, jet packs) used in
the film.
(length: approx. 8 minutes)

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Production Designer Alex McDowell introduces us to
The Spyder Sequence. It is here that we learn
how the look and practicality of these mechanical
creatures came together as we look at early animation
tests that were done. It's fascinating to see how
models were developed and tested in cooperation with
DreamWorks animation. Composer John Williams talks
about scoring the scene, using tempo and instrumental
texture to give these creations added life. Director
of Photography Janusz Kaminski shows us how the
elaborate hallway scene was lensed using computer
animation to plan and an overhead crane to film.
(length: approx. 5 minutes)

Precog Visions has Mr. Spielberg talking
about creating the visions of the precogs through
a sort of prism (rather than a square screen).
He hired a group called Imaginary Forces to do
these prevision sequences. You'll have the
opportunity to watch how all the individually
filmed murder scenes were all brought together
in a rather disjointed manner.
(length: approx. 4 minutes)

Vehicles of the Future takes a look at
bringing complexity and excitement to the vehicle
transportation system. It all begins with some nifty
computer animation that shows how the entire car
sequence was mapped out shot for shot. Vehicle
Designer Harald Belker talks of how he was able to
create a vehicle that went straight up vertically,
without the passenger sacrificing safety. You'll
see several amazing life-size models of the cars
that were used. Sound Designer Gary Rydstrom gives
us an interesting revelation -- the whirring sounds
of the cars came off of a washing machine in his home.
Finally, we take a look at the creation of the
police transport crafts.
(length: approx. 5 minutes)


Now lets move on to The Stunts of Minority Report..

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The MagLev Escape is fun to watch. It has
Tom Cruise on a wire harness in front of a blue screen
as he attempts to climb across a working MagLev
vehicle. You'll watch Tom in take after take as
he is put through surprising vehicle turns as he
tries to stay in control.
(length: approx. 3 minutes)

The Hoverpack Chase takes us to the backlot
of Warner Brothers where an alley was built to
accommodate the needs for a 3D hoverpack chase. A
stage and stunt rig were built in order to move
individuals up, down and across the entire alley.
The complexity of this project proved to be one
of the most difficult pieces to lense in the entire
film.
(length: approx. 3 minutes)

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Producer Bonnie Curtis describes the group effort
that went into The Car Factory. You'll watch
in amazement as Cruise spins around on wires, trying
to escape from Colin Farrell.
(length: approx. 3 minutes)


Let's move on to ILM and Minority Report....

In an Intro by Tom Cruise, we learn how the
actor came to this unusual project with all its
special effects. This caused Tom to pretend more
than he ever has before, with Spielberg talking him
through scenes where the effects don't yet exist.
Through the folks at ILM, we learn more about the
hour's worth of visual effects that were done for
the film. Spielberg seems to be very impressed with
the work, admitting that although he had great input
on the effects work, he didn't want to know how
the magic was done.
(length: approx. 4 minutes)

In Hologram, ILM Computer Graphics designer
Barry Armour takes us through live-action green
screen sequences, multiple camera shots and computer
animation that all came together to create a life-like
hologram with extreme depth. This is really cool to
watch - don't miss it!
(length: approx. 3 minutes)

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Hall of containment takes us on a blue-screen
set with ILM Visual Effects Supervisor Scott Farrar
as we look at how the massive containment set was
built with its moving platforms and later animated
by ILM. Wait until you watch an ILM Sequence
Supervisor talk about the CGI animation that was
done, using only a few live actors and software that
carved them out of a solid piece of geometry and
then further mapped them out without any seams.
(length: approx. 3 minutes)

MagLev greatly compliments the featurette
in the stunt area by taking a look at how ILM
created the ribbon roadway that the vehicle traveled
across. It's kind of funny to look at one of the
original models of this tunnel freeway that was
created out of paper. Watch as CGI is added to
the live action sequences to create a final product.
(length: approx. 3 minutes)

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Hovercraft/Hoverpacks is a look at the process
of creating believable hovercrafts from actual models
and synthetic shots. We also again see how the
Hoverpack chase was filmed as well as how ILM added
flames and heat ripple to the packs to make the
sequence look more realistic.
(length: approx. 3 minutes)

Cyberparlor is a very short look at how this
effects piece was put together using live action and
background scan plates.
(length: approx. 1.5 minutes)

In Final Report: Steven Spielberg and Tom Cruise,
we get a summed up feeling about how Steven and Tom
feel about their professional relationship. It's very
interesting to hear Spielberg talk about how at the
age of 50, he is still trying to find himself through
his recent films.
(length: approx. 4 minutes)

Posted Image

Let's move on to the Archives area....

