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It only seems like yesterday that I was singing the praises of a young actor who had stolen the show in Tigerland (see review here). I predicted a glittering career for him and it seems that Joel Schumacher had the same opinion. For the director's next movie, Phone Booth, 20th Century Fox were looking for a well known star to fill the lead role, but Schumacher was so impressed with the aforementioned actor that he signed him up straight away. You have probably guessed by now that the actor I am talking about is a certain Colin Farrell, who has spiralled to fame within the last year. His CV makes impressive reading, with the likes of Daredevil, The Recruit and Minority Report all added to his list. Read on to find how he fares in his latest movie which is now making the transition to DVD.

Phone Booth
Movie
The movie starts by introducing us to a phone booth situated in New York City. We are told that the phone booth is due to be decommissioned the next day, but before its closure we are informed that it has one last surprise in store for one of its users. This is where we are introduced to Stu Shepard (Farrell), a publicist who lives in the fast line, and thrives on the pressure that comes with his job. In order to keep one step ahead of his rivals, Stu lies and manipulates his clients, so that he gets the best results.

Unfortunately his dishonesty is not just restricted to his business life. Stu's wife Kelly (Radha Mitchell) thinks that they have a happily married life, however she couldn't be more wrong! Each day Stu visits a local phone booth so that he can speak to one of his clients called Pam (Katie Holmes), a newcomer to the city who relies on Sam to promote her talents. The pair's relationship is not strictly business related and they start seeing each other.

It is during one of Stu's visits to phone Pam that his day suddenly takes a turn for the worse. An unexpected phone call which Stu inadvertently answers turns out to have life-changing consequences as he is plunged into a terrifying chain of events and finds himself at the mercy of Kiefer Sutherland's psychotic character. The rest of the film is very tense and I was genuinely never really sure what would happen next at any point, particularly once the caller reveals that he has put others through similar experiences which resulted in him killing them!

Phone Booth
Phone Booth has a unique storyline which, as far as I'm aware, has never been tried before. This is one of the main reasons the film succeeds, but a large proportion of its success must also be credited to Colin Farrell's performance, which is gritty and heartfelt. Kiefer Sutherland is a convincing villain, and the fact that you only hear his voice goes a long way to creating a chilling atmosphere. I had my doubts about the practicalities of staging a whole movie in a phone booth, but Joel Schumacher has created a movie which is well paced, and clocking in at just over eighty minutes it doesn’t out stay it’s welcome. Phone Booth is guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat throughout, that's if you're not hiding behind it!

Video
Fox have taken the increasingly rare step of including both 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen and 4:3 full screen transfers on opposites sides of this release. I couldn’t bring myself to watch more than a couple of minutes of the full screen transfer, so this review is based primarily on the widescreen transfer. Full credit must be given to Fox for producing a transfer of the up most quality. It was apparent from the opening scenes that the image was going to be crystal clear and defined. Every single contour of Colin Farrell's worried face is portrayed strikingly throughout. The colour palette is hard to review for this title as the movie is filmed in subdued lighting, the colours were deliberately washed-out and leant towards a blue hue, but even so skin tones appeared lifelike. There appeared to be very little sign of grain throughout (well no more than was evident on its cinema release) and edge enhancements also seemed to be non-existent.

I have read some reviews which mention signs of compression artifacts, but I have to admit to not noticing them, however I am sure having two versions of this movie is not a wise thing to do but somehow Fox have managed to produce a transfer that doesn't noticeably suffer. I cannot believe that anyone would want to watch a modified version of the movie, so why do it?
 
Audio
This release includes three soundtracks. Our foreign readers will be happy to hear that French Dolby Digital 5.1 and Spanish surround tracks are included on the disc. There is also an English Dolby Digital 5.1 track, which is what I am going to focus on for the purpose of this review. Phone Booth is not your average action movie and therefore doesn't contain big explosions, but what it does have in its favour is subtlety. What is noticeable early on from this soundtrack are the subtle background noises which accompany the busy streets of New York. Cars whizzing past and people chatting are just some of the noises that are portrayed accurately from the rear speakers. However, the important dialogue is mostly confined to the front speakers and for this film to succeed it needed to be clear and precise. Fortunately the desperate voice of Farrell and Kiefer's chilling tone are brought to the screen expertly. Fox have produced a soundtrack which you would be hard-pressed to criticise.

Phone Booth
Subtitles are included in English, English Closed Captions and Spanish. The menus are also worth mentioning as they fit in perfectly with the atmosphere of the movie. The menus may be static, but express an eerie tone which sums up perfectly what atmosphere to expect from the movie.

Extras
After such a great movie I was looking forward to some meaty extras which would elaborate on this intriguing film. Unfortunately 20th Century Fox have decided to pass up this opportunity and have supplied a disc which is severely lacking in quality. The only extra of any substance is the audio commentary with Joel Schumacher, which is very informative but at the same time it is hard going at times. That’s not a criticism towards the director but his expression-less tone means that he can sound quite boring at times, even though what he is saying is actually very interesting. The commentary starts off with an explanation of Stu Shepard’s character. Schumacher also talks about the filming schedule for the movie, which was in total ten days. He goes onto elaborate about the schedule and explains it as the most insane thing he has done, but then also mentions that he had the time of his life filming the movie. Surprisingly there are also a lot of quirky jokes made by the commentator throughout which brings a fun feel to the commentary. This is an information packed commentary which goes some way to making up for missing documentaries.

The only other extras found with this disc are two trailers. The first trailer as you would expect is the theatrical trailer. I remember seeing this trailer in the cinema and it instantly left me with the impression that I must see the movie. The trailer is very creepy and would definitely appeal to male audiences, but at the same time I am sure the intriguing plot would also entice female interest as well. The theatrical trailer lasts for just under two and a half minutes. The other trailer packaged with this release is for a movie called 'Garage Days', which appeared to be a rock version of Trainspotting. This trailer lasts for just over a minute, so it was hard to build up any definitive opinion.

So that’s it folks! I am sure this won't be the last release of this movie on DVD, its just a matter of how long Fox leave it before a Special Edition version hits the market. A good example of this is the fact that Phone Booth has just been announced on Region Two, and includes a making of documentary.

Phone Booth
Overall
Phone Booth is a highly original movie, which is well acted and riveting right up to its last frame. I can hear some of you question how could this be when the movie is shot mostly inside a telephone kiosk, well I had the same reservations before watching the movie, but twenty minutes into it I was totally engrossed. Sadly what is a brilliant movie is not given the treatment it deserves on DVD. I have no gripes with the video and audio side of the disc, they are both outstanding but not much effort has been made to include extras which surely must exist. Whether or not you purchase this disc will essentially come down to how desperate you are for the movie, and how keen you are on extras.


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