Crash (2004)
Lions Gate Home Entertainment
Cast: Don Cheadle, Matt Dillon, Sandra Bullock
Extras: Commentary Track, Featurette, Trailers

Let's not get this confused with David Cronenberg's steamy 1996 film, as the two couldn't be more different. "Crash" is one of those movies that seems to be on everyone's backburner. Everyone has heard of it, but not many have seen it. Being released just before the summer blockbusters came rolling out, the little flick from Lion's Gate got lost in the shuffle. Word of mouth has managed to keep the film alive though. It has currently made more money than "Kingdom of Heaven", "House Of Wax", and "The Island", all of which were supposed to be cash cows for the summer studio bankroll and trailed off after decent opening weekends. Hopefully, this little engine that could will make a smooth transition to DVD and find even more who are willing to make it a success.

"Crash" is a film that breaks you down, and then builds you back up. After a car accident, we spend two nights and one day in the lives of numerous Los Angeles residents. Going in, I did not realize the film is centered on multiple storylines and the issue of race. The reception at the box office for the movie was very positive. The dollars may not say it, but the longevity of this indie flick shows it has some legs. Hopefully this will prove that audiences are looking for a movie that has a solid story, excellent acting, and deals with real issues. With "Crash" and "Million Dollar Baby" behind him, Paul Haggis may be the best talent you have never heard of. While I loved "Million Dollar Baby", "Crash" has a tight story that just begs to be seen. There are great moments of tension that even the best thrillers cannot achieve. With a strong background in television, Haggis may spur a trend of quality screenplay writers coming from the small screen. With wonderful shows like "24", "Lost", and "CSI" on the air, I'd say movie goers are in for a treat in the not so distant future.

How can one talk about "Crash" and not mention the acting? After some questionable acting roles in recent years, both Sandra Bullock and Brendan Fraser bring their best as a couple who bridges together two of the storylines. Matt Dillon manages to repulse and amaze you throughout the film, and Thandie Newton shows she can act in a movie not centered around extreme action and CGI. My favorite has to be Don Cheadle. I have followed him pretty closely since "Boogie Nights" and always enjoy the class and depth he brings to his roles. He has a quiet strength that manages to showcase a variety of emotions and sincerity without saying a word. At a glance, it seems as if he feels the pain in the world around him. He seems to stand out in ensemble films and "Crash" is no exception.

People are afraid of what they don't know. There are so many assumptions and misunderstandings about people that our basic thoughts get clouded by the glorified press of isolated incidents. "Crash" takes the numerous racial stereotypes and places them front and center. We see how people are critiqued and treated simply because of the color of their skin, as well as the reaction of those who are judged. "Crash" is a movie that makes those who see it want to be better people. The issue of race is not created, rather uncovered. Nothing really comes as a surprise in the film, as it is all events that occur daily throughout the nation. By placing them in a select area of Los Angeles, with a diverse group of people, it is obvious that the issue is closer than we would like to think.

The 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation is a good one. While there is some grain visible in night scenes, the overall look of the movie is nice. The colors are strong with detail but don't really draw much attention. Full of toned down, soothing images, the muted colors compliment the dramatic story. "Crash" is being released in separate widescreen and full frame formats. Don't lose any of the picture by picking up the heavily cropped pan and scan version.

There are two Dolby Digital options, and the 5.1 will probably be the one people use most. In a dialogue heave drama, the focus is on the actors. There are no issues with the quality of the dialogue, it is sharp and at a good level. The nice thing about the 5.1 mix is that it crates an atmosphere. The music is really the only constant outside of the front speakers and it is used throughout the film. The deep base is noticable, creating a great soundstage with the film's score. The Dolby Digital 2.0 track will certainly do a great job for you as well. It may not have the benefits of additional sound outlets, but in a drama like "Crash", the 2.0 mix holds up well.

Extras for the film include an introduction by Director/Producer/Co-writer Paul Haggis and a full length commentary where Paul chats up the movie with Producer/Co-writer Robert Moresco and Producer/Actor Don Cheadle. There is a behind the scenes featurette and a music video by rap duo Kansascali. A number of trailers from Lion's Gate help to round out the disc.

"Crash" is mandatory viewing for movie lovers. It is going to be talked about more and more as the Academy Awards roll around, so check it out before all of the hype really hits. The DVD has a good audio and visual presentation, as well as numerous extras to give viewers a little something extra. Fans of "Magnolia" will love the abundance of characters and links between them. "Crash" will certainly stimulate discussion long after the credits roll.