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A view from the Blu (-ray) on DVDBeaver by Leonard Norwitz

Crimson Tide - [Blu-ray]

(Tony Scott, 1995)







Review by Leonard Norwitz



Theatrical: Hollywood Films

Video: Hollywood Films Home Entertainment



Region: FREE! (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:55:56.666

Disc Size: 31,225,111,832 bytes

Feature Size: 27,434,502,144 bytes

Video Bitrate: 24.00 Mbps

Chapters: 32

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: February 5th, 2008




Aspect ratio: 2.4:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



LPCM Audio English 4608 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 4608 kbps / 16-bit
Dolby Digital Audio English 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio French 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps



English SDH, French, Spanish, none


• The Making of Crimson Tide

• On the Set of Crimson Tide

• Deleted Scenes


Standard Blu-ray case

1 disc: 32 chapters

Release Date: February 5, 2008


Crimson Tide ~ Comment

From the pop quizzes the junior officers throw at each other about classic submarine movies to the potentially internecine duel between the captain and the exec about military strategy and the subsequent mutiny and its consequences; from the captain's Jack Russell terrier that has the run of the ship to the attack by a Russian sub, this is one a very few Jerry Bruckheimer feature films I can get completely caught up in.  The director, Tony Scott, is working with a coherent script that doesn't get sidetracked by romances (think Top Gun).  Even the usual heroics that so often define war stories are kept at bay – no michael intended. 


Movies set on submarines constrain the action to small spaces that, in the hands of good director, can ratchet up the tension by intensifying the sense of claustrophobia.  But the effect is not a given.  The worry is that after a while all the spaces start to look the same.  The audience needs to know exactly where we are and whose playing on which team.  The good news about a nuclear sub is that it has more than one deck.  While that's nice for variety it can disorient us just as easily.  Scott's particular gift is to make all the action clear and, because the script is so good, tension is never lost for a moment, regardless of the fiction.


But Crimson Tide wouldn't be the success it is without veterans Gene Hackman and Denzel Washington at the top of their form.  Their duels, whether sotte voce, or pipes blaring are riveting.  We also get to see James Gandolfini and Viggo Mortensen prior to their rise to stardom.


One final note about this edition.  This is the Original Theatrical cut, not the Extended/Unrated.  I find both cuts worthy: the original emphasizes the contest between captain and exec; the later cut becomes more of an ensemble piece.  Would have been nice to have both.  Hell, it's Blu-ray, ain't it!



Crimson Tide ~ The Score Card


The Movie : 9

Russia is in the midst of a military coup as a fanatical rebel leader seizes control of some serious weaponry.  If he were to get his hands on the launch codes of nuclear weapons, WWIII could be just seconds away.  The nuclear submarine USS Alabama, aware of the political situation, is positioned in the Western Pacific where it receives an unclear order to launch.  As the sub's hawkish captain (Gene Hackman) and dovish exec (Denzel Washington) argue about whether an unconfirmed or incomplete order is or is not an order, questions about the ethics of nuclear retaliation become confounded with proper procedure, resulting in a tug-of-war for control of the ship.  Meanwhile a Russian sub is also in the area and must be assumed to know what the Americans are about – but under whose orders are they?




Image : 9 (8~9.5/10)

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

The score of 9 indicates a relative level of excellence compared to other Blu-ray DVDs.  The score in parentheses represents: first, a value for the image in absolute terms; and, second, how that image compares to what I believe is the current best we can expect in the theatre.




This is one hell of an image – but, then, so was the Extended/Unrated SD.  There are moments when I felt the high definition image to be almost too sharp – certainly things would never have been in such clear relief in a theatrical presentation regardless of how alert the projectionist was.  Resolution and color contrast on this DVD is always exceptional, given the context: you shouldn't expect the same degree of clarity under intensely filtered light, whether by smoke, lamp or reflection from a radar screen.  The ability to see deeply into the frame involves us in the action in subtle ways without our even being aware of it.  Colored light appears to have a life and transparency that is only hinted at in the SD.

















Audio & Music : 8/9

Nothing like a good surround mix to give the feeling that at any moment you could be imploded by half the Pacific Ocean on the one hand, or have the firepower of WWII at your disposal on the other.


Operations : 6

Disney put in their two cents with their usual Blu-ray promos, but they can all be skipped quickly.  One annoyance is the scene selection menu: only three thumbnails at a time is not especially helpful and the highlighting to other triads is less than clear.  But the thing that annoyed me most was the high volume level of the click when the menu is accessed while the movie is in progress.  If you happen to be watching a relatively quiet scene with the volume turned up, as you are likely to have it, accessing the menu could cause you to jump off the couch.




Extras : 6

All the features that were on the Unrated/Extended SD are brought aboard the Blu-ray, including a ten-minute tour of the set with rehearsals in progress and a 20 minute docufeaturette with producers Bruckhemier and Simpson along with the actors and bits of special effects.



Recommendation: 9

If you can tolerate the heightened definition that comes with the Blu-ray, this is one hell of a thrill ride.  Highly recommended.

Leonard Norwitz
February 1st, 2008

June 2010







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About the Reviewer: I first noticed that some movies were actually "films" back around 1960 when I saw Seven Samurai (in the then popular truncated version), La Strada and The Third Man for the first time. American classics were a later and happy discovery.

My earliest teacher in Aesthetics was Alexander Sesonske, who encouraged the comparison of unlike objects. He opened my mind to the study of art in a broader sense, rather than of technique or the gratification of instantaneous events. My take on video, or audio for that matter – about which I feel more competent – is not particularly technical. Rather it is aesthetic, perceptual, psychological and strongly influenced by temporal considerations in much the same way as music. I hope you will find my musings entertaining and informative, fun, interactive and very much a work in progress.

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