Heat (1995) - Two-Disc Special Edition

Genre(s): Action / Crime / Drama / Thriller
Warner Brothers || R - 172 minutes - $26.98 || February 22, 2005
Reviewer: Elyusha Vafaeisefat || Posted On: 2005-02-17


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

A U D I O &
.:: V I D E O ::.

Audio and Video

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Michael Mann
Writer(s): Michael Mann (written by)
Cast: Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Val Kilmer, Jon Voight, Tom Sizemore, Diane Venora, Amy Brenneman, Ashley Judd, Mykelti Williamson, Wes Studi, Ted Levine, Dennis Haysbert, William Fichtner, Natalie Portman


Theatrical Release Date: December 15, 1995


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:

    Disc 1:
  • Director Commentary
  • 3 Theatrical Trailers


  • Disc 2:
  • 11 Additional Scenes

  • 5 New Documentaries:
  • True Crime
  • Crime Stories
  • Into the Fire
  • Pacino and De Niro: The Conversation
  • Return to the Scene of the Crime


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Widescreen (2.35)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

IMAGE

“Never allow anything in your life that you can't walk out on in thirty seconds flat, if you spot the heat coming around the corner” - Neil McCauley

Heat has long been one of my favorite films of all time. From the first time I saw it in theaters, to when I just saw the film for this review; I still believe that Heat is easily one of the greatest crime dramas ever made. These days it seems as if studios care about nothing more than action and little (if any) character development. In Heat, you get a great combination of both. This is most certainly because of Michael Mann and his attention to characters no matter what film he makes. In Thief, The Last of the Mohicans, The Insider, Ali, and most recently Collateral, Mann tries to center his attention on the lives and actions of his characters first and foremost. Heat is most certainly no exception.

The story itself focuses on Neil McCauley (played extremely well by Robert De Niro) and his professional crew who tries to make big scores at banks, safes, and armored cars. Things seem great for McCauley and his crew until Lt. Vincent Hanna (played equally as great by Al Pacino), gets on McCauley’s trail. However, the film is not a clichéd good versus bad film. Lt. Hanna becomes obsessed with catching McCauley and his crew, but at the same time, Hanna develops a certain kind of respect for McCauley that one would not expect from a cop and a thief. This where Mann it at his best because he is able to develop both characters so well that you don’t know which one to root for. By the end, Mann has his audience emotionally attached to both Hanna and McCauley.

Another important thing to note is that Mann does not just shoot action as if it has no order. Mann composes his action sequences and at the same creates an “organized chaos” that is very operatic in some ways. The downtown shooting is a perfect example of this (or even more recently the club shootout scene in Collateral). In the downtown shootout scene, you don’t have any music or a musical score playing in the background to help you feel the emotion of the scenes. Mann composes the scene so well that you automatically sense the emotions on the police side as well as the criminal side of the fence. Essentially it is just the people, their guns and the choices they make. In some ways, that can even be one of the ways to summarize this film. I could write an entire paper on the many themes of Heat and how it parallels something like a Greek tragedy. Overall, it is just a spectacular character study on two men on opposing sides of the law as well as a great action film.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

10 years after its initial release, Michael Mann’s true crime epic Heat finally has come out with a 2-Disc Special Edition. As I mentioned in my review, Heat has long been one of my all time favorite films, so I was nothing more than thrilled to see such a great DVD put together for such a great film.

The first extra is a commentary by the film’s writer, producer, director and mastermind behind the entire film, Michael Mann. It is a very good commentary for the most part. It is interesting to see how Mann used some of the same locations from Heat on his latest film, Collateral. During the commentary, one also gets a sense of how much in detail Mann developed the film. Mann discusses specifically the background of characters and discusses their motivations behind certain scenes. Even though these are almost all fictional characters, one gets the sense that Mann developed the characters so well that he was able to go even deeper into their character traits than the film shows. It would have been nice to see some other members of the cast and crew join in on the commentary, but I still enjoyed the commentary very much. Rounding out the extra features on the first disc are a set of three theatrical trailers (all three which were included in the original barebones release) titled, “Surprise of a Lifetime," "Two Actors Collide," and "Closing In."

On the second disc, there are 5 brand new making-of-documentaries. Every single one of them is great to watch because you can tell Michael Mann and the films producers really wanted to put out the finest DVD they could. Included in the documentaries are brand new conversations with cast members Al Pacino, Tom Sizemore, Val Kilmer, Ashley Judd, Danny Trejo, Dennis Haysbert and many more. Conversations with the films producers Art Linson and Pieter Jan Brugge along with the films cinematographer Dante Spinotti and many more members of the production crew are also included. It was good to see that they assembled as much of the cast and crew together on the special edition of the DVD as they could. Several times you’ll see a special edition of a DVD, but they will use old footage or it will mostly be the director doing all the talking. But on this DVD, one can tell that the entire cast and crew loved working on this film and didn’t mind discussing their experience on the film for the new DVD.

