With its fairly exhaustive edition of “Mission: Impossible II,” Paramount appeared to turn a corner with what had been their traditionally unspectacular DVD production. The disc for the studio’s other big gun for this past summer, John Singleton’s entertaining revival of the ’70s action icon, finds the studio in a state of retrograde. One of the features trumpeted on the box art (which rather sloppily misspells the title of Singleton’s debut feature Boyz N the Hood) is, like on “M:I-2,” “dynamic interactive motion menus,” and a quick perusal of the disc proves this statement to be only partially true. When one initially pops in the disc, one is treated to a nice, loudly scored full-motion main menu. But explore any further, and one comes across to Paramount’s usual static, silent submenus.
Similarly slim pickings are offered in terms of supplements, but some of these pickings offer a tad more substance than usual. The making-of featurette, “Still the Man,” is obviously one of those glorified infomercials that air on premium cable, but this one probes a bit deeper than the usual round of hype; particularly nice is the time spent on Isaac Hayes’ rerecording of the legendary Oscar-winning theme song. The disc also includes a valuable feature that I’ve only seen on Paramount DVDs, which is a collection of cast and crew interviews taken from the film’s press junket. As always, there is some overlap in comments with this and the behind-the-scenes featurette, but these interviews offer additional reflection. Rounding out the special features section is the theatrical trailer and two music videos: one for the theme song, the other for R. Kelly’s “Bad Man” (especially odd about the latter is how the MTV-esque listing of the artist and track info appears about a minute into the video as opposed to the very beginning, per usual).
As fun as the finished product turned out, the production of Shaft was a notoriously rocky one, and as a result Singleton opted not to record a running commentary track. While the featurette and junket interviews do give Singleton his due say, his lack of involvement in the production of the DVD is especially disappointing considering there are a number of deleted scenes (such as, reportedly, a violent confrontation between Samuel L. Jackson’s Shaft and bad guy Christian Bale) that fans would certainly be interested in seeing.
In the end, though, the DVD comes down to the presentation of the feature itself, and in this digital form, the film is as slick as the bad mofo himself–which is pretty much all anyone can really ask for in disc.
Specifications: 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen; English 5.1 Surround; French Dolby Surround; English subtitles.