Cellular 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. No significant issues arose during this excellent transfer.
From start to finish, sharpness looked excellent. Never did I notice any signs of softness or fuzziness. The movie came across as nicely detailed and well-defined at all times. Jagged edges and shimmering created no concerns, and I also saw no signs of edge enhancement. As one might expect from a recent movie, the film lacked source flaws. I didn’t detect any grit, specks, grain or other issues.
Unlike many films in this genre, Cellular didn’t use a stylized palette. Instead, it presented natural colors that were well rendered. The movie consistently demonstrated lively and vivid tones. Blacks also were rich and firm, while low-light shots - primarily seen in the attic with Jessica - looked smooth and concise. All in all, this was a solid image.
I also found a lot to like form the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Cellular. With all the action pieces, the movie presented a lot of nice opportunities for vivid audio, and it followed up on them well. Most of these stemmed from car chases, as those offered a lot of convincing movement and used all the speakers very well. Environmental elements also created a fine sense of place, and the entire track utilized the five channels to solid effect.
Audio quality also worked well. Speech sounded crisp and distinctive, with no signs of edginess or concerns connected to intelligibility. Music was bright and dynamic, as the mix replicated the score with good clarity. Effects also fared well. Those elements were lively and dynamic, and they showed no distortion or other problems. Bass response was very good. Low-end demonstrated tight, impressive tones. Overall, this was a solid soundtrack.
A nice set of supplements rounds out the disc. We open with an audio commentary from director David R. Ellis, assistant stunt coordinator/director’s sister Annie Ellis, and producer/director’s daughter Tawny Ellis plus various guests. Most of the track puts the three Ellises together for a running, screen-specific piece. Periodically the commentary branches out for the guests. Ellis calls each and chats with them on the phone for a few minutes. Clearly they recorded these segments separately and dropped them into the running discussion. We hear from New Line president Bob Shaye, producer Lauren Lloyd, co-writer Chris Morgan, actor Chris Evans, stunt coordinator Freddie Hice, editor Daryl Sears, and composer John Ottman.
The commentary never becomes great, but it usually stays interesting. We learn about the film’s development and changes made from the original plan in regard to the tale’s setting, its characters, and its path. We also hear about casting, stunts and effects, locations, test screenings and general production anecdotes. Since all three participants are related, they tell us a little about working together and their interest in the industry.
As for the inserted phone chats, they vary in quality. Some are pretty superficial, such as the one with Shaye, whereas others offer a little more insight. I don’t think many of them provide a lot of useful material, though. They’re too short to go much of anywhere, although the conversations with editor Sears and composer Ottman are pretty good. I’m glad they fill in slots that otherwise probably would have turned into dead air, but they’re not especially valuable. Nonetheless, this remains a reasonably likable and informative piece.
In the Deleted/Alternate Scenes area, we locate five clips. Taken together, these last five minutes, 39 seconds. All of them take place at the beach, and mostly they address issues connected to Ryan’s friend Chad and the “Heal the Bay” benefit. The alternate ending tosses out a cutesy conclusion with Ryan’s girlfriend Chloe. They’re entirely superfluous and merited excision. In a nice touch, all of them come anamorphic 2.35:1 with Dolby Digital 5.1 sound.
We can view the scenes with or without commentary from director Ellis. He gives us a little background about the snippets and mostly lets us know why they got the boot, though he fails to tell us this for the second one.
The disc includes three separate documentaries. We start with the 19-minute Celling Out, which presents a look at the expanding role of portable communication. We find movie clips and comments from telecommunications engineers Joel Engel, Dr. Martin Cooper, technology journalist Xeni Jardin, clinical psychologist Don Kilhefner, co-screenwriter Larry Cohen, and telecommunications expert Ian MacRury. They discuss the development of cell phones and how the technology works, the growth of their popularity and their psychological impact, the ways they affect society, and probable changes in the future.
“Celling” offers a surprisingly rich look at its subject. We get a real discussion of the positives and negatives of cell phones as the program digs into all sides of the topic. Since I hate cell phones - or the way they’ve come to mar society, at least - I most enjoyed the criticisms of the devices’ use, but I appreciated this insightful and entertaining piece.
In Dialing Up Cellular, we get a 25-minute and 54-second program. It gives us a look at the movie’s creation with the usual roster of film snippets, behind the scenes elements, and interviews. We hear from David Ellis, Annie Ellis, Tawny Ellis, Cohen, Lloyd, Morgan, Hice, producer Dean Devlin, New Line executive VP-Production Richard Brenner, executive producer Doug Curtis, production designer Jaymes Hinkle, location sound recordist Arthur Rochester, and actors Kim Basinger, Chris Evans, Jason Statham and William H. Macy. They go into the development of the story, bringing Ellis onto the project, changing the location from Boston to LA, casting and working with the actors, the director’s methods, shooting in LA and connected location challenges, and stunts and driving scenes.
At times “Dialing” veers into the realm of promotional fluff, but not with much frequency. The parts about the actors and director fall into that area the most prominently, but they also give us good notes about their work on the film. It’s good to see the nuts and bolts of shooting the driving sequences and other location issues, and the footage from the set helps. It’s a pretty good documentary that offers a brisk and informative examination of the film’s creation.
Finally, we find the 26-minute and 58-second Code of Silence: Inside the Rampart Scandal, a look at incidents echoed in Cellular. This piece includes remarks from Los Angeles Times reporters Scott Glover and Matt Lait, former LA County deputy district attorney Richard Rosenthal, and attorney Kevin McKesson. The program looks at the deep level of corruption in the LAPD, particularly within a division called Rampart, and focuses on the actions of officer Rafael Perez. It’s a terrific overview of the sleaze involved and acts as a nice companion to the movie.
In a thoughtful touch, the program starts with a warning that the show may act as a spoiler for parts of Cellular. “Silence” never directly discusses the film or reflects upon specific aspects of its story, but one can infer plot elements from it, so I appreciate the tone of caution and respect for viewers who might not want to have any foreknowledge of the movie’s story.
In addition to the film’s trailer, an area called More from New Line presents some ads. We find promos for The Butterfly Effect, Highwaymen, After the Sunset, The Aviator and Blade: Trinity.
User-friendly footnote: we get English and Spanish subtitles for the extras.
Fitfully entertaining but ultimately frustrating, Cellular disappoints because it suffers from too many cheesy elements. Most thrillers require the suspension of disbelief, but this one stretches our limits. The DVD presents excellent picture and audio plus a very strong roster of extras. Fans of the flick will clearly feel pleased with this excellent release. As for others, it might make a decent popcorn flick rental, but I can’t advocate anything more than that.