HTF REVIEW: "The Usual Suspects - Special Edition" (with screenshots)

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ronald Epstein, Feb 24, 2002.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator

    Jul 3, 1997
    Likes Received:
    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein
    Any inaccuracies in this review should be
    addressed in the FEEDBACK area, not this thread.
    Screenshots are for image quality purpose only and
    may be slightly off-ratio


    The Usual Suspects

    Five Criminals. One Line Up. No Coincidence
    Movie audiences have never forgotten Director
    Bryan Singer's masterpiece, The Usual Suspects,
    nor will they ever forget the name, Keyser Soze.
    This 1995 thriller is masterfully conceived,
    brilliantly directed, and worthy of its Oscar
    winning performance by Kevin Spacey. It has become
    one of the most innovative and memorable crime
    thrillers of the nineties.
    How can a $91 million dollar drug heist with
    no drugs, no money and 29 dead bodies floating in
    the harbor be explained?
    In the present day, a truck hijacking rounds up
    5 criminals who should not be in the same room
    together. Keaton (Gabriel Byrne), Verbal (Kevin
    Spacey), McManus (Stephen Baldwin), Hockney (Kevin
    Pollack) and Fenster (Benecio Del Toro) face a
    lineup, and once released, together make plans
    to teach the cops a lesson.
    This is how it all begins, explains Verbal, the
    crippled con-artist telling the story to Detective
    Dave Kujan (Chazz Palminteri). But what Detective
    Kujan really wants to know, is who is the
    mastermind behind the operation, Keyser Soze?
    So begins and interesting, dark and intriguing story
    that had audiences guessing right up to the film's
    climatic moment when the tables were suddenly turned
    on them.
    How is the transfer?
    I gotta tell you, this transfer looks and
    sounds beautiful.
    MGM has put together a brand new 16x9 Hi-def
    (2.35:1)widescreen transfer that blows away the
    original DVD release. Judging between both
    versions, I immediately noticed that this new
    Special Edition has a sharper picture with more
    dead-on color accuracy than its predecessor.
    Gone is even the slightest hint of grain, leaving
    a warm and smooth picture with flesh tones that
    couldn't look any more natural.
    This new transfer also sports a brand new 5.1
    Dolby Digital surround track that also sounds
    better than the original DVD release, as sounds
    have more accurate channel separation. From the
    soothing piano notes that play through the film's
    opening sequence, to the startling explosions and
    gunfire that embody the film's climax, the sound
    remains consistently clean with precise directionality.
    Special Features
    I predicted late last year that MGM would be
    the studio to watch in 2002. Thankfully, I have
    been proven right. The studio that was heavily
    criticized for its lack of DVD commitment, has
    been stepping up to the plate and releasing amazing
    DVD Special Editions that rival what other studios
    have been releasing.
    From the moment you unwrap this disc and remove
    the special beautiful transparent outer plastic
    slipcover, you know MGM means business with this
    Pop in the disc and you are greeted with a brand
    new menu sequence that plays out against the
    infamous lineup and silhouetted images in its
    Spread out across 2 sides, the FEATURE is presented
    on Side A, while Side B is devoted to the SPECIAL
    FEATURES. The DVD contains both the WIDESCREEN and
    PAN AND SCAN version of the film on one side, which
    can easily be selected before the start of the
    Let me remind you again, that MGM has put
    out an incredible Special Edition that is brimming
    to the seams with extra material.
    There are two full-length running commentaries
    that can be selected from the Special Features
    menu on Side A. The first is with Director Bryan
    Singer and Writer Christopher McQuarrie. The second
    is with Editor John Ottman.
    There are 4 featurettes included on this disc.
    I will talk briefly about each one...
    Pursuing the Suspects begins with an
    interesting 1994 clip of writer Christopher
    McQuarrie, prior to the film's production, talking
    uncertainly about how he hopes the audience will
    be had in the final moments of the film. So begins
    this 24-minute present-day documentary that brings
    together all the cast members and Director Bryan Singer
    to recollect about the film's road to success. Singer
    compares his film to "The Wizard of Oz" in both
    its settings and characters. It's interesting to
    hear Benicio Del Toro talk about how his character
    went from a simple bit role on paper to the
    electrifying lisp-talking character he became.
    Doin' Time with the Suspects begins with
    Singer talking about the amount of great control he
    had on the overall production. He was like a young
    kid making his own 8mm film. We are taken on the
    set and behind-the-camera on many of the film's
    key sequences as cameras roll and mikes boom above
    the cast. Stephen Baldwin recollects how the
