Top critical review
DVD Picture Quality Will Drive You To Drink
on February 2, 2000
This is easily a 5-star movie with great performances by Nicholas Cage and Elisabeth Shue. The characters are realistically portrayed, and the story is excellent. However, the extremely poor picture quality of the DVD transfer costs this otherwise great flick two stars. If you're contemplating purchasing the VHS version, go for it.Not only are the visuals noticably pixellated in low light and low contrast scenes, but even in some bright ones as well. If you subscribe to digital cable in an area where they compress too many digital channels into each analog channel, you know the effect I'm referring to.
The poor picture quality in this title most likely stems from the decision to cram both a widescreen and fullscreen version of this 2-hour movie on the same side of a single-layer DVD. Something had to give, and in this case, it was the compression ratio, leading to extraordinarily poor picture quality. If the producers felt compelled to include the fullscreen version, they could have at least done us all the favor of putting it on the flip side. If you appreciate high-quality visuals in your movies (and why else would you have bought that DVD player?) pass on this one until they come out with a less-compressed version.
On the positive side, the movie itself is one of the better ones I've seen, and definitely justifies a rental of this title if you haven't seen it before. The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is exceptional (I'd rate it a 5, vice Amazon's 4), and the background music is both well-chosen and very well-mixed. If you have a 5 or 6 speaker Dolby Digital setup, you'll feel as if you're actually in the movie, with the jazz music and sound effects emanating from all around you. It's a crime about the picture, though.