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Introduction
Given the last decade or so, Steven Spielberg’s road as a film maker has been tumultuous. Hook was an uncharacteristically awful dud, Always (always a movie in a director’s resume that no one ever sees?) Jurassic Park was a hit, Schindler’s List was moving and maybe pretentious to some (but not the humble critic), The Lost World: Jurassic Park was also a dud- though not economically, it was indeed a bad movie, Amistad was confused, unremarkable and regrettable. Saving Private Ryan redefined the war genre, bringing it home and making it all but real for anyone who views the film. And A.I. is a mess that I am still trying to wrap my head around.

Other than E.T., Catch Me if You Can marks Spielberg’s most personal work to date (some might argue that Saving Private Ryan would hold that title, but Catch Me if You Can deals with the effects of a broken home, something Spielberg is very familiar with, being a runaway at age 16).

The turning point though, would have to be Minority Report. Richard Corliss says, “Spielberg’s sharpest, brawniest, most bustling entertainment since Raiders of the Lost Ark.” The man is right.

Minority Report

Movie
Minority Report proposes the idea that in the near future murder can be predicted. In a world where no one has a true personal life, people have to deal also with the fact that their tendencies as humans can and will be judged before they are ever acted upon. Pre-Crime is a system that essentially violates the one true right people have: free-will. Citizens can do anything they want; separate from that are the consequences that have to be dealt with due to their choices. Pre-Crime simply circumvents the consequences.

For six years, Pre-Crime Officer John Anderton (Tom Cruise) has been instrumental in keeping Washington D.C. literally murder-free. He fully believes in the system which for all concerned is perfect. On the eve of the time in which Pre-Crime is set to go national, a murder in which Anderton is the perpetrator is predicted and, almost immediately, he runs.

John Anderton neither knows, nor has ever met the man he is supposed to kill. What could lead Anderton to murder? If he kills the man, then Pre-Crime works, if he doesn’t, the implications would be those that would lead to the abolishment of Pre-Crime.

An operation like Pre-Crime requires deep pockets and at the same time is very lucrative. There are those that have only the interest of the system in mind. Anderton has two choices: clear his name and find the roots of the conspiracy against him, or face the possibility that he will, in fact, be a murderer.

Cruise’s Anderton is flawed; a hero on the surface and a junkie underneath. His heavy involvement in Pre-Crime stems from the loss of his young son, Sean, who was kidnapped and never recovered. Anderton feels as though he can make up for his irresponsibility by stopping such abhorrent crimes from ever taking place. John’s ordeal in Minority Report tests his very soul, and as most stressful situations do to people, brings to the surface what is truly inside.

Minority Report

Minority Report is by far the most exciting film of 2002. Yes, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Spider-Man and Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones were exciting, but when it comes to balls to the wall thrills, pot-boiler suspense and a tightly woven and moving narrative, Minority Report edges out as the winner. Spielberg is truly a master of his trade and that is no more obvious than in Minority Report.

A true Sci-fi masterwork, a twisted noir thriller and evidence that an old dog can learn new tricks, Minority Report marks the occasion in which we find Spielberg back on top and at full potential.

Video
For Minority Report, Spielberg once again allocated the skills of Janusz Kaminski, a rather ingenious Cinematographer who knows how to put DVD’s capabilities to the test. Minority Report is not a very colorful film, and is in fact quite the opposite. The look is hard, drab and cold. Minority Report is littered with strong straight lines and burned out tones, resulting in possibly the most visually striking film of the year.

DreamWorks presents Minority Report in its original Aspect Ratio of 2.39:1(not a typo). An arresting image we have here. I noticed no flaws, no specks, no dirt, and barely any edge-enhancement. I would say that grain is a problem, but the grain visible is obviously a product of the bleach-bypass process used to achieve the film’s amazing look.

This image is downright amazing; Spielberg’s Cinemascope vision results in the slickest transfer I’ve seen in a while and I have never been more pleased visually with a movie than I was watching Minority Report.

Audio
Yay, and tee-hee. I love this track. DreamWorks has given Minority Report a robust and lively English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound track. The Sub-Woofer is always with you, often shaking the walls and vibrating the floor. Surrounds are used wherever is clever and practical, with transitions from front to rear so smooth that an environment, more so than a sound field is present.

This track is an audiophile’s dream, up at the top with the best of 2002, if not one of the format’s best. I’m sorry for not commenting on the DTS track, as I’m incapable of doing so, but if the Dolby Digital track is any indication the DTS track’s quality, well, all of you fortunate enough to have such equipment, I’m sure you’ll be happy.

Minority Report

Extras
I have a serious problem with the selection of bonus material that can be found on this 2-disc edition of Minority Report. The extras are plentiful, but almost immediately it is obvious that the meat of the extras is simply one feature broken into several smaller parts.

That’s cheap. I’d rather have just the one feature. I can’t wrap my head around the logic that would require a disc to be laid out like this. Baffling...

Just on principle, I’m going to review the extras as though they are one entity. I’m going to call the documentary “Minority Report: The Giant Corporate Lie”. It’s not catchy, nor is it remotely clever (maybe caustic?), but I’m just pissed that big studios slop out material disguised as something special and plentiful, despite it being a trick and a lie, albeit a thinly veiled one.

If you wanted to know anything about Minority Report and/or kissing Steven Spielberg’s oddly deserving booty, this doc is for you. It’s well produced, detailed and worth buying the disc for. It covers how the Pre-visions were produced, ILM’s involvement, the genesis of the story, the actor’s, the stunts, the music- everything.

Then there are the trailers, production notes, cast and crew bios, production drawings, on-set photos and the like.

Just go and purchase the DVD. While you do get screwed and enjoy it where the extras are concerned, there is a definite “I’ve just been violated,” tinge to the aftertaste.

Minority Report

Overall
Do not buy this DVD for the shallow yet oddly bountiful selection of bonus material, but for the film, the video and the audio. You’ll not be disappointed, for in Minority Report we have a film that redefines a brilliant Director’s career, sees what really is in truth a fine actor with a decent hair-cut, and sends the viewer on a more than satisfying ride through the year 2054.


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