Click here to learn more about anamorphic widescreen!
Go to the Home Page
Go to The Rumor Mill
Go to Todd Doogan's weekly column
Go to the Reviews Page
Go to the Trivia Contest Page
Go to the Upcoming DVD Artwork Page
Go to the DVD FAQ & Article Archives
Go to our DVD Links Section
Go to the Home Theater Forum for great DVD discussion
Find out how to advertise on The Digital Bits

Site created 12/15/97.

Doogan's Views at The Digital Bits!
page added: 11/21/01



Happy Thanksgiving

What do I have to be thankful for? Well, I'm happily married to a beautiful and talented lady who completes me in so many ways I don't know where I begin. I'm thankful for her and the life she's brought me. I'm thankful that my family is all healthy and near me. I'm thankful that my new puppy fills my home with unprecedented joy, unbridled excitement and unending poop. Bill Hunt - I'm thankful for Bill for teaming up with me on this site everyday, as well as joining me in the all the other endeavors we have going. I'm thankful for DVD because it's been very good for me. It shows me that making an investment all those years ago, when naysayers where saying it would die, was a good idea after all. I'm thankful for The Digital Bits staff of writers past present and future. I work with some very talented guys who challenge me every day with new questions and observations about film and I thank them for it. And, most of all, I'm thankful for you guys, the people who take the time to read the site and this column. I've made some really great friends doing this. Made some fun enemies as well. And I'm even thankful for them. I'm thankful that I get a chance to talk about movies and DVD, because it's what I like to do. To be able to do this is a great gift, and it's one I keep receiving every day I do it.

I hope you all have lots to be thankful for. Bill, I and the staff of The Digital Bits wish you and your families a very happy holiday. Have a safe time. Don't drink and drive. Don't eat turkey and drive either. That triptiwhatthejig can kill ya. I hope to see you here next week.

Gooble, gooble.


Chopper

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

Encoded with DTS & Dolby Digital 5.1 Digital Surround
Chopper
2000 (2001) - First Look Entertainment (Image)

Film Rating: B+

Disc Ratings (Video/Extras): A-/A-

Audio Ratings (DD/DTS): B/B+

Specs and Features:

90 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (1.78:1), 16x9 enhanced, Amaray keep case packaging, single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at 57:42 in chapter 15), audio commentary track with writer director Andrew Domink, audio commentary track with Mark Brandon "Chopper" Read, 5 deleted scenes, Weekend with Chopper, theatrical trailer, animated film-themed menu screens with sound, scene access (22 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1 and 2.0 and DTS 5.1), subtitles: none


Cinema has a language all its own. Sometimes, we're completely on board and understand everything - all the accents and the nuances. Other times, we don't have a frickin' clue what the other person is saying, and never will. But sometimes the most exciting communication is when you don't know what the other person is saying word for word, but you can entirely dig the meaning. You just know that what they're saying is utterly and overbearingly cool. That's Chopper in a nutshell.

Chopper isn't a hard film to like, but it's a hard film to follow. You can sit there and keep saying, "Huh? What the hell is that?" or you can just give yourself up to it. Maybe because the character of Chopper isn't well known to me, I had a hard time with it. Here's what I can understand. Mark Brandon "Chopper" Read is a very well known Australian criminal. He's like a Charlie Manson/Tanya Harding type. He's done his time and currently lives on a farm in Tasmania. But in his youth, he was hell on wheels, both outside of prison and in. We start the film in prison. We're just plunked down and find ourselves in the middle of an argument between Chopper and a guy named Kinky, who has a bald spot and hides it. From a deleted scene, we see that Chopper was making fun of Kinky's wife (something involving a billiard ball) and Kinky tells Chopper to stay away from him. But the verbals escalate and Chopper decides, in a fit of rage, to stab and slash Kinky in a very brutal scene. Left dying in a pool of his own blood, Kinky tells Chopper everything he needs to know about himself. Chopper takes the time to apologize and offer a cigarette.

