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  Directed by
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 2.35:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  Subtitles
    English, Hebrew, Czech, Greek, Polish, Hungarian, Dutch, Turkish, Icelandic, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, Hindi
  Extras
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Audio commentary - by director and production designer
  • Cast/crew biographies
  • Featurette - before and after special effects.
  • Photo gallery
  • Music video - "Erase/Rewind" by the Cardigans

The Thirteenth Floor - Collectors Edition

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 97 mins . M15+ . PAL

  Feature
Contract

It's always nice to have a movie go in a direction that many others of a similar genre don't seem to do. Take the premise of virtual reality mixed with a detective mystery and you've got an idea for a movie. Based on the original novel Simulacron 3 by Daniel F. Galouye, the Thirteenth floor takes you on a semi time travel journey of murder and mystery.

Hannon Fuller (Armin Mueller-Stahl) runs a highly secretive software company eminating off the thirteenth floor of a high-rise Los Angeles building. His latest project has been in development for over 6 years and he's been testing it himself for the past month, without the full consent of his programmers.

When Hannon turns up dead, his lead programmer and best friend Douglas Hall (Craig Bierko) is the prime suspect in a case that is bizarre to both the investigating detective and Hall himself. Hall can't remember the night of the murder and begins to believe that he may have infact committed it. Hannons daughter Jane Fuller (Gretchen Mol) arrives on the scene to claim ownership of the company as next of kin. This is pretty bizarre given that Hannon never mentioned anything about family to Hall in all the years he'd known him.

Hall finds out that Hannon has been using the simulation and he tries it himself to find a reason to all this mystery. In doing so he finds out that not all is what it seems both in and out of the simulation and that Hannon found out something that he shouldn't have.

Who killed Hannon? What's real and what's not? Is there more to Jane than we are lead to believe? All these and more are answered as the revelation to come is more than Hall would have expected.

  Video
Contract

Another fine presentation from the house of Columbia. We are treated to two styles here that are almost complete opposites in a way. In the scenes whereby our cast travel into the virtual world of the early 1900's, we get a sepia toned image with low color saturation, weak black levels and low white peaks. Daylight scenes are rendered nicely with the same lack of color saturation

On the flip side, in the late 90's era, we have deep blacks, saturated greens and a cold look as the film never seems to venture into daylight. Everything is clean bar a little film grain. Don't fret thought, this is the intent of the filmaker to distinguish the different eras and to represent the virtual rendering that these supercomputers provide.

Sharpness is on the high side and detail is plentiful in busy scenes so there's no chance of missing anything important. A nice transfer indeed

  Audio
Contract

I must say, this is an excellent soundtrack, bar a minor defect. It can be best described as very atmospheric and almost Matrix-like in nature, although a slightly less action packed version.

There's the usual exaggeration of effects such as light making a bass pass across the screen - since when does light produce sound? Either way, it's a usual effect in many movies. The ambience in the movie is great and you are surrounded with the environment portrayed on the screen. Many a time was I turning my head to hear something from behind me. Bass response is accurate and directionality is abundant. Prepare to jump when the thunder strikes.

The musical score provided by Harald Kloser is very eerie and suits the tone of the film perfectly; almost a soundtrack you would by on CD.

The downside of the soundtrack is that the dialogue is slightly lower in some scenes and it was a little hard to listen to at times. I kept fiddling with the center channel on a Video Essentials calibrated system. If that has to happen, then I know the soundtrack isn't recorded too well. Minor problem aside, this is demo material at times.

  Extras
Contract

Another collector's edition from Columbia with a nice compliment of extras to the movie itself.

  • Audio Commentary - by director Josef Rusnak and production designer Kirk M. Petruccelli. Do yourself a favor and avoid this commentary; spend the 97 minutes watching another dvd. It's very bland, slow and boring at times.
  • Conceptual Art Gallery - 9 images of some key scenes from the movie. Seeing these makes you wish the movie was animated at times, they are truly some nice drawings here.
  • Before and After Special Effects - Images of the set as it was filmed then the finished image with digital extensions to the structures in the shot. Buildings extended, oil wells added and tram tracks planted. Nice to see how much effort actually went into the movie when you don't realise it. Almost in the realm of Star Wars episode one digital emphasis.
  • Cast/Crew profiles - You standard fare that seems to be one of the extras that now gets skipped over as people can't be bothered reading pages of text. Maybe if they tried a voice over with some key stills from their filmographies we'd be more interested.
  • Music Video - "Erase/Rewind" by the Cardigans. A nice looking video clip with scenes from the movie thrown in. If you've seen the film clip with Tom Jones and the cardigans, you'll see alot of similarities in the camera techniques.
  • Theatrical Trailer - Another standard extra that could use a little more attention to detail. Give us the original aspect ratio and 5.1 sound and these will get popular again.

Not a bad collection of extras for those who enjoyed the movie.

  Overall  
Contract

There's only one thing that comes to mind when you watch a film that has influence by either Roland Emmerich or Dean Devlin - "It had potential". Think of their past efforts and you'll see what I mean: Stargate, Independence Day, Universal Soldier, Godzilla. Yes, they had the mass market appeal and I certainly enjoyed the visuals and the big soundtracks but that's all they were, big bang trailers with the other 2 hours filled in with bad movie putty.

Granted, the Thirteenth Floor doesn't try and promote itself as the next big virtual reality movie but it does tackle the theme of human life being controlled by a higher being. I've seen this before in Dark City and it was executed better in that movie.


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      And I quote...
    ""
    - Steve Koukoulas
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Pioneer DV-505 Gold
    • TV:
          Hitachi CMT2979 68cm
    • Receiver:
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    • Speakers:
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    • Centre Speaker:
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    • Audio Cables:
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    • Video Cables:
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      Recent Reviews:
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