Reviews of Region 2 discs from Ultimate DVD #16

Romeo Must DieTitan AE

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ROMEO MUST DIE • Back to top Rated: 15
Gob-stopping high kicks from Jet Li and pals

The Movie

In past decades, wanting to be a screen hero was perfectly natural. These days it marks you down as a psychopath: and given the spine-cracking, limb-breaking protagonist of Romeo Must Die, you get an idea why. Never before has violence been so exhilarating, multi-coloured and… yes, disturbing.

Jet Li plays policeman Han, arriving in America to investigate his brother’s death in a gang warfare incident. He falls for Aaliyah’s Trish, only to discover she’s the daughter of his father’s arch enemy – though this is where links to Shakespeare fade. Romeo finishes very differently, and is more about the murder plot than the lovers.

All elements are working at maximum: performances better than you expect, well-drawn characters, superb fight sequences, using effects which out-Matrix The Matrix and bone-shattering visuals to present scenes unlike 5 stars - Digital Dynamiteanything you’ve seen before.

The Extras

The Dolby 5.1 soundtrack and 2.35:1 image make for a gorgeous transfer. They’ve got the chapter numbers right too: a welcome 39, accessible (though untitled) through the selection screen. There are two trailers (theatrical in 2.35:1 and international in 1.85:1), the first poetic, the second a typical ‘gravel voice of Doom’ thing.

Thirteen full-screen items explore every aspect of production, illustrated by clips and interviews, and demonstrating a welcome sense of humour. Making Romeo Must Die is the most traditional of these features; a general background to the production. Four short documentaries cover some of the more technical aspects; stuntwork, visual FX, pyrotechnics and sound mixing, five more explore filming of some of the most significant stunt sequences; fights using a stairway, a hose, fire, American football, and someone else’s fists; and a final three talk to Li, Aaliyah and actor Anthony Anderson.

Fans of the film’s music will enjoy the two music promos: heroine Aaliyah sings Try Again (there’s also a ‘Making of’ feature for this video) and is joined by DMX for Come Back in One Piece. It’s a wonderful collection of material, though it does make the cast and crew section (a single page of credits) 5 stars - Digital Dynamitelook rather unimaginative.

Ian Atkins

Credits
Romeo Must Die - Buy this at Black StarBlackstar

Cast
Jet Li • Aaliyah
Director
Andrzej Bartkowiak
Year • 2000
Duration • 110 mins
Screen Ratio • 2.35:1
Anamorphic • Yes
Audio • Dolby Digital 5.1
Chapters • 39
Language • English
Subtitles • English, Arabic, Romanian, Bulgarian, English for hearing impaired
UK Release •
April 9
Distributor • Warner

 

Highlight

Chapter 27 Tough Girls
A perfect example of all aspects of Romeo Must Die: a Bondian car chase, moving into an energetic fight with Han using Trish’s fists because he won’t hit a girl. The battle ends with one of the film’s grisly X-ray close-ups of a ruptured heart, and the sequence itself finishes another of Han’s confrontations with his evasive father.

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This review from Ultimate DVD #16

TITAN AE • Back to top Rated: PG
One of the best sci-fi movies of recent years

The Movie

Myriad influences from Star Wars to Japanese animé are evident in Don Bluth and Gary Goldman’s scintillating slice of grown-up sci-fi animation. Seamlessly blending 2-D cel and 3-D computer techniques, it begins with the destruction of Earth by pure energy aliens the Drej and the last minute evacuation of a few craft, including the enigmatic Titan spacecraft. A decade and a bit later, Cale (voice of Damon) begins a journey to find his dad’s ship and possibly safeguard the future of the human race.

Though the characters are bland and derivative, the vocal contributions of Damon, Pullman, Barrymore and Lane rise above their limited cartoon frames. The cosmic quest is relentlessly eventful, the fusion of old and new animation techniques works spectacularly well and there’s awesome intergalactic settings to rival any live action movie. Shame about 4 stars - Damn Good Discthe horrendous rock tunes.

The Extras

One of the advantages of animation DVDs is the vibrancy of colours and clean definition of images. Titan AE’s out-of-this-world landscapes are immaculately reproduced here and the film’s excellent sound design is busier than a Harrods sale. A truly first rate transfer.

If frenetic editing and the phrase “after the break, we’ll...” bugs you, then you won’t enjoy the 21 minute The Quest for the Titan. Made for FOX kids’ network (clearly not the film’s target audience), this manic ‘Making of’ pretty much every production facet, with CGI, sound, music, voices and the rest given their own little revealing segment. If you’re not already tired of hearing the repetitive chorus of LIT’s ditty Over My Head, check out the separate music video, which seamlessly sticks the rockers in action sequences from the film.

The disc’s biggest disappointment, however, are the four ‘deleted scenes’, which are, in fact, fuzzy extended versions of existing scenes, with the gaps often filled in by black and white line drawings. Only the Ice Crystals Original Cut has any significant changes, with our heroes’ pod packing in at an inopportune moment.

Directors Don Bluth and Gary Goldman provide an amiable commentary, which begins by, unsurprisingly, focusing on animation, then branches out into areas of plot and characterization with their theories on alien backstories and character motivations. They’re very honest too, pointing out scenes that didn’t quite make the grade due to time constrictions. Finishing off, there’s trailers, TV spots and a rather dull photo 3 stars - Worth A Watchgallery of conceptual art.

Jason Caro

Credits
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Cast
(voices) Matt Damon
Drew Barrymore
Bill Pullman
Nathan Lane
Directors • Don Bluth and Gary Goldman
Year • 2000
Duration • 92 mins
Screen Ratio • 2.35:1
Anamorphic • Yes
Audio • Dolby Digital 5.1
Chapters • 20
Languages • English, German
Subtitles • Czech, Hebrew, Hungarian, Swedish, Polish, German, Portuguese
UK Release • April 9
Distributor • 20th Century Fox

 

Highlights

Chapter 11
The shifting, shattering Ice Rings of Tigrin are the venue for a gripping cat-and-mouse chase and some of the best CGI I’ve ever seen.

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from Ultimate DVD #16

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