The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Paramount - 2002
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 123 Minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: MPEG-4 (AVC)
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
Audio Format(s): English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, French/Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish, French, Portuguese
Starring: Ben Affleck, Morgan Freeman, James Cromwell, Bridget Moynihan, Live Schriber, Alan Bates,
Directed by: Phil Alden Anderson
Music by: Jerry Goldsmith
Written by: Paul Attanasio & Daniel Pyne based upon the novel by Tom Clancy
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: July 29, 2008
"27,000 Nuclear Weapons. One is missing"
Ben Affleck is ready for action, commanding the role of CIA agent Jack Ryan in this thrilling adventure based on the Tom Clancy bestseller. America's Cold War fears are rekindled after the President of Russia dies and is succeeded by a man with a cryptic past. But East-West tensions erupt when the CIA suspects that renegade Russian scientists are developing more nuclear weapons. Mobilized into action by CIA Director William Cabot (Morgan Freeman), Jack Ryan (Affleck) follows a danger-ridden trail to a shocking conclusion: terrorists plan to provoke a war between the U.S. and Russia - by detonating a nuclear bomb at a championship football game! Costarring James Cromwell and Liev Schreiber, The Sum of All Fears adds up to the year's most explosive entertainment.
My Take:I saw The sum of all fears when it was first released on DVD and remember liking it. I can’t say that Ben Affleck as Jack Ryan is palatable however the film on its own offers a decent script, solid casting and good special effects. I don’t think that starting over with Ryan as a young CIA analyst really worked but seeing as Harrison Ford opted out of the project I can see where a new direction was needed. Affleck was available and the script had to be re-worked which is where the concept of a younger Jack Ryan came from. For me it seemed like it had little to do with Jack Ryan other than the character’s name. Since I have not read the novel that is how I tried to approach the film. After watching it for a second time I found that I still liked it. There were lots of familiar character actors who as a whole lent an air of credibility to the cast. The main players, Freeman, Cromwell, Schreiber, and Hinds were all quite good in their respective roles. I think Ben Affleck is okay but don’t consider him to be a particularly good actor. He seems to know his limitations and rarely works outside of them. This is a fun film that is fairly predictable but has enough of the right ingredients to make it entertaining none the less.
The rating is for violence, disaster images, and brief strong language. The rating is on the mark which would make this one no problem for viewers 13 and older.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
The sum of all fears comes to Blu-ray Disc from Paramount featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 32 mbps and lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 channel audio that has an average bitrate of 3.4 mbps.
The video presentation was reminiscent of a fairly newer film and looked good overall. Resolution was solid enough that detail was rendered well in most respects. I was able to clearly see the texture of fabrics and on the surfaces of objects. This was sometimes dependent on the shot because there were times where the visible level of detail waned. This was not occurring consistently but when it did it lessened dimensional perspective. Detail within the backgrounds and dark areas during the various low lighting sequences in the film was revealing of good visible structure and depth of field. Blacks were contrast rich and deep with plenty of dynamic range. Colors were cleanly reproduced with vivid textures and slight over saturation in the primaries. Fleshtones leaned toward red which gave the impression of excessive sun exposure on the medium skin complexions among the cast. This was less evident on lighter and darker skin tones. Grain was present and more evident in low light but didn’t impede detail perception. I noticed some low level noise on the White House in background during the last scene in the film. It was minor/brief and I can’t say for sure what it was attributable to. There appears to be signs of artificial sharpening which sometimes gave the video a harder edge. I didn't notice any excessive ringing though. Other than that I didn’t notice any signs of compression related anomalies or video artifacts.
Like the video the audio presentation was about what I expected from a newer digital movie soundtrack. It’s funny but the one aspect about this film that stood out in my mind from memory was the impact of the nuclear explosion that takes place in the second act. I remember thinking that it sounded pretty good on DVD. Well the high dynamic quality inherent in lossless audio breathed new life into that scene and it sounded excellent. The detonation hit quick and with visceral impact that was authoritative and potent. The sounds of crashing vehicles, breaking glass, showering debris and swirling winds filled the room sound that emanated from every direction. Bass was produced with clean, tight and relatively deep extension that resonated with tactile feeling. I wouldn’t classify this as an aggressive surround mix but it had an aggressive nature at times that was rewarding. Sound effects were rendered with clear articulation and accurate placement within the sound field. Dialogue was distinct in clarity and open in its presentation which made voices easily recognizable. I was pleased with the track’s ability to clearly render the subtle as well as the boisterous elements present in the recording. I think that the audio and video struck a very nice balance which made it all the more enjoyable.
The bonus supplements are the same ones offered on the 2003 DVD release. There are two audio commentary tracks both of which are fairly interesting. The second track which features Tom Clancy and Director Phil Robinson is the better of the two. The making of feature piece is broken down into two segments. One discusses the casting for the film and the other discusses how the film was developed, entered production and shot. Together these totaled approximately 30 minutes and offered behind the scenes footage, cast interviews and insights from the production team. The creating reality piece takes a look at the visual effects used to create 5 sequences used in the film. The theatrical trailer (in high definition) rounded things out.
- Audio Commentary with Director Phil Alden Anderson and Cinematographer John Lindley
- Audio Commentary with Director Phil Alden Anderson and novelist Tom Clancy
- The making of The sum of all fears: Cautionary Tales – Production - Casting
- Creating Reality: The visual effects of The sum of all fears
- (HD) Theatrical Trailer
The sum of all fears is the weakest of the Jack Ryan films but it is certainly not a bad movie. Personally I like the casting, special effects and story line which has enough going for it to keep it entertaining for the films 2 hour runtime. Its introduction to high definition Blu-ray Disc includes solid audio/video quality as well as the bonus package contained on the original DVD release. Additional Blu-ray capable features would have been nice and perhaps in Paramount will utilize those capabilities on future title releases.
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