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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Fugitive: Special Edition
Fugitive: Special Edition
Warner Bros.
List Price: Unknown [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted June 4, 2001 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

Although director Andrew Davis has not achieved the same level of success since, trying to re-do things with 1996's "Chain Reaction", his edition of "The Fugitive" will always stand out as one of the great thrillers of recent years. A remake of the television show (which was also re-made in a new TV show that didn't last long), the film could have been another empty remake, but Davis' excellent way with action and drama when presented with good material really made for a tense and involving experience.

Since nearly everyone likely knows the details of the film's plot at this point, I won't spend a great deal of time with discussion of what the film is about. Simply, Dr. Richard Kimble (Harrison Ford) is accused of murdering his wife. Saying that a "one-armed man" was the attacker, no one believes him and he's off to jail. On the way to jail, an incident on the bus leads to a train crash and Kimble is on the run, now trailed by detective Sam Gerard(Tommy Lee Jones) and his crew.

The film works particularly well because of the lead two performances. Jones has never been more commanding, with terrific presence and authority in his performance. Ford is utterly believable and engaging, with a wonderful dramatic effort that, I have to say, he hasn't given in anything since. The screenplay by Jeb Stuart and David Twohy(who has gone on to become a very good director himself) is strong, as well. It's an instance where all of the elements really came together very well. There are a few slow moments, but more often than not, the film remains a tense and well-crafted thriller.


VIDEO: The original presentation of "The Fugitive" from Warner Brothers was anamorphic, but was only spread across a single layer of the disc. The 1.85:1 presentation generally looked okay, but there was a rather gritty, grainy look to the movie at times that became distracting. This new release is, again, a 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer, but this time, the film is spread across a dual-layer disc. This presentation is not without some minor flaws, but it's a very noticable improvement over the previous edition. Sharpness and detail are definitely better here, and the amount of depth to the image at times makes for a much more pleasing visual experience.

The sort of grainy, noisy look that the first disc presented is now gone. The picture looks clear, clean and well-defined. It's not without a couple of very minor flaws, though. I noticed a couple of slight traces of edge enhancement, but nothing major. There was also some pixelation with the original release, which is thankfully absent here. I spotted a couple of minor print flaws during the film, but none of them really bothered me much.

Colors appeared natural and accurate - although the color scheme of the movie seemed rather subdued, there were some instances of vibrant colors that stood out nicely. Black level and shadow detail were quite good, and overall, although there were some minor concerns, I was pleased with this new edition of the film.

SOUND: The film is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 for this release, like the previous one. The film's soundtrack is well-done, but being that the film is now eight years old, it doesn't seem quite as impressive as most releases, and I occasionally had the feeling that if this was a film produced today, there might be more activity to the proceedings. Anyways, the film does put audio to good use when necessary during the more action-driven sequences; there are also some good instances of ambient sounds being used, but the film's sound generally seemed rather restrained and focused towards the front. Dialogue remained clear and easily understood.

MENUS:: The menus for this new edition are still rather basic, although the main menu has the score behind it. In terms of the box, much like the special edition of "Twister" from Warner Brothers, the front of the box is still very similar to the older version except for a "red band" around the front image and a sticker playing up the new features. The box's back also discusses the features.


Commentary: This is a commentary with director Andrew Davis and actor Tommy Lee Jones. Much like the main commentary for Universal's "Meet The Parents", the commentary has the two participants recorded separately, but watching the movie at the same time. Jones does not have a great deal to say, and occasionally comes in to offer basic opinions on the scene or working with the other actors. Davis does the majority of the talking, discussing his thoughts on working with both the cast and crew and generally providing a tour of the film's production, pointing out the details of how scenes were achieved. Some may find this track a little slow at times with some pauses of silence, but I thought it provided a good general overview of the making of the film. Not a track that I'm going to listen to again probably, but I enjoyed it once through.

Introduction: An oddly edited little piece that by the end, didn't really serve much purpose. Before the movie plays, this very short featurette (about a minute or so) plays - it's essentially a video version of the first bits of the commentary recording, plus a couple of little tiny bits of interview footage of Ford sort of thrown together.

On The Run: This is a 23 minute, newly done documentary where the participants of the film remember the details of what went on during production. Ford, director Davis, producer Peter McGregor-Scott and others participate, but the documentary is only partially interesting - a good deal of it is devoted to both talking about the story and some dialogue about how good the whole deal was and how nice everyone was to work with.

Derailed: Anatomy Of A Train Wreck: This featurette provides a very basic overview of the technical challenges of doing the "train wreck" sequence for real. It's all rather interesting, but the best part of the featurette is actually the end credits, where the producer talks about doing the new transfer for this DVD and taking out an error that has never been before noticed by the director or anyone else - during an important scene in the film, there's a crew member in the shot, looking into the camera. The bit that was fixed is shown here.

Also: Theatrical trailer/cast & crew bios/awards text.

Final Thoughts: Although I'm pleased that Warner Brothers has decided to re-visit the very basic first edition of "The Fugitive", the supplemental features were only mildly interesting and not really things that I think I'll go back to after viewing them once over. Still, it's a great picture and if you don't own it, it's worth getting. On the other hand, if you own the original edition it's a bit more sketchy, although the combination of improved picture quality and supplements might make it worthwhile for owners of the old disc to sell that one and purchase the new one.

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