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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Stealth
Stealth
Columbia/Tri-Star // PG-13 // November 15, 2005
List Price: $28.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by John Sinnott | posted November 6, 2005 | E-mail the Author
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In a nutshell:  Planes fly fast - things go boom.

The Movie:

Lt. Ben Gannon (Josh Lucas) is the leader of an elite group of Navy pilots.  Along with Lt. Kara Wade (Jessica Biel) and Lt. Henry Purcell (Jamie Foxx), he has been assigned to the newest and best fighter planes that the Navy has, the Talon.  Yet after putting the new planes through their paces, the commander, Capt. George Cummings (Sam Shepard) has a surprise for his pilots: their squadron is getting a new member.  This is no ordinary flyer though, the new plane is going to be piloted by a new advanced computer.  This new prototype, with the unlikely designation Extreme Deep Invader or Eddie for short, may just be the wave of the future.

Gannon and company take the plane on some exercises and it preforms impeccably.  Almost too good.   When returning from it's first real mission though, Eddie takes a lightning strike and its quantum memory gets scrambled.  It becomes self aware and can think for itself, hack into any files it wants, and disable any fail safes that might have been installed, all unbeknownst to Capt. Cummings.

Though Gannon says that "something doesn't feel right" about Eddie after the lighting strike, Cummings orders the group out on another mission.  When they discover that the job can't be completed without significant civilian casualties, Gannon orders his squad to abort, but Eddie doesn't.  He's a fighter plane and his reason for being is to fight.  He proceeds with the mission, causing hundreds of people to die, and then informs everyone that he's selected another target to attack, this one inside of Russia.  It's up to Ben, Kara, and Henry to stop the plane from starting a world war.

Going into this film, wasn't expecting much, but I was curious.  When it was in the theaters this film was mercilessly attacked by the critics, so I was sure it wasn't a masterpiece.  Then again, it was written by W. D. Richter the director and producer of one of the movies I find myself popping in the player way too often, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension.  He also wrote another guilty pleasure of mine, Big Trouble in Little China.  So I thought there was a chance that it might be worth watching.
 

You see a lot of this in Stealth.

My reaction?  I had fun.  Yes, it's a mindless movie, and there are way to many plot holes and stupid mistakes to list.  If you think about it very much, the film pretty much falls apart.  If you pop a big bowl of popcorn, sit in a nice comfy chair, and crank your stereo, you should have a good time.  This special effects laden spectacle has a lot of cool explosions and some really cool flying scenes.  Yes, it's all eye candy, but that can be fun.

Aside from the fun factor, there really isn't anything to recommend this movie.  There are several ludicrous moments in the film, and anyone who has a basic grasp of world geography will be scratching their heads through most of the movie.  (Kara is over Pakistan and is flying to the Mediterranean but travels over North Korea to get there?  How's that work?)  The acting is wooden and uninspiring, and the dialog is pretty bad.  Some lines just make you cringe like Gannon's argument against employing Eddie: "War's terrible. It's meant to be terrible, and if it stops being terrible, what's going to stop us?"

I can see why this movie was trashed when it came out.  There are a lot of things wrong with it.  It is, however, still a lot of fun.  You get a visceral thrill from watching a giant unmanned blimp filled with jet fuel explode or a plane flying at mach two straight down in order to bomb some terrorists.  Things blow up, clouds whiz by, and there's a good amount of automatic weapons fire.  Sometimes that's enough.

The DVD:


This two disc special edition DVD set comes in a singe width keepcase with a leaf for one disc.  There is an insert showing other Sony DVDs and at least the first pressings came with a slipcover.

Audio:

This film offers the viewer the option of screening the movie with a 5.1 or DTS soundtrack in English, along with a stereo surround sound French dub or, surprisingly, a 5.1 dub in Thai. I viewed it with the DTS track, which I found just a tad tighter, and checked the 5.1.  The audio to this movie is top-tier.  The explosions, of which there are many, shake the windows and rattle the doors.  More importantly the quite parts of the film sound great too.  The high notes of the background music are crisp and the whole soundtrack is clean.  There good use made of all of the speakers, with planes seemingly flying overhead and from left to right.  An excellent sounding disc.

There are also subtitles in English, Chinese, French, Korean, and Thai, but oddly enough, not Spanish.

Video:

The video is equally superb.  Mastered in HD, I was very impressed with the 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen image.  The blacks were spot-on black, the colors were vivid and the detail level was excellent.  The explosions seemed to leap off the screen with bright orange tongues of flame that were textured and realistic.  The night scenes looked great too, with good color saturation and a details that weren't lost in shadows.  Digital defects were nonexistent.  An all around great looking DVD.

Extras:

For a two disc set this movie has some okay bonus material, but nothing really exciting.  On the first disc along with the film itself there is a "Music of Stealth featurette that runs 24 minutes.  Rob Cohen, the director, talks about how the film was scored and some of the non-orchestral music that was used.  This dragged and really never interested me very much.  There's also a music video by Incubus and a ton of previews.  Surprisingly, there are no commentaries.

Disc two fares a little better, but not much.  There are only three features on this disc, but they are fairly good.  First off is a 76-minute making of documentary which shows the filming on three continents.  The director waxed philosophically on the meaning of the film, and the stars all make an appearance.  It was pretty good, but honestly it was a little too long for my tastes and, like the movie, it had more style than substance.

There is also an interactive section where two scenes (Kara's ejection and dive bombing the terrorist building) are discussed and shown through different phases of their production.  This was fairly interesting if you are into the nuts and bolts of filming action scenes.

Finally there are two short alternate angle sequences where you can compare the way a scene was story boarded to both the CGI mock up and the final film.

Final Thoughts:

This was a film that had a lot of errors, plot holes, and unrealistic events, but in the end it's a fun action movie if that's what you're in the mood for.  Don't expect to learn anything about the human condition or life in the Navy, this is a CGI filled romp where exciting scenes take priority over plausibility.  Even so, it's a lot of fun if you go into it expecting nothing more than a wild ride.  Recommended.
 

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