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A group of renegade marine commandos seizes a stockpile of chemical weapons and takes over Alcatraz, with 81 tourists as hostages. Their leader, a former highly-decorated U.S. general, demands $100 million to be paid in ransom, as restitution to families of soldiers who died in covert operations and were thereby denied compensation. Otherwise, he is threatening to launch 15 rockets carrying deadly VX nerve gas into the San Francisco Bay area. An elite SEAL team, with support from an FBI chemical warfare expert and a former Alcatraz escapee, is assembled to penetrate the terrorists' defenses on Alcatraz and neutralize the rocket threat before time runs out.
For more about The Rock and the The Rock Blu-ray release, see The Rock Blu-ray Review published by Ben Williams on January 20, 2008 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Sean Connery, Ed Harris, Michael Biehn, William Forsythe, David Morse
Director: Michael Bay
» See full cast & crew
The Rock Blu-ray Review
Michael Bay's action classic finds it's rightful home on Blu-ray.
Reviewed by Ben Williams, January 20, 2008
Michael Bay: action auteur, unapologetic maker of films for guys and hero to Blu-ray fans everywhere. Of course when The Rock first found its way to theaters in 1996, Michael Bay was just another young director trying to break into the business. He'd already found success with Bad Boys, but The Rock was the film that would firmly establish him as a major player in Hollywood. I fondly remember seeing the film on opening night with a group of friends. Its always been at the top of my list of great action movies and this Blu-ray edition does nothing to change that.
Dr. Stanley Goodspeed (Nicolas Cage) lives the sweet life in Chicago as a chemist for the FBI. He spends his days inspecting suspicious packages, collecting Beatles albums and stringing his long-suffering girlfriend along. His world will change in an instant as he is assigned to investigate a hostage crisis on Alcatraz Island that involves some nasty chemical weapons aimed directly at San Francisco. To make matters worse, the FBI has teamed him up with a mysterious federal prisoner, John Mason (Sean Connery). Being the only man to ever escape from the infamous prison, Mason has special, inside knowledge of Alcatraz. He's the only man who can help Goodspeed and a team of Navy Seals storm the prison and whisk the deadly chemical weapons to safety.
The Rock works on a number of levels, but primarily for me, because of how purely entertaining it is. The action set-pieces are well crafted and, although completely over the top, manage to move the story along nicely. The various actors in the film all appear to be having a great time and that translates effectively to the audience. Sean Connery is remarkable in that at the age of 65, he comes off as youthful and rather intimidating. Nicolas Cage is effective and Ed Harris, as the intense General Hummel, is fantastically brooding. All in all, The Rock is a thoroughly entertaining film with outstanding action sequences and exceptional character interplay. If for some strange reason you have yet to see the film, you've been missing out on one of the best pure action movies of the last several decades. Recommended!
The Rock Blu-ray, Video Quality
Disney continues to impress with their commitment to high-bitrate AVC encodes. The Rock benefits from this with its frenetic camera movements and action scenes. There is never a trace of pixelation or picture breakup and colors are exquisite. I compared this Blu-ray encode to the picture on my Criterion edition of The Rock and the increase in detail and resolution is stunning. The Blu-ray edition also appeared much more film like and showed a vast improvement in shadow detail and black levels. Being over a decade old, The Rock is shot in a manner that might not appeal to those who are on the lookout for grain-free digitally enhanced film. The film has been kept in excellent condition, without a trace of dirt or any print-related issues. Ultimately, this AVC encode faithfully recreates the cinematic experience that was intended. The Rock looks amazing on Blu-ray.
The Rock Blu-ray, Audio Quality
If the improvements in picture aren't enough to make this disc a must-buy, the stellar PCM 5.1 track on The Rock should seal the deal. I did a few A/B comparisons between this track and the Dolby Digital track present on the disc, and the results are dramatic. Overall fidelity has been improved with a clarity to the mix that has been missing on DVD all these years. Conversational dialogue is also greatly improved. I noticed an element of hissing in the sharp consonants of the Dolby Digital version. This was completely eliminated in PCM - - every syllable was intelligible and crystal clear. The biggest upgrade comes in the form of the overall atmosphere of the mix. Once again, PCM created a real sense of three-dimensionality that just wasn't there in Dolby Digital. Directional effects were much more dramatic in PCM with gunfire and low frequency effects packing a solid and gut-wrenching punch. The Rock is reference grade!
The Rock Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Here's what's included:
-Audio Commentary with Michael Bay, Jerry Bruckheimer, Nicolas Cage, Ed Harris and Harry Humphries
-The Rock World Premier
-Navy SEALs on the Range
-Hollywood: Humphries and Teague
-Special Effects for Dive
-Action Effects: Movie Magic
-Secrets of Alcratraz
-Interview with Jerry Bruckheimer
Much has been made of the inclusion of all the supplements from the original Criterion release of The Rock on this Blu-ray release. Indeed, this is the case, as every last Criterion-produced supplement is on this disc. While all of the material is presented in 480i, there are still quite a few exceptional extras included. The audio commentary with Bay, Bruckheimer, Cage, Harris and Humphries is very enlightening and entertaining. Bay and Bruckheimer are both very passionate about their work and it shows. I also really enjoyed the "Secrets of Alcatraz" featurette. It's a nice point of reference for those who might not be privy to the history of the famous prison. The various special effects featurettes are also nicely done and let the viewer in on some of the more technical aspects of filming an action movie like The Rock. All in all, this is another solid effort from Disney and by including the same special features as the original DVD, purchasers of this set can feel free to sell off their original copy.
The Rock Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
In my book, The Rock is the classic definition of a big budget action picture. There are guns, cars and enough explosions to keep even the most serious action junkie satisfied. The Rock is a unique experience in that the producers saw fit to include a real plot as well as characters that the audience might actually care about. Heck, even the bad guys are sympathetic! As far as this Blu-ray edition is concerned, picture and audio quality are exceptional with Disney continuing their streak of producing some of the finest Blu-ray releases in the business. Special Features are also quite robust and owners of the Criterion edition of The Rock can safely get rid of those DVDs. In the end, this is a must-own title from Disney. Highly Recommended!
The Rock: Other Editions
The Rock Blu-ray, News and Updates
• The Rock, Con Air, and Crimson Tide Re-dated - October 17, 2007
Buena Vista Home Entertainment has announced that they have finally rescheduled a trio of action flicks which were postponed earlier this year. The Rock and Con Air will get a Blu-ray release on January 8th, followed the next month by Crimson Tide. No specs have ...
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