During much of the Eighties, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone duked it out as the two premiere bodybuilders when it came to box office returns. However, when the decade changed, Slyís career took a nosedive; but for the decent success of 1993ís Cliffhanger, he would have gone all of the Nineties without a single hit.
Although he spent the first half of the decade at the top of the charts with hits like Terminator 2 and True Lies, Arnie seems to be on his way to the bottom along with Stallone based on recent efforts. While he neatly rebounded from the failure of 1993ís Last Action Hero with 1994ís True Lies, his next effort - 1996ís Eraser - didnít tank, but it also didnít pull in the expected business, and 1997ís Batman and Robin - in which Schwarzenegger played Mr. Freeze - almost killed the franchise.
However, the problems with the latter werenít Arnieís fault, really, as the blame primarily resided with director Joel Schumacher and a miscast George Clooney as Bats. Nonetheless, the descent had really begun, and it didnít help that health concerns kept Schwarzenegger off the screen for more than two years. When he returned, the results were less than spectacular. Late 1999ís End Of Days proved to be another financial disappointment as it collapsed among the ruins of other apocalyptic fantasies found in the pre-millennial fervor.
Apparently eager to revisit the salad days of a decade earlier, the next Schwarzenegger piece returned to familiar territory: the future. 2000ís The 6th Day cast Arnie as a man who runs into problems when heís cloned. Unfortunately, human cloning is illegal in the ďvery near futureĒ - when the movies takes place - so the evil corporation behind the activity wants to ice him to hide the evidence.
Never mind that - as we learn in the film - boohoogles of other clones walk the Earth, and they each have easily identifiable marks that brand them as copies. You donít watch a movie like The 6th Day for flawless logic - you check it out to get revved up by the action. With director Roger Spottiswoode behind the camera - the man who helmed 1997ís moderately successful Bond flick Tomorrow Never Dies - 6th Day looked like it might have had some potential.
Or maybe not. A glance at Spottiswoodeís rťsumť shows that in addition to the Bond flick, he also led such classics as 1989ís Tom Hanks embarrassment Turner and Hooch and Stalloneís most infamous work, 1992ís Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot. Arnie, are you sure this is the guy in whom you want to trust your future?
Probably not, and while The 6th Day isnít a bad movie, it certainly lacks any spark or true excitement. At best, Spottiswoode is a competent director of action flicks. At this point, the Bond franchise is such a well-oiled machine that directors become almost irrelevant; while a good captain might bring out greater thrills in the series, a mediocre one is unlikely to really harm it. Spottiswode showed no great talent in TND, but he also knew when to get out of the way and let the usual pyrotechnics and danger run their course.
In 6th Day, Spottiswoode seems to take a similar approach, but without the solid and established crew behind him, the project founders. This seems like a very generic futuristic action film and absolutely no parts of it do anything to distinguish themselves. Actually, thatís not totally true. Early on, we see a football game played as part of a very successful league. Unfortunately, the filmmakers put their money on the XFL, an organization that seems unlikely to ever establish the rabid fan base depicted here.
Itís not good when your movie starts with an unintended laugh such as this, and The 6th Day does little to go above that mistaken bet. I like Schwarzenegger as an action hero, but when it comes to playing regular folks, heís a dismal failure. During much of the film, he has to interact with his wife, his daughter, and his friends, and Arnie simply canít pull off the natural, warm style required. He seems absurdly - and painfully - fake in those scenes; you just pray for an explosion to get us past his excessive emoting.
It also doesnít help that 6th Day seems to be at least a half an hour too long. When I find myself checking out the time display on my DVD player and thinking ďIíve only watched 40 minutes??!!Ē I know somethingís wrong. I could not resist my urges to inspect the passing minutes, and I constantly could not believe what I saw. When the movie hits the one hour mark, it seemed impossible that another 64 minutes of story remained. There appeared to be so little left to do that I thought the 124 minute running time listed on the DVDís case was a mistake.
However, it most definitely was correct, and The 6th Day simply plods along to its conclusion. At least this wasnít an inevitable conclusion; though many of the plotís twists appeared predictable, it threw in a couple of surprises that made the movie a little more interesting.
But not much, unfortunately, as The 6th Day simply is too slow-moving and uninventive to offer a very entertaining experience. On one hand, Iíve definitely seen worse. Despite its lack of spark, at least the movie seemed competently made, and it boasts a fairly good supporting cast including Robert Duvall, Tony Goldwyn and Michael Rapaport. Only the former makes any substantial impact, however, as the other two sleepwalk through their generic roles.
