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Introduction
The 1999 release of The Matrix proved to be the catalyst for the arrival on our screens of a number of other sci-fi movies, all trying to cash in on the success of the Wachowski Brothers groundbreaking sci-fi eztravaganza. Since that release the sci-fi genre has taken a distinct change in direction, and now most of this kind of movies seem to stick to a rigid formula. The ingredients for that formula include loud soundtracks, extreme action stunts and an uber-cool lead actor.

That brings me conveniently onto the 2002 release of Equilibrium, which featured all three of the above mentioned elements, but at the same time only cost a mere $20 million. Its fair to say that the movie didn't perform particularly well at the American box office, in fact it performed nearly as well here in the UK. Now is the turn of the region two DVD.

Equilibrium
Movie
Equilibrium is set in the not too distant future in a city called Libria, which is governed by a strict regime. Its leader is even referred to as ‘Father’. The sole aim of the regime is to rid society of war. After the obvious death and destruction caused by the last war (World War III), the government are determined that humanity should not suffer again, so they outlaw emotions and feelings, making them a crime punishable by death. Artefacts such as books, art, pets and music are strictly forbidden because they can invoke feelings, and citizens are also ordered to inject themselves at regular intervals with doses of Prozium, a drug which eliminates the ability of humans to feel.

To uphold such a law, the government recruit a ‘police force’ known as Grammaton Clerics, who ensure that human feelings are suppressed. A Cleric’s day to day job revolves around destroying forbidden artefacts and terminating "sense offenders" (anyone who has feelings). One of the senior Clerics is John Preston (Christian Bale), a dedicated, uncompromising and motivated killing machine who is not afraid to put work before friendship, That philosophy is put to the test when Preston kills his work partner Partridge (Sean Bean) because he finds out that he has started having feelings. Preston is then teamed up with Brandt (Taye Diggs), a Cleric who is every bit as stringent as himself.    

Preston's life takes a remarkable turn when he accidentally misses his dose of Prozium and eventually starts to acquire feelings. At the same time he begins to see things in a different light and realises that his employers are not as innocent as he thought, and are fact a bunch of dictators. While Preston is coming to terms with his life, his employers are starting to notice a change in their star law enforcer. Will Preston risk his life in the name of justice or will he keep quiet and go back to being a Cleric?

Equilibrium
Equilibrium is certainly fast paced and full of reasonable action scenes, however a lot of the action stunts are short lived and over before they really get started. The last thirty minutes is certainly the hightlight as far as action is concerned (at the expense of the plot!), with probably most of the budget being spent in this section. The movie also hosts one of the most original attack methods ever seen on the big screen, so watch out for Gun Kata!  As for the plot itself, I found the concepts behind it to be interesting and original. It is easy to sympathise with Preston as he embarks on what is both a voyage of self-discovery and a quest to uncover the ultimate truth about the society in which he lives. That said, I did find  the ending to be a slight let-down and to some extent predictible, though this was possibly only because the ideas behind the film and its previous events had created unreasonably high expectations. All in all a less pretentious offering than the Matrix:Reloaded but in my opinion an intriguing premise has not been used to its full potential.

Do you ever wish you kept away from the hype that surrounds movies upon release? I missed Equilibrium during its theatrical release, but the movie was recommended to me by various friends and the majority of reviews I read were positive. For these reasons I had great hopes for Equilibrium, but sadly my expectations were not met. The performances in this movie are reasonable, but the cast don’t have a lot of scope to work with, due to the fact that most characters have to appear emotionless. Christian Bale is a good choice as the lead role and played the super-cool action star well.  Equilibrium is not a bad movie by any stretch of the imagination, but it could have been so much better. I would probably recommend Equilibrium as a one off viewing, due to the fact that it has some interesting ideas and unique action scenes.  However, I have to say that it is not the type of movie I would watch again.

