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THE SIEGE ($35) is an interesting political thriller that takes a look at what might happen if an American city were placed under martial law in an effort to deter terrorist activities. Would the citizens be happier living with the threat of terrorism or under martial law, where all the rights guaranteed to them under the Constitution are suddenly taken away? While both prospects are truly horrifying, THE SIEGE takes it to the extreme, allowing the worst case scenario to play out.

THE SIEGE stars Denzel Washington as Anthony Hubbard, the FBI agent caught up in a series of terrorist bombings in New York City. Washington's natural charisma makes him the ideal hero for a film in which the fight for truth, justice and the American way takes on new meaning. Annette Bening is an interesting choice to portray Elise Kraft, the CIA operative who is keeping more secrets than she is revealing. Bening isn't the actress I would have immediately visualized for the role, but she carries it off well enough. Bruce Willis rarely gets his hands dirty by taking on roles with dark underbellies. Hey, he’s usually off saving the world. However, as General William Devereaux, Willis is ready, willing and able to get down and dirty. Tony Shalhoub delivers the film's best and most memorable performance as Frank Haddad, the FBI agent caught between his job and his own Middle Eastern roots. Shalhoub has come a long way from his sitcom days, proving himself a genuine player on the big screen.

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has made THE SIEGE available on DVD in a Letterboxed transfer that does not contain the 16:9 anamorphic component for wide screen televisions. The transfer itself restores the film's 2.35:1 theatrical aspect ratio without any noticeable compromises. For a non-enhanced transfer, this one rates as excellent. The image is sharp and very well defined; both dark interiors and bright sunlit sequences are recreated with equal precision. Color reproduction is also excellent. Flesh tones are natural, plus both warm and cold hues reach full saturation without chroma noise or distortion. Contrast is smooth and the disc sports a solid black level. First rate DVD authoring kept digital compression artifacts in check throughout the presentation.

While THE SIEGE may look like an action movie on the outside, it really is a political thriller, with far more dialogue than gunfire and explosions. The Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack has a solid mix that reproduces explosions as readily as it does dialogue. Channel separation is very good across the forward soundstage with natural sounding voices emanating from the center channel. Dolby Digital's ability to present split surround information is utilized for a number of action and non-action sequences, always creating a cohesive sound field. As you might expect, bass reproduction is solid, plus the track reproduces Graeme Revell's score with a natural musical quality. Other soundtrack options include English and French Dolby Surround. English and Spanish subtitles have been encoded into the disc.

The simple interactive menus provide the standard scene and language selection features, as well as access to a theatrical trailer.




DVD reviews are Copyright 1999 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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