The trailer did the normal job for me when the movie first came out, I thought great cast, cool movie, posturing and big explosions. What more could you want. Then I heard the reviews and a few friends saw it, bad news, bad film.
So since I’m catching up on loads of movies I haven’t seen in the cinema, I thought this should be one. This is where reviewing a DVD and a Movie should be different, and perhaps I should have set my reviews up differently, but I haven’t so DVD reviews are for both DVD and Movie.
What does that mean? That SWAT gets only four stars instead of five. What? I hear you say. The SWAT DVD is awesome. Before we hit that, let’s talk about the movie.
It’s a big one, starring Samuel L. Jackson, LL Cool J, Colin Farrell and Michelle Rodriguez, and the all look like they are having a prize A blast. That’s a great thing because it shows in a movie, these guys are working as a SWAT team, and onscreen they flow like a real trained team. They other thing these guys bring is charisma, each of them has a huge screen presence, with Rodriguez setting off the balance perfectly.
The opening scene sets the action straight from the end of the opening credits, recreating the famous north Hollywood shootout. The action is intense and you really do feel like you’re part of the action.
I expected the story to be way over the top, and it’s not that wild. Of course there are a couple of bits that are pure cinema, but it’s surprising to see how real and believable it all is. The entertainment level is really high, but it’s mixed with some nice touches of reality, and a nicely satisfying ending.
Now, the DVD. For the movie the audio mix is superb, Dolby Digital is very strong, and there’s some excellent separation and you really do feel like you’re in the thick of the action, something missing from so many other movies.
There are two commentaries on the disc, one switches between the actors above (excluding Farrel, perhaps he feels he’s moved on too far since this movie) and the director, although the actors aren’t exactly informative, they are fun and it’s great to hear some of the big screen characters chatting away together. The Director provides some interesting insights into the making.
Then there’s the writers commentary. Although there were many writers involved, the two who came up with the idea and worked on the initial drafts are there and the final screenplay writer. The best thing about that is the insight into the job of a screenplay writer and the involvement in the whole movie making process. Doesn’t sound anywhere near as exciting or fulfilling.
There are additional extras. The breakdown of the opening shooting scenes is very interesting and shows the sheer scale of work required on such an action packed scene. Then there’s a few additional scenes, gag reel, weapons demonstration, etc. What is really exciting, and topped the DVD off for me, was the sound section.
Taking five key action scenes, each is split into four audio tracks comprising something along the lines of guns, contact and explosions, background and full mix. The result is very engaging. Listen to each track separated and all at the same levels, skip back and change the audio track again and hear how it’s built up to make the excitement.
All in all the DVD and extras are excellent, something the Director gives out during his commentary is that both the commentaries were recorded before the movie was in the cinema, just after filming. Perfect. Contract the actors and key crew into a DVD commentary straight after the movie, throw everything at it and use production time to create some special DVD extras. I don’t know if that happened here, but it sure seems like it, and it’s an ideal way to create an excellent DVD product.
As for the movie, it’s great fun, and it’s not as over the top as you would have thought. So I’m glad I watched it on DVD and not in the Cinema, a much better experience.