    film nearly fell apart during the parking garage
    sequence ("the bond men are coming"), but yet Singer
    kept his cool and continued rolling the film. Not
    knowing how the film was going to turn out, all the
    actors talk about how much they were blown away when
    they saw the early final cuts of the film. All of
    them were just as much surprised as audiences were.
    This featurette runs just under 26 minutes.
    Keyser Soze - Lie or Legend begins with
    a few funny anecdotes about a name that the cast
    had problems pronouncing correctly. And where did
    the name Keyser come from? Well, you'll find out
    in the first minute of this 17-minute documentary.
    Once you learn what the name means, it will add even
    more of a special meaning to the film. Kevin Pollack
    gives an interesting perspective on how the audience
    perception changes from the first time they watch
    the film to the second time where specific clues can
    be found. Many of the film's clues are revealed
    in this segment.
    The film's Original Featurette, takes us
    back to 1995 when the film was first released.
    Here are interviews with all the major cast members
    at that time, who talk about the film's story and
    their individual parts. This 6-minute documentary
    is quite pale compared to the updated documentaries
    on this disc, but nonetheless, shows how the film
    was originally promoted.
    Heisting Cannes with the Usual Suspects,
    shows the cast at Cannes via home movies. Pollack
    explains their arrival as liking to the second
    coming of the Beatles. Flooded by paparazzi, the
    cast is enthralled by the attention they were
    receiving. This is a really cool look at the
    film's stars enjoying themselves in France. Look
    for Benicio giving a firm middle finger to the
    There are two Theatrical Trailers included
    on this DVD. The domestic trailer is introduced
    by Editor John Ottman, who explains how badly the
    studio had put together their own original trailers
    before he was able to put together his own version
    with his own score. The rest is well...history.
    The film's International Trailer is also
    There are also EIGHT 30-second TV SPOTS that
    play out in a single clip.
    Five Deleted Scenes are included on this
    disc and being seen for the very first time anywhere.
    Each scene is introduced by Editor John Ottman, who
    explains why the scenes were cut.
    I must warn that fans may ultimately be disappointed.
    The cuts are extremely short. If played side-by-side,
    the amount of deleted material would add up to just
    under 5 minutes.
    1. "The Restaurant Scene" is a pre-extension of
    the restaurant scene with Keaton and his lawyer
    girlfriend. Before the tabled meeting, she gives
    Keaton tips on how to handle the business dinner.
    2. "Finding Arturro's Body" was a huge investment
    that never made it to film for obvious reasons
    which you will see. A kid fishing in the river
    discovers a floating body.
    3. "McManus and the Hungarian" is part of an
    omitted sub-story. McManus beats up upon a
    Hungarian, but alas, the scene is lit too darkly.
    4. "Planting the Bomb" explains Keaton asking
    the time aboard the ship just before it explodes.
    It's a short snippet of Keaton planting a bomb.
    5. "Extra Verbal" is some extra dialogue between
    Verbal and Detective Kujan.
    And finally....
    In a candid introduction, Bryan Singer talks about
    wanting to make the purchase of this DVD a special
    one for the fans, including material never-before-seen.
    With that, Bryan introduces the Gag Reel which
    was played to the cast at the wrap party. This is
    a rather cleverly produced 7-minute reel filled with
    flubbed lines and sexual references that are derived
    from clever editing and voice-overs. Don't miss the
    really cool Kayser Soze rap song that adds a nice touch
    to the outtakes. Most of the material presented
    here is vulgar in nature, though Bryan tells us in
    advance that the gag reel has been edited to remove
    the most pronounced vulgarities.
    The DVD is also filled with a few Easter Eggs
    that I will leave to the membership to discover.
    Final Thoughts
    It's amazing to look back on the careers
    of the actors and Director before and
    after The Usual Suspects. It
    became a landmark film that put everyone's name
    on the map and put individual careers into
    high gear.
    I am so proud of the job MGM has done with
    this release. I am proud not only for the fact
    that they chose this important film for Special
    Edition makeover, but also for the fact that the
    studio has a come a long way in how they produce
    their DVD product.
    I can finally say that MGM has joined the
    ranks of the other big studios who produce quality
    DVD product. It is something the studio promised
    they would do more than a year ago, and kept
    their word on. The Usual Suspects is a
    landmark example of great transfer and great content
    all rolled up in creative packaging.
    This one should be bought!
    Release Date: April 2, 2002
  2. Randy Torres

