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Steven Spielberg has been at the helm of some of the biggest films in movie history including E.T, Jaws, Saving Private Ryan and many more. Despite this, a fair bit of criticism is still levied at him for being far too ‘sentimental’ in his films. With Spielberg once again dipping his feet into science fiction with Minority Report, will he at last turn to the dark side or will there be hugs and kisses all round? Read on...

Minority Report
Tom Cruise plays detective John Anderton, a troubled cop working in the Washington DC Pre-Crime division. Pre-Crime is pretty much as it sounds, murders can be seen before they happen. Lesser crimes cannot be seen as they don’t trigger the same emotional responses associated with murder. Makes you wonder why it isn’t called Pre-Murder then really! Making this whole process work are the precog(natives), three genetically altered human beings that can see into the future. All three of these super humans float together inside a large tank, each of them connected to one another. As with most people though, they don’t always agree with things that are going to happen! When this occurs (and very rarely I might add), a Minority Report is filed. If this occurrence was ever found out though; the entire Pre-Crime scheme would be put into jeopardy and therefore the Minority Reports are locked away...

Things take a turn for the worse for John Anderton when the precogs identify him as a future murderer. Naturally, Anderton has no idea who the alleged victim is and sets out on a quest to find the truth. On the way he has to evade his former colleagues, have rather nasty things done to his eye balls and plenty of other mad sci-fi related shenanigans! I really don’t want to say more than that to you, because doing so would be a crime in itself! The film is full of twists and turns and I wouldn’t want to spoil your enjoyment too much.

What did I think then? Without a doubt this is my film of the year. How’s that? This movie really does have everything. Firstly, the standard of acting is way above average (even from Tom Cruise!). Cruise creates a character that you can’t help but feel sympathy for, which is necessary if his journey is going to have any effect on the audience. You can’t help but cheer the poor lad on as he jumps from car to car (or Mag-Lev to Mag-Lev in this case) trying his hardest to escape the system that he has spent his life working for. The supporting players are also great. Standing off against Anderton is Detective Danny Witwer played by Colin Farrell. This Irish chap can really act! He creates a convincing little character to play off against Cruise. Another actor who has really impressed me in a number of productions (most recently Band of Brothers) is Neal McDonough who here has a small role as Officer Gordon 'Fletch' Fletcher - one of Anderton's colleagues.

Minority Report
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Minority Report is the world that Spielberg has managed to create for the audience. He could so easily have taken the fully CGI approach that Lucas has with the latest Star Wars prequels, but instead he chose to construct some truly impressive sets that compliment the films atmosphere perfectly. If you were a fan of the world created in Blade Runner then you should be equally impressed with the richness of this environment. The advertisement billboards etc in Blade Runner have been replaced in Minority Report with some truly interactive advertisements that target themselves specifically for each person. How would you like to be walking down the street one day and have an advert say ‘Hi Joe Bloggs, it looks like you could do with a Guinness…’. All this is present in Minority Report, and it makes fascinating viewing. Sure, you could argue that this is over done slightly, and merely for the advertising revenue gained from product placement but advertising is becoming increasingly intrusive that I doubt it’ll be far from the truth.

Overall then, Minority Report is a must see movie. What you get with Minority Report, is a surprisingly dark movie (especially for Spielberg) filled to the brim with great action set pieces and stunning special effects. The storyline isn’t compromised either, plenty of twists are provided to keep you glued to the TV. It’s not a perfect film though. I felt that the ending was a little too neat and tidy for my liking and some plot ‘twists’ were glaringly obvious. None the less, a great film and one that you should see right this minute…

Minority Report
Well, now you’ve ascertained that I’m a fan of the film, here’s a little about the disc! Firstly, as you would expect the disc carries an anamorphic widescreen presentation and in this case is presented in 2.35:1. As with a lot of recent movies, Minority Report makes use of various filters to alter the general colour of a scene. For example a blue filter is used frequently to give the impression of a cold environment. A fair amount of grain is also present, but again this is intentional more than anything and takes place primarily during the Precog visions which are visually distorted anyway. A few specks of dust seem present on the print in places but nothing distracting. Overall, this is a solid transfer, with no noticeable edge enhancement but perhaps not as perfect as it could have been.

Sound buffs are in for a treat here. Thankfully Fox have retained the dts track present on the region 1 disc so we all get a taste of the action! And a whole lot of action is present too, this is a very active track and should give any setup a good workout! Surrounds are used frequently, and make good use of John Williams’ futuristic score. If it doesn’t get your windows rattling when the Pre-Crime spaceship cranks up its engine then something is seriously wrong with your setup! The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is also pretty solid, though in this case I have to say that it pales in comparison with the dts track. The dts track just offers a much deeper, broader range of sound with plenty of bass throughout. Clarity of speech isn’t a problem here either, everything is crisp and clear. Basically, if you haven’t got a DD 5.1 or dts setup yet…it’s time to invest!

Minority Report was one of the biggest hits this year so naturally the second disc carries a healthy selection of extra material. Firstly though a little about the menu system. Initially the main annoyance is that the disc carries one of those annoying 20-30 second video intros that you can’t skip. Secondly, I’m all for themed menus but Minority Report doesn’t always make the menu options very clear. For example it took me ages to find the trailers etc which were hidden away under ‘Archives’ which is strangely located right next to the subtitles option.

Minority Report
The main menu is divided up into five main catagories entitled ‘From Story to Screen’, ‘Deconstructing Minority Report’, ‘The Stunts of Minority Report’, ‘ILM and Minority Report’ and ‘Final Report: Steven Spielberg and Tom Cruise’. Most of these contain a number of options within.

