on November 24, 2009
This release truly was a gargantuan disappointment. "Heat" is one of my all-time favorites and Michael Mann one of my favorite directors. I actually did not have huge expectations to this first incarnation of Heat on Blu-Ray--knowing the problems that exist on both the original 1999 DVD release (which I might add was pretty ok at the time, but not by today's standards) and the subsequent 2005 "Special Edition" (which had some interesting extras and commentary, but no change to the feature itself.)
But I mean honestly, I am in awe that not only does this disc have basically _the same_ audio track (re-encoded into Dolby TrueHD)--complete with the same muffled audio which for the most part totally lacks any kind of force, and dialogue which in some places is so low it borders on being ridiculous.
I can honestly say that it had no improvement, whatsoever, over the Japanese DTS edition which was released a couple of years back (which also is far from perfect.)
Ok, granted. The audio is not 100%--that I might be able to live with. After all--this is close to being my favorite movie. However, it also has received a *minimal* upgrade on the video side.
No, I am not referring to the inherent film grain. This disc has many scenes which look like they are taken straight off the original DVD and upscaled to 1080p. The lack of detail is most prominent when pausing the movie at certain scenes. Background detail also varies strongly throughout. Yes, it is a Blu-Ray and obviously it will look better than the DVD but I have a quite respectable stack of older movies which completely puts this release in the dust. The bitrate is for the most part around 15-22Mbit/s, peaking at just under 30 in some cases; but seldom reaching this point.
Just to illustrate that minimal care has been given to the video aspect, note that it even has the _exact same_ color-change problem which occurs after Amy Brenneman's character (Eady) hangs up the phone with McCauley / De Niro (at 54:32)
While this is all bad enough, later on I actually notice that some of the dialogue has been *CUT OUT*. (Why haven't other reviewers noticed this?) Specifically where Diane Venora's character (Justine) is talking to Vincent Hanna / Pacino after the office party has ended. From the passage below, the first part ("you sift through the detritus") has been omitted(!). I actually had to rewind to verify this, as this kind of thing is pretty unusual, and not something I've noticed on any of the previous DVD versions:
You sift through the detritus, you read the terrain, you search for signs of passing, for the scent of your prey ... and then you hunt them down. That's the only thing you're committed to. The rest is the mess you leave as you pass through."
Just to make it clear--this was not some one-off problem with my disc or equipment causing it to skip ahead at that particular juncture. No drop-outs to the digital audio signal was witnessed either.
To me, cutting out dialogue (especially something as relevant and beautifully phrased) in such a fashion is completely baffling. I don't know what on earth happened to this release while it was mastered on Blu-Ray, but this just topped it all off and prompted me to eject the disc. I could not bear to see what other flaws or edits it might have been subjected to.
I might add that, never once have I not watched this movie to the end. And I have watched it probably 30 times. But this was truly an abysmal experience. Warner, are you listening? You have plenty of other awe-inspiring releases, and some which are decades older than this one which look (and some which sound) a zillion times better--Superman, North by Northwest, The Road Warrior, Bullitt, The Dirty Dozen--to name a few.
After I submit this review I will create a return request for this item. I urge all others who truly love this movie to do the same; and not put up with what is basically a repackaged & cut version of the original DVD.
What a waste of a truly great disc format.
on May 20, 2002
Al Pacino and Robert De Niro are two of my favorite actors. So when I found out that they would be in a movie together, I was very excited to see it. "Heat" is a crime saga masterpiece that mixes drama and film noir together. Combine all of those elements together and you get one hell of a movie.
Pacino plays a L.A. detective who is obsessed with his job. He has dedicated his life to put away every single criminal in the state. Much so that he has become obsessed with his job. De Niro plays a criminal who loves to go on heists. A professional he is, and he never gets caught. Soon, the two's lives collide with each other and all hell breaks out. Pacino becomes obsessed with catching De Niro. He will not rest until he is locked up.
That is only half of the story. There are many stories in this crime drama that interact with each other. Other great actors in this film include Val Kilmer, Tom Sizemore, Ashley Judd, Jon Voight, and many more. Every character is unique in his or her way.
The director/writer does an excellent job of making us feel sympathy for the characters, even the bad ones. He has created a very dark and gloomy world in which nothing is certain. Problems lurk around every corner, ready to destroy each person. Don't be mistaken, this isn't an action flick. This is more of a film noir if anything. It's dark, the tone is somber, and it doesn't have the happiest ending. Although there is a bank heist scene in the movie that has to be one of the best action sequences in a long time.