Because of what he did, Chopper opens himself up for revenge. He has to look over his shoulder, but doesn't figure that one of his own will try and kill him. In another brutal, but slightly funny scene, Chopper is shanked by his buddy James. He realizes that he can't float around in prison with the other inmates, so he begs the wardens to move him. They say no, so he gets a buddy to slice off his ears to prove that his life is in jeopardy. In the interview section of the DVD, Read tells actor Eric Bana that he originally wanted to have Chopper's hand cut off instead, to be replaced with a hook (but soon realized Chopper wouldn't be able to get a hook in prison, so went with the ears). Then we flash forward and we're out of prison, as Chopper lives his life and wreaks havoc with other people's lives.

It's an incredibly well done character study. I can't say I followed it all, but I can say I liked it. I'm sure that if you read Read's books (he's a best selling author with Chopper From the Inside and How to Shoot Friends and Influence People) you'd know what motivates him and how he works. But if you haven't, you'll be left alone trying to catch up. Is it bad filmmaking? Yes and no. There's enough here to care about the character, and it certainly makes you want to go out and try to find his books. But when you're actually watching the film, you'll be trying to understand what's going on. And nothing is really cleared up for you in the end. Chopper remains unredeemed and unredeemable.

First Run and Image give us Chopper as a nice special edition. The anamorphic widescreen video is very good. The colors in the film are ultra-stylized and grain heavy, but that's the look of the film. The transfer itself is a good one. The soundtrack comes in three forms: Dolby Digital 2.0, 5.1 and DTS 5.1. Obviously, if you have access to DTS, that's the way to go. But the others are good as well. These are not explosive mixes by any stretch, but they get the job done.

The extras are very exciting. We get two full-length commentaries: one with the director and one with the real "Chopper" Read. The director talks about the character and what brought him to the film. He seemed to enjoy the fact that Chopper is the story of a bullied child who bullied back, and wanted to show how that works (although that's very clear in the film, see what I'm saying - you have to know the guy to love him). Chopper, on the other hand, is all bravado on his track and discusses how everything in the film is true (to an extent) and explains what characters are real or a melding of groups of people. He's funny and has no shame. Missing is Eric Bana. Although I know next to nothing about him, his portrayal of Chopper is incredible. He was a television comedian before this, and you'd never guess that unless you knew it. He's a true find and I look forward to his work as Bruce Banner/The Hulk in the future.

Also on the disc are 5 deleted scenes, although they're really not deleted scenes per se. I'd call them trims. So we get really 3 trims, an alternate take and an extension of a scene in the film. Some of these deserved to be taken away, but I don't think they would have hurt the film if they were left in. It wouldn't have interrupted the flow at all. It might even have helped bring out the characters more. Like Chopper's dad. You get the idea that he's proud his son is a punk in the film, but a trimmed scene shows him actually helping suit him up for war. Also interesting is a section called Weekend with Chopper, where Eric Bana hangs with Chopper and learns the true man through conversation, chicken petting and lots of beer drinking. It's insightful into the character, but not really into the film.

Chopper shows us that people are strange. And you can never trust your friends. Especially after you shoot them. All the apologies in the world can't take that away. This is a flawed film narrative-wise, but it's so interesting that you don't quite care. I'm a fan of this film, and of Bana's now. I'll also be looking for Chopper's books to learn more about what makes this guy tick. Ultimately, I'm glad I saw the film and have no qualms in suggesting that you check it out.

Chopper
Buy this DVD now at DVD Planet!


The Matrix Revisited

The Matrix Revisited
2001 (2001) - Village Roadshow (Warner)

Film Rating: B

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A/A/B

Specs and Features:

123 mins, NR, full frame (1.33:1) and letterboxed widescreen (2.35:1), Snapper case packaging, single-sided, dual-layered (no layer switch), 7 behind-the-scenes featurettes (What is to Come?, What is Animatrix?, Whatisthematrix.com? , The Dance of the Master: Yuen Wo Ping's Blocking Tapes, The True Followers, The Bathroom Fight and The Wet Wall and But Wait There's More), 5 Easter eggs (the Red Girl Accident, Hugo's Hip and Keanu's Perfectionism and The Smith's Humanity featurettes, the film's original theatrical trailer and a hidden Juke Box with 41 full-length songs), DVD-ROM features (including weblinks), animated film-themed menu screens with sound, scene access (33 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1), subtitles: English, French and Spanish, Closed Captioned


There's nothing... absolutely nothing... that I can say that will or won't make you want this DVD. If you loved The Matrix even just a little bit, then you will want this disc. If you hated the film, then you'll have no use for it. But it's a great DVD, any way you slice it.

