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MINORITY REPORT
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Reviewed by: Pat Torfe

Directed by: Steven Spielberg

Starring:
Tom Cruise
Colin Farrell
Max Von Sydow
Samantha Morton

Movie:  
star star star star
Extras:  
star star star star
Overall:  
star star star star
What's it about

The year is 2054. A team of three "precogs" (psychics) are employed to see crime before before it occurs, allowing police to see the images that the precogs see and work to solve the crime from what images they are given. One of the heads of the Precrime force is Chief John Anderton (Tom Cruise), a man who has never recovered from the loss of his son a few years ago. The precogs, who are thought to be never wrong, report a possible crime that involves Anderton himself, with the victim a man that he's never met. As such, Anderton goes on the run to find out if either the precogs are wrong, or if he's been set up.

Is it good movie?

I'm almost always a sucker for these dystopian future films (and literature, for that matter). There's just something about them that screams 'What if?' and makes for fun times. With MINORITY REPORT, based on a Phillip K. Dick's short story, things were looking good right from the start. After all, this was the same dude behind stories called BLADE RUNNER, TOTAL RECALL and A SCANNER DARKLY. Throw in a Mr. Steven Spielberg to direct with a Mr. Tom Cruise as the protagonist, the potential was off the charts. Question is, does the result live up to the potential?

Right away, I have to give it to Spielberg, who once again goes all out in order to get his vision across. Keeping things somewhat grounded in the present with familiar buildings and landmarks, but also mixing in futuristic elements that seem plausible (in fact, some are a few years away), makes MINORITY REPORT instantly attractive. Adding to that the knowledge that Spielberg invited well-known futurists to help him build up a credible futuristic setting only gives more to Spielberg's smarts. In addition to the sets, I loved the stylistic look of the film. Deliberately overlighting the entire picture and fiddling around with the saturation of the colours produces a film noir look that helps once again to draw you in. Fantastic stuff!

Acting-wise, everyone is on the ball. Cruise does well with his first effort with Spielberg, even channeling his Ethan Hunt for some of it. Cruise also brings along some great emotion with the character, who is still shaken with the loss of his son. Colin Farrell shows shades of what we'd get from him in DAREDEVIL, PHONE BOOTH and S.W.A.T., and we love him for it. Max von Sydow as Anderton's superior is also a welcome treat, even if I keep thinking of Father Merrin every time I see him. In all, everyone involved accentuates the themes in the film, and bring about great results.

If there were any stumbles, it would be found in MINORITY REPORT's climax, which went on for too long after it seemed things were just about to wrap up. It seemed like Spielberg decided to play a trick card on us and give us a sort of drawn-out generic happy ending instead of going the more ambiguous downbeat route that would played much better had the film ended 30 minutes earlier. In some ways, it reminds me of the situation with BLADE RUNNER's alternate ending, which makes one wonder if Hollywood was sticking too close to the tried-and-true method of how a story plays out back in 2002 (read: they were and still are today).

MINORITY REPORT as a whole does a great job of living up to its billing, presenting a credible, futuristic story that provokes the typical yet relevant questions about the inevitability of crime, and whether the price of safeguarding society to prevent crime is worth it. Both visually and aurally exciting, the effects don't dominate the film and do their job of supporting the story, as do the actors and their strong performances. Everything, not just everyone, runs.

Video / Audio

Video: This "Spielberg-approved HD Master" is one of beauty. Coming in at a 1080p, 2.39:1 widescreen transfer, MINORITY REPORT thankfully retains a layer of grain that helps give the movie a wonderfully gritty feeling, while still keeping a great level of fine detail that only serves to accentuate the thematic elements of the story. Colour-wise, the visual tone is consistently bleak and spectacular. A spectacular transfer, indeed.

Audio: Complementing the visuals is some ear-candy in the form of a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track. Never too quiet or too aggressive, the track is delightfully atmospheric and immersive. Wrapping things up is the another great score by John Williams. Also included are French Dolby Digital 5.1 and Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 tracks.

The Extras

Bringing back the original DVD extras presented in 480p (which were quite good to begin with) and packing in some great new extras (which mix in some previous extras footage with new stuff) presented in 1080p, Paramount shows the film some lovin'.

Spielberg still hasn't given in to the commentary bug yet, so we don't get him yakking with us on the film. Instead, we get a new half-hour doc entitled The Future According to Steven Spielberg: An Interactive Guide to Minority Report. This puppy has Spielberg and company going over topics such as the origins of the project, technologies, believability and so on. This doc includes various additional footage that's been culled from other features around the disc, as well as the film's storyboards and concept art, interviews and behind-the-scenes footage and still photographs.