The first documentary is titled “True Crime,” which tells the back-story on how Mann came up with the basis for his film. It runs about 15 minutes and discusses the history of crime in Chicago and how Mann came up with the idea for Heat. However, the documentary is mostly about the real life Chicago cop Chuck Adamson (who is the basis for the Al Pacino character of Vincent Hanna) and his encounters with the real Neil McCauley. I had read that De Niro’s character Neil McCauley was based on a real person, but I never knew much more than just that. Adamson and Mann discuss many of the real life events that the film was based on and it is very interesting to see Mann’s attention to detail and how much he wanted to be as authentic as possible. Similarly to the film, you also see how Adamson had respect for McCauley, even though he was a professional criminal and a thief. It is very fascinating to see how a thief and a police officer have such an understanding of one another, even though they are on opposing sides.

The next documentary runs about 20 minutes and is titled “Crime Story.” This featurette focuses more on the screenplay of the film as well as the casting and development of the main characters Vincent and Neil. Mann discusses how he had developed the screenplay 20 years ago and was trying to get the film made then. He actually ended up condensing the story for the made for TV film “L.A. Takedown” back in the late 80’s. Mann then showed the screenplay to producer Art Linson, who encouraged him to use the entire script as an epic film. They also discuss the casting of De Niro and Pacino in the film. Both Linson and Mann said that their first and only choices to play the leads were Pacino and De Niro. The documentary also discusses how Pacino and De Niro both brought their own interpretations and detail to their characters. The cast and crew also discuss Mann’s attention to detail and how well he developed the characters of Vincent and Neil. Finally, they also discuss the casting of some of the other characters in the film.

“Into the Fire” is the next documentary and it focuses mostly on the actual production of the film. It runs about 23 minutes and the cast discusses how they trained for their roles by going to shooting ranges to learn how to shoot firearms properly. Again, this is because of Mann’s attention to detail and because he wants to be as authentic as possible. It was neat to see that Mann actually built the street to scale on the shooting ranges so the actors could practice their scenes as much as possible. Cinematographer Dante Spinotti also discusses the location scouting and how they produced the overall look of the film as well. In addition, the cast and crew talk about the many weeks they spent on filming the great downtown shootout scene. Lastly, the documentary discusses the films score and use of eclectic music, the multi-layered sound design, the editing process as well as some of the films themes.

“The Conversation” is the next extra feature and it is about the classic scene between film icons Pacino and De Niro. It runs about 10 minutes and discusses how Mann wanted to get that scene down as perfect as he could. The cast and crew also discuss how Mann wanted to have the first encounter between Vincent and Neil a simple scene of two guys drinking coffee as opposed to a big shooting showdown or a yelling match between them. Additionally, the cast and crew discuss how they looked forward to seeing the scene between the two legendary actors. Mann also talks about how he wanted to keep the editing and shooting of the scene very simple as well. Those who have seen the film know that the scene is executed very well by Mann and after seeing this documentary, I can certainly see why. Mann knew that he had a once in a lifetime opportunity to film two film icons at once and he certainly did not want to mess up.

The final documentary runs about 12 minutes and is titled “Return to the Scene of the Crime,” which traces back the locations used during the course of the film. You follow location manager Janice Polley and one of the films producers, Gusmano Cesaretti, as they travel along specific locations. It is an interesting extra to watch because you get to see the real locations used for the film over 10 years later. You also see how detailed and specific Michael Mann wanted his locations to be. One also sees why Michael Mann seems to have such a unique feel and obsession for Los Angeles that no other director in the world has been able to match yet.

Finally, the DVD includes a set of 11 deleted scenes. I was hoping for much more, but none of them seemed to be anything special. The scenes run about 10 minutes total and none are particularly too long. Most of them are extensions of scenes they already included in the film. Seeing as how the running time of the film is close to 3 hours, it seems like Mann was able to keep in almost everything he wanted in the film. Nevertheless, it is still nice to have the scenes be included in the DVD.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

IMAGE

This is the only aspect of the DVD that I was disappointed with. The audio quality is very good, and seems like an improvement over the original. The classic downtown shootout scene comes off very crisp and with tons of bass. However, the video quality was a bit disappointing. I am not sure if they re-mastered any of the video transfer from the original barebones release, but I did see many instances where there was visible grain and white spots on the film. On the flip side, the menu design (especially the opening menu) is one of the best I’ve seen in a while. It seems as if no one really cares about the DVD menu designs these days, but it is nice to see WB put together a good menu design.



.::OVERALL::.

Overall, the special edition DVD is a very good one. It seems like Warner Brothers really did want to put out a nice release for a great film. The extras are plenty and great to watch. However, the one thing that kept this from being a 5 star DVD is the average video transfer. Had the video and parts of the audio transfer been a little better, I would certainly put this DVD among some of the best releases in recent years. All that aside, the 10th Anniversary Edition of Heat is still a must own by fans of De Niro, Pacino and Mann as well as fans of the genre. In the end, the film itself is certainly the best extra to have. Destined to be a classic in the coming years, Heat is a film that will stand the test of time and unquestionably will be remembered as one of the greatest crime dramas ever made.