HTF REVIEW: " The Sum Of All Fears" (with screenshots)

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ronald Epstein, Oct 17, 2002.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder

    Jul 3, 1997
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    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein

    The Sum of all Fears

    Studio: Paramount
    Year: 2002
    Rated: PG-13
    Film Length: 123 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (2.35:1)
    Subtitles: English

    27,000 Nuclear Weapons. One Is Missing.
    For me, I found The Sum of All Fears to be
    the weakest of the Tom Clancy films. I think the
    problem is that I always felt Harrison Ford to
    be the definitive Jack Ryan. His character was
    confident, capable and a little crumpled around the
    edges. In a vehicle no doubt geared towards
    bringing actor Ben Affleck to the center screen,
    Producer Mace Neufeld and director Phil Alden
    Robinson chose to re-position Jack Ryan as a 28
    year old analyst in contemporary times. The
    immediate problem is that Affleck never lives up
    to the character, bringing a less dramatic presence
    than what was portrayed by Harrison Ford or even
    Alec Baldwin. Still, Afleck does a reasonably good
    job here delivering a likable character while
    offering very little in actual screen presence.
    In this film Jack Ryan (Ben Affleck) is shown as
    a young whippersnapper just getting his start
    into the CIA, with a doctor girlfriend (Bridget
    Moynahan) constantly being subjected to late-night
    emergency calls. The story follows a Neo-Nazi who
    has obtained a nuclear bomb, and sets a dastardly
    plan into motion. Combine this chilling event
    with factions in the Russian military launching
    a chemical missile attack on a rebellious republic.
    As tensions are escalate worldwide pushing nations
    to the brink of war, Ryan has to single-handily
    uncover the truth and save the world from nuclear
    The supporting cast here is mainly one-dimensional.
    Morgan Freeman plays a CIA director, but comes off
    as the same character he plays in just about every
    one of his films. James Cromell is a credible but
    uninspired President. It seems everyone is here to
    simply take back seat to Ben Affleck.
    Still, with all its minor flaws, the movie still
    remains a pretty decent Jack Ryan film that falls
    just short of being extremely satisfying.
    How is the transfer?
    Whatever you think of the movie itself, there is
    no denying that this is a first-class transfer that
    rates up with the very best the format currently has
    to offer. What we have here is a vibrant and
    absolutely gorgeous transfer that brings out amazing
    clarity without a hint of film grain. Images are
    razor-sharp with exceptional well-balanced colors.
    The utmost concern has been given to picture detail
    here, even in the film's many darker scenes. I
    just love films that make use of blue filters, and
    you'll see some deeply gratifying usage here that
    the DVD format reproduces with utmost brilliance.
    Though Paramount has been uneven with their catalog
    transfers as of late, this transfer reminds you how
    well they treat their current fare.
    The 5.1 Dolby Digital mix matches the brilliance
    of the picture transfer. There are no limits to
    the sound dynamics here as we are treated a pleasing
    bass-heavy soundtrack that is well defined across
    the individual channels. The rears are active
    throughout the mix giving ambience to effect sounds
    and even crowd noise at a football game. You would
    be surprised, however, to find that the rear channels
    are most prominent in the film's quieter moments.
    There's a scene right after a nuclear blast where
    Affleck is surveying the damage around him. The
    soundtrack is virtually silent except for the
    chilling sounds of windy fallout that dominate the
    rear channels. It is one of those rare moments
    when the emotions of a scene are shifted from the
    visual and become totally dependant on the audio.
    Special Features
    Paramount has put together a reasonably solid
    Collector's Edition without skimping on extras.
