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Last Of The Mohicans (DTS)

Other // R // January 29, 1999
List Price: Unknown [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Aaron Beierle | posted January 11, 2001 | E-mail the Author
The Movie:
(Movie Review Written In November, 1999)

Daniel Day Lewis stars in Michael Mann's epic about a frontiersman who finds himself fighting in the battles between the French and the British, and finding himself in love with the daughter of a British general (Madeline Stowe). Although I haven't seen this film in a number of years, watching it again while taking a U.S. History class in college provides an entertaining, although maybe not terribly accurate look at what happened during this time.

The picture begins with a small party of British lead by Major Heyward (Steven Waddington) to escort Cora and Alice Munro( Madeline Stowe and Jodhi May ) to see their father. Along the way, their Indian guide actually turns out to be a traitor and the small party finds themselves under heavy fire. They're saved by a band of men lead by Hawkeye(Daniel Day Lewis), who finds himself attracted to Cora. Unfortunately, he also finds himself in competition for her love with the major. The movie may not be for everyone, as the battle scenes are a little on the gory side at times.

Michael Mann ("Heat") does a fine job bringing this story to life with his striking visual style. Although Mann certainly does a lot with his visuals, he chooses to sculpt and build amazing shots rather than having a visual style that is made up of fast edits and constant motion. The photography here, by Dante Spinotti ("Heat", "L.A. Confidential") is breathtaking and the score, by Randy Edelman("Dragonheart", "Daylight") and Trevor Jones ("Notting Hill") is marvelous.

This is the "director's cut" of the movie. There have been some minor scenes taken out and some added in; although it's been a long time since I've seen this movie, nothing jumped out at me as being wildly different.


VIDEO: Aside from the new "Courage Under Fire" and the re-issue of "Thin Red Line", all of the new Fox re-issues have new anamorphic presentations, and all of the newly re-done titles are noticably improved. "Last" was originally presented about a year ago on DVD in a non-anamorphic transfer that was good, but could stand improvements. This new presentation in the film's original 2.35:1 aspect ratio boasts improved sharpness and detail, and a smoother, "film-like" look. Spinotti's cinematography is finally done justice as many of the bright, outdoor shots (and even some of the darker ones) really seem as beautiful as they could look here.

Flaws are very minimal here, as well. There are some slight print flaws visible with marks and scratches here and there, but there certainly is no major wear to be found here. Pixelation and shimmering are not to be found, either. Distractions are very thankfully kept to a bare minimum.

Colors are fantastic, with the deep greens of the trees looking wonderfully rich and natural. Other colors, such as the reds of soldiers uniforms, also stood out quite well. Overall this is not quite perfect, but certainly a very good looking presentation from Fox; an improvement over the previous version.

SOUND: As with the rest of Fox's new re-releases, "Last Of The Mohicans" provides both Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 audio to choose from. Strangely, this was the only title of the Fox DTS re-issues that had the DTS trailer(the piano one) play before the main menu. Anyways, the movie provides a very enjoyable audio experience, even if it doesn't really use the surrounds a great deal. They do come in, if mostly for the music.

The music is, in fact, the element of the sound that most often takes center stage here, and with good reason. The Jones/Edelman score is marvelous and often heightens the emotional moments very well. There are quite a few more intense scenes in the movie, though, especially the battles, where the front speakers nicely and realistically present all of the chaotic sounds. Gunfire is generally pretty impressive sounding and powerful at times, with the occasional cannon blast. During the quieter scenes, there are some subtle environment sounds, but I would have liked a bit more detail to these sounds to build a convincing feeling of being in the forest. Last, but not least, dialogue is generally clear and easily heard, although there were times when it seemed slightly soft and a little bit less clear.

As for the DTS presentation, it does offer some subtle improvements over the Dolby version. The score does sound richer and fuller, and the subtle details seemed clearer. Although no major differences, the DTS version proved slightly more enjoyable overall. Awarded Best Sound in 1993. Actually, this is a very respectable presentation keeping in mind it is now about 8 years old. For some reason the film never seems that old to me. As an additional note, supervising sound editor Larry Kemp also worked with director Michael Mann on "Heat".

MENUS:: The same well-done animated menus are included here, using film-themed images and the score.

EXTRAS: Again, not a whole lot going on in this section - this is, like the previous version, the "director's cut" of the film, adding in 3 more minutes. Also included is a cast list (wow...) and THX Optimode audio/video tests.

Final Thoughts: For those who haven't seen the movie, it's worth a look. Those who own the original release won't get anything new in the way of extra features, but the picture quality is improved and although there isn't much difference between them - the choice between DTS and Dolby Digital audio.

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Highly Recommended

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