MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE III
Where the plot of the first MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE film was too complex for some audiences to comprehend and the second barely had enough plot to hang the action sequences off of, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE III ($35) strikes a much better balance between action and story than its two predecessors. That’s not to say that first two MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE movies weren’t entertaining… they were in spades, and personally, I enjoyed both of the preceding films, although I certainly got more out of M:I 1 than M:I 2. As for MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE III, I think this installment is actually the best of the bunch, thanks to its balanced approach to the material.
Taking the reins on this third outing is J.J. Abrams of ALIAS fame, who is decidedly well versed in the whole espionage/spy thriller genre and makes a pretty great feature film debut. The plot of MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE III finds that the life of agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) has radically changed gears, as he has retired from the field, and instead, is training a new generation of IMF agents. Ethan is also engaged to a beautiful woman named Julia Meade (Michelle Monaghan), who knows nothing about his career. When Ethan’s protégé Lindsey Farris (Keri Russell) is capture and compromised, instead of being disavowed, Ethan comes out of retirement to lead a rescue mission, which ends with tragic results. This leads to Ethan undertaking a second impossible mission- to capture arms dealer Owen Davian (Philip Seymour Hoffman), the man responsible for the death of Ethan’s protégé. To say anymore about the proceedings would spoil all of the film’s action packed surprises. The excellent cast of MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE III also features Ving Rhames, Billy Crudup, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Maggie Q, Simon Pegg, Laurence Fishburne, Michael Berry Jr., Aaron Paul and Sasha Alexander.
Paramount Home Entertainment has made MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE III available on DVD in a 2.35:1 widescreen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. This is a super looking transfer. MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE III has some moments where the cinematography is mildly stylized and slightly soft, but for the most part, the transfer delivers a sharp and detailed picture. Colors are strongly saturated and the flesh tones are very appealing. Blacks are on the money and the whites are stable. Both the levels of contrast and shadow detail are top of the line. The film elements used for the transfer are virtually pristine and there is little apparent grain during the presentation. Digital compression artifacts are always nicely camouflaged.
MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE III features a Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack that’s an absolute blast. The soundtrack features an aggressive mix, which makes terrific use of all the discrete channels. Gunfights, car chases and explosions are the highlight of the mix and are certain to give your speakers a workout. Fidelity is also top notch; sound effects are convincing and the musical component is effortlessly rendered. The bass channel is ground shaking. Voices are natural sounding and the dialogue is generally easy to understand, even when the sound effects threaten to overpower it. A French 5.1 channel track is also encoded onto the DVD, as are English and Spanish subtitles.
Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the DVD's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplemental materials, which have been spread across both discs of this set. Disc one features a running audio commentary with director J.J. Abrams and actor/producer Tom Cruise. Tribute Montage: Excellence in Film is a carry over from the MISSION IMPOSSIBLE Special Edition disc and may still be a bit too much even for die hard Tom Cruise fans to bear. The Making Of The Mission offers a twenty-eight minute look behind-the-scenes. Five Deleted Scenes close out disc one.
Moving on to disc two, one will find the remainder of the supplemental programming. Mission Action: Inside The Action Unit clocks in at twenty five minutes and focuses on the film’s action sequences. Visualizing The Mission provides a ten-minute look at the use of computers for a pre-visualization of some of the film’s set pieces. Inside The IMF is a twenty-one minute program that focuses on the actors and characters. Mission: Metamorphosis spends eight minutes looking at how the mask creation sequence was accomplished. Scoring The Mission is a near five-minute examination of the film’s music. Launching The Mission provides fourteen minutes of premiere footage. Moviefone Unscripted: Tom Cruise/JJ Abrams is a puff piece in which the actor and director ask each other viewer submitted questions. Generation: Cruise is another carry over from the MISSION IMPOSSIBLE Special Edition disc- the same opinion applies. Theatrical Trailers and a Photo Gallery close out the supplements.
MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE III is a fun ride and is the best of the three movies based upon the popular 1960s/1970s espionage/spy thriller television series. Additionally, Paramount’s DVD looks and sounds marvelous. Recommended.
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