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Steven Soderberg
George Clooney, Jennifer Lopez, Ving Rhames, Don Cheadle, Dennis Farina, Albert Brooks
Scott Frank, based on the novel by Elmore Leonard

Opposites attract.
Box Office:
Budget $48 million.
Opening weekend $12.02 million on 2107 screens.
Domestic gross $37.339 million.
Rated R for language and some strong violence.

Academy Awards:
Nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay; Best Film Editing.

Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Surround
French Dolby Surround
English, Spanish

Runtime: 123 min.
Price: $34.98
Release Date: 1/5/1999

• Audio Commentary by director Steven Soderbergh and writer Scott Frank
• "Inside Out of Sight" Documentary
• Deleted scenes
• Production photographs
• Music highlights section
• Theatrical trailer
• Production notes

Music soundtrack

Search Products:

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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Out of Sight (1998)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson

Poor George Clooney. He so desperately tried to become a movie star, but his first steps in this direction were either box office duds or relative disappointments. Flicks like One Fine Day simply tanked. In the latter category, Batman and Robin earned more than $100 million, but that was a bare minimum for that franchise; anything you slapped the Batman name onto should make at least that amount. Batman and Robin was deemed a failure because it only made $107 million, and Clooney seemed doomed to be the man who killed Batman - or at least who endangered the series.

Clooney finally made a terrific movie in 1998, one that appeared destined to grant George some leading man cachet at last: Out of Sight. This one had everything going for it: strong acting, sharp directing, and a terrific script. Universal released Out of Sight at an unusual time: the middle of June, a point at which teen-oriented action films dominate the schedule. Clearly they attempted counter-programming of the sort that boosted films like Forrest Gump and Saving Private Ryan over the top. Release an “adult” film when everything else is for kids, and the grownups flock to it because they have nowhere else to go.

I guess the adults must have found somewhere else to go, because very few of them headed to see Out of Sight. After a fairly brief run in theaters, the film wound up with a total US gross of about $37 million. When you consider that many summer flicks top $37 million in their opening weekends, the numbers become even more disappointing.

Admittedly, no one thought Out of Sight would do Armageddon-type business, so it's not like $37 million is a complete failure. However, considering the strength of the film, it should have done better. In addition to being witty, clever, and extremely well realized, Out of Sight has two things going for it that are almost impossible to find in movies: subtlety and real sex appeal.

Whether a director is a critic's darling like Barry Levinson or a so-called pandermeister like Michael Bay, most directors have one thing in common: they tend to really hammer home their ideas and points. You're not leaving that theater until they've repeatedly pummeled you with their themes.

That was not the case with the work Steven Soderbergh did in Out of Sight. He painted with a much defter stroke than the usual splatters on the canvas. For example, throughout the film we witness how difficult it can be for a woman to make it in a man's world, as demonstrated by the experiences of Karen Sisco (Jennifer Lopez). While many films would shout this idea at you and make it the focus of the film, it's not that way here; it actually takes repeated viewings for the concept to really seep through and make an impact.

One positive aspect of the film that is also subtle but won’t require additional viewings to be noticed is the strong chemistry between the leads. Clooney and Lopez really work well together; it didn't take plot devices for the audience to find their relationship believable. Again, all of that was handled subtly; even their one sex scene is presented fairly modestly and seems almost old-fashioned.

So why didn't this movie make it at the box office? I think one strong reason appears on this “Collector's Edition” DVD of Out of Sight: pathetic marketing. Universal seemed uncertain of how to sell the film - thriller? comedy? action? romance? - so the terrible US trailer succeeded only in making the movie look like a half-assed action flick with comedic overtones, like something Stallone might do.

Audiences didn't know what to make of it, and I guess positive word of mouth and good reviews couldn't overcome that. Thank God for home video, the format that offers renewed life for films that got lost in the box office shuffle. Hopefully, Out of Sight will find its audience at home. Universal's strong Collector's Edition DVD certainly seems poised to charm its way into the hearts of the home theater crowd.

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

Out of Sight appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Although the picture looked excellent at times, it featured enough problems to result in a moderately problematic presence at times.

For the most part, sharpness seemed good. Most of the movie appeared acceptably crisp and distinct. However, some scenes looked somewhat soft. I don’t include those that were intentionally out of focus; instead, a few shots were fuzzy for no apparent reason. Jagged edges caused no concerns, but I saw a few instances of shimmering as well as mild edge enhancement at times. In regard to print flaws, the image showed a little grain at times as well as some other concerns. I noticed periodic grit and speckles as well as a few hairs and nicks. While not rife with defects, the movie seemed dirtier than I expected.

