High Crimes appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Though it occasionally flirted with greatness, overall the transfer was a mixed bag.
Sharpness seemed good for the most part. Actually, many shots looked terrific, but those werenít the rule. Instead, the majority of the film showed positive but unexceptional clarity, and a few bits came across as a smidgen soft. Jagged edges and moirť effects created no noticeable concerns, but I did see a little light edge enhancement at times. Source flaws popped up more frequently than expected. Throughout the film, I noticed quite a few small specks. Iíd guess I witnessed about 50 of these across the whole movie; thatís not a ton, but itís too many for such a recent movie.
Crimes offers a fairly warm and natural palette, and the disc replicated those hues well. The colors came across as accurate and vivid, and they displayed no concerns related to noise, bleeding, or other negatives. Black levels appeared deep and dense, while shadow detail was appropriately opaque but not overly thick. I liked a lot of the transfer, but the source flaws and minor softness made this one a ďB-ď.
I felt fine with the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of High Crimes. Since the film mostly consisted of chatty sequences, the audioís forward emphasis came as no surprise. In the front channels, I heard good stereo presence for the music, and effects created a nice sense of atmosphere. Showier surround effects cropped up at appropriate times, such as during Tomís arrest and the shots in El Salvador. Those added some life to the proceedings, and the rears also contributed a good sense of general atmosphere; for example, the occasional helicopter heard during scenes on base seemed useful but not intrusive.
Audio quality came across well for the most part. Speech demonstrated a little edginess at times, but dialogue usually sounded natural and warm, and I discerned no problems related to intelligibility. Music appeared bright and vivid, and the score demonstrated solid dynamics and fidelity. Effects also were crisp and distinct. They showed clean highs and tight lows. Bass response packed a nice punch when appropriate. Ultimately, the soundtrack of High Crimes did its job.
High Crimes presents a decent mix of extras. Up first we locate an audio commentary from director Carl Franklin, who offers a running, screen-specific piece. Franklin provides a fairly interesting track. He covers a lot of useful topics such as how he became involved with the film, variations between it and the book, locations, dealing with audience attitudes toward the military after 9/11, possible alternate endings, and quite a few other subjects. Occasional empty spaces mar the presentation, but these seem reasonably infrequent.
Some folks loathe commentaries during which the director discusses other topics or films, so I need to warn them that Franklin frequently does so here. He often strays away from Crimes itself to talk about his other flicks, and he gets into some general filmmaking theories. Personally, I think these moments seem much more interesting than the stuff related to Crimes, especially when Franklin addresses the different needs of William Hurt and Meryl Streep. Overall, I feel Franklin provides a chatty and engaging piece that loses points solely due to the number of gaps. I must admit I canít help but wonder how such a bright and insightful guy made such an ordinary flick.
In addition to the filmís theatrical trailer, we get a collection of six different featurettes. A Military Mystery runs seven minutes, 22 seconds and consists entirely of interview snippets with novelist Joseph Finder. He tells us his reactions to the adaptation experience and how the movie differs from his text. He also comments upon his cameo in the flick and provides some notes about the storyís genre. Itís a solid chat that offers a lot of good information.
A ďbehind the scenesĒ piece, FBI Takedown In Union Square lasts three minutes, 33 seconds, and it shows the shooting of that sequence. We hear a few short comments from FBI consultant Sue Doucette, but mostly we simply watch the footage from the set. Though short, the featurette gives us a fun look at this subject.
In A Different Kind of Justice, lawyer Alice Cate discusses military courts. During the four-minute and 58-second program, she details the ways that those proceedings differ from civilian trials and gives us a nice little glossary of significant terms. Her notes help flesh out the subject and add some useful material.
Those who wish to cheat will probably feel disappointed with Liar Liar: How to Beat a Polygraph. The five-minute and 51-second featurette doesnít really offer that much assistance for anyone who wants to lie and get away with it. Instead, FBI consultant Sue Doucette offers a primer in the use of the polygraph. She talks about what it can and cannot do, and while she indeed relates methods people use to beat it, she also covers countermeasures adopted by test administrators. As with all the preceding featurettes, this one packs a lot of good information into its short running time.
More ďbehind the scenesĒ footage appears in The Car Crash. The two-minute, four-second piece shows shots from the set and we hear some comments from director Franklin. Though brief, the clip offers a nice look at the effects used for the sequence, and I especially enjoyed a split screen presentation that displayed the raw footage alongside the final film.
The sole weak link in the featurettes area, Together Again finishes the domain with a moderate dud. The seven-minute, 31-second program includes interview material with director Franklin, producers Janet Yang and Jesse BíFranklin, and actors Morgan Freeman, Ashley Judd, Jim Caviezel, and Adam Scott. The piece concentrates on the reunion of Freeman and Judd - they also appeared together in 1998ís Kiss the Girls - and tells us how terrific they are together. Itís fluffy and bland and lacks much useful content, though it does toss in some decent shots from the set.
While not an unenjoyable flick, High Crimes failed to do much to differentiate itself from many other legal thrillers. The movie emphasized the thriller side too heavily and didnít bother to do much with the legal aspects. Ultimately, it seemed somewhat forced and lacked much distinctiveness. The Blu-ray provides erratic but generally positive picture, good sound, and an unspectacular but solid section of supplements. Though I have few major complaints about either, this seems like a spotty release for a mediocre film.
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