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Featured Blu-ray Review: Minority Report

April 17th, 2010

Minority Report - Blu-ray - Buy from Amazon

Minority Report is one of about a dozen Philip K. Dick stories that have been adapted into movies over the years (including a few that were either not released domestically, are currently awaiting a distributor, or are in production). The author was known for creating films about the complex nature of reality: the impossibility of ever knowing what is real. Too many of these adaptations miss the point and are little more than action films. Sometimes fun actions films. Sometimes really bad action films. Minority Report is arguably the biggest adaptation, costing more than $100 million to make back in 2002. But is it the best?

First a note: this movie came out eight years ago and has been released on DVD previously, so I will spend less time on the film and more on what makes the Blu-ray better than the DVD.

The film takes place in the near future at a Washington, D.C. police station. Officer John Anderton works in Precrime, an experimental division of the police that uses the powers of three psychics ("precogs") to predict when a crime will happen, then arrest and imprison the would-be criminal. Needless to say, this is controversial. However, it has proven effective. After a quick review, it will be taken national. It is during this review that the precogs predict that John Anderton will kill a man. John Anderton escapes the manhunts that follow, only to return to capture one of the precogs to learn more about the prediction and make sure it doesn't come true. Of course, there are forces looking to make sure he doesn't succeed.

I mentioned that Minority Report is arguably the biggest Philip K. Dick adaptation, but I asked if it was the best. No, it is not. Blade Runner is clearly the better adaptation and deals with the source material themes better, even if Ridley Scott and Philip K. Dick didn't exactly agree. Minority Report takes a very intellectual idea and turns it into an action movie. Yes, a very well made and slick action movie, but an action move nonetheless with some scenes in particular that feel completely out of place. It does deal with some of the ideas from the story, but it misses the opportunity to be truly great.

Looking at the Two-Disc Blu-ray, we see that there are no extras on the first disc. I knew there wouldn't be a director's commentary track, as Steven Spielberg has a dislike for them, or at the very least doesn't do them. Perhaps he likes listening to them. However, I was hoping for a Picture-in-Picture track or something that really pushed the technology.

That's not to say that there are no extras. After all, it is a two-disc set. These extras include features from the previous DVD release (featurettes on the stunts, featurettes on the special effects, storyboards, image galleries, etc.). In total, it's more than an hour and a half of features. The new extras start with The Future According to Stephen Spielberg, a 34-minute, interactive interview with the director that includes a number of side bits on various topics. There are a lot of fascinating topics here, but I think the interactivity feels unnecessary. Inside the World of Precrime is a 10-minute featurette on the Precrime division. It treats the subject as if it were real and not a fictional creation, which adds style and provides plenty of information. Phillip K. Dick, Steven Spielberg, and Minority Report is a 14-minute featurette on the adaptation of the short story and some of the changes made. For instance, in the short story, Tom Cruise's character was short, balding, fat, and middle-aged. You can see why this was changed. Minority Report: Future Realized is a 6-minute featurette on some of the tech from the movie that is being made today, specifically the computer interface. Minority Report: Props of the Future spends 10 minutes looking at some of the props used in the movie. There are two featurettes From the Set that look at the some of the scenes being filmed that run a combined 9 minutes long. Minority Report: Commercials of the Future looks at how the media of the future is presented in the movie. In total it is about 90 minutes of new material, all presented in High Definition. An excellent collection that compensates for the lack of extras on the first disc.

Moving onto the film's technical presentation... the film looks about as good as you can expect. The film has muted colors and quite a bit of film grain, but that's how the director wants the movie to look. The transfer itself is great. The audio is just as strong, with dialogue that is clear and makes good use of surround speakers, directionality, etc. Everything you would expect from a $100 million movie.

The Verdict

I'm still waiting for the perfect Philip K. Dick movie. Minority Report is a good movie, but in terms of dealing with the intellectual ideas, it is closer to Total Recall than Blade Runner. That said, the movie is worth checking out, while the Blu-ray is worth picking up.

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