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First of all, let me tell you that The Rock is my favourite action film of all time, so any score, or opinion is likely to be extremely biased! I have owned the Region 2 flipper for quite a few months, needless to say it's not overly impressive in terms of extras…there aren't any! However, the disk did provide a reasonable picture, and a pretty good soundtrack to boot, so other than the fact that it was a flipper, there wasn’t that much that I could complain about. Until the Criterion edition arrived at my door that is!

"This is The Rock right? Its not Pearl Harbor?.....thank god..."
The main plot of The Rock is based around a highly decorated U.S. Marine General Frank Hummel (Ed Harris), who over many years of secret operations in Vietnam and China, has finally had enough with the lies surrounding the deaths in action of his colleagues. None of his colleagues received military burials, and their families were lied to in regard to how they died. Hummel decides to put a stop to the lies, and with the help of a group of specially trained ex-marines, storms a chemical weapons factory before taking over the small island of Alcatraz. His demand: restitution to families of soldiers who died in convert operations throughout the globe.

On the other side of the conflict is Stanley Goodspeed (Nicolas Cage), a chemical weapons ‘super freak’ who with the help of an elite Navy SEAL Team, led by ‘The Abyss’’ Michael Biehn, are ordered to storm Alcatraz with the mission of neutralising any threat from the chemical weapons, or the generals ‘mercenaries’. What complicates matters is that the only ‘reliable’ source of information is a former Alcatraz escapee (Sean Connery), who they are forced to bring along for the ride.

*Insert 'Women Drivers' Joke Here*
I cannot begin to describe how much fun is contained within this movie, there are so many great comedy moments, mostly resulting from the good chemistry between Nic Cage and Sean Connery. From watching their performances you could swear that they had worked together on several occasions before, as they gel perfectly on screen. Nicolas Cage received a lot of flak from critics around the world for taking on a big budget action film such as this, especially as he had just come from his Oscar winning performance in ‘Leaving Las Vegas’. However from what I can see, this film has just added another string to his bow, and with it, he has just proved what a flexible actor he really is. Ed Harris also, produces a stunning performance as General Hummel, he adds a new dimension to the ‘bad guy’ role, mainly because, no matter how hard you try, you cant really describe this man as a bad guy! I would describe Ed Harris’ character as a man full of very respectable qualities, who in this case, has simply gone about things in the wrong way. The film also features a strong performance, as ever from David Morse (The Green Mile), its amazing that this guy is still not getting the credit that he deserves, as I firmly believe that he is one of the best in the business.

As I said, this film is one of my favourite ‘action’ films, and to say that it contains a lot of action would be an understatement! There are some brilliant set pieces, perhaps the one that particularly stands out is the car chase through San Francisco. I’m sure you will be asking, whats so special about a car chase…every film these days contain car chases. Well, not all films contain car chases between a bright yellow Ferrari and a Hum Vee! A truly impressive scene.

One thing that you may, or may not like about this film, is the way Michael Bay chooses to shoot his films. He does tend to cut all over the place, with each camera shot tending to last only 3 or 4 seconds maximum! Personally, I like the way it was filmed, as the quick editing compliments the pace of the films story.

As with practically all of Criterion’s excellent releases, the picture quality is top notch, and portrayed perfectly in the films original aspect ratio of 2.35:1. I noticed no obvious picture breakup, however there did appear to be a plethora of small blemishes throughout the picture. Although these blemishes hardly detracts from your viewing pleasure, it does seem a little sloppy on the behalf of Criterion. Minor problems such as that, can be fixed, given a bit of extra time. The colours throughout this film however, particularly make this Criterion edition noticeable in this Anamorphic transfer. The yellow Ferrari during the car chase looks far crisper than in the R2 flipper, and the green chemical balls (cant think of a better description right now!) have to be seen to be believed! Overall, I’m pretty happy with the picture quality, though given the status of this film, I feel Criterion could have made a slightly better effort at clearing some of the minor problems up.

"Wow, I could get a job as an England cricketer..."  
If its good quality sound that you are after, you will find a huge amount of it in ‘The Rock’ The Criterion edition comes with either a Dolby Digital, or DTS 5.1 surround soundtrack, though in my opinion I couldn’t really tell much difference between the two, though that could be because of my pretty poor sound setup! I would edge towards the DTS track for having slightly more bass however. This film makes pretty good use of the speakers, and I cant help cranking up the volume for the stirring rendition of Hans Zimmers opening track. Great stuff!

The extras are the main thing that the Criterion of ‘The Rock’ was boasting from an early point, however to be quite honest, they don’t really live up to the hype. The DVD is basically a direct port of the VCD edition that Criterion released a while back, and therefore its not really going to appeal to people who already own that, other than for the obvious picture & sound improvements. Disk 1 of the 2 disk set contains the film, and a commentary by Michael Bay, Jerry Bruckheimer, Nic Cage, Ed Harris, and technical advisor Harry Humphries. Firstly, let me point out that all these commentaries were recorded separately, so if your after general chit chat between actors this isn’t going to be what your looking for. However, I was interested in hearing what Nic Cage had to say about the film, particularly because of all the criticism he received for taking the role in the first place. Luckily enough, he provided commentary for the most part of the film, and all in all, I found his insights very interesting. I noticed that Jerry Bruckheimer’s commentary had been taken from samples of the video interview contained on the disk and just pasted on, which I thought was a bit sloppy, as I had already seen the interview, and it was therefore going over the same ground. Ed Harris, who although I found quite interesting, didn’t really have much to say in the commentary, which was disappointing.

The only other extra that really appealed to me were the Outtakes. Most of these featured Ed Harris…and the way…he…urmm…reacts, when he gets his lines wrong! Lets just say, he must have gone through quite a number of prop phones! Theres also more swearing in this small 10minute segment than in the entire movie, so children beware!!

Rock (Criterion), The

Other features on the disc, include an analysis of the dive sequence, which although interesting at first, did drag on a bit, and I found it was more of a ture to watch than anything! Another documentary on the disc is ‘Dos and don’ts of Hollywood Gunplay’ which I also found quite interesting, as the two guys (Harry Humphries and Marshall Teague) basically show you how many Hollywood films portray gun fights in a completely unrealistic way. However, this documentary is marred by gun shots going off all over the place, which after a while becomes a complete joke. You would have expected them to record something like this when everybody has gone home, but instead you have to battle to hear their voices over the gun fire!

Also on offer are the usual offerings of trailers and tv spots, which is always interesting to see how they marketed the film, you get 1 Theatrical Trailer and 4 or 5 tv spots. Next, theres an interview with Jerry Bruckheimer, who basically talks about his films over the years, with particular attention paid to The Rock. Although this is interesting, Jerry, isn’t exactly character of the month, so the interview does become a bit tiresome! Finally theres a short 5 or 6 minute look at The Rock’s world premiere on Alcatraz , which shows how they shipped lighting etc to the Island, and also contains a few words from Nic Cage and Ed Harris.

Rock (Criterion), The

Overall, The Rock – Criterion, is certainly worth owning if you are a genuine fan of The Rock. However, if you only ever had a passing interest in this film, you would be better off sticking with the R1 version, as the extras alone aren’t really a good enough reason to pay the extra cash.