In any case, The 6th Day is not a terrible movie. However, it was a bland one, and a dull action flick is not a good thing. Honestly, it felt like little more than a mild variation of Schwarzeneggerís 1990 hit Total Recall, as the themes and styles were similar in many ways. However, the latter featured a strong director in Paul Verhoeven; the man makes many missteps, but at least he remains distinctive. The same cannot be said for the very ordinary Roger Spottiswoode. Oh well - perhaps Schwarzenegger will rebound when Terminator 3 hits the screens.
The 6th Day appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. As one might expect from a recent, big-budget flick like this, the movie looked consistently excellent, with virtually no flaws on display.
Sharpness appeared absolutely immaculate at all times. Even during the widest shots, I didnít discern a hint of softness or fuzziness. The picture stayed wonderfully crisp and detailed throughout the film. I also witnessed no examples of moirť effects or jagged edges. Print flaws presented no concerns during the movie. I saw no signs of grain, hairs, scratches, tears, grit, blotches, speckles or other defects; it was a nicely clean image.
Colors seemed very solid, with hues that appeared accurate and true. The film usually utilized a fairly cool palette, but when it made sense to feature bolder hues - such as during the opening football game or in shots of the helicopters - the tones looked bright and vivid, without any concerns related to bleeding or noise. Black levels seemed deep and rich, and contrast was strong. Shadow detail came across as clear and appropriately opaque without any signs of heaviness or thickness. Ultimately this is an excellent picture that should make viewers very happy.
Also fantastic was the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of The 6th Day. From the second this film began, the mix seemed very active and involving. All five channels provided a tremendous amount of information. The forward speakers dominate - which is natural, since the vast majority of the dialogue comes from the front - but the rears gave them a run for their money; the surrounds kicked in with strong reinforcement throughout the movie and provided unique audio much of the time. Easily the best segments were those that involved the helicopters; especially notable was the first time we see them fly, as this sequence showed off excellent dimensional audio and active split-surround usage. The track offered a wonderfully engaging experience throughout the film.
Audio quality also seemed excellent. Dialogue appeared crisp and natural with no signs of edginess or problems related to intelligibility; speech was always distinct and looped lines blended well with the rest of the track. Music seemed bright and rich and provided positive bass, as did the effects. In this kind of film, effects are especially important, and the sound of The 6th Day didnít disappoint. They blasted realistically and cleanly from all the speakers and provided a dynamic punch. Ultimately, I thought the movie featured a very strong soundtrack that helped make the story a bit more involving.
The department in which the DVD of The 6th Day falls somewhat short, however, relates to its extras. Although the disc originally was announced as a nice little special edition, the final product lacks many supplements. Of main significance is a combined isolated score and audio commentary from composer Trevor Rabin. Most of the time these programs include the entire score, and the composer speaks in between the music. That most definitely isnít the case here.
Instead, Rabin speaks throughout most of the track, and he often talks on top of music cues. In fact, there seemed to be relatively little unaffected score to be found. Itís presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 sound, but this seems somewhat useless because there isnít much isolated music on the track.
As such, the piece will likely be a disappointment to score fans who want to enjoy Rabinís music. However, score fans who want to enjoy Rabinís musings will be very pleased, as he offers a great deal of interesting information throughout his commentary. He touches on a variety of issues that affect him as a composer and he addresses his goals in that role. Another fun touch stems from his ďpast lifeĒ as a member of Yes; I loved the times when he discussed his experiences in that band, and these elements made the commentary very enjoyable. Itís too bad that so little isolated score appears, but at least the remarks from the composer were very worthwhile.
Also in the ďfunĒ category are the two RePet ads we discover on the DVD. One of these is the ďinfomercialĒ seen briefly at the RePet store, while the other shows the TV ad we see. Both offered in their uncut glory, the former runs two minutes, 35 seconds, while the latter clocks in at 45 seconds. It was great to get to watch them uninterrupted; more DVDs are adding features like this, and I appreciate it.
A few minor pieces round out the DVD. We find the filmís theatrical trailer plus clips for Gattaca, Hollow Man, and the upcoming theatrical release of Final Fantasyand ďTalent FilesĒ for director Spottiswode and actors Schwarzenegger, Goldwyn, Rapaport, and Duvall; those offer the usual extremely perfunctory biographies. Lastly, the DVDís booklet tosses in some short but solid production notes, and if you have a DVD-ROM drive, youíll get links to both the official 6th Day site and the Columbia Home Video location.
As a whole, The 6th Day offered a watchable but overly long and bland action film. It wasnít a bad flick, but it failed to engage or excite me much and I thought it seemed relentlessly mediocre. The DVD, however, provides absolutely excellent picture and sound, and we also find a very good audio commentary among some other less exciting extras. For Schwarzenegger fans, The 6th Day might merit a look, but others should probably stick with more distinctive and compelling material.