Mystic River DVD Review

Who would have thought that Dirty Harry himself would go on to direct one of best character-driven murder mysteries of all time? I don't think anyone could have believed, it even just five years ago. But, with some of the most talented actors and a superb script, Clint Eastwood put it all together for one of the years best. Three childhood friends, Sean (Kevin Bacon), Dave (Tim Robbins), and Jimmy (Sean Penn), are split apart when a man acting as a police officer kidnaps one of their own. Years later, each have taken their own path. But, when Jimmy's daughter is brutally murdered, the three friends are all brought back together, each playing some role in the mystery. This is one of the most well written movies I've ever seen. Every little piece of information necessary to the film is brought out in conversation. This is a movie you need to listen to carefully to really understand the characters and their actions. All of this is helped by the stunning and believable performances by the entire cast. The film would go on to win two Academy Awards, one for Sean Penn, the other for Tim Robbins. Needless to say, they deserved it. Sean Penn especially brings out pure emotion in a few scenes that help make the entire movie seem more believable. As if all of this wasn't enough, along comes an ending that will sweep in from out of nowhere and completely blind side you. There are minimal clues giving through the two-hour running time, but if your really paying attention, you have a small opportunity to figure it out. The only real problem with the movie is that once you know the outcome, there is little reason to come back. The performances are certainly worth reviewing again, but sticking through it multiple times may prove difficult. Still, if there was anything holding you back from picking this one up at the video store, now you have no excuse. (**** out of *****) Mystic River is presented in 2.35:1 widescreen. A separate pan & scan version is available separately if for some reason your interested. The colors here are muted on purpose so nothing here will stun you. The contrast it set quite high and in a few sequences it's almost blinding. Still, compression problems and grain are minimal if not completely absent for the majority of the film. (****) As a strictly dialogue driven movie, you really can't expect this one to rock your home theater even though 5.1 Surround is the only option. The few scenes where the rear surrounds are called on use them to perfection. Some of the words can be hard to hear (if not impossible) when the characters are speaking softly which led me to turn on the subtitles a few times to make sure I caught everything. Otherwise, everything comes through clear without any distortion. (***) There are two separate versions of this film available. One is a single disc edition with absolutely no features and 3-disc set that includes the soundtrack. I had every intention of reviewing the 3-disc, but I was unable to find a copy. Here is a list of features from the 3-disc set, unfortunately, from amazon.com: Commentary by actors Tim Robbins and Kevin Bacon "Beneath the Surface" - featurette with cast and crew interviews "From Page to Screen" - making of the film featurette Selections from "The Charlie Rose Show" - full-length interviews with Clint Eastwood, Tim Robbins and Kevin Bacon Two trailers Complete CD soundtrack Widescreen anamorphic format The single disc edition doesn't even feature a trailer so if you need to have something extra with your films, avoid this one completely and go right for the special edition. (no stars) If the almost constant critical praise was not enough to force you into watching this film, then there is really very little left to say that hasn't been said elsewhere. This is a must-see movie and one that deserved every award it was given. Every single actor gives everything they have and this makes for one of the most gripping thrillers in some time.

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