The Matrix Revisited is a collection of stock footage and current interviews about the making of The Matrix and its upcoming sequels. It takes you from the beginning of the ideas concerning the original film, all the way to the current filming of the sequels. The Matrix Revisited is as simple as that. It's nothing more and it's nothing less. Revisited is the perfect way to keep your taste for The Matrix alive, as Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings are unleashed on the public.

But, besides being a bit of PR for a film slated to come in 2003, it's also the perfect companion piece to the original disc set. It's pretty loaded actually, and it sucks you right in. I wasn't quite ready for this disc to be as good as it is. The actors, because they're all caught while training for the new films, seem to be very insightful into the characters and their story. They're immersed in the mythos right now, so there are no pretensions. This isn't electronic press kit stuff - this is untapped passion. The crew, who seem to be the same exact crew from the first film, show the same passion for the subject matter. You'll even enjoy hearing from the studio suits and the producer, who seemingly discuss the films because they actually care about these films and their culture, not just about the money that they're going to make for them. I'm really hooked on The Matrix Revisited. It's a very well done piece of documentary art. Surprise - it's not just a piece of propaganda.

Not only that, but we get a nice bit of additional extraneous material in the Go Further section. The first, What is to Come?, is a more specific look at the new sequels and the physical training the actors are going through. Plus there's a look at the new video game for the first sequel being choreographed by Wo Ping's team. What is Animatrix? looks at the creation of a series of animated shorts that will premiere on the film's website. Created by some of Japan's greatest animation directors, this is something I can't wait for. Where exactly will they show up? Look in Whatisthematrix.com?, which will tell you all about the site. The Dance of the Master: Yuen Wo Ping's Blocking Tapes is exactly that and it's quite cool. Also look for two Easter eggs on the first page by clicking your arrows to the right. Once, to see the Red Girl Accident and click a second time for Hugo's Hip. The second page of Go Further holds The True Followers, a look at the website fans of the film. The Bathroom Fight and The Wet Wall is a look at the famed bathroom sequence and how they did it. But Wait There's More is a loop of footage that covers the gamut. There's also DVD-ROM access (which is nothing but promotional stuff) as well as another Easter egg 'over to the right' - Keanu's Perfectionism and The Smith's Humanity.

The quality of the documentary itself is top notch. It looks great. The footage is full frame, although the film clips are non-anamorphic widescreen. The Go Further stuff is sketchy in spots because some is straight video and others look like they came from an MPEG-1 source. Sound for the doc is Dolby Digital 5.1, and features some driving electronica and as well as dialogue. And speaking of electronica, go to the language selection screen and click over to the left and you'll see a phone booth. Click on it and 41 tracks featured in the doc and the clips are isolated here for your listening enjoyment. Better still, on page two of the Jukebox, click over to the right and click the bullet-time bullet where you'll find the original theatrical trailer for The Matrix that I was bitching about being missing from the first disc in my review. It's full frame, but it's a great trailer nonetheless.

You have to see this thing. This is a wonderful disc, that sheds a lot of light on The Matrix and its future.

The Matrix Revisited
Buy this DVD now at DVD Planet!

The Dirty Harry Series: Clint Eastwood Collection

The Dirty Harry Series: Clint Eastwood Collection



Dirty Harry

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

Dirty Harry
1971 (2001) - Warner Bros.

