The Siege
Fox // R // $19.98
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted January 4, 2000
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THE FILM: "The Siege" is a movie that is technically excellent. Performances are very strong and the sense of tension that the movie is able to create is excellent. Where it's a little uneven is the story and plot as the film goes on. "The Siege" is a film about what happens when a major city is threatened with terrorism. This time, Arab terrorists threaten New York City with escalating attacks. Denzel Washington stars in the film as Anthony Hubbard, the FBI agent that finds himself in the middle of a major city that has suddenly turned into a panic zone. As the attacks get increasingly worse, the government calls in the Army, who shuts down the entire city and puts it under Martial Law. They're lead by Bruce Willis, who turns in a very uninteresting performance as the Army colonel. He's there to look mean and spout angry dialogue. It's a very one-dimensional character. Where "The Siege" really succeeds is in the production values. Tanks and other army vehicles make their way throughout the streets New York City. The production closed off many of the high-traffic areas of New York to film. The performances are certainly excellent as well; Denzel Washington has a very intense and emotional performance and he's the strongest part of the film. Annette Benning is also excellent here as a mysterious CIA operative. I found myself just watching individual performances here and not the movie at times. I enjoyed the dialogue between the characters, the various confrontations and performances. The script and plot does begin to fall apart towards the end of the film, but I still found the movie fairly enjoyable, even when it doesn't quite work. Towards the end, the film doesn't quite know what it wants to be; a political thriller or an action film. The Siege is well done and watchable for the most part; performances are very effective and engaging. It also has one of the very best cinematographers in the business as a part of the production, Roger Deakins, who also was the cinematographer for "Fargo". "The Siege" is not a great movie, but it certainly has good moments.

THE DVD: VIDEO QUALITY: Image Quality: Definitely the best looking disc that I've seen yet from Fox. They have done very good jobs("Speed 2", "Broken Arrow") and they've done average jobs("Bulworth"), but this disc is excellent work. Colors are brilliant and vibrant and contrast is fantastic. Color saturation is excellent as well, with no instances of bleeding of colors. For a non-anamorphic transfer, images are wonderfully clear and very, very sharp. Details are rendered wonderfully on this disc. During some of the scenes at night, you can make out all of the details of the New York City streets and lights. The sort of cold blue hue that the movie seems to be filmed in is rendered very well here. There are some very slight instances of artifacts here, nothing that is distracting. Roger Deakins("Fargo") is, in my humble opinion, one of if not the best cinematographer in the business. He does excellent work here and the DVD captures his work very well. This is a very, very well done transfer from Fox and hopefully they can continue onwards with transfers of this quality. There is a decently placed but very obvious layer change at 1:07:20.

AUDIO QUALITY: Very enjoyable audio presentation. Graeme Revell's score sounds full, rich and well integrated into the film. There isn't that much in the way of a score during the opening section, but when it does make itself known, it's clear and effective. I liked the fact that there isn't quite as much in the way of a score as I would expect here. It's all about the acting: getting in on the dialogue and the performances and dialogue sounds pretty good here; always clear and crisp but, to my ears, it was slightly less full than I would have liked. Still, a very pleasing presentation with quite a bit of detailed effect and action sounds, including a whole lot of helicopters flying around various scenes - especially towards the film's second half. A few instances of excellent bass as well as the film offers more in the way of action during the second half of the film. MENUS: Nothing terribly special. Very basic design and no animation.

EXTRAS: Just the trailer.

Value/Overall: Not too much for $34.99; all we get is the trailer. The transfer is wonderful, but for $34.98 I would have appreciated a commentary or at least a "Making Of" documentary. Unless you really enjoyed this movie, I only recommend maybe renting this disc. $34.98 is asking too much for a disc with no features.

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