There is a wealth of images to browse through
here -- just too many for me to even dwell into.
An entire page dedicated to Production Concepts
gives us illustrations and photos on everything from
precrime to hoverships, spyders, vehicles
and buildings/architecture.

There are storyboard sequences for the
Maglev sequence, Alley Chase
and Car Factory.

There are three trailers included here, as
well as an additional trailer for the Activision
Game
.

Finally, there are separate cast and
Filmmaker filmographies that you can browse
through using your remote. Production Notes
takes you through the process of how Spielberg and
Cruise coming together when Cruise showed him an
early adaptation of Philip K. Dick's story.

A special note: It's sort of cool that there
are French and Spanish subtitles available with the
supplements. It would have been even nicer if
DreamWorks would have gone one step further and
provided English subtitles for the hearing impaired.


Final Thoughts

Posted Image

No matter how much you enjoy this film or not,
there is no arguing that Minority Report is
a visually exciting, surprisingly thought-provoking
sci-fi action film that presents Spielberg at the
top of his game.

DreamWorks has put together a Special Edition that
will have fans everywhere applauding. There's such
an array of supplemental material here that there's
hardly any aspect of this film that is left out of
it.

The precogs have pre visioned that this is a DVD
that belongs in your future!


Release Date: December 17, 2002

Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner

 

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#2 of 104 Derek Bang

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Posted December 07 2002 - 11:39 AM

Right on. Loved this movie. Nice review, Ron.

#3 of 104 Steve Christou

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Posted December 07 2002 - 11:49 AM

I've had this dvd for a week now Ron, for some reason the region 2 came out 2 weeks before region 1, very strange, anyway great review and I'm happy to see its got the same extras as the r2.

Yep the picture quality was like the cinema version, desaturated color and a bit grainy, the direct opposite to what his mate George did with Clones, I've seen it 3 times altogether and have got used to this color scheme, it suits the film.
I like the film a lot, some great sequences, but it does go on a bit too long.

Sadly no commentary as usual, Spielberg does NOT do commentaries! But the many featurettes make up for this, I just wish they would have a play all function, too much clicking.

One of my favorite extras is the hundreds of production designs and concepts, great stuff, but why don't they use up the entire screen instead of a small window?

ps. Spielberg has done a Verhoeven and used a futuristic ad break within his film, in the same style too.

Dave hören... auf, wille stoppen sie Dave... stoppen sie Dave... Mein gehirn geht... Ich bin gefühl es... Ich bin gefühl es... Ich bin ängstlich Dave... Guter Nachmittag. Ich bin ein HAL 9000 computer. Ich wurde funktionsfähig am HAL-Betrieb in Urbana, Illinois auf January 12 1992.


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#4 of 104 Kenneth Cummings

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Posted December 07 2002 - 12:05 PM

Looks like to be a good dvd. I will probably end up not getting it for Christmas, but get it eariler with Back to the Future. Two (or make that four) great sci-fi movies on one day, that will be a good day indeed. Good job on the review, by the way Ron.
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#5 of 104 Sam Davatchi

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Posted December 07 2002 - 12:13 PM

Quote:
Count me as one of the minority of movie goers who
wasn't initially impressed with Minority Report
when it was released.
Well you are not in the minority. I also didn’t like this movie when I saw it at a movie theater. However I’m waiting to see it a second time on DVD and then make my final judgment. I have to add that I liked A.I. a lot. I think it’s many many times better than this and intelligent for real! I will try to explain. I had major problems with this movie (MR). I think that it misses the point big time. Instead of elaborating and showing the perversity and problems with the system and analyzing it, it’s basically a simple murder mystery story as Ron said. Basically in the movie, the system works fine and the only problem is that someone misuse it. This story had the potential of going deep into the human psychic.

