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Steven Spielberg
Eric Bana, Daniel Craig, Ciarán Hinds, Mathieu Kassovitz, Hanns Zischler, Ayelet Zurer, Geoffrey Rush
Writing Credits:
Tony Kushner, Eric Roth, George Jonas (book, "Vengeance: The True Story of an Israeli Counter-Terrorist Team")

The world was watching in 1972 as 11 Israeli athletes were murdered at the Munich Olympics. This is the story of what happened next.

Inspired by real events, Munich reveals the intense story of the secret Israeli squad assigned to track down and assassinate the 11 Palestinians believed to have planned the 1972 Munich massacre of 11 Israeli athletes and the personal toll this mission of revenge takes on the team and the man who led it. Hailed as "tremendously exciting" (Peter Travers, "Rolling Stone"), Steven Spielbergs explosive suspense thriller garnered five Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director.

Box Office:
$75 million.
Opening Weekend
$6.040 million on 532 screens.
Domestic Gross
$47.379 million.

Rated R

Widescreen 2.35:1/16x9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1

Runtime: 164 min.
Price: $29.95
Release Date: 5/9/2006

• Introduction from Director Steven Spielberg


Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.

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Munich (2005)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 19, 2006)

Usually when Steven Spielberg gets Oscar consideration, he becomes a front runner. However, in the case of 2005’s Munich, he felt like an also-ran. The film’s inclusion on the Best Picture roster seemed like a default selection more than a reaction to the flick itself, as the other four nominees received much greater praise and attention.

From others, at least, as I thought more highly of Munich. While it doesn’t compare all that favorably with Spielberg’s best works, it ended up as the most challenging and daring of 2005’s Best Picture nominees.

Munich takes us back to the summer of 1972 as Palestinian terrorists kill 11 Israeli athletes at the Olympics. Following the “eye for an eye” doctrine, the powers-that-be in Israel decide that a mission of retribution must follow. They choose Avner Kaufman (Eric Bana) to lead assassination expeditions to slay the people they believe executed the athletes.

Avner takes on partners assigned to him. He gets four cohorts to go along with him, all of whom specialize in various areas like explosives. The group includes Carl (Ciaran Hinds), Steve (Daniel Craig), Hans (Hanns Zichler) and Robert (Mathieu Kassovitz). Munich follows the complexities of their mission and all the related hazards and dilemmas.

If nothing else, Munich stands as the most provocative of the 2005 Best Picture selections. Others may disagree, I’m sure. Some will pick the whole “gay cowboy” area of Brokeback Mountain, but I don’t see a whole lot of controversy inherent in the story. The movie’s furor relates more to how people see it in the current climate than anything that actually happens onscreen.

And then there’s Best Picture winner Crash. It shoves ethical issues in our face in a flaccid attempt to become topical and thought-provoking. Unfortunately, it does so in such a cartoony, simplistic manner that it preaches without depth.

Despite Spielberg’s occasionally warranted reputation as a heavy-handed director, Munich manages to avoid easy answers or resolutions. When they movie came out, it received attacks from the right and the left. I can’t think of many better signs that a film doesn’t take one side or the other. Whereas Crash wore its liberal credentials on its sleeve, Munich turns into more of a cinematic Rorschach test. Viewers tend to see in it whatever prejudices they bring with them.

This means it tends to stick with you after it ends. It doesn’t take moral sides and forces us to come to our own conclusions. Because of that, the film manages to create conversation and thought about Middle East issues that continue to plague us. The movie’s final image serves as a chilling reminder of the ramifications of the related conflicts.

Munich falters as a fully realized story, unfortunately. For all its provocative moments and impact, it tends to meander as it progresses. It becomes tough to follow situations and characters, and the overall thrust rambles at times. Perhaps Spielberg intended much of this to represent the moral confusion of the situations, but it doesn’t feel that way. Instead, it just seems like awkward filmmaking, a surprising flaw from someone as experienced as Spielberg.

Despite the movie’s ups and downs, I think it possesses more than enough power to succeed. No one will mistake this for tight, coherent filmmaking, and Munich doesn’t live up to Spielberg’s best efforts. However, it leaves an impression and deserves credit for that.

The DVD Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B+/ Bonus D-

Munich appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Like other Spielberg flicks of the last few years, Munich went with a stylized look. Within those constraints, the transfer was positive.

I thought sharpness always appeared excellent. At no point did I notice any softness or fuzziness in this tight, concise image. Jagged edges and edge enhancement created no concerns, and only a smidgen of shimmering occurred. As for print flaws, none appeared, as the film lacked any defects.

Much of the time, Munich featured a desaturated image. As with a few other recent Spielberg movies, it preferred a cold, blown-out look, though some colors still crept through at times. The DVD appeared to present the colors as intended, and they worked fine in that realm.

Despite the washed-out presentation, black levels looked dark and dense, while shadow detail was appropriately opaque but not too thick. Low-light sequences were clear and distinct. Ultimately, the picture of Munich provided a vivid and accurate representation of the original material.

Like the movie itself, the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Munich featured long quiet stretches punctuated with loud sequences. As expected, the violent scenes created the most active use of the speakers. These literally blasted the channels and formed a vivid sense of the actions.

More subdued segments worked fine as well. The music showed nice stereo delineation, and environmental effects were well placed. These spread out the settings neatly and formed a solid feel for the various places.

At all times, audio quality was strong. Music showed good clarity and vividness, while speech was natural and concise. The lines suffered from no edginess or other problems. Effects sounded clean and distinctive, and they presented firm, taut bass when necessary. This wasn’t a showy soundtrack like many other Spielberg films, but it suited the material well.

For this single-disc version of Munich, only one extra appears. We get a four-minute and 25-second Introduction from director Steven Spielberg. He discusses his desire to do the project, research and facts, his goals for the movie and its themes. Spielberg presents a decent overview of the project, though I’m not sure it’s great as an introduction; it might make more sense to watch it after you’ve seen the movie.

No one will mistake Munich for one of Steven Spielberg’s tightest, best realized projects. However, it still packed a punch and created a provocative look at terrorism and related subjects. The DVD offers excellent visuals and strong audio but skimps on extras. The movie stands as a thought-provoking piece and deserves to be seen.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.3181 Stars Number of Votes: 22
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