The Sixth Sense appears in an aspect ratio of approximately :1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. This was a good but not great presentation.
Sharpness seemed crisp and clear most of the time. A little softness affected some long shots, but that tendency was nothing serious. In general, the image remained distinct and accurate. No moiré effects or jagged edges materialized, and I saw no edge haloes or print flaws.
However, the transfer came with a fair amount of digital noise reduction, and that left the movie with a somewhat flat, waxy look. This wasn’t an “image killer”, but the misguided attempt to remove film grain left the picture with a lifeless impression at times.
As one would expect of such a dark and somber film, colors were generally subdued, but what we saw - especially the prominent use of reds - looked well-saturated and rich. The restricted palette came across as appropriate without any concerns. Black levels seemed nicely deep and dark, and shadow detail appeared appropriately opaque but not overly so. Lose the noise reduction and this would’ve been a fine presentation, but the heavy-handed DNR left this as a “B-“.
Overall, the uncompressed PCM 5.1 audio seemed subdued but effective. The soundfield wasn't ambitious, but it provided a fairly full image. The front channels dominated the affair. Music showed good stereo imaging and presence, while effects tended to be pretty ambient in nature. A few loud jolts popped up during the movie, but mainly it stayed with quiet atmospherics that blended lightly from the sides.
The surrounds mainly tended to bolster the music. A few examples of effects cropped up from the rears, but the surrounds didn't play a very significant role in the soundtrack.
Sound quality seemed consistently good. Dialogue appeared clear and natural for the most part, with no problems related to intelligibility or edginess. I detected some background noise during a few scenes, though. These tended to occur during quiet sequences that involved Osment; I think he spoke so gently that the dialogue had to be jacked up in volume and that accentuated the noise potential.
Effects were clean and realistic, and the music seemed full and bright, with fine dynamic range. The Sixth Sense offered too unambitious a soundtrack to merit more than a "B", but it worked fine for the material.
How did the Blu-ray compare to the 2002 “VISTA” DVD? Audio showed a little more pep, and visuals offered greater definition and fullness. The unnecessary digital noise reduction may have marred the Blu-ray, but it still was an improvement over the DVD.
Most of the 2002 DVD’s extras repeated here. During the 39-minute and 14-second Reflections from the Set, we hear from director M. Night Shyamalan and actors Bruce Willis, Haley Joel Osment, Toni Collette, and Donnie Wahlberg. (The vintage of these snippets seems uncertain for the most part; Willis was clearly shot on the set of 2000’s Unbreakable. I couldn’t pin down the others, though I’d not be surprised to learn that Osment was taped while he made AI; he’s definitely substantially older in these bits than he was in Sense.)
The show doesn’t offer a total view of the production, but we get tidbits about Shyamalan’s early drafts of the script and discover other motivations behind the film. The emphasis highlights the processes on the set. We see some excellent footage from the set – even including a little minor friction between Willis and the director – and we get terrific insight into the characters. Shyamalan covers some of his techniques and intentions as well.
At times the documentary goes with the standard “boy, was he/she great!” palaver, but the majority of the time, it sticks with very rich information that helps flesh out the piece. Film clips are kept to a minimum as well. While this isn’t one of the all-time great documentaries, “Reflections” definitely offers a useful and compelling experience.
Billed as a “feature on the paranormal”, Between Two Worlds provides a 37-minute and 21-second look at some thoughts about supernatural topics. We hear from Shyamalan as well as Exorcist author William Peter Blatty, Ghost and Jacob’s Ladder writer Bruce Joel Rubin, and Columbia University professor David McKenna. In addition to their remarks, we see a few clips from Sense, Exorcist, Ghost, Ladder and Shyamalan’s student films Praying With Anger and Wide Awake.
While this won’t qualify as a full examination of the subject, it’s a pretty interesting look at it. Much of the material operates from a fairly personal perspective and the participants mainly cover their own experiences and beliefs. We also hear some discussion of general theories about the topic as well as its use in Hollywood. “Worlds” offers a low-key and thoughtful discussion of some compelling material and it adds some nice depth to this package.
More than just the standard storyboard to film comparisons, Moving Pictures: The Storyboard Process gives us a 14-minute and 52-second look at that work. We see a selection of boards as well as shots from the set and interviews with Shyamalan and storyboard artist Brick Mason; that section includes some glimpses of them at work on Shyamalan’s 2002 flick Signs. We get an occasional film clip from Sense and Unbreakable as well.
Storyboard to film comparisons rarely do much for me, and this sort of program offers a much more compelling discussion. We learn about how Shyamalan likes to use the storyboarding process and how it influences his movie-making. The show provides some good insight into this area and it’s a useful piece. Most intriguing moment: Shyamalan vaguely badmouths another director who he feels is too concerned with visual “acrobatics”. He doesn’t name the person, but I’m betting on Michael Bay!
Music and Sound Design gives us a brief but compelling look at that domain. During the six-minute and 38-second featurette, we hear comments from Shyamalan, producer Frank Marshall and composer James Newton Howard and we also get some isolated audio from the movie; the latter spotlights the areas they discuss. It’s a very insightful little piece.
In the three-minute, 31-second Reaching the Audience, we get some information about the process through which Sense found its fans. It provides interviews from Shyamalan, Howard, Marshall and producer Barry Mendel. This includes some discussion of the crowd’s demographics, but it’s mainly a moderately interesting piece about the serendipitous process of making the flick.
Rules and Clues covers five minutes, 59 seconds of continuity issues and symbolism. In discussions with Shyamalan, Marshall. Mendel, editor Andrew Mondshein, and executive producer Sam Mercer, we get details about the various signs we may have missed as we watched the movie, and they also go through various symbols strewn through the flick. It’s a cool and informative program.
The Deleted Scenes section gives us four excised segments, all of which come with notes from the director. Actually, the area starts with a 26-second “Deleted Scenes Introduction” from Shyamalan. Including this intro – which explains why the scenes were removed – we get a total of 14 minutes and 55 seconds of footage. None of the unutilized scenes seem terribly exciting, but they're interesting to see, and Shyamalan's comments are informative and useful.
The disc opens with ads for Swing Vote and Lost Season 4. We also get two TV spots and a trailer for Sense.
The Sixth Sense is a rare film: one that received critical plaudits and also cleaned up at the box office. Although I'm not sure how well it'll endure repeated viewings, I still find it to be a compelling and entertaining film, bolstered by some strong performances. The Blu-ray provides generally good picture and audio as well as some satisfying supplements. The transfer is more flawed than I’d like, but this is still a more than adequate presentation of an effective film.
To rate this film, visit the DVD review of THE SIXTH SENSE