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I sometimes wish that director Brian De Palma would spend as much time concentrating on the plots of his movies, as he does dazzling his audiences with film technique. De Palma's latest offering, SNAKE EYES ($30) turns out to be a whole lot of flash and too little substance, which left me frustrated because I loved a lot of what I was seeing, but hated that fact that the story didn’t make a whole lot of sense.

The opening moments of SNAKE EYES rival Orson Welles' TOUCH OF EVIL for the brilliant use of a continuous take that follows the lead character through an Atlantic City arena moments before a boxing match is scheduled to begin. The plot concerns a political assassination that takes place during a high profile boxing match. In the aftermath, an Atlantic City homicide detective locks down the arena, so he piece together a series of events that don't quite add up. Nicolas Cage stars as Rick Santoro, the homicide detective who hasn't always played by the rules. Gary Sinise portrays Kevin Dunne, a Naval Commander in charge of the security detail for the ill-fated Secretary Of Defense. Carla Gugino is Julia Costello, the mysterious woman in white who holds the key to conspiracy behind the assassination. The cast of SNAKE EYES also includes Stan Shaw and Kevin Dunn. While the plot has the believability factor of zero, De Palma's filmmaking bravado keeps the viewer off balance during the proceedings and unable to question the gaps in logic until the film has finished unspooling.

Paramount Home Video has done a good job of bringing SNAKE EYES to DVD. The Letterboxed transfer recreates the film's 2.35:1 theatrical aspect ratio quite admirably, however the lack of the anamorphic enhancement for wide screen televisions remains frustrating. SNAKE EYES has a very sharp, well-defined image that won't garner any serious complaints other than lacking the 16:9 enhancement. Colors are vibrant and reproduce with maximum fidelity; the issue of chroma noise didn't even enter the picture. Solid DVD authoring tamed almost all traces of digital compression artifacts.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack had a very active mix that assaulted the viewer in the same fashion as De Palma's high intensity visuals. The mix has a wide-open soundstage, as well as precisely placed directional effects. Layers of sound effects are blended throughout the film, yet the track never becomes muddied. Dialogue reproduces naturally, while the bass channel packs a real punch that is certain to give your subwoofer a workout. Even the surround channels are effectively utilized, with definite left-right separations that create a fully realized acoustic environment. The DVD also includes a matrixed Dolby Surround soundtrack, a French language track, plus English subtitles.

The interactive menus are fairly simple, but they supply the required scene and language selection features. Access to a theatrical trailer is also available through the interactive menus.





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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