Site created 12/15/97.
review added: 1/22/99
1997 (1998) - DreamWorks
review by Bill Hunt,
editor of The Digital Bits
DreamWorks' first film is a well-crafted, high-velocity actioner.
It's also director Mimi Leder's first big screen effort, and she's
done an bang-up job. The Peacemaker
is intense, fast-paced... and just good fun.
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A/A/A
The anamorphic widescreen video is crisp and clear - a very good
transfer here. The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio is equally good. Best of
all, there's a couple megatons worth of extras here.
Overall Rating: A
Highly recommended. This one's good all around - it's got some
really interesting special features. And if you like Clooney or
Kidman, don't miss it.
124 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (2.35:1), 16x9 enhanced,
single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at 54:09, late in
chapter 7), Amaray keep case packaging, 2 theatrical trailers, stunt
footage, outtake and blooper footage, production notes, cast &
crew bios, film-themed menu screens with animation and sound
effects, scene access (16 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1),
Spanish & French (DD 2.0), subtitles: English & Spanish,
Deep in the heart of the former Soviet Union, there's malfeasance
afoot. A bitter Russian general named Kodoroff, has decided to make
a little extra spending cash... by selling a bunch of SS-18 nuclear
warheads on the black market. He covers his tracks by detonating one
of them, which, of course, gets the world's attention - kinda tough
to miss something like a 700 kiloton nuclear blast. Enter Dr. Julia
Kelly (Nicole Kidman), acting chair of the President's nuclear
smuggling group. She's put in charge of the effort to figure out
what went wrong. She's also put in charge of a rather unconventional
military liaison - an Army Special Forces Colonel named Thomas Devoe
(George Clooney). Devoe has his own theories about what happened,
and has the contacts and field experience to prove it. Before long,
the pair are flying across the globe, in a frantic race to prevent
the warheads from falling into the wrong hands.
The Peacemaker was
newly-formed DreamWorks S.K.G.'s first feature film. And although it
wasn't exactly a huge hit in the U.S., to be fair, George Clooney
wasn't exactly a huge box office draw at the time either. Director
Mimi Leder weighs in with her first big screen effort, and you might
be wondering... a woman directing an military action film? Well,
worry not - this is a darned good thriller. It's well written,
tightly-directed, very fast-paced, and a darned good watch. Clooney
and Kidman are both good in their roles, although they both play it
too cool at times - the chemistry between the two is a bit strained
on occasion. That's a minor flaw, because it's refreshing to see a
professional, down-to-business male/female relationship on the big
screen for a change. And we finally get to see movie bad guys with
realistic motivations for their actions - rare indeed.
As DVDs go, The Peacemaker really
impresses. The film transfer is terrific - almost comparable to some
of Columbia TriStar's work. There are virtually no artifacts to be
seen, and the image is clean and clear, with good detail. The color
appears a bit subdued - this isn't a vibrant picture - but that's
how it was intended to look by the director and cinematographer.
That's how it looked in the theater. There is a certain atmosphere
of gloominess, that is entirely appropriate to the plot.
The best news here, is that DreamWorks has seen fit to support
DVD's anamorphic feature. Anyone who's read the Bits
for any length of time, will know how important I feel that feature
is, so I won't go into it again here. Suffice it to say that it IS
important, and DreamWorks should be saluted for understanding this.
As for sound, the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is first-rate. The sound
field is full and deep - a very good sense of atmosphere is created
with ambient sound. And there is great use of directional sound,
particularly during the action sequences, but also in general.
Completing the picture, Hans Zimmer's effective score is nicely
presented here as well, really helping to drive the action to a
And check out the extras here! The disc isn't quite as loaded as
some special edition titles - there's no commentary included. But
what is here is very cool, and even unique in some respects. Most
interesting, is a featurette which gives you a behind-the-scenes
look at how many of the stunt sequences were filmed, intercut with
comments from the cast and crew, as well as the final sequence. As
good (and a feature I find very welcome) is a section called, From
the Cutting Room Floor, which includes outtake and
blooper footage, as well as more cast and crew comments. I know some
directors don't like to show outtakes from their work, but I find
that it tends to humanize the work overall, and leads to a greater
appreciation of what the production process is really like. And
let's face it... it's just plain funny. Also included here, are
pages of production notes, cast and crew bios, and both the teaser
and theatrical trailers for the film.
It's also the little things that really impress me about this DVD.
For example, when you insert the disc into your player, you don't
have to wait through five minutes of copyright warning pages, that
you can't skip past (a single disclaimer plays briefly, only after
you start the film). The title menu flies right in, letting you sink
quickly into the disc's content. And what a cool menu is it - full
of motion and set to theme music from the score. When you select any
of the sub menus, an animated explosion blasts them into the screen.
And the scene selection menu gives you fully animated windows. There
are even a trio of so called Easter Eggs: go into the bio pages for
Clooney, Kidman and Leder, and you'll see a tiny picture of them in
the upper-right corner of the screen. Selecting it will play an
interview clip with each of them.
If you're not worked up after watching The
Peacemaker, check you vitals - maybe you should have
picked up a pacemaker instead. This thing really cooks. And I'm just
impressed with the care and craftsmanship that went into this DVD.
Having seen DreamWorks' DVD operation first-hand... well, all I can
say, is that I can't wait for the next one. Hats off from the Bits,
guys. This one's worth every penny.