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While the twists in the plot are not as completely unexpected as the filmmakers might have liked, THE THIRTEENTH FLOOR ($25) proves to be an entertaining science fiction fantasy nonetheless. THE THIRTEENTH FLOOR opens in what the audience believes to be 1937 Los Angeles, following the exploits of one Hannon Fuller (Armin Mueller-Stahl), who appears to be enjoying the good life. After an evening on the town, which includes cocktails at a prestigious hotel and the company of a beautiful young woman, Fuller returns home to and goes to bed. The next thing we know, we are in present day Los Angeles, where we discover that Fuller was only experiencing a recreation of 1937 Los Angeles through a high tech computer simulation created by his company.

Upon exiting the simulation, Fuller tries to contact his right hand man, Douglas Hall (Craig Bierko) concerning a recent discovery he has made. Unfortunately, before he can share his revelation with Hall, an unknown assailant murders Fuller. After a preliminary investigation, Hall finds himself very high on the list of murder suspects. Further complicating matters for Hall is the arrival of Fullerís previously unknown daughter Jane (Gretchen Mol), a woman whom he thinks he may recognize. Hoping to clear his own name, Hall begins searching for clues and discovers that Fuller left him a message somewhere inside the computer simulation. Hall ventures into the recreation of 1937 looking for the evidence that will clear his name, however he is totally unprepared for what he finds. THE THIRTEENTH FLOOR also stars Vincent D'Onofrio as the filmís heavy and Dennis Haysbert as the cop looking for the truth.

Columbia TriStar Home Video has made THE THIRTEENTH FLOOR available on DVD in both full screen and wide screen versions on opposite sides of the disc. The 16:9 enhanced wide screen presentation of THE THIRTEENTH FLOOR is so good; no one should even bother with the other version. Not only does the wide screen transfer restore the filmís 2.35:1 theatrical framing, it really shows off the beauty of Wedigo von Schultzendorffís cinematography. Von Schultzendorff created two different visual styles to differentiate the "real world" from the simulation; both benefit from Columbia TriStarís excellent transfer. The "real world" has a crisp and cold appearance with strong colors, while the simulated reality of 1937 takes on a more romanticized look, appearing slightly gauzy with a muted color scheme. Despite the obvious camera filtering for 1937, both environments appear sharp and highly detailed on DVD. Color reproduction is first rate, reproducing both the highly saturated hues and the more muted tones without incident. Flesh tones are somewhat affected by both photographic styles, but reproduce naturally here. The image also features an excellent black level and wonderfully smooth contrast. First rate DVD authoring kept all traces of compression artifacts from view.

As for the Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack, it has an excellent mix that really shows off the capabilities of the discrete format to create rich sonic environments. The forward soundstage has an open, almost breathless quality that allows sounds to pan around unencumbered. Even the split surrounds are utilized to carry that same openness and effortless panning of the sounds into the rear channels. Dialogue reproduction is always crystal clear and the track sports authoritative low bass. An English Dolby Surround soundtrack has also been encoded onto the DVD, as have English subtitles.

The interactive menus have a nice design, but remain fairly basic. Through the menus on can access the standard scene and setup features, as well as the discís supplements. An informative audio commentary with director Josef Rusnak and production designer Kirk M. Petruccelli is the DVDís primary supplement. The extras also include a before and after look at the computer generated special effects shots, a conceptual art gallery, a theatrical trailer, talent files, as well as a music video by the Cardigans.


The Thirteenth Floor



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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