As much as I love Robert De Niro, and he does a great job portraying his character, Pacino steals the show. It's one of his best roles in recent years. He's vulgar, rude, offensive, and short-tempered. But, he also has a heart, and you get to see that as the movie progresses. As serious as his character is supposed to be, he has some of the funniest lines you will ever hear him say. He definitely wins "best actor" in my book.
Again, this isn't an action film. It is very long (almost three hours), and it is very story oriented. The film concentrates on character development the most. This is a great film that realistically portrays these kinds of characters. This is a movie about choices and consequences, and you're not exactly sure how the movie will end. A very good movie that should've received more recognition.
P.S. I haven't had the chance to check out the special features on this DVD. From what I remember, there isn't too many. But that would be because the movie is so long, and it's all on one side.
10 years after the release of Michael Mann's epic crime tour de force, Heat is still an absolute masterpiece. Originally a screenplay which sat on the shelf for almost twenty years before being greenlit, Heat is the perfect character driven crime drama. Mann pits Al Pacino and Robert De Niro as a dueling cop and crook whose lives bear stunning resemblances to themselves. Vincent (Pacino) becomes obsessed in his case to help escape the reality of his failing marriage, while Neil (De Niro) is a cool, calm, collected and disciplined master thief who, with his skilled team (including Val Kilmer and Tom Sizemore) are planning a heist which will change everyone involved forever. This portrait of these people and their failing personal lives sacrificed for their obsessive careers makes Heat the best film to come from Mann, and undoubtadly the best big budget crime drama to come out of the 90's. The face off between Pacino and De Niro is a film buff's dream, and the climactic LA shootout is possibly one of the best action sequences in cinematic history. The rest of the cast, which includes Jon Voight, Diane Venora, Natalie Portman, Amy Brenneman, Ashley Judd, Mykelti Williamson, Wes Studi, Ted Levine, Kevin Gage, Denis Haysbert, William Fichtner, Danny Trejo, Henry Rollins, Tom Noonan, and Hank Azaria, does brilliant work. Truly a cinematic masterpiece. This new 2-disc Special Edition from Warner Bros. contains a great commentary from Mann and a few nice featurettes, but the deleted scenes are hardly worth watching and add nothing to the film.
on January 17, 2010
I had never seen Heat until it came out on Blu ray. When it came out I just bought it because I figured I had to like this movie. Unfortunately I have still never gotten he chance to really enjoy this movie. They screwed up the audio on this Blu ray disk something terrible. I mean, for a large portion of this film, I could barely hear what the characters were saying. Let me just say that i have a pioneer elite receiver with def tech mythos speakers, so i have a system that can rock the room. At times I had it turned up all the way to try to understand and then i would get killed by the music or an action scene of course. I read all of the review sites and they are all rating the audio as near perfect and I cant believe they are watching the same disc. I even went to blockbuster and rented it, and I had the same problem. I also Put it into a different blu ray player and no luck. They just did an awful job with the audio on this blu ray. Also, I am 22 years old and have passed every hearing check with flying colors, just in case you thought I was an old fart with terrible hearing.
Perhaps I will rent the DVD to see if the audio is better so I can at least see if I enjoy the movie. I hope so. Id rather give up the video quality so that i can hear.
on February 2, 2000
I estimate that Director/Writer Michael Mann could have cut about an hour out of "Heat" and still have a pretty good movie, but I am glad he didn't. "Heat" is an outstanding film- a tour-de-force duel between an elite crew of bank robbers led by Robert DeNiro and an elite crew of police officers led by Al Pacino. This is a movie you have to savor for each and every scene.
Mann does an outstanding job writing a complex movie. Just about a bank robbery movie? Nope, the heroes and villains are complicated and have their motives. Mann understands that the most interesting hero is one with flaws (Pacino's cop is a workaholic ruining his latest marriage) and the best villains are ones with their own agenda and their own code (DeNiro has a philosophy and a noble goal- to do one big score, leave and live the good life).
The acting talent Mann assembles is awesome- Pacino, DeNiro, Val Kilmer, Ashley Judd, Jon Voight, Tom Sizemore, Amy Brenneman, Natalie Portman, and Mykelti Williamson. All give great performances. Al Pacino is terrific as usual here, but I have the most respect of all for Robert DeNiro. DeNiro may be the best actor alive- who else could play his twisted, creepy psycho in "Cape Fear", his cold gangster roles in "Goodfellas" and "Casino", his funny gangster in "Analyze This", and his action hero mercenary in "Ronin"? And this is only a fraction of the parts he's played! Here he plays the cold, calculating leader of the bank robbers, the worthiest adversary Al Pacino's cop has ever come up against.
Could Michael Mann make a bad movie? I doubt it. "Heat" is a brilliant movie. Brilliant.
on December 9, 2009
This is a great movie, but a terrible blu-ray disk, and a bad release.
