The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: 20th Century Fox - 2013
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 98 minutes
Disc Format: BD-25
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Starring: Ed Harris, David Duchovny, William Fichtner
Written & Directed by: Todd Robinson
Music by: Jeff Rona
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: June 25, 2013
At the height of the cold war, the world holds its breath when a Soviet submarine armed with nuclear missiles goes missing in the Pacific. On board the vessel, the battle-tested captain (Harris) and a rogue KGB agent (Duchovny) are waging a life-and-death game of cat and mouse. With enemy forces closing in and time running out, the captain fights to keep control with nuclear armageddon hanging in the balance.
Phantom is loosely inspired by the story of the K129, a Soviet nuclear submarine that is believed to have gone rogue in late 1960’s. The plot here revolves around a sub captain, his executive officer, political officer and crew that are given an assignment to man an older submarine that has been retrofitted with a new device known as the Phantom which they are to test. Accompanying them are two passengers whose purpose, at least initially, is unclear however what is clear is that they are operating under the authority of the KGB. Once they are at sea the identity of the two passengers and the details/operation of the device the sub is equipped with are no longer in question. What are in question is their intent and the true nature of their mission.
I tend to like submarine based films probably because the boat itself serves as a character that enlivens the drama and tension of those coping with whatever the particular theme of the story is. When talking about nuclear submarines the elephant in the room is of course the ability to unleash world changing mayhem and the significance of decisions made by the commander and crew. Loosely based on actual events or not Phantom suffers from tedium, a lack of thoroughly involving suspense, genuine characters and a distracting feeling of it has been done before and better. At times its melodrama reminded me a little of Crimson Tide although much of that was owed to the specific nature of the plot rather than any palpably defining moments.
From a technical/procedural perspective it certainly isn’t bad but the action lacks intensity and the integral subplot involving the Captain is underdeveloped. I didn’t care for the ending at all and thought that it came off as overly melodramatic and unnecessary. The cast, Ed Harris, William Fichtner, and David Duchovny do a commendable job in their respective roles which is probably the film’s biggest asset. With a better script Phantom probably could have been better. It isn’t a bad film per se it just isn’t a memorable one which based on the background of its story is a shame.
The rating is for violence.
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:
Phantom comes to Blu-ray Disc from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 19 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.9 Mbps.
Intentionally this film won’t impress with a deep, vibrant color palette or glossy, razor sharp high definition imagery. It offers fair delineation, stable sharpness and crisp definition. Colors are limited to various shades of gray, blue, brown and green. Splashes of red are sprinkled throughout. This keeps it looking a little drab but not out of the ordinary based upon the subject matter. Depth during wide angle camera views ebbs and flows but this appears innate to the photography and the limited perspective offered by the dim settings used in the film. Blacks appear black in most cases and detail in low light and shadowy backgrounds is quite good. I didn’t see any signs of video related artifacts.
Any complaints I have about Phantom as a film aren’t applicable to its soundtrack on Blu-ray. This 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack is fairly aggressive and features an active surround mix that has extended dynamic range that positively renders the involving nature of the elements in the recording. The mix transform the listening area into a three dimensional sound field filled via immersive surround activity that mates perfectly with the events unfolding onscreen. Low frequency effects produce deep bass that rumbles with tactile authority as it pressurizes the room. Dialogue is reproduced with lucid expression and exacting clarity that produced just the slightest hint of sibilance in the upper registers. This is a wonderfully involving sound design that features high level sonic detail, superb directional correlation and rhythmically charged bass extension. My advice is to crank this one up, sit back and enjoy.
- (HD) Facing the apocalypse: Making Phantom – 13 minute featurette
- (HD) The real Phantom – 6 minute featurette
- (HD) Jeff Rona: Scoring Phantom – 3 minute featurette
- (HD) “An ocean away” music video
- Audio commentary by Todd Robinson and Ed Harris
- Digital HD/Ultraviolet
Loosely inspired on actual events Phantom is a mediocre submarine thriller that fails to live up to its subject matter and cast. It comes to Blu-ray Disc from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment featuring solid high definition video quality, a fair supplemental package and a terrific DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack that elevates the film’s experience. Give it a rent if for no other reason than to check out its audio presentation on Blu-ray.
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