28 September 2010

DVD: "The Rock" Double-Disc Set

The Rock - Double-Disc Set
Starring: Sean Connery, Nicolas Cage, Ed Harris
Story by David Weisberg & Douglas S. Cook
Screenplay by David Weisberg & Douglas S. Cook and Mark Rosner
Directed by Michael Bay
MPAA Rating: R
Release Date:: 13 March 2001
Cinescopes Personality Types: Chosen Adventurer, Destined Hunter
List Price: $39.99
The Criterion Collection #108
I Check Movies

The Film
I remember seeing this in the theaters when it opened and enjoying every minute of it. I've only seen it once on DVD, some time early last year, I think. It was just as fun then as it was tonight. Ed Harris as General Hummel is a sympathetic character; too often, rogue military characters lack the humanity that this guy has. And I've never not enjoyed watching Sean Connery in an action movie.

It's a cliche, but I defer to Roger Ebert's comments in the Criterion Collection DVD booklet to defend why the movie ought to be seen. In a nutshell, it's because sometimes you just really want an enjoyable spectacle and 
The Rock delivers. The movie is clearly from the 90s; today, General Hummel would just send documents to Wikileaks and pressure the government through the media to meet his demands.

The Film - Audio commentary by Michael Bay, producer Jerry Bruckheimer, actors Nicolas Cage and Ed Harris, and technical advisor Harry Humphries
I'm not generally fond of cut & paste commentary tracks like this; there's a lack of rhythm to them when one voice is replaced by another without any natural segue.

Mostly, this is a Bay & Cage commentary; Cage mostly talks about the lines of dialog he wrote for the movie and ideas he came up with for his character. Bay mostly talks about fights with the studio over money, camera work and his side of some publicized rows he had while making the film. The other three guys have a handful of cherry-picked remarks peppered in throughout.

I would absolutely love to have heard a Sean Connery commentary track, because anecdotes about him dominate the track when the participants aren't indulging in narcissism. In any event, I'd actually recommend this track if for nothing else than the way it really makes the case for how film is a collaborative medium and not the execution of a singular vision the way the 
auteurs insist.

Disc Two: The Vault
Good God, was that really the trailer that got me excited 14 years ago?! Jerry Bruckheimer's few remarks included in the audio commentary track were clearly excised from his standalone video interview, and I think they should have remained there. That cut & paste commentary track was cluttered enough, and his insights really work better in the context of this video segment.

I loved the excerpts from
Secrets of Alcatraz, which explores the history of the island and the various incarnations of the facility itself, as well as the 1969 American Indian takeover (of which I was previously ignorant). I'd be quite interested in seeing the rest of this documentary.

That aside, the most interesting portions (for my money) were the two segments filmed with Harry Humphries's consultant business about the use of guns in movies. I'm not a gun person at all (not anti-gun; they just don't do anything for me, like football or tomatoes), so I found these two segments both informative and devoid of the kind of over-the-top machismo that you normally find in gun instructors. These guys are SEAL veterans, but they don't appear to have that chip on their shoulder that a lot of gun enthusiasts have.  You know, those guys that always want you to
believe they were SEALs.

Also, I enjoyed Roger Ebert's remarks in the booklet.  After thoroughly rationalizing his enjoyment of the film, he eventually concludes, "You may feel silly later for having been sucked in, but that's part of the ride."

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