    Randy Torres Stunt Coordinator

    Aug 28, 2000
    Likes Received:
    Thanks for the review Ron, I've been ready for this DVD for a long time. Look's like it's worth the wait.
  3. Jim Spencer

    Jim Spencer Stunt Coordinator

    Aug 22, 2001
    Likes Received:
    Sounds like a great little package for a great movie. Thanks Ron.
  4. Will K

    Will K Screenwriter

    Feb 6, 2001
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    This is one I've been debating on purchasing and now I'm convinced. Thanks, Ron.
  5. Greg_Y

    Greg_Y Screenwriter

    Mar 7, 1999
    Likes Received:
    The worst part about Ron's reviews is that he keeps reminding me of things I need want to buy. [​IMG] Thanks for the review!
  6. Alex Spindler

    Alex Spindler Producer

    Jan 23, 2000
    Likes Received:
    I can't say no to this one.
  7. Matt_Wizall

    Matt_Wizall Agent

    Mar 20, 2001
    Likes Received:
    argh...this looks like it will be my first double dip...
  8. Guy_K

    Guy_K Second Unit

    Aug 14, 2001
    Likes Received:
    I wasn't going to buy this, but this review reminded me of how much I liked this film! Those extras sound great also!
  9. ChrisMatson

    ChrisMatson Cinematographer

    Dec 14, 2000
    Likes Received:
    Thank you, MGM! I have been holding out for the special edition. I just pre-ordered this for $17.09 at DeepDiscountDVD.
  10. Rob Tomlin

    Rob Tomlin Producer

    Jan 8, 2000
    Likes Received:
    As a fan of this movie, I am embarrassed to admit that I didn't even know that this SE was in the works! :b:

    Since I never got around to buying the original DVD, this will be a no brainer purchase for me.
  11. Scott W.

    Scott W. Second Unit

    May 20, 1999
    Likes Received:
    This'll be a great one. Nice review Ron.

  12. Chad Gregory

    Chad Gregory Supporting Actor

    Oct 11, 2000
    Likes Received:
    Thanks Ron, looks great. I appreciate that you include the length of the featurettes.

    Of a probable 40 purchases by the end of the next four months this disc is my most anticipated purchase. I dumped the crappy Polygram disc I've had for a few years in preparation. Can't wait to partake in the new Hi-def anamorphic transfer.

  13. Nick Sievers

    Nick Sievers Producer

    Jul 1, 2000
    Likes Received:
    I held off from purchasing the original release because of the rumours that were floating around about a new Special Edition in the works, i'm glad that MGM seem to have pulled off a spectacular dvd for an even spectacular film. I can't wait to see this film on DVD, I have waited so long for this.
  14. Chris Lynch

    Chris Lynch Stunt Coordinator

    Nov 29, 2001
    Likes Received:
  15. Jon_B

    Jon_B Screenwriter

    Nov 27, 2000
    Likes Received:
    I've been waiting for this for quite some time. I'll be buying. [​IMG]
    Ron, could you take some pictures of the slip case? Or is it just like it sounds (a clear slip case).
  16. Jay W

    Jay W Supporting Actor

    Oct 5, 1999
    Likes Received:
    That was quick, looks beautiful judging by the screenshots and what you've posted. Bring it on! [​IMG]
  17. Rob Gillespie

    Rob Gillespie Producer

    Aug 17, 1998
    Likes Received:
    Just the fact that it's anamorphic and 5.1 is enough for me. I've never figured out why earlier releases only had 2.0.
  18. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator

    Jul 3, 1997
    Likes Received:
    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein
    Your wish is my command....
  19. Josh_Hill

    Josh_Hill Screenwriter

    Jan 6, 2002
    Likes Received:
    Originally when I heard about this disc I wasnt gonna get it. I think now I will.

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