Film Rating: A

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A+/A/B+

Specs and Features:

102 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (2.35:1), 16x9 enhanced, Snapper case packaging, single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at 1:06:50 in chapter 19), Dirty Harry's Way featurette, Dirty Harry: The Original documentary, interview gallery (with Clint Eastwood, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Robert Urich, Patty Clarkson, Andy Robinson, Evan Kim, Hal Holbrook, John Milius, Ted Post and Joel Cox), behind-the-scenes text, on location text, memorable lines, cast and crew info, theatrical trailer, film-themed menu screens with sound, scene access (31 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1) and French (DD mono), subtitles: English, French and Spanish, Closed Captioned



Magnum Force

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

Magnum Force
1973 (2001) - Warner Bros.

Film Rating: B+

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A+/A/B

Specs and Features:

124 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (2.35:1), 16x9 enhanced, Snapper case packaging, single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at 1:18:32 in chapter 21), The Hero Cop: Yesterday and Today featurette, behind-the-scenes text, on location text, memorable lines, cast and crew info, theatrical trailer, film-themed menu screens with sound, scene access (36 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1) and French (DD mono), subtitles: English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, Chinese, Thai and Korean, Closed Captioned



The Enforcer

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

The Enforcer
1976 (2001) - Warner Bros.

Film Rating: B-

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A/A/B

Specs and Features:

96 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (2.35:1), 16x9 enhanced, Snapper case packaging, single-sided, single-layered, Harry Callahan/Clint Eastwood: Something Special in Film featurette, behind-the-scenes text, on location text, memorable lines, cast and crew info, theatrical trailer, film-themed menu screens with sound, scene access (30 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1) and French (DD mono), subtitles: English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, Chinese, Thai and Korean, Closed Captioned



Sudden Impact

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

Sudden Impact
1983 (2001) - Warner Bros.

Film Rating: B

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A-/A/B-

Specs and Features:

117 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (2.35:1), 16x9 enhanced, Snapper case packaging, single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at 1:00:16 in chapter 20), behind-the-scenes text, on location text, memorable lines, cast and crew info, theatrical trailer, film-themed menu screens with sound, scene access (37 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1) and French (DD mono), subtitles: English, French and Spanish, Closed Captioned



The Dead Pool

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

The Dead Pool
1988 (2001) - Warner Bros.

Film Rating: C-

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B+/A/B-

Specs and Features:

91 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced, Snapper case packaging, single-sided, single-layered, behind-the-scenes text, on location text, memorable lines, cast and crew info, theatrical trailer, film-themed menu screens with sound, scene access (31 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1) and French (DD mono), subtitles: English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, Chinese, Thai and Korean, Closed Captioned



By the beginning of the 1970s, the political climate in America was getting pretty dark. Vietnam, Watergate and terrorism were all wagging their tails in the face of the common man, and no one felt very safe or very sure. So when police inspector Harry Callahan pointed his magnum at the punks in the film Dirty Harry, moviegoers cheered. Critics though... they were another story entirely. Film critics at the time hated the film, because it was one of the most violent films made up until that time. But as always happens, audiences won out. Harry became a pop cultural icon and Clint Eastwood became an even brighter star. And now all of the Harry films are on DVD, available singly or in a new box set from Warner.

Dirty Harry

"Dirty" Harry Callahan is a tough cop at the end of his rope. He's loosing faith in the system and has had enough of the filth in the city rising to the top. When a serial killer, calling himself Scorpio, unleashes his evil on the city, Harry is there to stare back at him and tell him, "Not on my watch." This is a classic cat and mouse thriller, that eventually birthed Die Hard, Lethal Weapon and other lesser cop films of the 80s and 90s.

Dirty Harry is a classic in any genre. It's certainly not the greatest film ever made, but it's one of the most fun flicks ever churned out. Everything works in its favor. Clint IS Harry. Andy Robinson, as Scorpio, is a slimy evil hippie and one of the greatest screen villains of all time. Even the pace is expert, timed by the legendary director Don Siegel. And the writing (with ghost penning from John Milius) is right on target. If you don't like this film, you haven't seen it.