But as I said I will give it a second chance. For the moment with my first viewing, I give it 2 out of 4.

#6 of 104 oscar_merkx

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Posted December 07 2002 - 12:35 PM

I enjoyed the movie yet feel the same way as Ron that it is just too long and a rather predictable end
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#7 of 104 Gregory E

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Posted December 07 2002 - 01:05 PM

Hmmmm.....another "Highly Recommended", eh Ron? Seems to be a lot of those these days. I hope you're not lowering your standards. :wink:

Well, I didn't get a chance to see this movie in the theater, so I'll at least give it a rental.

#8 of 104 Lowell_B

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Posted December 07 2002 - 01:08 PM

I loved the movie in theaters, one of the 3 best of the year imo. I'll be picking up the DVD for Christmas.

Great review Ron. Posted Image

#9 of 104 Adam Lenhardt

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Posted December 07 2002 - 01:19 PM

Quote:
Nearly every shot has a hint of fuzziness in the background. Whites are awfully bright and overexposed. In Chapter 12, where John visits a "eyeworks" doctor, the entire scene is so visibly grainy, you would think someone popped in a VHS copy of the film.

But you know what? This is how Spielberg filmed it. Annoying as it may be, this is probably the most accurate representation of what I saw theatrically. In this case, consider the transfer to be quite good.
While I disagree with your feelings about filming techniques (I just don't feel that grain equals bad), I'm glad you can understand the difference between an intentionally grainy picture and an unintentionally grainy picture and rate it according. Too many reviewers can't. Good review... I look forward to the ones that follow.

#10 of 104 Jedrek

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Posted December 07 2002 - 01:20 PM

AWESOME!!!! I loved MR and hopefully I'll be able to pick this up. Posted Image
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#11 of 104 Tim RH

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Posted December 07 2002 - 01:39 PM

Thanks for the always-in depth reviews Ron (and this one in particular)! Posted Image

I'd have to say that I was a little disappointed with this film when I first saw it in the theater, thinking that A.I. was a much better film (however they are quite different too), but Spielberg's movies always get better on repeat viewings for me, so I'm buying this one anyway. It's still better than most of the crap they shovel into theaters these days. I would have liked longer featurettes on this DVD though, but so be it.


#12 of 104 Bill J

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Posted December 07 2002 - 01:56 PM

Great review, Ron.

I can't wait until Dec. 17th. Posted Image Posted Image

#13 of 104 Patrick Sun

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Posted December 07 2002 - 02:34 PM

I'll probably get this DVD simply for the extras, the futuristic stuff in the film is nifty.
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#14 of 104 TonyD

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Posted December 07 2002 - 03:50 PM

i missed it in the theater but have it on order.
i work a a video store and can rent it early and am very tempted to do so.

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#15 of 104 NickFoley

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Posted December 07 2002 - 05:30 PM

I getting this one on DVD. I didnt see it in the theaters, but cant pass it up now. Posted Image

#16 of 104 Ron Kaye

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Posted December 07 2002 - 06:26 PM

The image reminds me a bit of the image on the Mel Gibson movie 'Payback'.

No real colors except for blue/black/white.
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#17 of 104 Sanjay Gupta

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Posted December 07 2002 - 07:10 PM

I just watched the film on DVD (Region 1) last night, and I must say, WOW! I have not enjoyed a movie so much in a long time. Regarding the Audio/Video quality of the DVD I concur with Ron's review. Personally I 'Highly Recommend' the film and DVD.

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#18 of 104 JoeyPalmiotti

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Posted December 07 2002 - 11:40 PM

I can't wait! Posted Image Thanks!

#19 of 104 AaronJB

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Posted December 07 2002 - 11:46 PM

Does the "Minority Report" DVD have DTS-ES/DD-EX soundtracks or just DD/DTS? Thanks.
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#20 of 104 Peter Kim

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Posted December 07 2002 - 11:53 PM

Greatly looking forward to this dvd. I'm really gaining a greater appreciation for Spielberg's recent efforts to be more provocative. While the execution is flawed, overall the film is enjoyable.

Glad to hear that the dvd parallels the scope of the story.
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