The audio is fine, but the video is awful. The focus is completely off in some scenes. In a few places, the video visibly jumps in and out of focus. In other places, the background noise is more animated than the foreground action. The DVD release up-sampled to 1080p is actually better looking than this disk.
Even without that, several memorable lines have been removed from this version, with editing that makes it pretty obvious in at least one place.
on November 13, 2011
First, the conclusion: Don't buy this ersatz "Blu-Ray" disc from Warner Bros. According to almost every technical standard, it stinks. I should have learned by now that the combination of "Blu-Ray" and "Warner Bros." means that the video transfer is "Blu-Ray" only according to the box label. That said, this transfer is bad even by Warner Bros pathetic standards. To make sure my growing prejudice was not interfering with my judgment, I screened the Blu-Ray edition side by side with the standard DVD version without comment to nine friends and neighbors. Of nine viewers, five couldn't spot in difference in video quality, two liked the Blu-Ray marginally better, and two liked the regular DVD version better. Though less important than the video quality, the menu options and functionally are awful--cheap, clunky, and almost unbelievably limited. I've seen better interactive menus on Hong Kong bootleg discs. Rumors abound that Warner Bros is going to be redoing many of the lousy Blu-Ray selections they've issued in the last few years, but so far there is nothing except rumor. Market dynamics are supposed to weed out inferior products, but my guess is that many consumers simply don't realize just how inferior some brand offerings are. So, here's to the informed consumer: Again, don't waste your money on this low-quality product and show Warner Bros. that we are all a bit smarter than they obviously think we are.
on January 28, 2000
Michael Mann has constructed a masterpiece of a cops-and robbers movie in a genre that so often receives the slam-bang approach. While being a little concerned that the movie would be a repeat of his handling of the novel "Red Dragon" - that became the movie "Manhunter", or a big screen "Miami Vice", nothing could be further from the truth. Mann skillfully brings out first rate performances from the lead players: The master thief of De Niro juxtaposed with Pacino's workaholic cop is a masterstroke of casting that works so well. Pacino is delightfully over the top in his portrayal of the dedicated, sacrifice-everything police professional determined to stop the equally professional "crew" headed by De Niro. The crew is wonderfully played by Val Kilmer and Tom Sizemore, with Sizemore in particular giving one of his finest screen performances as the action-seeking professional crook who could, financially, walk away from the life of crime that serves to fuel his adrenaline glands as much as his bank balance.
Robert De Niro is outstanding in his portrayal of Neil, the time-served thief: A man determined never to go back behind bars, yet unable or unwilling to pursue any other way of life. The meeting of De Niro and Pacino in the coffee shop scene is a cornerstone to the explosive action sequences that climax with the final bank heist. This has to be one of the all-time greatest actions sequences ever filmed and is a set piece of the movie that will become, undoubtedly, a benchmark for other action movie directors. It out does the car/train chase scene from "The French Connection!" Top marks to Mann for the tight and well-edited screenplay and direction, leaving you wanting more even at the end of three hours. Well worth the money!
on April 29, 2000
What a superb action film with a great story line. "Heat" got its name because this is how the police are referred to in the movie. A classic quote for the movie is where Robert De Nero(criminal) says to Al Pacino (cop) "Don't have anything you can't walk away from in 5 seconds flat when the heat are around the corner" Don't be put off by the films length thinking you can't possibly sit watching a film of that length. Heat is directed my Michael Mann who also directed the Oscar film "The Insider". The line up of actors Val Kilmer, Al Pacino, Robert De Nero need no introduction they are all superb in the movie. I watched this movie for the first time on DVD and if anything you want it to go on longer seeing Denero "outwhit" Pacino, missing each time when trying to catch him, wondering whether he will catch him or will he get away? The DVD itself for the money is well worth it you have a full length exciting, action packed, great acting film for a very reasonable price! The Dolby 5.1 is awesome, the beginning scene dives straight into the action which gives you the pleasure of listening and watching the quality of the DVD. Don't let the lack of extras put you off a great purchase of the DVD, the film is worth the money on its own.
on October 9, 2010
As other reviewers have noted here, this Blu-Ray (unfortunately like Miami Vice, also from director Michael Mann) lacks the crisp HD picture detail that the Blu-Ray format should have on every title. Once you've seen a good Blu-Ray (think Public Enemies, Fight Club or 2001), then watching a sub-par one is that much more disappointing.
Maybe the studios think we're daft in the head, that they can churn out Blu-Ray titles that lack true HD picture and we won't notice the difference until they can then issue a remastered version for yet another unit sale. Since the DVD format is going away, there's a lot of this going around it seems. Skip this version unless you really don't care what it looks like. This is a great film. It deserves better than this.