    There are two separate commentaries on
    this release. The first is by director Phil
    Alden Robinson and cinematographer John Lindley.
    The second is by director Phil Alden Robinson
    and novelist Tom Clancey. I chose the latter
    commentary. Clancey, a little miffed that portions
    of his book were ignored, begins by talking a
    little about the 1973 incident that is loosely
    based on real-life Israeli events. How much
    government activity really takes place up at
    Mt. Weather, Virginia? Robinson tells you what
    he has summated. With each new scene we learn where
    each shot was filmed, including a startling discovery
    that this was the first U.S. feature allowed to
    shoot on the Kremlin grounds. It's kind of neat
    to have Clancy in on this documentary. I know
    very little about the man, but it seems he really
    seems to be an authority on the types of government
    air and ground equipment shown in this film. Perhaps
    it was a military background that led him to ride
    inside Russian T-72 tanks (which he lovingly calls
    "death traps"). Clancy doesn't hesitate to point
    out the realities of what you are watching compared
    to what is movie fabricated. Both Clancy and Robinson
    remain low-key through most of the commentary, but
    it works rather well.
    A cautionary tale divides its featurette
    materials into two separate categories. Casting
    throws us into a recent interview with Ben Affleck
    who describes being approached to do the film after
    Harrison Ford had declined upon the project. Affleck
    was excited over the prospect of taking the Jack
    Ryan character back to his younger days. From
    hereoin, we get the usual promotional fare as
    cast members that include Freeman, Cromwell, Bates
    and Moynahan all do the obligatory sucking up to
    each other. Production begins with Producer
    Mace Neufeld describing the problems of creating
    a new Jack Ryan script before deciding upon going
    with Clancy's 1991 book. Director Phil Alden Robinson
    briefly talks about the problems of adapting such
    a huge book to a 120-page screenplay. It's
    interesting to learn how the script originally looked
    when it was geared towards Harrison Ford, and how
    it changed in order to fit the younger character
    played by Affleck. Cast members describe the
    difficult conditions of filming in a wintry Montreal
    where the temperatures were well below freezing.
    In other conditions, the temperature rose to such
    blistering heated levels that it caused two
    Panavision cameras to melt. There is a certain
    amount of debate here concerning the bomb theme
    of the film and the events of 9/11. Fortunately
    this film takes liberty of some very realistic
    could-happen events and ends it with a sense of
    hope that perhaps nations can work together and
    avoid such catastrophes.
    (length: approx. 13 minutes/17 minutes)
    I really enjoyed the Visual Effects portion
    of this disc -- especially for the fact that it is
    broken down into 5 specific major effects sequences.
    This bypasses any lengthy dialogue and really brings
    you into the meat of the production. Visual Effects
    Supervisor Glenn Neufeld and his team carefully take
    us through each of these segments that draw attention
    to miniatures and pyrotechnics. One of my favorites
    of these sequences involves the hospital sequence
    where all the live actors were filmed on a soundstage
    in front of green screens as wires pull them in
    different directions. These elements were combined
    digitally with other individual shots to create one
    of the film's most memorable moments. Most of these
    sequences range in average of 4-8 minutes each.
    And yes, Paramount has included the film's
    original theatrical trailer.
    Final Thoughts
    Despite the absence of Harrison Ford, The Sum
    of all Fears contains enough shocks and escalating
    suspense to keep audiences entertained right up until
    the roll of the ending credits. Pair that up with
    Paramount's immaculate transfer and quality
    supplements and you have a DVD worth purchasing.
    Release Date: October 29, 2002
  2. Chris Farmer

