Mission: Impossible: III

Mission: Impossible: III (2006)
Paramount Home Video
Cast: Tom Cruise, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ving Rhames, Billy Crudup, Michelle Monaghan
Extras: Enhanced Commentary, Deleted Footage, Making Of Featurettes, Trailers, TV Spots

Hot on the heels of his Academy Award win for "Capote", Philip Seymour Hoffman leaps into the action genre by becoming a sadistic weapons dealer in the third installment of the "Mission Impossible" franchise. Having slightly higher expectations for "Mission: Impossible: III" left me feeling a little wanting. Sure there is action galore and some decent performances, but for the most part, "Mission: Impossible: III" or "M:i:III" gave me the all to distinct impression of a "been there, done that" form of an appearance.

To be quite honest, I was never a fan of the first film, but easily found the John Woo directed "M:I:2" to be more of an artistically balanced action extravaganza that fulfilled my theater going experience quite nicely. Maybe this played a part in my overall disappointment with "M:i:III", maybe not. But there seemed to be a lot of moments of missed opportunity and a general lack of chemistry between the main characters.

Finding himself thrust back into the secret operative world of the IMF (Impossible Mission Force), Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) faces his biggest challenge to date. Setting off to rescue captured agent Lindsey Farris (Keri Russell) leads Ethan on a collision course with worldwide weapons dealer and just plain nasty individual Owen Davian (Philip Seymour Hoffman). Attempting to stop the menacing Owen by capturing him only proves to be a short term solution, further ushering Ethan and his fellow IMF team (made up of Ving Rhames, Jonathan Rhys Meyers and the ever so beautiful Maggie Q) into grave danger. Underestimating the evil force that he is up against, Ethan has to then deal with the kidnaping of his wife Julia (Michelle Monaghan) as she is used as a disposable pawn in Owen's deadly quest to continue his latest and unscrupulous business dealings.

Paramount Home Entertainment bows "Mission: Impossible: III" on HD DVD in a rather glorious way. Presented in a full 1080p High-Definition wide screen transfer that displays an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1. Offering sharp contrast that instantly becomes evident during the opening torture scene where you can actually see sweats beads bubbling out of pores in the main characters skin. The stunning visuals are brought to life thanks in part to a rich black level and good use or appropriate color saturation. There is the introduction of grain during some nighttime and rather vivid daylight scenes, which for the most part is intentional. The transfer never exhibits any dust or dirt elements to mar the presentation, thus providing another great example of what HD DVD has to offer.

Paramount Home Entertainment has matched the visual excitement with a good sonic presentation that comes in the form of a Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 sound track. Available in either English, French or Spanish, dialogue remains true and natural in amongst the heavy handed bass and action packed sound mix. Providing a solid enveloping sound stage, this sound track is sure to wow movie fans with it's pulse-pounding energy.

Choosing to release "Mission: Impossible: III" on a double disc HD DVD allows for a feast of added value materials that don't impede on the overall video performance of the feature presentation.

Disc one presents an "enhanced" commentary by Tom Cruise and director J.J. Abrams that offers behind-the-scenes footage on the making of the film via video pods that are branched out during corresponding scenes throughout the feature presentation. You also have the option to choose an audio only commentary to enjoy alongside the films presentation.

The full spectrum of special features is found on disc two (which also happens to present some of the featurettes and making of specials in full High-Definition). Beginning with "The Making of the Mission" that presents many aspects from the production of the film, including Tom Cruises decision to hire J.J. Abrams to direct this third installment after being rather impressed with Abrams work on the television series "Alias".

The featurettes "Inside the IMF" and "Mission Action: Inside the Action Unit" are also included. Along with "Visualizing the Mission" that explores the pre-visualization of the various action sequences appearing in the film. "Mission: Metamorphosis" delves into the creation of the "mask making machine" and how special effects creators brought the awesome double identity masks to life, which I found to be pretty cool indeed.

The featurette "Scoring the Mission" looks at the musical side of the production and discusses the mixing of the original theme music with composer Michael Giacchino's original score for "Mission: Impossible: III". "Moviefone Unscripted" is a segment that features Tom Cruise and director J.J. Abrams interviewing one another with questions that were fielded from fans of the franchise. "Launching the Mission" takes the viewer to some of the larger premieres for "Mission: Impossible: III" including; New York, Rome, Paris, London and Japan.

A deleted scenes section offers five complete omitted scenes, followed by a theatrical trailers, TV spots and photo gallery department.

The final special feature titled "Excellence in Film" presents a tribute to Tom Cruise as he accepts the 2005 British Academy of Film and Television Arts Stanley Kubrick Britannia Award for his Excellence in Film.

Overall this is a good outing for the third and possibly final "Mission". Had I not possessed slightly higher expectations of seeing a little more originality in the definite execution of the screenplay, I might have enjoyed the film a lot more. Still, the HD DVD of "Mission: Impossible: III" should manage to entertain the masses with it's larger than life action and abundance of added value materials.