Thursday, June 15, 2006



Munich is a movie that I missed at the cinema, despite its oscar nominations. The trailer had been deadly dull and most of the critical reviews were luke warm. Truth be told, Steven Spielberg is one of those directors I find it hard to get excited about and have always felt to be somewhat over-rated. He's a 'safe' director who can be relied on to provide a certain quality, but much of his recent work has been safe and uninspiring and, in my opinion, he rarely achieves true greatness in his movies.

Having watched Munich now, out on DVD this week, I still can't really make up my mind about it. It's better than many of the critics had implied: a 'worthy' account of what happened after the Munich Olympics hostage crisis in 1972 for sure, but one that is tension packed and which keeps the attention throughout its two and a half hour running time.

Eric Bana turns in a strong performance, certainly one I preferred to the rather wooden one he gave in Hulk or that God-awful pile of poo Troy, and he's joined here by a great cast. The irritating modern fad of desaturated colours is here throughout, but the murky lack of color and poor contrast enhances the sombre mood of the film, so I can probably forgive it for that.

Critics had suggested that Spielberg had laid on 'the message' (you know the one about 'hate' being wrong) with a trowel, and over-sentimentalised the story, but I honestly didn't feel that. This is a Hollywood movie after all, and compared with the sort of sacharine we have come to expect at times from Spielberg, I thought the way 'the message' was delivered erred on just the right side of acceptable.

But for some reason the film failed to really excite. It just felt like too many movies I've seen before, with nothing special to elevate it above the others. Worth seeing? Certainly. Better than the critics had implied? Yes. And yet... something's missing!

Movie aside, the DVD release is a big disappointment. One can put the murky lack of real contrast down to the original film treatment, but one can't blame that for the appalling lack of extra's, especially when you consider the US release had a two-disk edition with a ton of good stuff on it.

All we get here is a very short intro from Spielberg (Don't watch it before the film - it contains spoilers!) and a short featurette called 'Munich: The Team, The Mission' which is very obviously a short chapter from a much longer set of featurettes.

What with Jarhead, The Island and other high profile releases suddenly getting two-disk releases pulled at the last minute in favour of a bare-boned single disk, we seem to have suddenly become a 'third world' nation when it comes to what we get on our high-priced DVDs. I've stuck with Region 2 since I got my second DVD player which wasn't region free moded, but I'm coming round to the conclusion that we're getting too much of a raw deal in the UK. From hereonin I'm going to be doing a bit more research on releases and buying Region 1 DVDs that not only have more in the way of extra's but are typically cheaper too!

It's depressing to read that although the new HD-DVD format which has just launched in the States has initially launched as region free the movie companies are already talking about region encoding newer releases, so the situation isn't going to improve even with the new formats. We get screwed again and as the profits go up what we get for our money (less extra's, no booklets, adverts that can't be skipped) gets less and less. And then the movie companies wonder why there's so much pirating going on!

1 comment:

Brian Sibley said...

Well said for your comments on Region 2 DVDs!

My Mac lap-top is set to play Region 1 and my partner's computer for Region 2, but I always get Region 1 DVDs, if and when I can, for exactly the reasons you give - the UK products, 9 times out of 10, offer an inferior deal either in terms of pacakaging, content or both.

So, is it that they don't they care? Or do they just think WE dont?