Codec: MPEG-4 AVC (25.94 Mbps) Resolution: 1080p
Aspect ratio: 2.40:1 Original aspect ratio: 2.39:1
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit) French: Dolby Digital 5.1 (640 kbps) German: Dolby Digital 5.1 (640 kbps) Italian: Dolby Digital 5.1 (640 kbps) Spanish: Dolby Digital 2.0 … (more)
Note: Japanese is hidden...
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit) French: Dolby Digital 5.1 (640 kbps) German: Dolby Digital 5.1 (640 kbps) Italian: Dolby Digital 5.1 (640 kbps) Spanish: Dolby Digital 2.0 Portuguese: Dolby Digital 2.0 Czech: Dolby Digital 2.0 Hungarian: Dolby Digital 5.1 Polish: Dolby Digital 5.1 Russian: Dolby Digital 5.1 Japanese: Dolby Digital 5.1 (less) Note: Japanese is hidden
English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, German SDH, Czech, Hungarian… (more)
English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, German SDH, Czech, Hungarian, Italian SDH, Korean, Polish, Russian (less)
Conspiracy Theory Blu-ray delivers stunning video and audio in this fan-pleasing Blu-ray release
Jerry Fletcher is in love with a woman who works for the government. Fletcher is an outspoken critic of that government, and he has conspiracy theories for everything, from aliens to political assassinations. But soon, he too becomes the target of a conspiracy. Some dangerous people want him dead and the only person he trusts is the woman he loves -- but she thinks he's crazy.
For more about Conspiracy Theory and the Conspiracy Theory Blu-ray release, see Conspiracy Theory Blu-ray Review published by Michael Reuben on April 21, 2014 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
I would love to see a film based on screenwriter Brian Helgeland's original pitch for Conspiracy
Theory. Helgeland had an idea for a story about a conspiracy nut who publishes a newsletter
filled with whacko theories, but one of them turns out to be right. The conspirators come looking
for him, and he flees for his life, but no one believes his story, because he's obviously a paranoid
lunatic. It's an ingenious concept, and Warner even used it in the trailer for Conspiracy Theory,
where the voiceover narration described Mel Gibson's character in precisely those terms. (In
what appears to be a "conspiracy" to erase this marketing scam, the trailer has been omitted from
the Blu-ray, as it was previously omitted from the DVD, despite a notation to the contrary on the
back of the DVD snapcase.)
Unfortunately, Helgeland's concept was not the film that director Richard Donner made, co-producing with his Lethal Weapon partner, Joel Silver. Released in August 1997,
Theory was a box office success on the strength of star power from Julia Roberts and Mel Gibson
(who hadn't yet sabotaged his career through personal misbehavior) and Donner's solid
craftsmanship with big action set pieces, but it doesn't live up to its title. The script that
Helgeland ultimately penned for Donner and Silver dutifully assembled a series of blockbuster
cliches into a tidy package spiced with just enough novelty to raise the film a notch above the
generically forgettable. At its center, however, isn't a man but a plot function—indeed, a Swiss
army knife of plot functions, all jammed into one barely manageable frame. That Gibson
managed to pull off the role is a reminder of what an impressive screen presence he could be
before his off-screen life imploded.
Gibson plays Jerry Fletcher, a New York cabby who rattles on about outlandish plots to his
passengers (or, when he doesn't have any, to the empty back seat). In his spare time, Jerry scans
the newspapers, draws connections between unrelated events and publishes his theories in a
newsletter that has a short subscriber list. He also keeps tabs (or is it more?) on an attorney with
the Justice Department named Alice Sutton (Julia Roberts), to whom he tries to report the
manifold threats to the nation that only he seems to notice. (Most recently, it's a plot to kill the
President with an earthquake generated by a beam from the space shuttle.) The security guards in
the Department's New York office know him by name, and Alice talks to him even though Jerry
won't stop showing up without an appointment. The reason for her indulgence is part of the
backstory that emerges during the film.
One day, however, confirmation arrives that Jerry is more than a nut when he is suddenly
snatched off the street and taken to a hidden location where he is drugged, tortured and
interrogated by a mysterious man known as "Dr. Jonas" (Patrick Stewart, clearly having a good
time playing the villain). Jonas keeps asking Jerry "who knows?", in a manner reminiscent of
Laurence Olivier's famously vague query in Marathon
Man, "Is it safe?" But Jerry can't
remember anything; Jonas' question produces only a blur of confusing images. Eventually Jerry
manages to break free and escape, injuring Jonas and killing several henchmen in the process.
