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review added: 4/12/00



Out of Sight
Collector's Edition - 1998 (1999) - Universal

review by Brad Pilcher of The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

Out of Sight: Collector's Edition Film Rating: A

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

Specs and Features

123 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced, single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at 1:11:26, at the start of chapter 32), Amaray keep case packaging, audio commentary by director Steven Soderbergh and writer Scott Frank, Inside Out of Sight documentary, deleted scenes, music highlights, theatrical trailer, film-themed menu screens, scene access (52 chapters for the movie, 14 chapters for the documentary), languages: English (DD 5.1) & French and Spanish (DD 2.0), subtitles: English and Spanish


"Oh, man, if I wasn't stoned, there is no way you would have talked me into this!"

Sometimes, a movie comes along that is so good, on so many points, it's hard to know where to begin talking about it. Out of Sight is that kind of movie, and having it as a Collector's Edition DVD makes it just that much better. It has the witty dialogue and top-shelf humor. The acting is a notch above the rest. The film is beautifully photographed, while the editing and cinematography combine, as a whole, to be incredibly effective. All of that is on the film side. The DVD side is equally as impressive, featuring a solid anamorphic transfer and a plethora of quality extras.

Let us start with the story itself. We open with some interesting editing. It involves randomly (or not so randomly) freezing the frame for a few seconds at a time. George Clooney, as our lead character (Jack Foley), enters a generic bank. He's unarmed, but he's got this amazing trick where he snaps his finger over a Zippo and the thing lights up. How does he do that!? In any event, he calmly robs the bank by contriving a smooth story for the teller. He seems like the coolest cat... until his car won't start.

Zoom ahead to prison. Clooney enacts his own prison break, again with all the style and flair of a career criminal. This time, however, he ends up in the trunk with a kidnapped U.S. Marshall, in the body of Jennifer Lopez. Their brief conversation in those cramped confines ignites an undeniable attraction between the two, and a convoluted movie later, they must find out if they can overcome the two sides of the law they're on.

The story structure is chopped up, jumping around with no care of chronological order. Some artistic inclusions (distinct prison uniforms, for example) and effectual editing make the film work... and work it does! George Clooney, Jennifer Lopez, Ving Rhames and Don Cheadle all turn in quality performances, which further enhances an intuitive and fast-paced script. Bringing these elements of editing, acting and cinematography together, is the result of a quality directing job from Steven Soderbergh. It's actually hard to give too much praise to the man. It's easy when you have a good story or a credible cast of actors. When you've got almost everything going for you, it becomes difficult to pinpoint where the director should be praised and where his cast and crew are more deserving. In this case, everybody deserves tons of praise.

The DVD itself is as top-notch as the film. The anamorphic video is impeccable. Grain is completely absent. Artifacting is not an issue. Black levels are very good. The only complaint to be had here, is that there is a hint of color oversaturation. But it's light, and I was really looking for something here, so you may never notice. However, if you notice a sort of overly bright daylight, don't tweak your video settings. The director purposely overexposed some shots to a degree, in order to flush out the light. These are mostly done in the Miami scenes, and it's definitely deliberate. The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio is very robust, providing a good spacial feel and plenty of bang for your bullet (note that a separate DTS 5.1 version, sans extras, is also available).

The disc really wins by a couple of touchdowns on the strength of its extras. Let's begin with the series of deleted scenes. They are provided in a big long reel, with no breakdown. In other words, you can't select just one, which is the only unfortunate aspect with these. They aren't particularly amazing, but they provide some insights. The film in no way suffers from their deletion, but it's very nice to have them there for consideration. The feature commentary by Soderbergh and Scott Frank (the screenwriter) is perfectly in keeping with the high quality of the disc. They don't hesitate to dive right in here, literally going into their insights from the about the third sentence. And they don't let up either, throughout the movie adding layer upon layer of intuition with a glib, conversational style. As I said before, the film itself is incredible on its own. Add in this commentary and it becomes a DVD classic. A theatrical trailer and a series of music highlights round things out.

There is one more extra to discuss, however, and it's the best one in my opinion - the Inside Out of Sight documentary on the film. Few documentaries seen on DVD are this well-done and this in-depth. Not only is it broken down with chapters and given its own menu, but the documentary itself is really insightful. We get interviews with just about everybody involved, and they bring a fuller understanding of the process to the viewer. A film this good deserves this kind of peek behind the curtains, and we definitely get a full-on backstage tour.

What we have here is a film (and a DVD) that fully lives up to its name. It is, quite simply, out of sight. Is it worth a purchase? Even at its full retail price, this disc is worth purchasing, so do not hesitate. If you're in prison, break out, run to your local store and buy this disc. You may want to head to an off-shore island at that point... but be sure to buy this movie first.

Brad Pilcher
bradpilcher@thedigitalbits.com




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