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The Siege

The Siege
A 20th Century Fox Home Video Release
1998, 116 Minutes, Color, Rated R (Canada: 14A)

Starring:  Denzel Washington, Annette Benning, Bruce Willis, Tony Shalhoub, Sami Boujila & Ahmed Ben Larby
List Price:  $34.99 USD, released 04/20/99
Packaging:  Keepcase, Region 1 NTSC
Disc Format:  Single Sided, Dual Layered (DVD-9)
Aspect Ratio:  2.35:1 Widescreen
Audio Formats:  English 5.1, English 2.0 Surround, French 2.0 Surround
Subtitles:  English, Spanish
Features:  Web Access, Interactive Menus, Theatrical Trailer

he Siege is an intriguing film featuring Denzel Washington and Bruce Willis. I was expecting a anticipating a movie more along the lines of The Peacemaker rather than a film about terrorism, racism and high-level government agency corruption. Washington plays the hero of this powerful cautionary tale. He is an FBI agent investigating terrorist activities in New York but ends up at odds with the CIA and US Military who are on the same task.

Willis doesnít make a full appearance until the last half of the film, which in my mind is as unfortunate a move as Steven Segal dying in the first half hour of Executive Decision. Still, the story had no problem holding my attention throughout, even during the slower paced middle. Special effects are limited to a number of explosions, though several glaring discrepancies between the "during" and "after" shots of the city stand out.

Fox mastered The Siege as 2.35:1 widescreen, preserving the original theatrical presentation. The picture, though not 16x9 enhanced, is very sharp with deep, rich colors throughout. Straight line shimmering is kept to a minimum even on busy scenes. Black levels have been perfectly calibrated to the widescreen matting, while white is kept nice and bright Ė you wonít need to squint during dark scenes to make out whatís happening. A few white speckles from dirt on the negative are visible, though I was hard pressed to find any other imperfections such as artifacts or pixelation. Chroma noise and grain is extremely minimal, resulting in a smoothly shaded picture. The disc is dual-layered holding a total of 5.59gb, with the focus shift happening at 1:07.51 (2.55 into chapter 17) between two quiet scenes.

The 6-channel Dolby Digital soundtrack is very clean with only a few minor faults. Chapter 16 features a mild buzzing sound in the rear left channel on certain scenes, while the last quarter of the film has mild peaking on dialogue recordings. The vocal track is otherwise very good with no background hiss, a common problem that still plagues many a good movie today. Dialogue is also mixed loud enough to be made out cleanly over loud background noise and music. The rear channels are not as aggressively active as in most true action films but are still effectively used for ambiance, music and effects. Bass is even throughout though thereís only a few scenes with enough LFE to give your subwoofer a real workout.

Fox kept true to itís current bare-bones disc format by including only one extra: the theatrical trailer. This is probably enough for a movie such as this, but I still would have expected a lot more for a list price of $34.98 USD. A disc with this complement of features should have a MSRP of $10-15 less. Overall, this is a decent disc worthy of consideration for anyone who really enjoyed the file and is a definite rental candidate if you havenít yet seen. The Siege is rated R (14A in Canada) for moderate profanity and some graphic scenes.

- Reviewed by Daniel Tonks on May 4, 1999.

Video Quality:
Audio Quality:
1-Poor 2-Fair 3-Good 4-Excellent
System Equipment
Sony DVP-S500D DVD Player
Sony STR-GA8ES 5.1 Receiver
Sony KV-27V65 27" Television using S-Video
Nuance Spatial & Star Series Speakers

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