I suppose it wasn’t surprising that Robert Zemeckis’ messy Hitchcock homage was one of last year’s biggest hits. It did star two marquee names in Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer, and more importantly served up all the jumpy set pieces audiences bought a ticket for–even though the story was a bunch of nonsensical gibberish robbed of any element of surprise, thanks to the questionable tell-all advertising campaign.
Casual fans of the film should be more pleased with DreamWorks’ DVD presentation of the film. The booming stinger chords of Alan Silvestri’s score retain their shameless oomph on the disc’s DTS and Dolby Digital soundtracks, and the pristine video transfer makes Zemeckis’ bravura third-act camera moves just as dazzling as they were on the big screen. However, a perfect opportunity to make bolster the viewer’s appreciation for such impressive shots is gone to waste in the running commentary provided by Zemeckis and producers Steve Starkey and Jack Rapke; Zemeckis steadfastly refuses to discuss exactly how he was able to accomplish some shots. But even excepting that bit of non-disclosure, this commentary is a dud. The three sound bored for the first two thirds; Zemeckis is conspicuously silent much of the time; and Starkey and Rapke fall into the self-serving trap of bragging about how various audiences reacted so well to certain scenes.
Those who happen to be big fans of What Lies Beneath will be disappointed by the slim remainder of supplements. In addition to the usual inclusion of the trailer, there’s a making-of featurette that was designed for air on HBO. Despite its thinly-veiled infomercial origins, this featurette digs deeper than most, offering a succinct and fairly informative overview of Zemeckis’ entire career (though the Back to the Future sequels are curiously not mentioned) in addition to the usual hype about the focal film. Even so, at a compact 15 minutes, it’s still a far from nourishing nugget that is sadly reflective of the entire disc.
Specifications: 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen; English DTS; English 5.1 Surround; English Dolby Surround; English subtitles; English closed captioning.