    Chris Farmer Screenwriter

    Aug 23, 2002
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    Nice review Ron (goes without saying, but still worth pointing out)

    Never saw this one in theaters. I liked Hunt for Red October and Patriot games, but Clear and present was to simplified for my tastes to live up to the book. Sum should be very interesting to see how they simplified/rewrote things. Probably won't buy this one, but should be a solid rent.
  3. Sean Moon

    Sean Moon Cinematographer

    Jan 25, 2001
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    Cant wait for this one. Loved it in theaters, although a little disappointed by the absence of Harrison, I can live with Ben.

    Cant wait!
  4. MikeEckman

    MikeEckman Screenwriter

    Jan 11, 2001
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    Yeah, this was a decent movie, although for this summer's Ben vs Matt movie blockbusters, I'd have to pick Matt Damon's Bourne Identity as my favorite of the two. I will be picking this one up though as its still a good movie.

    I remember seeing it in the theater, and during the nuclear explosion scene, the theater became very eerily quiet.

    Great review, Ron, as always! [​IMG]
  5. Scott Simonian

    Scott Simonian Screenwriter

    Jun 20, 2001
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    Yeah, when I saw this movie the same thing happened. I really felt like it had really occured.
  6. Neil Joseph

    Neil Joseph Lead Actor

    Jan 16, 1998
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    Real Name:
    Neil Joseph
    I never saw this and it never caught my attention but thanks to your review, I am close to contemplating it. I may rent before I buy.
  7. ThomasC

    ThomasC Lead Actor

    Dec 15, 2001
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  8. BobH

    BobH Stunt Coordinator

    Apr 30, 2000
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    I skipped this in the theaters because it sounded like the plot was so different from the book, which I liked. Your review makes me think it hardly resembles the book, which probably should irritate Clancy but not his wallet. I suppose nobody in Hollywood wants to touch a subject of Arab terrorists successfully igniting a nuclear (new clear, W) bomb here.
  9. TysonK

    TysonK Agent

    Aug 3, 2002
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    Some time ago I heard that Paramount would re-release the first 3 Tom Clancy dvds as remastered special editions. So I was hoping for a 4 pack box set. Has anybody else heard about this?
  10. Neil Joseph

    Neil Joseph Lead Actor

    Jan 16, 1998
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    Real Name:
    Neil Joseph
    I picked it up after all and am watching it now as I type. Picture quality looks pretty solid so far.
  11. David Lambert

    David Lambert Executive Producer

    Aug 3, 2001
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  12. Steve_E

    Steve_E Agent

    Oct 30, 2001
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    tis true. Its 19th October 2002 and I recieved the Ultimate ET Boxed set and Sum of all Fears. Its like xmas here!
  13. jacob w k

    jacob w k Stunt Coordinator

    Jun 17, 2002
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    I missed it in theaters but will be getting it sometime soon. Sounds like a good disc too.
  14. Runar_R

    Runar_R Second Unit

    Dec 4, 2001
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  15. Matthew_Millheiser

    Matthew_Millheiser Supporting Actor

    May 1, 2000
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  16. Carl Bradshaw

    Jun 7, 1999
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    I found there was way to much edge enhancement on this disc. I enjoyed the movie though...
  17. Jim Bivins

    Jim Bivins Stunt Coordinator

    May 7, 2001
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    Personally, I found Harrison Ford's adsence a relief, he never had Jack Ryan right, and put too much of himself in the role, as many celebrities do. Though Ben wasn't my fave choice either.

    I may just rent this one, particularly for the Clancy commentary. I see changing the villians from Muslim extremists as somewhat reckless, and yes, they were changed before 9/11...political correctness has been in Hollywood for some time now folks.

  18. Dave Gilbert

    Dave Gilbert Second Unit

    Oct 29, 2000
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    According to the production featurette, it was changed to neo-nazis not in response to Arab terrorism, but to provide an enemy who could 'credibly' pull this off by themselves.

    In the book, the Arabs worked with communist East Germans. The director states that neither of these groups would have had the ability to act on their own, and so it was changed in the interests of expediency, not post-9/11 sensitivity.
  19. Runar_R

    Runar_R Second Unit

    Dec 4, 2001
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    I guess that'll teach me do double-check my information. :b

    What ever the reason for the change was, the choice of neo-nazis was in my opinion not a good one......
  20. Steve Spin

    Steve Spin Extra

    Nov 4, 2001
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    Well, I know this is sacrilegious but I still think Baldwin was the best Jack Ryan. I know Harrison Ford IS one of the best actors in the world...but Baldwin to me was the closest to nailing Jack Ryan from the novels. I also think Ben Affleck did a very good job.

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