Sunday, March 4, 2007

THE ROCK (Touchstone 1996) Criterion Home Entertainment

Michael Bay’s The Rock (1996) is a high octane buddy-buddy action/thriller that costars Sean Connery and Nicholas Cage as an unlikely pair working against time to save San Francsico from nuclear Armageddon. Cage is Stanley Goodspeed, a Cracker-Jack FBI bomb expert who is called in to negotiate the rules of engagement against a rogue team of military defectors frontlined by Brigadier General Francis X. Hummel (Ed Harris).

Seems Hummel holds the military responsible for his wife’s death and has decided that he will expose their lies and secrets by holding them accountable with the threat of destroying a major U.S. city in a nuclear explosion.

The FBI wants to invade Hummel’s hideout – Alcatraz Prison, only they need someone who has intimate knowledge of the interior layout. Enter military prisoner, John Patrick Mason (Sean Connery). Wrongfully locked up for the secrets he knows Mason strikes a deal with Stanley. He will get Stanley inside Hummel’s hideaway in exchange for Stanley looking the other way when he, Mason, makes a break for freedom.

The rest of the narrative is basically a race against time with the bomb ticking away somewhere within the prison walls and Hummel’s squadron lurking around every corner, ready to exterminate anyone who tries to enter uninvited.

The film is dedicated to producer Don Simpson who, together with producer Jerry Bruckheimer, is responsible for creating many of the memorable action/adventure movies of the mid-eighties. Seemingly suffering from an inferiority complex, Simpson took his own life during the production; his final testament to a vision and prowess in the medium that remains unsurpassed.

Criterion’s 2-disc DVD is the preferred edition of this movie. Touchstone also has a DVD, but its’ overall image quality is so poor that it behooves this reviewer to NOT recommend that edition to the consumer. Criterion’s mastering efforts, on the other hand, are superb. This is a reference quality disc with rich, bold and fully saturated colors, deep solid blacks and very clean whites.
Contrast is ideally realized with a considerable amount of fine detail evident throughout the film, even during the darkest scenes. Flesh tones are quite natural.

There is a hint of edge enhancement, but nothing that will distract. The audio is 5.1 Dolby Digital and provides an aggressive sonic spread across all five channels. Numerous extras include an interview with Bruckheimer, a television program excerpt explaining some of the film’s special effects, a further analysis of special effects and the film’s original theatrical trailer. Highly recommended!

FILM RATING (out of 5 - 5 being the best)



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