And lucky us, the new DVD from Warner is pretty incredible. The picture quality is absolutely top-notch. Colors are bright, darks are well rendered and there are no blemishes at all on the print. I have no idea where they were hiding this print, but I hope there's more of this quality where it came from. The audio is remastered in a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix that makes Harry sound like a brand new film. The surrounds are atmospheric, dialogue is well centered and there's no distortion at all. If you're a fan of this film, you'll want this DVD.

You'll want it even more when you check out the extras. There's a short archived featurette about the production - old but neat. Better than that is a new documentary about the film, filled with interviews from the cast, crew and famous fans. Hosted by Robert Urich (who pops up in Magnum Force), it sheds light on the concept, impact and future of Harry. Archived elsewhere on the disc are leftover segments of interviews broken up into the various interview subjects. John Milius, Eastwood, Schwarzenegger and even Urich are collected here to talk about Harry. Rounding out the disc's extras are text based production notes about the film, the locations and some tried and true quotes. If you're not wild about Harry, you will be after you check this disc out.

Magnum Force

Harry's back on the force, and now he's butting heads with a lieutenant who would rather Harry wasn't anywhere near San Fran. Taking inspiration from the Brazilian death squads, a team of rookie cops are killing criminals that slip through the system. Drug pushers, crime leaders and pimps are popping up dead with bullets where their brains should be. You'd think Harry would be happy... except he knows that once something like this starts, there's no end in sight. So when the squad finds out that Harry doesn't see eye to eye with them, they try to take him out. Big mistake.

Magnum Force is a great sequel to Harry. It's not any better as a film, but it helps push the legend of Harry up a bit higher. Harry even gets a chance to get sexier, funnier and, of course, more violent - go figure.

Magnum Force looks and sounds just as good at Dirty Harry does. I'm pretty shocked actually. The film source is outstanding and the transfer is exceptional. Audio is again available in a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix that shows no flaws and fits the film perfectly. The extras are a bit lighter, but appropriate. We get an archived featurette, Hero Cop, that focuses on Harry as a new icon in film. Also on board are the text production notes, quotes and a trailer. Not bad at all.

The Enforcer

Harry doesn't have much patience for stupidity. So when he hand delivers a car to a hostage taker that demanded one, he gets demoted to personnel for excessive use of force. Excessive force? All he did was deliver the car to the crook... by driving it through him. Be careful what you wish for, huh? Anyway, Harry's no longer in homicide. He's in charge of bringing young cops into the inspector class. The main issue here is, the department is mandated by the mayor to bring more women onto the force. So it's a bit ironic that the most qualified would eventually become his partner.

When a group of radicals calling themselves the People's Liberation blah-blah heist a stash of explosives, guns and anti-tank grenade launchers, and wage a war on San Francisco, Harry gets re-promoted and goes head to head with the group. But will he get to keep his partner?

The Enforcer is a fine Harry film. It's in no way a great sequel, but it does the job. Some call this the worst of the bunch, but I don't agree. It's not a very well made film, but this is Harry, so we have to call it for what it is. My only problem is that here, Harry doesn't get to be too Harry-esque. Don't get me wrong, he's still a bad ass, busting heads and kicking butt. But there's a phoned in quality to Eastwood here, like he was doing it for the paycheck. Still, even an okay Harry is good Harry.

The Enforcer keeps pace with the other discs here in terms of quality. There's nothing more positive I can say about this series and there's nothing bad to mention at all either. This is one of two discs in the set not to be dual-layered (the other is Dead Pool), but the video quality is as good as any of the dual-layered titles. The sound is also on par with the others. Extras include an archived featurette on Clint and Harry jointly as icons, as well as the standard production notes, quotes and trailer.