Inside the World of Precrime is a fictional advertisement for and overview of how the precrime program works. The piece is supported by clips from the film, as well as concept art, and intercut with a futuristic commercial for Lexus.

Next up is Phillip K. Dick, Steven Spielberg, and 'Minority Report', which features Dick's daughter, Isa Dick Hackett; Dick's biographer Gregg Rickman, MINORITY REPORT Science & Technology Advisor John Underkoffler, MINORITY REPORT's Screenwriter Scott Frank, and Production Designer Alex McDowell. This one looks at the man that was Phillip K. Dick, the themes of the film, the movie's look and tone, changes between the story and film (of which there were quite a few), the story's social commentary, the participation of Tom Cruise, and what Dick might think of his fame today.

The next few new pieces are small bits that could've been put together into a larger doc instead of standing by themselves, but hey. Minority Report: Future Realized looks at the advanced real-world technology utilized in the film, while Minority Report: Props of the Future examines the props found in the film, including the wooden balls, data gloves, the helmet worn by Agatha, the "sick stick," the "halo," and more. Highlights From 'Minority Report:' From the Set looks at the construction and filming of two scenes (the Hoverpack Sequence and Car Factory Sequence), while Minority Report: Commercials of the Future looks at the role of personalized media and advertisements in the future world, which is pretty creepy when you think about it. Rounding out the Blu-Ray exclusives are two Previz Sequences for the Hoverpack Sequence and Maglev Escape, which feature a split-screen view with the previz sequence on the top and, in a smaller box below, the final scene from the film.

Now onto the original featurettes from the DVD release, starting off with From Story to Screen, which is broken into two parts: The Story/The Debate offers a brief overview of how Spielberg and Cruise came to work on the project, along with the story and its themes, while The Players looks at the actors and the parts they play.

Deconstructing 'Minority Report' was the original five-part feature that looked at the film's world, starting with The World of 'Minority Report' -- An Introduction. This one looks at the film's world and technology, the look of the film, and its soundtrack. Precrime and Precogs looks at the set and prop designs of the Precrime building and the Precog chamber, as well as a look at the weapons and gadgets used by the Precrime officers. The Spyder Sequence looks at how this complex sequence was assembled, while Precog Visions looks at how the jumbled Precog visions were created and implemented into the film. Finally, Vehicles of the Future provides an overview of the futuristic vehicles and their methods of propulsion as seen in the film.

The Stunts of 'Minority Report' is another one of those featurettes broken up into small bites. This three-parter looks at how some of the film's stunt work was achieved, highlighting the Maglev Escape, Hoverpack Chase, and Car Factory. Again, if those sound familiar, it's because they are.

ILM and 'Minority Report' is a (surprise!) six-part feature that examines the construction of some of the effects seen in the film, including Holograms, Hall of Containment, Maglev, Hovercraft and Hoverpacks, and Cyber Parlor. Final Report features cast and crew recounting their memories of the making of the film, with parts you've seen in the Blu-Ray exclusives.

Production Concepts is a five-piece segment that features (what else?) concept images for the Precrime, Hovership, Hoversuit, Hall of Containment, and Spyders sequences. Additionally, there are storyboard sequences overlaid with audio from the film for the Maglev Sequence, Alley Chase, and Car Factory scenes (getting deja-vu yet?).

Rounding out the extras are three trailers for the film, all presented in 1080p, and a slipcase featuring a holographic cover.

While I give credit to Paramount for packing on the extras, a lot of stuff is recycled over and over, which is a let down. Still, there's plenty of info to snack on here, even though Spielberg is scared of sitting down and actually talking about the film while it's playing.

Last Call

Despite having a problem with dragging on for too long, MINORITY REPORT is a great little sci-fi action piece that provokes questions, just as any good dystopian/utopian film should. While the new extras are nice, recycling footage and topics over and over is a little tiresome, as are the deceptiveness of the amount of them. Still, this is a great package with great sound and visuals. Grab it for another ego-stroking demo of your home entertainment system.

ARROW IN THE HEAD'S RATING SYSTEM
star star star star I'D BUTCHER MY FAMILY TO SEE THIS AGAIN
star star star HANG ME BUT I DUG IT A LOT
star star AN OK WAY TO KILL TWO HOURS
star JUST SLING AN ARROW IN MY HEAD AND LET ME DIE IN PEACE

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