Inside Man 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. The picture had some flaws but usually worked well within its constraints.
For the most part, sharpness seemed positive. Some light softness crept in at times, but not with any real frequency. Instead, most of the flick appeared well defined and detailed. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, but I also saw some mild to moderate edge enhancement throughout the movie. Though a little grain appeared, I noticed no source flaws.
Man presented a somewhat limited palette but it usually stayed within a natural range. The most stylized elements came from the post-robbery interviews with the hostages; those were fairly monochromatic and stark. Otherwise, the tones looked fine. They were acceptably well-defined and vivid. Black levels seemed reasonably deep and firm, but shadows could be a little iffy. Some low-light shots were murkier than expected, though most were fine. Ultimately, Inside Man seemed a little erratic but generally positive.
As for the audio, Inside Man presented a more than adequate Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. Much of the time, the mix stayed fairly subdued. It offered nice stereo imaging for music, and the score also spread smoothly to the surrounds. Effects usually went with a general sense of ambience, but they created a smooth sense of setting that also added good reinforcement from the rear. We got a couple of action scenes that opened up the track, but not many. They created a nice sense of place and movement in their brief appearances.
Audio quality appeared solid. Speech consistently came across as natural and concise, and I noticed no issues related to edginess or intelligibility. Music seemed clear and vivid, as the score presented firm tones. The percussive elements sounded especially good. Effects also appeared clean and accurate. They suffered from no distortion and boasted fine bass response during the appropriate sequences. In the end, the audio of Man served the movie well.
As we head to the DVD’s extras, we start with an audio commentary from director Spike Lee. He provides a running, screen-specific chat. Recorded on his 49th birthday and immediately before the movie’s premiere, Lee discusses a mix of topics. He gets into cast and performances, locations and set design, the flick’s visual look and editing, improvisation, references to other works like Dog Day Afternoon, how he got the gig and its development, and a few other relevant subjects.
At his best, Lee makes this a useful track. His strongest moments come from stories such as when he talks about the cast and crew softball team or his rant against the pervasiveness of violence in the music and video games. We do learn a fair amount about the movie, and occasionally the funny, fiery Lee emerges. I like the part in which he stridently tells us never to mention The Sound of Music to Christopher Plummer, though I wish he told us what incident provoked his strong warning.
Unfortunately, the commentary drags a lot of the time. Lee often just narrates the film, and he frequently goes silent. This trend gets worse during the movie’s second half, and we encounter way too much dead air. I think we find enough good tidbits to make the piece worth the effort, but the flaws mean that it comes as a definite disappointment.
Two featurettes follow. The Making of Inside Man goes for 10 minutes, 20 seconds as it presents the usual mix of movie clips, behind the scenes bits, and interviews. We hear from Lee, producer Brian Grazer, and actors Denzel Washington, Clive Owen, and Jodie Foster. The show looks at how Lee and Grazer came to collaborate and their work together, casting and performances, shooting considerations and Lee’s style, and research and realism.
In no way should “Making” be considered an in-depth program, as it usually sticks with pretty superficial elements. That said, I like the footage from the set, and we see fun bits such as the cast’s first read-through of the script. There’s enough here to make the show worth a look.
Next we find the 10-minute and eight-second Number Four. The featurette’s title refers to the fact this is the fourth collaboration between Lee and Washington. We get remarks from Lee and Washington as they discuss their times together. Washington tells us which role he sees as the most difficult and other aspects of his performances. Both talk about their films, though in a fairly general way. They also address the status of blacks in Hollywood. Those parts are the most interesting, as their other remarks remain too superficial to give us much depth. “Four” is short enough to merit a viewing, but don’t expect a lot of good material.
Five Deleted Scenes run a total of 24 minutes and 36 seconds. The majority of that time comes from the first one, “Frazier Goes to Work”. It lasts a whopping 17 minutes and 19 seconds as it shows an extended version of the post-robbery hostage questioning. This places all those segments in one place instead of spread throughout the movie ala the final cut. “Work” repeats some of the clips found in the completed version but adds plenty of other pieces. None of these would have added anything in particular to the movie, but they’re fun to see.
The other four sequences include “No Woman, No Cry” (0:54), “Darius Compliments Frazier” (1:24), “News Reports” (4:08) and “Dalton Speaks of Case’s Sins” (0:51). “Cry” is an inconsequential but funny bit in which the cops argue about the meaning of the Bob Marley song, while “Compliments” shows a little chat between those two characters. “Reports” displays an extended version of the TV footage seen in the movie, and “Sins” gives us a very minor expansion of a segment already in the flick. Again, these are good to see but don’t bring a lot to the table.
The DVD opens with some ads. We find promos for House Season One, United 93, and a new TV series called Kidnapped. No trailer for Inside Man appears here.
Spike Lee “goes commercial” with Inside Man, and the results make me hope he does so again in the near future. The film crackles with energy and involves the viewer with its tight, tense narrative. The DVD features pretty good picture and audio along with some reasonably engaging extras. This is a fine flick that I definitely recommend.