Firstly, ‘From Story to Screen’ contains a feature entitled ‘The Story | The Debate’. This runs to a little over 9 minutes and is presented primarily in widescreen. This one includes interviews with both Tom Cruise and Steven Spielberg, mainly talking about how great it was to work with each other and how the film initially came about. The second feature is entitled ‘The Players’ and focuses on the characters of Minority Report. This one again runs to around 9 minutes and consists of a number of interviews with the major players as well as the supporting cast. The main thing that struck me about this short feature was the interview with Colin Farrell. Having only seen him in American pictures you’d think that he was an American himself. He is infact Irish and there will be no doubt about it after you hear him speaking!

‘Deconstructing Minority Report’ is made up of five featurettes. The first of these is called ‘The World of Minority Report’. This one features interviews with Spielberg and Cruise talking about how they formed this futuristic world. It turns out that they actually put a number of industry professionals in a room and asked them what the world would look like in 50 odd years. The composer, John Williams also talks about his ‘non sentimental’ style of music in the film. This feature runs to just a tad over 9 minutes and is the longest of the five. The second is called ‘Precrime and Precogs’ and runs to just under 8 minutes. This focuses mainly on the set design of the precrime division but also ventures into the futuristic transportation of the precrime cops, which is all rather snazzy if you ask me…I want a jet pack damn it! The third featurette is called ‘The Spyder Sequence’. This was certainly one of the highlights (and scariest!) parts of the film and focuses on the design and implementation of the mechanical spiders used by the police. Plenty of input from the visual effects team is included as well as a number of CGI progress shots. John Williams also talks about how he scored this particular sequence. The feature runs to 5 minutes in total. The 4th featurette is entitled ‘Precog Visions’ and takes a look at how the all important visions were actually cut together. It turns out that these were made by the same people that worked on SE7EN. The 5th and final featurette is all about the transportation of Minority Report. ‘Vehicles of the Future’ looks at the Mag-Lev transportation which is apparently what we could actually be driving around in soon! Lets just hope that they don’t sound like washing machines – which is what the sound of the Maglev vehicles actually was in the film! This final feature runs to a little under 5 minutes.

Minority Report
Next up comes ‘The Stunts of Minority Report’. This category contains three short featurettes on the major stunts of the film. The first is entitled ‘The Mag-Lev Escape’ which sees Mr Cruise throwing himself about infront of blue screen. The feature is cut together with interviews from Stunt Coordinator Brian Smrz and runs to 2minutes and 50 seconds. The second stunt is one that the trailers and TV spots did to death -‘The Hoverpack Chase’. Surprisingly enough no actual jet packs were used in the making of this stunt, just plenty of wire work (Damn, the illusion dashed!). The final stunt is ‘The Car Factory’. For me, this was one of the least impressive sections of the film…especially as Attack of the Clones had already done it to death with C3P0 and R2 etc. It was however the hardest part to put together apparently…ah well, they should have saved the effort! This runs to just over 2 and a half minutes.

So much work today is done inside the computer and Minority Report is no different. The next supplemental features focus entirely on the work done by ILM. I’m a big fan of work done inside the computer, providing it’s done correctly (which doesn’t include Attack of the Clones!). The ILM features are entitled ‘Intro’, ‘Holograms’, ‘Hall of Containment’, ‘Mag-Lev’, ‘Hovercraft/Hoverpacks’, ‘Cyberparlor’. All of these are pretty self explanatory. Each feature a mix of interviews cut together with behind the scenes footage which is primarily blue screen work. Each one of these runs to around 3 or 4 minutes.

Completing the bulk of the extra features is ‘Final Report: Steven Spielberg and Tom Cruise’. I would love to tell you that this isn’t another back slapping affair, but it is.  Infact, if you don’t feel physically sick after this feature then you’re a stronger person than me! The two even share an affectionate hug at the end….oh pleeeaaassseee! Luckily it only runs to a little under 4 minutes.

Completing the package is the ‘Archives’ section. A small feast of extras is included here including Production Concepts, Storyboard Sequences, Trailers, Cast Bios, Filmmakers Bios and Production Notes. The production concepts option takes you to another menu with a selection of 13 different production concept catagories for various stages of the film. Each one of these includes around 10-15 images. Unfortunately the designer of the DVD seems to want the menu design to take up more room than is necessary and therefore the size of each of these production concepts is compromised. The Storyboard Sequences section carries 3 sequences. These are the Mag-Lev Sequence, Alley Chase and Car Factory. Each of these displays the storyboard in widescreen with the sound of the finished scene playing out over the top. What would have been nice would be to have a storyboard to final scene comparison, but this is a worthy addition anyway. Next up are a selection of trailers. A total of 3 trailers are included as well as another trailer for the Minority Report computer game by Activision. Each one of these is thankfully presented in anamorphic widescreen except the computer game trailer. Completing the package are biographies for both cast and crew and 23 pages of production notes.

Minority Report
For me Minority Report is the film of the year. It has everything: solid acting, interesting storyline and great special effects. Technically the DVD is superb with a stunning video and audio presentation. Extras are the only slight disappointment here. I would have liked to see an audio commentary on the disc, but as we all know Spielberg doesn’t like doing them. A number of the featurettes are also disappointing with far too much back slapping and little detail. Still, if you love sci-fi as much as me then this will definately be one that you'll want in your collection.