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(Widescreen Edition)

SYRIANA ($29) is a decidedly timely and stunning piece of cinema that depicts the corporate geed and political machinations concerning America’s dependence on oil, but most especially foreign oil, through a series of intersecting and overlapping stories. Written and directed by Stephen Gaghan, SYRIANA interweaves three primary storylines. The first is concerned with a longtime Middle Eastern CIA operative Bob Barnes (George Clooney), who finds himself made the agency’s fall guy, when an op doesn’t go as expected. The second follows Prince Nasir Al-Subaai (Alexander Siddig), who becomes a political casualty in his own country, for doing what’s in his is in the best interest of his people, instead of what is in the best interest of the United States. The third revolves around the investigation into the shady deals at the heart of a proposed merger between two oil companies. Other minor plots and subplots are also interwoven into the tale, but for the benefit of anyone who has never seen SYRIANA, I’d rather give away as little as possible. The excellent cast of SYRIANA also features Christopher Plummer, Jeffrey Wright, Chris Cooper, Robert Foxworth, Matt Damon and Amanda Peet.

Warner Home Video has made SYRIANA available on DVD in a 2.35:1 wide screen presentation that features the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 displays. As expected, Warner delivers the goods in terms of the film’s presentation on DVD. SYRIANA absolutely looks terrific on DVD; consistently delivering a crisp and highly defined image that really highlights the beauty of Robert Elswit’s cinematography. Colors are quite vibrant with beautifully rendered hues, the golden desert landscapes look especially good, plus flesh tones appear wholly natural and appealing. Black are pitch perfect, whites are completely stable, and contrast is excellent, as is shadow detail. Grain is modest and the film elements are free from blemishes. Digital compression artifacts are always well contained.

SYRIANA comes with a solid and competently mixed Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack. Much of SYRIANA is a talky political drama, and these sequences cannot be faulted. However, when it comes to the film’s more explosive moments, the track lacks the punch that one finds in your garden-variety action movie. Don’t get me wrong, all of the discrete channels engage well enough and it sounds really good, but the track just doesn’t kick you in the gut the way action movies do. Voices are cleanly rendered and the dialogue maintains complete intelligibility. A French 5.1 channel track is also encoded onto the DVD, as are English, French 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 a few extras. A Conversation With George Clooney is a nine-minute program featuring the film’s Academy Award winning Best supporting actor, who discusses the film. Running eleven minutes is Make A Change, Make A Difference, which features other members of the cast and production team discussing the relevance of film and the American dependence on oil. Deleted Scenes and Theatrical trailer close out the extras.

SYRIANA is a stellar film and a must see. Warner’s DVD looks marvelous and sounds just fine. Definitely recommended.



Syriana (Widescreen Edition) (2005)



DVD reviews are Copyright © 2006 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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