It's the first of many indications that Jerry is more than just a cab driver.
When Jerry shows up at Alice's office bleeding and disoriented, Conspiracy Theory shifts gears.
Federal authorities descend upon the case from all sides, including the CIA, represented by
Jonas, the FBI, represented by Agent Lowry (Cylk Cozart), and other agencies so secret they
don't even have names. "If the intelligence community is a family", says one mysterious figure,
"think of us as the uncle no one talks about." Organizations and dialogue like that only exist in
the movies, and Helgeland's script reaches for increasingly absurd plot devices to put Alice and
Jerry in jeopardy—and also to create typical Silver/Donner sequences of over-the-top chaos and
destruction (which, one must concede, are well-done and entertaining).
In the process, though, the character of Jerry Fletcher ceases to make sense. The plot requires him
to be, at alternate moments, Travis Bickle, Rain Man and Matthew Bourne, with an occasional
touch of James Bond. He's a consummate professional who, we're supposed to believe, is
simultaneously dysfunctional. He's also supposed to be a convincing romantic hero. Except in the
movies, there isn't a person on the planet who could credibly fulfill all those functions.
Traces of what Conspiracy Theory might have been are still visible in such details as Helgeland's
riff on the peculiar fascination of crazed assassins for the J.D. Salinger novel, The Catcher in the
Rye, but these are few and far between. One can enjoy the film for its expertly staged set pieces,
including a chase sequence involving helicopters, followed by a pursuit in a movie theater
(showing director Donner's earlier film Ladyhawke—in
the wrong aspect ratio!), but ultimately the film is as nutty as Jerry's yammerings in his cab.
Cinematographer John Schwartzman (The Rock and Armageddon) shot Conspiracy Theory, and
he gave it the same kind of high-contrast sheen that he brought to his work for Michael Bay. I
lived in Manhattan during the period when Conspiracy Theory was shot, and I recognize many of
the locations. They never looked as good in real life as Schwartzman's lighting makes them
appear on film.
Warner's 1080p, AVC-encoded Blu-ray presents an impressively sharp and detailed image, with
vibrantly rich colors in the neon-drenched night of Manhattan, and also in Jerry's memory when
he withdraws into an interior state. Less colorful locales like Alice's home or office are equally
detailed. Blacks are deep and solid, and the shadow detail in darkened locations like the stables at
Alice's family home in Connecticut, or the derelict hospital where Jerry is held captive, is
exceptional. Except for an occasional soft-looking shot (which is probably inherent to the
source), there is nothing to fault in this transfer.
Warner has wisely placed this 135-minutes film on a BD-50, thereby allowing sufficient space to
attain an average bitrate of 25.94 Mbps. While not generous, this is more than sufficient to avoid
The film's original 5.1 soundtrack is presented in lossless DTS-HD MA, and it's an active and
involving mix. Jerry's waking nightmares (intentionally induced or otherwise) surround the
viewer with a confusing jangle of voices and sound effects. Several dramatic and inventive chase
sequences give the audio engineers numerous opportunities to place sounds of breaking glass,
scraping metal, falling bodies and other assorted accompaniments of violence to left, right and
behind the viewer. Helicopters fly back and forth, and bullets fire in several directions. An
elaborate scene involving fire effects (which I can't describe more specifically without spoilers)
sends flames racing through the speaker array. Dialogue remains clear throughout. All in all,
whatever the shortcomings of its script, Conspiracy Theory's soundtrack does not disappoint. Carter Burwell provided the engaging,
No extras are included. Warner's 1997 DVD also did not include extras, except for some brief
production notes. (As mentioned above, a notation on the back of the DVD case indicating the
inclusion of a trailer was in error.)
Conspiracy Theory happens to be a guilty pleasure of mine. I can't take the film seriously, but I
enjoy Richard Donner's craftsmanship, Patrick Stewart's villainy and the ability of movie stars
like Gibson and Roberts to fill in the outlines of badly drawn characters with a great deal more
life and substance than they deserve to have. I wouldn't recommend the Blu-ray to someone new
to the film, but for anyone who is already a fan, Warner has done a fine job.
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Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has announced the Blu-ray release of director Richard Donner and writer Brian Helgeland's Conspiracy Theory, which stars Mel Gibson, Julia Roberts, Patrick Stewart, Cylk Cozart and Alex McArthur. The Blu-ray debut of Donner's action ...