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(Widescreen Edition)

MICHAEL CLAYTON ($29) is a highly enjoyable legal thriller made all the better by the top-flight performances of a terrific cast. George Clooney, Tom Wilkinson and Tilda Swinton all picked up Academy Award nominations for their performances, in addition to the filmís other nominations for Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Score and Best Picture. In MICHAEL CLAYTON, Clooney portrays the title character, a somewhat down and out attorney at a prestigious law firm, who operates as the firms all around "bag man" and "fixer," providing "janitorial services" to clean up legal messes that need to be swept under the rug.

The plot of the movie presents our fixer with a colossal mess involving one of the firmís senior partners, who suffers from bipolar disorder and has gone off his medication. This leads to an embarrassing episode, where he strips naked during a deposition of a multi-billion dollar lawsuit against one of the firmís biggest corporate clients. However, the naked episode is just the tip of the iceberg, as the senior partner is also in possession of a long buried corporate memo that proves the corporation knowingly released a pesticide the killed a number of farmers. As you might expect, representatives of the corporation become aware of the leaked memo, and they intend to not only re-bury the document, but also bury anyone aware of its existence, including their legal council and the firmís "fixer." The cast of MICHAEL CLAYTON also features Michael O'Keefe, Sydney Pollack and Ken Howard.

Warner Home Video has made MICHAEL CLAYTON available on DVD in a 2.35:1 wide screen presentation that features the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 displays. Like HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX, MICHAEL CLAYTON features a very good transfer, but the compression is slightly problematic. There are a few sequences that suffer from mosquito noise and rather obvious compression artifacts, which detract from what appears to be an otherwise fine transfer. Image sharpness and detail are generally very good, but there are individual moments, where things can appear a little soft. Colors have a realistic level of saturation and flesh tones are natural. Blacks are accurate, as are the stable whites. Contrast and shadow detail appear just fine. The film elements are virtually pristine, but there is some graininess in places. As with my comments on HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX, I would imagine that my concerns about compression artifacts on MICHAEL CLAYTON will be addressed on Blu-ray Disc due to its higher capacity and overall data throughput.

MICHAEL CLAYTON comes with a competently mixed Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack. Since this is a talky legal drama, the sound design isn't particularly aggressive, but sound effects are well deployed during a few key moments. Fidelity is quite strong, with the music having a good sense of presence and the sound effect being genuinely convincing. There is a surprisingly good bottom end, but it directly affects the musical component. Voices have a warm, natural quality, plus the filmís dialogue is always completely understandable. French and Spanish 5.1 channel tracks, plus an English Dolby surround track are also encoded onto the DVD, as are English, French and Spanish subtitles.

Music underscores the basic interactive menus, which allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a few nice extra features. There is a running Audio Commentary with director Tony Gilroy and film editor John Gilroy, plus Deleted Scenes with optional commentary. Please note that subtitles have been included for the commentary track.

MICHAEL CLAYTON is a highly entertaining legal thriller with great performances from the leading players. Warnerís DVD looks and sounds good, but I had some mild reservations about the compression. Still, its worth checking out on DVD.



Michael Clayton (Widescreen Edition) (2007)



DVD reviews are Copyright © 2008 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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