The Sentinel appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Not too many problems cropped up through this strong transfer.
At all times, sharpness was very positive. Virtually no signs of softness appeared during this tight, concise presentation. I witnessed no signs of jagged edges or shimmering, and edge enhancement was minimal. In addition, I detected no evidence of source flaws, as the print always appeared clean and fresh.
Colors took on the cool side of a natural palette. Actually, they got chillier as the flick proceeded and went for a more desaturated appearance. The DVD replicated the tones well, as they always seemed accurate within the production design. Blacks came across as deep and firm, but shadows were a bit erratic. Low-light shots occasionally seemed somewhat thick and murky. I thought that was a minor issue, though, and the majority of the image was very pleasing.
Similar thoughts greeted the more than acceptable Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of The Sentinel. The soundfield took good advantage of its occasional opportunities to shine. The movie boasted a smattering of action sequences, and those opened up the mix to a broad and satisfying degree. They used the surrounds well and formed a fine sense of activity. Quieter sequences created a nice feeling of ambience, and music offered good stereo imaging.
Audio quality was solid. Speech always sounded natural and concise, and I noticed no signs of edginess or other problems. Music was bright and dynamic, and effects worked well. Those elements seemed clean and accurate, and they presented very nice bass response. Although the mix lacked the consistent ambition to reach “A”-level, it was a solid presentation.
When we head to the set’s extras, we start with an audio commentary with director Clark Johnson and writer George Nolfi. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific piece. They get into shooting in DC and Toronto, sets and production design, research and realism, cast, characters and performances, the script and changes made to it, and general production trivia.
Johnson and Nolfi enjoy a nice chemistry that helps make this a fun chat. It never becomes a truly fascinating piece, but we learn enough about the movie to allow it to prosper. Although a few extended gaps occur, the participants usually maintain a lively pace. They joke around a lot and create an enjoyable discussion.
Commentary warning: fans of the President might not enjoy it too much. Neither man seems fond of Bush, and Johnson clearly can’t stand the current regime. He throws in some political remarks that might not sit well with the conservative crowd, so take this as your warning!
We get an Alternate Ending and four Deleted Scenes. The “Ending” lasts three minutes, 12 seconds, while the others run a total of seven and a half minutes. These include “Garrison and Chaminski Drive to Mall” (1:04), “Jill Suspects Garrison Is Innocent” (0:46), “Breckinridge Confronts His Wife” (2:13) and “Garrison and Sarah Have a Private Moment” (3:27). “Wife” is the most interesting of the bunch since it gets more into the backstory about the tension between Breckinridge and Garrison. The others are pretty forgettable, and that includes the “Alternate Ending”. It creates a rosier conclusion to the movie, but not a logical one.
We can watch these segments with or without commentary from Nolfi. He mainly provides story notes and relates how the scenes would have fit into the movie. He also tells us a little about why the clips got cut, though he doesn’t do a great job of that. Still, he adds enough to make his commentary worth a listen. (Note that Nolfi doesn’t start his discussion of “Moment” until about 90 seconds into the scene.)
Two featurettes follow. The Secret Service: Building on a Tradition of Excellence fills 12 minutes and 59 seconds. It mixes movie clips with behind the scenes material and interviews. We find remarks from Nolfi, retired Secret Service agents Gerry Cavis, Kevin Billings, and actors Kiefer Sutherland, Michael Douglas, and Eva Longoria. We learn about the history of the Secret Service and its evolution over the years. We also hear about the work the Secret Service does including and beyond the obvious presidential protection, issues related to new recruits, training, and how former agents worked as technical advisors for the movie. We also get a few notes about the shoot.
Given its laudatory title, one might expect “Excellence” to come across as a love letter to the Secret Service. To a degree, that’s true; it sure doesn’t present that group as anything other than terrific. Nonetheless, the show gives us a better than decent look at the basics related to the Secret Service, so it complements the movie.
Finally, In the President’s Shadow: Protecting the President goes for seven minutes, 37 seconds, and includes remarks from Douglas, Cavis, Nolfi, Longoria, Sutherland, Billings, and producer Marcy Drogin. As implied by the title, “Shadow” looks at how the Secret Service defends the President. It looks at how agents rise through the ranks to take on protective details and gets into the details of what they do to keep the President safe. As with “Excellence”, this never becomes a particularly deep program, but it has enough interesting elements to make it worth a look.
The disc includes two Trailers for Sentinel and some ads at the disc’s start. We find promos for Ice Age 2: The Meltdown, X-Men 3: The Last Stand and the 2006 version of The Omen.
Despite an interesting story idea, The Sentinel never manages to take flight. The movie rambles and meanders without much sizzle. It tends to follow a predictable path as it fails to engage the viewer. The DVD offers very good picture and audio along with a mix of fairly interesting extras. I can’t complain about the quality of this release, but the movie leaves me cold.