Written by: Michael Den Boer on November 8th, 2013
Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1998
Director: Brian De Palma
writers: Brian De Palma, David Koepp
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Gary Sinise, John Heard, Carla Gugino, Stan Shaw, Kevin Dunn, Michael Rispoli, Joel Fabiani, Luis Guzmán, David Anthony Higgins, Mike Starr, Tamara Tunie, Chip Zien
BluRay released: September 10th, 2013
Approximate running time: 98 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive
Sound: DTS-HD 5.1 English, Dolby Digital Stereo French, Dolby Digital Stereo Spanish
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
BluRay Release: Warner Brothers
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: $19.98
Over the last forty five years Brian De Palma has assembled an impressive resume that has seen him work in just about every genre. With his greatest successes coming from the thriller genre with films like Obsession, Dressed To Kill, Blow Out and Body Double. And though he has ventured away from the thriller genre throughout his career he has always found his way back to the thriller genre for which has long become synonymous with. This brings us to Snake Eyes what is arguably his last great Thriller that he has directed to date. Sure he has directed a few more thrillers since then, but they are not without their fare share of flaws. More about these films at a later time, let’s focus for now on Snake Eyes.
From a plot stand point Snake Eyes is fairly standard conspiracy theory trying to uncover those behind the crime and exposing them. And yet the plot though as simple as a plot can be is almost secondary in the hands of De Palma whose visual gymnastics take center stage. After an opening credits roll by the film’s first proper scene is an intricate tracking shot that follows this film’s protagonist Rick Santoro as he cavorts throughout the corridors of the boxing arena. From a reference stand point one has to wonder if the inspiration for this lengthy opening camera shot was inspired by either Orson Welles Touch of Evil or Alfred Hitchock’s Rope.
This is just the first of countless visual moments that De Palma’s creates in this film. Another great shot includes a scene where the ring leader behind the conspiracy is trying to find the women who can blow his cover. The ring leader puts their ear to a door and a crane shot gives an overhead view of several rooms. Of course De Palma even employs out tricks like his use of split screen to maximize information that is being retold to viewers. Needless to say there is just so much going in regards to visuals in this film that multiple viewers are a must to fully digest everything. Even the way in which De Palma uses color in the film plays an integral part in the overall story at hand.
Performance wise the cast are all great in their respective roles. With the most memorable performance coming from Gary Sinise (Ransom) in the role of Commander Kevin Dunne, this character is the childhood friend of this film’s protagonist. Easily the most underrated role has to be Carla Gugino (Sin City) in the role Julia Costello, the woman who is about the blow the whistle on things that others would rather keep quite. Then there is Nick Cage’s (Face Off) performance which echoes a lot of things that he would later become known for as an actor. He has a knack for playing oddball characters and once again he creates a truly unique character. And once again De Palma puts together an extraordinary cast of secondary characters, including one of my all time favorite character actors Luis Guzmán (Carlito’s Way).
In modern cinema where so much is done by the numbers or recycled from things that were already successful. Very few filmmakers have the ability that De Palma has for creating suspense and maintaining tension. And though Snake Eyes is not De Palma’s most perfect example of how to make a thriller, there are more than enough moments of brilliance in this film that it is easy to forgive the things that just don’t gel.
Snake Eyes comes on a 25 GB single layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive anamorphic widescreen. This a very good transfer that is miles ahead of all previous home video releases from this film.
This release comes with three audio options, a DTS-HD 5.1 mix in English, a Dolby Digital Stereo mix in French and a Dolby Digital Stereo mix in Spanish. The DTS-HD 5.1 mix in English equally impressive as dialog comes through with crystal clear clarity and everything sounds balanced. Range wise the audio mix show great depth and the more ambient aspects of the soundtrack are well represented. Also included with this release are three subtitle options, English SDH, French and Spanish.
Extras for this release are limited to a trailer for the film. Overall Snake Eyes makes its Hi Def debut via a solid audio / video presentation from Warner Brothers.