DVD Review: 'Spy Game' evades triviality with dazzling DVD features

    “”Spy Game”” is definitely not an Oscar-winner. Starring Brad Pitt and Robert Redford, the movie’s appeal lies mostly in glamour. Fortunately, the DVD version embraces the movie’s glitziness and doesn’t try to be something the movie is not. The result is a movie-viewing extravaganza with a high degree of coolness.

    Vital to the quality of the DVD is an innovative new feature called “”Covert OPS,”” which allows viewers to watch behind-the-scenes special features as the movie unfolds. While Covert OPS lacks development because there are too few opportunities to view the special footage, it still provides a distinct experience.

    In addition to Covert OPS, the DVD includes content ranging from a presentation on the recruitment practices of the CIA to dual audio commentaries by movie higher-ups to a script-to-storyboard featurette on director Tony Scott’s filmmaking process.

    The DVD also includes Universal Studio’s “”Total Axess,”” which uses the Internet to provide additional supplementary materials. Unfortunately, the content available on the Web is less than impressive.

    The DVD is as amazing on a technical level as on a content level. With a movie based so heavily on special effects and unique cinematography, the DVD’s high-class color fidelity and picture quality are very welcome. Similarly, the DVD does justice to Scott’s frequent computer-generated sound effects.

    Although the movie it contains is not the best example of cinematic excellence, the “”Spy Game”” DVD is an excellent example of a DVD that does the best with what it is given. As such, the DVD is a respectable addition to any DVD-lover’s library.

    ‘Serendipity’

    In the opening scene of “”Serendipity,”” the movie’s female lead, Kate Beckinsdale, insults the audience by explicitly defining the movie’s title; the word “”serendipity,”” she says, describes a “”fortunate mistake.”” With only a mediocre movie and an extreme paucity of special features, the “”Serendipity”” DVD is definitely a mistake, but certainly not a “”fortunate”” one.

    Like the movie it contains, the “”Serendipity”” DVD displays very little originality. The deleted scenes are ho-hum and few in number, and the behind-the-scenes mini-documentary is standard fare.

    If anything about the special features stands out, it’s the extreme arrogance of writer-director Peter Chelsom in his audio-commentary. At one point, he boldly proclaims that the reason the DVD only features five deleted scenes is that his movie “”worked so well”” right off the bat.

    On the technical level, the DVD deserves some kudos. The sound mixing is excellent; the actors voices can be easily distinguished from the New York setting’s pervasive background noise. Also, the movie’s time-lapse photography, while overdone, is particularly beautiful in crystal-clear widescreen.

    Despite its technical merits, the “”Serendipity”” DVD is at best rental-only fare. No sappy streak is strong enough to justify spending $30 for this dud.

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