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review added: 4/16/01



The 6th Day
2000 (2001) - Columbia TriStar

review by Dan Kelly of The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

The 6th Day

Film Rating: B-

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

Specs and Features

124 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (2.35:1), 16x9 enhanced, single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at 1:11:20, in chapter 18), Amaray keep case packaging, audio commentary by composer Trevor Rabin with isolated score, RePet infomercial and TV spot, theatrical trailers (for Gattaca, Hollow Man, Final Fantasy and The 6th Day), insert booklet production notes, talent files, animated film-themed menu screens with sound, scene access (28 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1 and 2.0) and French (DD 2.0), subtitles: English and French, Closed Captioned

It's been a long while since I've seen an Arnold Schwarzenegger film that I liked, so I have to admit that I was more than a little hesitant to see The 6th Day. I found End of Days to be too hokey and farfetched for its own good, and I don't know if anyone would mind forgetting Batman and Robin (though the blame for that waste pile can't lay entirely on Schwarzenegger's shoulders). Maybe it was this lowered expectation, or maybe the stars lined up just right in the sky, but indulgent excesses and all, I really enjoyed The 6th Day. It's similar in tone to the superior Total Recall and is his most enjoyable film since Eraser.

The 6th Day is set in the near future. This is a future not too far off, technology-wise, from The Jetsons, where flying transports shares the roadways with automobiles. Adam (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is a pilot for an outdoor adventure agency and makes frequent trips to the mountains with his co-pilot Hank (Michael Rapaport). He's also a dedicated family man (aren't they always in these films?). But when Adam heads home for a surprise birthday party, he finds someone else at home with his family and friends - his clone. You see, the cloning of animals as pets is commonplace, but human cloning has been outlawed and is strictly monitored by the government. But that apparently hasn't stopped someone from attempting to clone, and replace, Adam. And when the culprit, Michael Drucker (the head of a corporation hell-bent on making the world accept the benefits of cloning, played by Tony Goldwyn), realizes that the real Adam is still very much alive, he and his group of rebels try their hardest to do away with Adam to cover their asses.

The remainder of The 6th Day plays out like a high-tech cat and mouse chase, and weaves in and out of its complex (sometimes TOO complex) plot. Thankfully, it's an interesting premise - what could happen if cloning were to become an everyday occurrence - and the film doesn't get overly preachy about the good and evil of technology. The 6th Day also has a good sense of humor about its subject matter, with the filmmakers keeping in mind that taking such material too seriously could inadvertently become a joke. Director Roger Spottiswoode (Tomorrow Never Dies) knows his way around action sequences and he proves it again here. The 6th Day doesn't completely live up to its potential as an action film, and it spends too much time toying around with the novelties of the future. What is does manage to do is to go for broke where it counts in Arnie films - spectacular action sequences and exceptionally loud explosions.

On DVD, The 6th Day presents a nearly flawless picture. Film grain is negligible and flesh tones are smooth and precise, helping to create a very natural looking picture. Black level and shadow detailing are also excellent, and lend an almost three-dimensional look to the film. There are one or two instances where light digital artifacting is apparent, but never is it so bad as to become distracting. This is a good video effort from Columbia.

On the audio side, we get a very nice Dolby Digital 5.1 track. There's a lot of action in the mix - both the rear and front channels are ripe with directional effects that help to create a definite sense of space. The LFE channel is very aggressive when it needs to be and really adds some kick to the mix. Dialogue is accurately maintained front and center, and there's good balance all around between music and effects. The audio definitely adds to the overall experience of the film. Note that the alternate 2.0 surround mix is also well done.

As thrilled as I was with the presentation of the film, the same can't be said for the extras. Originally planned as a special edition, The 6th Day was released domestically with only a handful of the initially announced features. What really sucks about the whole deal (as I'm sure many of you are aware) is that overseas markets WILL still get the original extra features. As it is, what's left is fair enough, but the disc lacks the attraction of a full-featured special edition. The audio commentary/isolated score, featuring composer Trevor Rabin, is surprisingly thorough and engaging. He speaks in-depth about the process of scoring The 6th Day, but the track also acts as a short primer of sorts for those who want to find out more about the work that goes into composing for film. Also included are the TV spot and infomercial for RePet, which are extensions of the versions shown in the film. They're entertaining the first go-around, but I don't think you'll want to see them more than once. You'll also find some brief cast and crew bios to peruse through. The disc advertises some production notes, but they're found on the disc's insert sheet... not on the disc itself (which is always a lame special feature in our book). Topping off the features are the film's theatrical trailer, as well as other Columbia sci-fi trailers, including Gattaca (must this trailer be on EVERY Columbia DVD?), the feature-packed Hollow Man and the highly-anticipated Final Fantasy. That's as exciting as this disc gets.

It's sad to see how Schwarzenegger's career has taken a big dip over the past five or six years. I kind of hoped that The 6th Day would turn things around. It got good marks from critics, but it never really sparked with audiences and the film's domestic take didn't even equal the cost of production. At the rate things are going, it seems it won't be long before Arnie starts turning in direct-to-video fare. Let's hope it doesn't happen. In the meantime, if you're in for some mindless thrills, you can't go wrong with The 6th Day. It's a fun film, it looks great on DVD and it's a good way to show off your sound system to your friends.

Dan Kelly
dankelly@thedigitalbits.com




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