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Under Joel Schumacher’s direction, A TIME TO KILL ($25) is sometimes a bit heavy-handed and preachy, but most of the time it remains an entertaining and well acted melodrama. Based upon the John Grisham novel about a black man taking the law into his own hands and shooting the two rednecks who raped and tried to lynch his pre-teen daughter. The story is set in a small Mississippi town and plays upon the racial tensions which are prevalent in the south (not that racial tensions don’t exist everywhere). A TIME TO KILL also shows various factions i.e. the District Attorney, the KKK and the NAACP playing the race card to suit their own political agendas, with a total disregard for either the victims or the people of the town. The fine ensemble cast features Sandra Bullock, Samuel L. Jackson, Matthew McConaughey, Kevin Spacey, Brenda Fricker, Oliver Platt, Charles S. Dutton, Ashley Judd, Patrick McGoohan, Kiefer Sutherland and Donald Sutherland.

The DVD release of A TIME TO KILL is presented exclusively in the Letterboxed format. This is a godsend, since I couldn’t picture anyone sitting through a pan and scan version of any film whose original theatrical aspect ratio is 2.35:1. Actually, the film’s two and a half hour running time must have been the deciding factor that kept a pan and scan version off this DVD. A TIME TO KILL is one of the few DVDs that are split onto two separate sides to accommodate a long running time. The Letterboxed transfer is beautiful and identical to that which appears on the Laserdisc incarnation of A TIME TO KILL. The transfer is richly detailed and the colors are very well saturated. The color reproduction of the DVD beats that of the Laserdisc, with the Laserdisc appearing noisy and slightly smeary by comparison. The DVD has some modest gains over the Laserdisc in terms of resolution, but one would have to be running a comparison to really notice. The digital artifacts on the DVD edition of A TIME TO KILL were barely noticeable. The few times I came across artifacts was during a purposeful search for them.

The mix on digitally encoded Dolby Surround soundtrack was identical to that of the Laserdisc. I found the mix to be reserved and in keeping with the subject matter of the film. The DVD audio also offer a Dolby Digital soundtrack, and another soundtrack in French. There are English, French and Spanish subtitles available. The DVD edition of A TIME TO KILL also includes a theatrical trailer, as well as interactive menus with cast biographies and production notes.




DVD reviews are Copyright 1997 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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