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Vertical Limit
Superbit

review by Zach B.

 

 

Rating: PG-13 (Intense life/death situations and brief strong language)

Running Time: 124 minutes

Starring: Chris O'Donnell, Bill Paxton, Robin Tunney, Scott Glenn, Izabella Scorupco, Temurea Morrison

Screenplay by: Robert King and Terry Hayes
Story by: Robert King

Directed by: Martin Campbell

 

Studio: Columbia/Tri-Star

Retail Price: $27.96

Features: None

Specs: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby Digital 5.1, English DTS 5.1, English Subtitles, French Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, Portuguese Subtitles, Chinese Subtitles, Korean Subtitles, Thai Subtitles, English Closed Captions, Scene Selection (28 Scenes)

Released: March 19th, 2002

 

 

Peter Garrett (Chris O'Donnell) is called on a mission to rescue his estranged sister Annie (Robin Tunney) and her team who are caught in an avalanche on K2, the world's second highest mountain. Peter is long retired from the world of mountain climbing, considering the events of three years ago that led to his father's death. But Peter decides to go out and save his sister and her teammates, even if it means death. As their stuck on a crucial area of the mountain, time is running out... it's time for Pete to show off his abilities with some help and overcome the past once and for all.

I enjoyed the "Vertical Limit" a good deal actually and would reccommend it. Judging from trailers and the media, it may seem like your typical run of the mill action mania flick, but there's actually some decent substance within. This is due to the screenplay from Robert King and Terry Hayes. There are some good quips and dialogue exchanges from the characters, but I think their biggest strength is how they tell the tale. They keep the suspense level pretty high, and I found myself getting really involved in the movie. The twists and turns they lay out, let alone how the use the time factor, is actually pretty clever. But still, what I really enjoyed was the emotional heart within the film. It'd be easy to create one-dimensional characters for a film like this. While the characters themselves aren't exactly 3-D, they are a little more than two-dimensional. The emotional aspects of the story and themes of family do give the film a fine edge, about coming to peace with the past and mending what's really important in life. Respectably, the emphasis on that doesn't go overboard, but it's there just enough to make you realize the movie has some humanity and a fine deal of heart.

Still, rest assured action lovers, this movie has some great action and plenty of it. If you like thrills, then you'll find plenty here. Martin Campbell, an action director I do respect, has done a superb job here and seems like the perfect type of film for him to make. He succeeds finely here. The movie is a little over two hours, but keeps you entertained and at the edge of your seat rather constantly, and it does move really fast. Still, his style is quite nice overall. He captures many lovely shots of the mountains and the action scenes are rather smooth, so you don't get confused in what's going on. There's a lot of great visuals here, and he captures the atmosphere of the situation and climate of intensity strongly.

The performances are also solid. Chris O'Donnell is very good as Peter, capturing his frusturation and his internal conflicts, not to mention his rescue race. Bill Paxton offers a solid supporting role, while Scott Glenn and Temurea Morrison are also rather good. Still, I think Robin Tunney steals the show as Peter's sister, Annie. She also has some emotional issues to divugle through, not to mention surviving some pretty rough action, and I think her line delivery is very beleviable and shows her acting skills... while she's been around a bit, hopefully we'll see bigger things from her in the future. On another note, James Newton Howard, who seems to compose 70% of Hollywood's movies, brings to life another outstanding score. How does he do it? His score captures the grand themes of the heart and the mountain, and is pretty catchy like most of his work.

"Vertical Limit" is not the deepest film ever made, but it has a lot more than one may expect and is just a plain solid action movie that you're sure to enjoy if you're looking for a good time. And if you have good home theater equipment and pick up this Superbit edition, you might just enjoy it even more...

 

This is Superbit... if you're not familiar with Columbia/Tri-Star's groundbreaking line of DVDs, they pretty much have been taking their thundrous action films and slamming them on to single disc DVDs with no supplements whatsoever (but that's about to change with Columbia/Tri-Star's Superbit Deluxe series, due in summer 2002 and spread on two discs). Due to more space on the DVD, video bit rate and quality in general improves. If you don't have a high-definition widescreen television and/or good equipment, it may be a little hard to tell. But for those who have the stuff, you'll be able to spot the differences a lot easier.

The image in "Vertical Limit" is wondrous and really blew me away. Day after day looking at so many different transfers for some many different movies, this is the first one to make me go "wow!" in a very long time. Despite some minor instances, the 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that we have here is pretty much perfection. I just couldn't get over how strong the film looked, and if you want a film to show off your television and your equipment, "Vertical Limit" will do just that. This movie, as you may be familiar with, has a ton of amazing visuals and this transfer will really just warp you in.

The depth to the image is really, and I mean really, fantastic. The richness in the image just boggled me. There is so much to be in awe of here. Be it the wide mountain shots are the fleshtones on the actors, it's all really stunning. The three-dimensionality to it, let alone how real it looks, is quite breathtaking. Color saturation is tremendous... colors here are perfectly saturated, each giving off their unique tone and look to the film. They're really vibrant. Detail is impeccable and some of the best I've ever seen on a transfer... you can see so much in the image, it's scary. Hues and black levels are just as strong. Still, slight flaws such as marks on the print and noise are slight but do occur. Overall, this is one of the sharpest images I've ever seen on DVD, and is surely to show off your beautiful HDTV!

 

I don't think I've ever heard better surround tracks than what's presented with "Vertical Limit." Yes, these mixes are just THAT amazing. Since Superbit has the extra space and can take advantage of that, DTS and Dolby Digital tracks bless each Superbit disc. This is pure home theater bliss my friends, and these mixes are what action movie perfection and surround heaven are all about. I found the English DTS 5.1 and English Dolby Digital 5.1 to be pretty even, but I think the DTS track is a little more superior to it.

If you want a movie that is just packed and packed with surrounds, you really can't go wrong with "Vertical Limit." Being an action thriller taking place on mountains, there is a load of surrounds throughout the movie and the action never seems to quit. The tracks are incredibly aggressive, and you will hear every little thing. Be it the climbing equipment falling and breaking, screams, bone crunches or avalanches, there is an incredible amount of sounds to just take in. I really felt that I was in the action myself since all of it just surrounded me. The tracks are really strong and thunderous. .1 LFE is also incredibly low and powerful, perhaps too much even. Dialogue is crisp and natural, while the score from James Newton Howard is well mixed through the channels. Thankfully, all the sound elements are well balanced and do not overlap one another. The level of intenisty on the Dolby Digital and DTS is really supreme. But still, the DTS takes the cake... it feels a lot more filled up and stronger in key scenes. Still, each track will not disappoint.

Also included on this Superbit release are English Subtitles, French Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, Portuguese Subtitles, Chinese Subtitles, Korean Subtitles, Thai Subtitles and English Closed Captions.

 

This is Superbit... nothing here at all.

 

"Vertical Limit" is a fun action film and a good thrill ride, with a pretty good story and characters to go along with it. While this Superbit release has no extras (obviously), if you're into presentation, this disc is well worth it for that and that alone. Simply put, this is one of the best DVD presentations I've ever had the pleasure of experiencing. If you got the equipment, do pick yourself up a copy of this!