The Rock: Criterion Edition artwork

The Rock: Criterion Edition

2nd June 2001

When a retired US Marine general takes a group of tourists hostage on Alcatraz and threatens San Francisco with deadly nerve gas only two people can save the day - a chemical warfare specialist and the only person ever to escape from the rock.
Sean Connery, Nicolas Cage, Ed Harris, John Spencer, David Morse, William Forsythe, Michael Biehn, Vanessa Marcil, John C. McGinley, Gregory Sporleder, Tony Todd
Action/Adventure, Suspense/Thriller
2 Hour 16 Minutes

When a highly decorated, and retired, US marine general grows tired of his marines sacrifices being ignored he decides to take matters into his own hands to obtain the restitution they deserved. He and a group of loyal marines seize a stockpile of deadly chemical weapons and head for San Francisco with some hostage taking in mind.

There's no better place to hold out in than the impenetrable prison of Alcatraz, known as "the Rock", and with plenty of tourists on the island the marines have a ready supply of hostages. The marines demands are simple - that the families of soldiers killed in covert operations should receive compensation for there loss. If the military fail to respond in time then they will unleash their deadly weapons on the inhabitants of San Francisco.

With time running out the authorities turn to the only two people who can help them. They bring in an FBI agent with expertise in dealing with chemical weapons and a former Alcatraz inmate, and an ex-secret British agent, who was the only person ever to escape. Together they must penetrate the islands defences and neutralise the deadly weapons before it is too late.

The picture is bright and colourful with some excellent colour tones. It has an above average bit-rate throughout the film but the picture can sporadically suffer from artifacting, especially when steam in present in the picture. The picture also suffers from the occasional dusk speck. Never the less this is still a superb effort.

The sound is excellent and it is wonderful to have a Dolby Digital and DTS soundtrack to compare during an all action film. However there is little to tell the two competing formats apart as both offer some superb stereo steerage with plentiful use of the surround channels and, when the action starts, subwoofer. Mind you, I will still always opt for the DTS soundtrack whenever the two are provided.

The menu is rather disappointing with only a token effort at animating it, although the accompanying score is quite effective. However, you can't be too picky about the menu system as there are extras galore, so many in fact that they take up their own disc.

There's a reasonable Audio Commentary on the first disc and an interesting number of Documentaries on the second, although I got the feeling that they were more like filler material to justify the second disc. The Outtakes are probably the best part of the disc. You just have to see Ed Harris loosing his temper during some of his scenes and taking his frustrations out on a telephone. He must be a very awkward actor to work with. Mind you, I'm sure that half of Hollywood are difficult when they're not out in public.

Hollywood seems unable to make many decent action films these days, fortunately, "The Rock" is one of them. This disc set is an absolute bargain and fans of actions films or Jerry Bruckheimer should definitely buy this disc. Even if you were one of the unfortunate people to buy the sub-standard initial region one edition, or even worse, the region two flipper, you should bin them and go buy this disc.

  • Audio Commentary by Michael Bay, Jerry Bruckheimer, Nicholas Cage and Ed Harris
  • Dolby Digital and DTS Soundtracks
  • Colour Bars for Optimum Viewing Configuration
  • Video Interview with Director Jerry Bruckheimer
  • Analysis of the Dive Sequence's Special Effects
  • "Movie Magic" Episode on the Film's Special Effects
  • "Dos and Don'ts of Hollywood Gunplay" featurette
  • Excerpts from "Secrets of Alcatraz" Documentary
  • Storyboards, Production Design Drawings and Production Stills
  • Theatrical Trailer and Television Spots
  • Outtakes Selected by Michael Bay
  • "The Rock" world Premiere on Alcatraz
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