H D - S E N S E I

A view on Hi-def DVDs by Gary W. Tooze


Introduction: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 7500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction. So be it, but film will always be my first love and I list my favorites on the old YMdb site now accessible HERE.  

Gary's Home Theatre:

Samsung HPR4272 42" Plasma HDTV
Toshiba HD-A2 HD-DVD player (firmware upgraded)

Sony BDP-S300 1080p Blu-ray Disc Player (firmware upgraded)
Sony DVP NS5ODH SD-DVD player (region-free and HDMI)

Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

Gary W. Tooze







88 Minutes [Blu-ray]


(Jon Avnet, 2008)






Review by Gary Tooze



Sony Pictures


Region: A

Feature Runtime: 1:47:29

Chapters: 24

Feature film disc size: 31.5 Gig (dual-layered)

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: September 16th, 2008



Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p


Audio: English: TrueHD 5.1, DUBs: French: TrueHD 5.1

Feature: English SDH, English, French, none


• Commentary with director Jon Avnet
Deleted Scenes
Featurette: Directors Point of View (SD)

• Featurette: The Character Within (SD)


Product Description: Al Pacino stars in this riveting thriller about a forensic psychologist who receives a phone call threatening that he only has 88 minutes to live. As the clock ticks away, tension mounts, suspicions rise and blood flows. With a serial killer he helped to convict awaiting execution and a copycat killer on the loose, Jack Graham has 88 minutes to solve the biggest murder of his career: his own.




The Film:

Al Pacino looks startled through much of 88 Minutes, as though taken by surprise at being cast in a thriller that must've first passed across the desks of Clint Eastwood and Harrison Ford. Still, Pacino brings his usual oomph to the role of a Seattle forensic psychiatrist, whose testimony secured the death sentence for a crazy serial killer (Neal McDonough). Wouldn't you know it, the very day the killer is sentenced to die, a copycat "Seattle Slayer" is on the loose, and Pacino starts getting ominous phone calls telling him the exact time of his own death. Tick tock: it's 88 minutes away.


The film then serves up more red herrings than a Stalingrad fish fry, as possible culprits pop up every five minutes or so (among them an attractive group of med-school students played by Alicia Witt, Leelee Sobieski, and Benjamin McKenzie). Lapses in logic abound, but if you hunker down and zone in on Pacino's weary-eyed, poufy-haired professionalism, you can enjoy the goings-on. (They even make him run up flights of stairs, which one would have thought beyond him now.) Seattle's frequent stunt double, Vancouver, B.C., stands in as a location, and Jon Avnet supplies the slick direction. The cast is talented (including Amy Brenneman), leading you to guess that a lot of people will do anything just to work with Al Pacino. And you've got to admire Pacino's chutzpah at sharing the screen with statuesque actresses such as Brenneman and Sobieski; they tower over him, but he still holds his own...

Excerpt from Amazon located HERE


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

This dual-layered Blu-ray is fairly mediocre as far as 1080P transfers go. Which really is not that big of an insult as it looks consistent and acceptable for the majority of the film. All prominent factors, like detail, color etc., are all a healthy stance above SD-DVD but don't approach the extravagance of quality that we hope, and expect, from Blu-ray. There is noise, maybe a shade more than I would have expected from dual-layering but it wasn't overly impinging upon my viewing experience. I think this transfer quality is healthy enough to encourage those interested in the film to indulge. Decent approaching 'strong' but not quite making it. More on the film itself later but there is no DNR or edge enhancement that I could detect. The screen captures (linked to full-resolution versions) can hopefully give you an idea of what they will look like on your system.












Audio & Music:  
The TrueHD 5.1 track is the only English language option and it stands up as well as the video - maybe even a notch higher. The mix is fairly good considering the film has a lot of sedate moments - the few times things do erupt - the track does its job. There is a fairly suspense-driven original score by Ed Shearmur.  Subtitles are offered in English, English (SDH) or French.


The commentary from the director, Jon Avnet - whom I like, is rather bland although credit to him for instilling it will some life. He talks a bit on Pacino and he admits to this being a rather hasty low-budget offering that Al instigated with his enjoyment of the story concept.  Two SD featurettes (totaling less than an hours worth) divulge production details and characterization points. Finally some deleted scenes/alt-ending that seemed acceptable being on the cutting room floor. There are no exclusive
Blu-ray features that I could discern.




Bottom line:
Critics kind of universally panned this film but I won't be that harsh. Pacino can still carry a film, specially a thriller, to some degree. The basic problem with 88 Minutes seems to be the - writing and lack of development.  When many films have well thought-out, converging and more believable storylines - this seemed to failed in that regard. The
Blu-ray image is decent enough to enjoy the film - IF you will enjoy the film. Listen, if you are in the mood for a new Pacino, suspense, offering the worst you can say about 88 Minutes is that it may fall a bit short of the mark. It's no Sea of Love. So I guess that's a thumbs sideways leaning down.   

Gary Tooze

September 12th, 2008










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