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"Wow! What and incredible movie and what an incredible DVD" is exactly what I was thinking when I finished watching THE PERFECT STORM ($25). With THE PERFECT STORM, director Wolfgang Petersen has taken a real life meteorological event and created a motion that accurately depicts the ferocity of Mother Natureís fury, while telling a very human story about the men and woman caught in the storm. The central focus of THE PERFECT STORM are the Gloucester, Massachusetts fishermen who shipped out on the Andrea Gail in search of one final big catch after a disappointing fishing season. George Clooney stars as Captain Billy Tyne, the skipper who takes his men beyond the normal fishing areas just as three weather fronts collide to create one of the most powerful storms in recorded history.

Director Wolfgang Petersenís impeccable staging of the action sequences makes THE PERFECT STORM a total adrenalin rush. Although the characters are somewhat underwritten and cliched, THE PERFECT STORM features a remarkable cast, that fleshes out the people on the screen, making them into a group of very real individuals. Mark Wahlberg, Diane Lane, Karen Allen, William Fichtner, Bob Gunton, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, John C. Reilly and Michael Ironside portray the other major roles in THE PERFECT STORM. The special effects work on this film is visually stunning, with the storm sequences appearing very real, and the difficult to create CGI water hardly ever showing signs of digital trickery.

Warner Home Video has done a tremendous job with the presentation on their DVD edition of THE PERFECT STORM. THE PERFECT STORM is framed slightly shy of 2.35:1, however the compositions never appear compromised and the DVD has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. Due to all of the digital effects and the black water at sea during the storm sequences, THE PERFECT STORM could not have been an easy movie to transfer from film to video. Still, Warner has managed to make THE PERFECT STORM one of their more visually impressive DVDs. Scenes before the storm in bright sunshine are gorgeous, however the darker, more difficult to render sequences are clear, detailed and precise. Color reproduction is quite good; brightly lit sequences provide vivid saturated, while the gray overcast of the storm turns the hues down to a very subdued level. Flesh tones appear very realistic, while the overall color balance is firmly grounded in the reality of every situation. More intense hues never show signs of Chroma noise or bleeding. Blacks are deep and true, plus the image boast very impressive shadow detail and excellent contrast. 

The first-rate Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack is very much the equal of the video presentation in terms of quality. The mix is bold and completely enveloping. There is an aggressive use of all of the discrete channels to create a cohesive sound field that really places the viewer into the center of the storm. In fact, there was a moment or two when I felt my stomach lurch from the sounds storm tossing the boat about. Individual sound effects are cleanly reproduced and distinct, despite the multiple layers of sound. There are times that dialogue is almost drowned out by the intensity of the storm, but somehow it remains very intelligible. The bass channel provides a very solid bottom end to the track- one can feel as well as hear. Composer James Horner has given THE PERFECT STORM a rousing score that is integrated into the mix with its beautiful musical integrity in tact. A French 5.1 channel soundtrack has also been encoded onto the DVD, as have English and French subtitles.

Full motion video, animation and sound have been utilized to enhance the interactive menus. Through the menu system, one has access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the DVDís nice complement of supplemental materials. Three separate full-length audio commentaries have been included on the DVD. First, director Wolfgang Petersen provides the kind of commentary most fans expect, talking about the production in great detail and providing his own insights. Second, Sebastian Junger, the author who wrote the book upon which THE PERFECT STORM was based, fills in the gaps in the story, providing a level of detail that no two-hour film could depict. Third, Stefen Fangmeier from Industrial Light & Magic discusses the filmís special effects at length. The HBO First Look documentary, Creating The Perfect Storm takes a look at the difficulty that the actors and filmmakers faced in making the movie as technically accurate as possible. Two other brief documentaries are included on the DVD; one features interviews with storm survivors from Gloucester, Massachusetts, while the other focuses on composer James Hornerís work on THE PERFECT STORM. Also included on the DVD is Conceptual Art with Commentary by director Wolfgang Petersen, Yours Forever: Photo Montage, a theatrical trailer and cat/crew filmographies. THE PERFECT STORM is also DVD-ROM enhanced, with access to the original theatrical web site and other on-line features.

THE PERFECT STORM is an intense motion picture experience and an incredible looking and sounding DVD. Warner deserves kudos for creating another great disc. If you are a fan, you canít go wrong by purchasing the DVD. If you havenít seen the film, the DVD is the best way to see it outside of a theatrical venue. Recommended.


The Perfect Storm



DVD reviews are Copyright © 2000 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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