Mission: Impossible ________________________________________ Blu-ray Disc REVIEW Mission Impossible Blu-Ray Studio: Paramount Pictures Film Year: 1996 Film Length: 1 hour 50 minutes Genre: Action/Adventure Aspect Ratio: • 2.35:1 Theatrical Ratio Film Resolution: 1080p Special features: 1080p/480i Video Codec: MPEG-2 Colour/B&W: Colour Audio: • English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround • French Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround • Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish Film Rating: PG-13 Release Date: May 22, 2007 (As separate release) Film Rating: 3/5 Starring: Tom Cruise, Jon Voight, Emmanuelle Beart, Henry Czerny, Jean Reno, Ving Rhames, Kristin Scott-Thomas and Vanessa Redgrave Screenplay by: David Koepp and Robert Towne Based on Bruce Geller’s TV Series Directed by: Brian De Palma MISSION IMPOSSIBLE has already been released on Blu-Ray DVD as part of a 3-pack containing all 3 films. The current release simply makes the first two movies available as individual Blu-Ray discs for sale. MISSION IMPOSSIBLE is an interesting movie to look at, now more than 10 years after its initial release. When it came out, the film was a big hit, although reaction to it was mixed. Many critics and regular viewers were confused by the film’s intricate plot twists, even while the big set pieces went over fairly well. Looking at the film today, it’s actually pretty simple to pick apart the plot, and it holds up nicely as a spy vs. spy action thriller. The opening sequence is designed to play the film as a kind of comic caper, until the filmmakers suddenly throw a grenade into the scenario and the movie morphs into thriller mode for the rest of the ride. The major stunt sequences continue to hold up today, particularly an intricate wire act in the middle of CIA headquarters. Some of the ILM work done on the film doesn’t quite hold up (see below), but that is a consequence of 10 years of advances in film and home theater technology. There is also some now-antiquated computer and internet usage in the film, which at the time was cutting edge. But the plot and the characters continue to hold together, in spite of the passage of time and our advances beyond the technology of the time. For me, this film is the best of the three Cruise has made in the series, and it’s certainly worth a look if you have never seen it before. VIDEO QUALITY 5/5 MISSION IMPOSSIBLE is presented in a 1080p MPEG-2 transfer that is easily better than the prior releases available on standard definition DVD, including the latest one in 2006. (I must qualify that to say that with a 1080i upconversion, the difference is lessened, but with a large enough screen, you will easily be able to see it.) There are multiple places where the added resolution of the HD picture makes a big difference, including the opening embassy party where one character adjusts the tint of her glasses onscreen, and the aquarium restaurant set piece. (One shot that doesn’t benefit from the added detail is an ILM establishing shot of the train for the climactic sequence - the CGI is quickly evident, even more in 1080p than in standard definition DVD) Throughout, the amount of color and detail is striking – some character scenes resonate more strongly with the added sharpness of their faces, particularly one between Jon Voight and Tom Cruise. The added detail also plays out in interesting ways on the monitors constantly seen onscreen. This transfer is the real reason to pick up this disc – it’s not at the level of something like DREAMGIRLS, but it certainly beats the earlier releases. AUDIO QUALITY: 4/5 MISSION IMPOSSIBLE is presented in 5.1 Dolby Digital in English, French and Spanish. This is a solid audio mix, with a good variety of directional and atmospheric effects as well as music filling the home theater. The soundtrack ranges from quite loud in the action sequences to extremely quiet in the more pensive dialogue exchanges in between the big set pieces. Danny Elfman’s score benefits here – at many points of the film, his music is almost an additional character along for the ride. SPECIAL FEATURES: 3/5 The Blu-Ray release of MISSION IMPOSSIBLE ports over most of the special features from the 2006 standard DVD release, with almost all the features in 480p standard definition. • Mission: Remarkable – 40 Years of Creating the Impossible (11:26): This is brief and fluffy featurette, presented in non-anamorphic standard definition, that gives us a quick look back at the original series and Tom Cruise’s enthusiasm for making a movie based on it. • Mission: Explosive Exploits (5:09): This is another brief non-anamorphic standard def featurette, focusing on Tom Cruise performing his own stunts in the film, with a quick look at some on-set footage as those scenes were filmed. • Mission: Spies Among Us (8:40): This brief non-anamorphic standard def featurette covers the real work of intelligence agents, in terms of covert operations and general spying. Peter Earnest is featured here, discussing some aspects of real-world spy activities. • Mission: Catching the Train (2:39): This quick non-anamorphic standard def featurette goes over the work done by ILM on the climactic train sequence. John Knoll offers a couple of observations in a very fast look at the work. • Mission: International Spy Museum (6:31): Peter Earnest leads a quick non anamorphic, standard definition tour of his museum of real spy gadgets and materials from the past century. Some of the items are quite advanced for their time (a watch camera and a glasses camera), but others are simply creepy. (A poisoned umbrella is one that came across as pretty sinister) • Mission: Agent Dossiers: This is actually the most interesting of the special features. The viewer is treated to mocked-up dossiers for the fictional characters in the film, including all of Ethan Hunt’s initial team, plus disavowed agent Luther Stickell. • Excellence in Film: Cruise (9:15): A collection of clips from various Tom Cruise films is included here, in non-anamorphic standard definition. This collection was put together for a 2005 BAFA event where Cruise was awarded the Stanley Kubrick Brittania Award for Excellence in Film. (On the standard definition DVD, Cruise’s acceptance speech at that event was also included. It is not included here.) • Generation: Cruise (3:36): A second collection of Tom Cruise film clips, also in non-anamorphic standard definition, is included as well. This one was put together for the 2005 MTV Movie Awards, where Cruise was awarded their first-ever MTV Generation Award. (Again, Cruise’s acceptance speech – which was decidedly different from his BAFTA appearance - is not included.) • TV Spots (3:52 total). A series of TV spots are included in non-anamorphic standard definition. • Teaser Trailer (1:11): The original teaser trailer for the 1996 release is included here in 1080p HD. • Theatrical Trailer (2:01): The full theatrical trailer for the 1996 release is included here in 1080p HD. • Photo Gallery: This is a series of images, both of the scenes as they appear in the film, and of the production of those scenes. Subtitles are available in English, French and Spanish on the feature itself and in English for the featurettes. The same scene index from the 2006 release has been included here, and the menu interface is similar, albeit in HD. The usual pop-up menu capability is available here as you watch the film. The usual Paramount Blu-Ray trailer plays when you first put the disc in, but you can skip it with the menu button. IN THE END... Essentially, what we have here is the 2006 DVD, with a couple of acceptance speeches removed from the special features, but with a new 1080p HD transfer included. The trade-off is worth it. The Blu-Ray release with the better transfer is a better value, and if you haven’t picked this one up yet, or if you haven’t seen it, this is a great way to be introduced. Kevin Koster May 17, 2007.