Sudden Impact

Years ago, two young women were gang raped by a gang of thugs. With one of the girls in a coma from the trauma, the other is now out for revenge. Meanwhile, due to his unconventional methods, Harry's forced to take a vacation by his bosses. When the female vigilante (Sondra Locke) pops up in San Paolo and starts killing the members of the gang that raped her (leaving them strewn across the California beaches), Harry's totally unaware of her actions. He's too busy stalking a notorious Mafioso for the murder of a prostitute. His interrogation techniques might be too good though, when they result in said Mafioso's heart attack related death. In retribution for the "murder" of their don, Harry finds himself at the end of the mob's machine gun barrels. The San Francisco PD tires of all the death, and transfers Harry to San Paolo to figure out what the heck is going on over there. Our two vigilantes finally meet, when Harry's investigation and bullet dodging lead him to Dirty Harriet.

Sudden Impact is my favorite of the Harry sequels. That's probably because it was the first one that I ever actually saw. Harry's a huge badass here, and his love for the game is back. But this time, he's quite dark and methodical, and his one-liners and jokes are done so deadpan, you'll wonder if Eastwood meant to be funny with them. The movie doesn't really rise above the usual Harry set pieces until about 45 minutes into the film. And even then, it's still the Harry we know and love. Plus, Eastwood gets to direct himself, so it's worth seeing for that reason alone. Sudden Impact is not as classic as the first two, but we did get "Make my day" from this film. And there's a bunch of stuff going on to keep your attention. Look for a young and moderately thin Camryn Manheim in the elevator in chapter 4.

Except for an odd print defect at the start of chapter 3, this is yet another good disc in terms of quality. Colors are accurate, grain is light and the blacks are pretty solid. The print doesn't seem to be of quite the same quality as the previous discs, but it still looks great. The audio, on the other hand, is nicely powerful in its remastered Dolby Digital 5.1 form. This is a track that sounds like it could have been mixed for a film made today. But for the first time with this disc, extras are light. There's no featurette - all we get are the production notes, trailer and quote list.

The Dead Pool

I don't know if this flick should have been made. I mean, it's a Harry film and Eastwood is in it, but it doesn't have the same fire the others had. Here, Harry finds himself on a list of a small group of celebrities predicted to meet their maker soon - a dead pool, if you will. When the list of people to die starts coming true in the exact order put down by an egotistical director (played by a young Liam Neeson), Harry has to figure out what's going on... before his own name is next. The band Guns and Roses makes a cameo here, as does a less than stellar star by the name of Jim Carrey.

Like I said, I don't think much of this sequel. Harry lost his steam by this point. He was too much a product of his time. When America didn't have a hero, they turned to Harry. But when America began to hate heroes, Harry wasn't needed anymore. By 1988, the only heroes America wanted around wore capes or Nikes. But just maybe, even if Clint doesn't agree, America could use someone like Harry again in this post 9/11 environment.

The Dead Pool looks pretty good on DVD (no surprise there). The picture is a bit on the soft side when held against the other films, but it seems to be a print issue (there are also a few moments of odd print damage). This film is also the only one in the series framed at 1.85:1. Once again, the sound here is exceptional, even if the film itself isn't. The extras are as light as they were in Impact. We get the trailer and text based note - nothing more. But it's the last film in the series, so you might as well pick it up, I reckon.

I'm just wild about Harry. And, on DVD, Harry's just wild about me. The video is largely crystal clear, the soundtracks have tremendous new life and you even get a few extras too. This is the way all classic movies should be treated on DVD.

The Dirty Harry Series: Clint Eastwood Collection
Buy this DVD now at DVD Planet!

Dirty Harry
Buy this DVD now at DVD Planet!

Magnum Force
Buy this DVD now at DVD Planet!

The Enforcer
Buy this DVD now at DVD Planet!

Sudden Impact
Buy this DVD now at DVD Planet!

The Dead Pool
Buy this DVD now at DVD Planet!


That'll do me for this week. Have a nice long weekend and keep spinnin' those discs!

Todd Doogan
todddoogan@thedigitalbits.com


E-mail the Bits!


Don't #!@$ with the Monkey! Site designed for 800 x 600 resolution, using 16M colors and .gif 89a animation.
© 1997-2002 The Digital Bits, Inc., All Rights Reserved.
billhunt@thedigitalbits.com