Video
This is one of the first Momentum Pictures DVDs that I have had the pleasure of reviewing. I say pleasure because the transfer they have produced with this release is first class. Equilibrium is presented in 2.35:1 Anamorphic widescreen, which is its theatrical aspect ratio. The image is incredibly clear and free of any print damage. The colour palette is extremely limited as the movie relies mostly on blacks and dark colours, with the odd use of whites and greys. Black levels are solid throughout, flesh tones also appeared to be accurate and there was no sign of shimmering. There were no edge enhancements and grain levels were non-existent (even in the darker scenes). Compression artifacts were also kept away. I am struggling to say anything bad about this transfer and for that reason this aspect of the disc scores highly.

Equilibrium
Audio
Two soundtracks are provided with this release. The first soundtrack is a Dolby Digital Stereo effort, but for the purpose of this review I concentrated on the English Dolby Digital 5.1 track that most people would be interested in. Let me start off by saying that this is a pumping soundtrack, which should have you neighbours reaching for their ear plugs! Recently I haven’t come across many active soundtracks, so this track was a like a breath of fresh air. The rears are used consistently and aggressively, so that at certain points you actually feel like you are in the middle of a gun fight. The front of the soundstage is also used efficiently providing an all-round experience which should keep most action-starved fans happy. This soundtrack also made good use of my subwoofer which was nice!. Dialogue levels are spot-on and audible throughout, and never get lost in the aggressive mix. Subtitles are only provided in English which is slightly disappointing considering that this is a region two disc.

Extras
If you are a fan of commentaries then you will be happy with the extras on this disc, otherwise you will be left feeling slightly disappointed. I'll concentrate on the commentaries first of all, as they are certainly the hightlight of the extras section.

There are two commentaries packaged with this release. They are a Directors Commentary and a [/b]Producer/Directors Commentary[/b]. Both commentaries are pretty similar and the main theme for both seemed to be based around the budget for the film. Most discussions seemed to relate in some way to the budget and how they were restricted in filming because of it. If I had known this before watching the movie I may have been a little less critical about the movie itself. There is a lot of information contained in each of the commentaries and fans of the movie will find lots to keep them listening. If I was to choose one over the other I would probably go for the combined commentary with the producer and director, simply because it is slower paced and provides slightly more content.

Next up is the trailer, which I can only presume is the theatrical trailer. It last for just over a minute and a half. The trailer starts off quite slowly and builds up to a frantic ending which shows lots of the action scenes from the movie. While not giving away too much of the plot, this trailer shows you pretty much every action scene within the movie. Maybe one to watch after you have seen the main attraction! Following the same theme are the TV spots,of which there are five in total. Each spot concentrates on a different aspects of the movie (new society, he's alone, authority, teaser and action). They vary in length, but even the longest only lasts for about twenty seconds.

Equilibrium
The final extra on this disc is called Finding Equilibrium which is a four minute documentary. This documentary is short and sweet, packing just about enough information into it's short running time. The director starts off the documentary by explaining the story behind Equilibrium and he is backed up by some of the actors who talk about their experiences during filming, and why they chose to get involved with the movie. There is also an interesting discussion about Gun Kata (one of the attack methods used in the film). The only disappointing thing about this documentary is the fact that it is shot in full screen and has large amounts of grain, which I found very distracting.

So how does this disc compare to the region one disc? Well they are pretty much identical apart from the fact that region two fans gain the Equilibrium trailer and TV spots, while sacrificing several other trailers in the process. If you are interested in another opinion on this movie, then why not take a look <a href=http://www.dvdanswers.com/index.php?r=0&;s=2&c=733>here</a> at our region one review?

It is also worth noting that the original press release for this title mentioned that there would be two extras called ‘Jump to Fight’ and ‘Gun Kata’, but they seem to have been omitted from this release.

Overall
Being a action junkie I had high expectations for Equilibrium, and while it kept me reasonably entertained for a couple of hours, I still felt slightly disappointed by the end. The action scenes flatter to deceive (they get better toward the end), and the plot has some interesting ideas, but they are never fully explored. As for the disc itself, Momentum Pictures have provided a transfer of great quality and a soundtrack which should bring the best out of your sound system. The only disappointing aspect is the extras which don’t quite contain enough substance.


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