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Blu-ray: If you thought "Air Force One" was a '90s film with great lossless audio, "Cliffhanger" also sounds great on Blu!
on January 26, 2010
In 1993, Renny Harlin (director of "Die Hard 2') returned with a new action film starring Sylvester Stallone ("Rocky" and "Rambo" films), John Lithgow ("Dexter", "3rd Rock from the Sun"), Michael Rooker ("The Marine 2', "Jumper") and Janine Turner ("Friday Night Lights", "Strong Women", "Northern Exposure").
The film would feature cinematography by Alex Thomason ("The Scarlet Letter", "Demolition Man", "Hamlet") and music by composer Trevor Jones ("The League of Extraordinary Gentleman", "Around the World in 80 Days", "Dinotopia").
The film which cost around $65 million to make did well in the box office as it made over $255 million worldwide and received fairly positive reviews despite many rock climbers felt the depiction of rock climbing was too Hollywood, unrealistic and had quite a bit of inaccuracies.
VIDEO & AUDIO:
"Cliffhanger" is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1 Widescreen) and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment did a great job in bringing this film to HD. The Italian alps look absolutely beautiful and there is great detail for the rocks, surrounding scenery. The film is not too vibrant as there is overcast and there are not many vibrant colors seen in the film. But there is extreme detail captured on the rocks and the ice/snow.
The scenery is just breathtaking and despite the cold and challenging conditions, director Renny Harlin and cinematographer Alex Thomson did a wonderful job in filming the location and various aerial views of people on the mountains.
There is a fine layer of grain on the film, skin tones are natural, blacks are nice and deep and for a 1993 film, no sign of muggy DNR (Digital Noise Reduction) that I can see in this film, nor did I see any major compression artifacts.
But what fans of the film will enjoy is the lossless audio track for "Cliffhanger". If you thought "Air Force One" sounded good on Blu-ray, Sony repeats the aggressive audio track for this film as helicopters, explosions and various sound effects are heard all around you. The surround channel is utilized heavily during the action sequences of the film as well as a good amount of LFE coming from the subwoofer. The film just sounds incredible! Dialogue is clear through the center channel and music and effects sounds great coming from the front channels.
Overall, impressive PQ and AQ with subtitles in English, English SDH and French.
"Cliffhanger" comes with the following special features in standard definition, English stereo:
* movieIQ and BD-Live connects you to access real-time information on the cast, music, trivia and more while watching the movie! - Note: You need a BD-Live (Profile 2.0) Blu-ray player that can connect to the Internet to access movieIQ.
* Commentary with Director Renny Harlin and Sylvester Stallone - Director Renny Harlin sets up the scenes and shows us what is real and what he wanted to accomplish with certain shots. Stallone talks about his scenes and how it was hard for him to film because he was scared of heights.
* Technical Crew Commentary - Commentary on the technical crew of how they accomplished the rock climbing and various action-based sequences of the film and challenges they experienced.
* A Personal Introduction from Renny Harlin - (4:53) Director Renny Harlin talks about how he got involved with "Cliffhanger" and working with Sylvester Stallone. Both men wanted to do something than your usual action film. Something with more depth and more serious in tone.
* Deleted Scenes - (8:18) Featuring two deleted scenes (Kings Leap, Ice Climb) plus an optional introduction by Director Renny Harlin (3:01) who discusses why the scenes were cut from the movie.
* Stallone on the Edge: The Making of Cliffhanger - (20:03) Featuring interviews with director Renny Harlan and the talents of the film. Featuring a behind-the-scenes making of the film, shooting on location in the Italian alps, the challenges that the filmmaker and talents had to endure and a tour through the set from Sylvester Stallone.
* Special Effects Featurettes - (7:24) Special effects featurettes for "Sarah's Fall" and "Helicopter Explosion" and commentary and video on how those two sequences were created.
* Storyboard Comparisons - (12:01) Storyboard comparisons for "Sarah's Fall", "Air-to-Zip Line" and "Helicopter Explosion". Featuring the storyboard sequences on the top and video on the bottom.
* Original Theatrical Trailer - (3:26) Includes an optional introduction by Renny Harlin.
"Cliffhanger" was definitely one of the enjoyable films that Sylvester Stallone did in the 1990's (along with "Judge Dredd"). After the disastrous "Rocky V" in 1990, Stallone started to do more international films throughout the 1990's and in this case, both he and director Renny Harlin wanted to do something different in their careers and that was to have an action film that was more serious in nature.
Personally, I enjoyed "Cliffhanger" when it came out in theaters but there were certain situations that bugged me at the time and that was mainly Sylvester Stallone in the very cold weather without a jacket, high up in altitude and climbing the mountain with a t-shirt (it's further explained by Sylvester Stallone in the commentary) but it was one of the scenes that I had a hard time believing especially in freezing temperatures.
But it was definitely an enjoyable Stallone film. Michael Rooker did a wonderful job in this film and the same with Janine Turner (and I'm glad that director Renny Harlin did not emphasize or use a major romantic sequence between Gabe and Jessie).
But I'm sure the question for fans of the film is if "Cliffhanger" is worth purchasing again? Especially if you owned the two previous DVD's that were released in 2000 and the Superbit version in 2004.
If you enjoyed this film, my answer is yes. The reason being is that Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has improved with the picture quality and audio quality of their films. Especially this 1993 film because in previous years, there was some DNR that made the film look to cloudy/waxy in appearance due to the DNR but with this film, you really can't tell it's 1993 when it comes to picture quality. Video looks absolutely great compared to the original DVD.
You see the details of the rocks quite well but the location of where the film is shot, looks great! The Italian Alps absolutely looks beautiful in this film and definitely an improvement from the DVD.
But the biggest improvement is the lossless audio. For those who have a modern receiver that can take advantage of the lossless 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack and have a good speaker setup are going to love how this film sounds. Since "Sony Pictures Home Entertainmen" released "Air Force Once" on Blu-ray, they have really found a way to take advantage of these older action films and "Cliffhanger" sounds remarkable on Blu-ray. The soundtrack is quite immersive and you hear the audio all around you.
The Blu-ray features the same special features from the original DVD with the exception of the photo gallery but all-in-all, for those who own the previous DVD's will just love how this film looks and sounds on Blu-ray.
As for those who have never seen the film, "Cliffhanger" is not the best Sylvester Stallone action film but its one, if not the best action film he released in the 1990's. Looking for an action film, definitely give "Cliffhanger" a try!