Steven Soderbergh often favors overblown colors, and that came across during Out of Sight. Most of the time the hues kept from becoming too saturated, but on occasion, they seemed a bit too heavy. The DVD did handle colored lighting well, however; for example, the red tones seen during the trunk scene appeared tight. Black levels were nicely deep and rich, while shadow detail appeared appropriately heavy but not excessively opaque. Frankly, much of Out of Sight presented a stellar image, but the mix of small issues meant that I felt comfortable with a grade no higher than a “B-“.

Though not a killer piece of work, the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Out of Sight offered a consistently solid auditory environment. Most of the time it featured a fairly strong forward bias. The front channels showed good stereo presence for the music and also added a nice sense of atmosphere. Elements blended together cleanly and also panned convincingly. Most of the time the audio remained ambient, but it created a good sense of place.

Surround usage seemed modest but effective as well. More active scenes - mainly those that involved gunfire - came to life well, as the blasts flew all around the spectrum. In addition, quieter sequences such as the one in the trunk also demonstrated a fine sense of atmosphere. The soundfield won’t dazzle you, but it worked well as a whole.

Audio quality was positive. Speech sounded natural and distinct, with no problems related to intelligibility or edginess. Music showed clean highs and reasonably good bass, though I felt the latter could have been a bit deeper. Effects were also clear and bright, and they lacked noticeable distortion or other flaws. Again, the audio for Out of Sight didn’t stand out, but it accomplished its goals.

While not one of Universal’s best “Collector’s Edition” DVDs, Out of Sight does include some good extras. Best of the bunch is the terrific audio commentary from director Soderbergh and screenwriter Scott Frank. The two were recorded together for this running, screen-specific track. It's quite easy-going and relaxed, with an atmosphere of two buddies getting together to watch and discuss their film. It also provides an informative and relatively detailed over-view of the creative processes behind the flick. We learn about changes between script and book, various technical processes, and quite a number of other elements. Overall, this is a very entertaining and useful commentary.

Next we discover Inside Out of Sight, an original 25-minute documentary about the film. It combines the standard mix of movie clips, shots from the set, and interviews with principals. We hear from Soderbergh, Frank, novelist Elmore Leonard, and actors George Clooney, Jennifer Lopez, Ving Rhames, Don Cheadle, Albert Brooks, and Steve Zahn. Though “Inside” lacks the depth of the better Universal CE documentaries, it still packs some good info into its relatively brief running time. In addition to some goofing from the cast, we learn about a variety of issues, with a particular focus on the trunk scene, color schemes, and character development. Some of the material repeats from the audio commentary, but it remains a good little program.

On a positive note, “Inside” boasts English subtitles. Unfortunately, none of the other extras include such text.

Of the remaining supplements, the deleted scenes are the most compelling. The eleven segments run as a continuous piece that lasts 22 minutes and 10 seconds; the scenes themselves go from 52 seconds to six minutes, 11 seconds. In an odd move, no chapter stops appear here, which makes it hard to access favorite scenes.

Referring to these as "deleted scenes" seems somewhat misleading, as most of them offer extensions of scenes that appear in the final film. In addition, we have an alternate take of the trunk scene that receives mention in the audio commentary. All in all, the extended scenes are interesting to watch and they include some good character information as well as some entertaining bits.

In what seemed to be a brief trend for Universal - they also did it for Fast Times at Ridgemont High and American Pie, among others - we get an option called Music Highlights. This lets you skip straight to any of 14 songs featured in the film. It does little for me, but it’s still a thoughtful addition.

Next we discover a few text pieces. The Production Notes provides some solid information about the project, while Cast and Filmmakers adds comments about the participants. We find fairly perfunctory entries for actors George Clooney, Jennifer Lopez, Ving Rhames, Don Cheadle, Dennis Farina, and Albert Brooks as well as director Stephen Soderbergh. An unusual extra, Technical Information tells us about the picture and sound transfers. Swelltone discusses that program and also offers their video logo.

Also included is the hapless trailer that I mentioned earlier. The fact that the DVD contains only this one trailer is a disappointment. During the audio commentary, Soderbergh mentions that he didn't care for it the US promo but that the foreign trailer worked much better; he even says that he hopes the ad in question will pop up on the DVD. Well, it doesn't, and while it may sound petty, I regard that as a negative omission. An additional trailer appears within the “Cast and Filmmakers” domain. Inside Soderbergh’s filmography, you’ll discover a promo for The Underneath.

While not Steven Soderbergh’s most celebrated movie, Out of Sight may well be his best. The movie offers strong characters whose interaction makes the flick a consistent delight, and it paints them in such a way to make them more complex and intriguing than usual. The DVD provides decent but moderately flawed picture along with good sound and a nice selection of extras. Out of Sight is a great choice for a purchase, as the movie holds up well to repeated viewings.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.4615 Stars Number of Votes: 26
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