Munich (2005) - 2-Disc Limited Edition

Genre(s): Action / Drama / War
Universal || R - 164 minutes - $39.98 || May 9th, 2006
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2006-05-04


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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: Steven Spielberg
Writer(s): George Jonas (book "Vengeance"), Tony Kushner (screenplay) and Eric Roth (screen
Cast:


Theatrical Release Date: January 6th, 2006


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • The Mission, The Team
  • Memories of the Event
  • Portrait of an Era
  • The "On-Set" Experience
  • Editing, Sound and Music
  • The International Cast


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

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.::THE FILM::.

IMAGE

Plot Outline (from DVD back cover): Inspired by real events, Munich reveals the intense story of the secret Israeli squad assigned to track down and assassinate the 11 Palestinians believed to have planned the 1972 Mnich massacre of 11 Israeli athletes -- and the personal toll this mission of revenge takes on the team and the man who led it.

Steven Spielberg has presented so many powerful movies over the years that when he does gets through his blockbuster phase with sub-par, though good for the most part, films like War of the Worlds and even Minority Report, I have high expectations for this dramatic material. Like Schindler's List in 1993 and Saving Private Ryan in '98, these films were, and are, emotionally impactful to me; however, I did not feel that in Munich.

On a technical level, Munich is a great film with excellent cinematography -- from Spielberg vet, Janusz Kaminski -- and the best acting in Eric Bana's still fledgling career... not to mention the supporting cast including new James Bond Daniel Craig and, especially, Geoffrey Rush whose performance while at times seemed to be over-the-top, was still great.

Running well over two and a half hours, Spielberg takes his time developing Bana and the ultimate moral conflict that resides and comes full circle in the end. There are no easy answers in Munich only more questions that, perhaps, do not have the right answer. How does one fight terrorism? Can you fight bullet for bullet? Bomb for bomb? I don't know and the film doesn't either.

Nevertheless, despite these highlights, in the end I felt a bit empty. Previous works like Saving Private Ryan and Schindler's List had an emotion or soul if you will, behind the dramatic events. Outside of Bana's Avner, I didn't feel a connection with any of these characters. Early on, Spielberg tries to establish connection with the squad and while they are likeable characters, I wished I cared more. Instead, we're given a film on the surface is technically outstanding, but inside left much to be desired.

I don't want to dissuade anyone from renting Munich as it is worth watching for great performances (Geoffrey Rush, albeit for a limited amount of screen time, deserved some recognition), classic Spielberg direction style and some truly heart-pounding, thrilling scenes. At the very least, Munich is a good film worthy of some of the accolades it has received... It is, however, not the masterpiece I, any many others, come to expect from Spielberg in the "True Story" realm.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

The one disc edition is movie-only so if you enjoy extras (especially on Spielberg's movies), then upgrade to the two-disc Limited Edition -- and get it quick as these Universal editions tend to go out of print (OOP) quickly; it took only two months for Jarhead to nearly disappear (though you can still get one if you're willing to pay either retail $40 or higher).

Introduction by Steven Spielberg (4:41) - Both versions get an intro from Spielberg as he explains why he chose this project and tells us what it is and is not (replying to comments that the film is anti-Semitic). The main thing I got out of this was that it's a shame he doesn't record commentaries as he is fascinating to listen to.

The Mission, The Team (13:18) - Despite a good runtime, this features your basic stuff with interviews from all the cast members talking about their characters and interacting with each other and crew members like director Spielberg, the writer, producers, etc. It's interesting to listen to them talk about the film but a bit hollow (not in the sense they didn't believe in the film, but that the feature doesn't offer much).

Memories of the Event (8:43) - Begins with archive footage as the newscaster informs what is happening and the devastation of it all. Spielberg gives us his memories of the event and remembers where he was when it happened (much in the same way as the day Kennedy was assassinated).

Portrait of an Era (13:25) - Far stretching featurette covers everything from filming in various countries like Budapest (each street doubles for different regions such as London or Rome) to the costume design of the 70s. Filmmakers also discuss the tone of certain shots (from cold to warm) and Spielberg's own style, especially using the zoom to give it that 70s feel.

The "On-Set" Experience (14:31) - We get a more in-depth look at how Spielberg shot Munich through the lense of a behind-the-scenes camera as well as cast and crew members including the director of photography and the main cast members. The production designer describes Spielberg as going onto a new set with an "open mind" and, as producer Kathleen Kennedy stated, he wanted to be realistic.

While he did much storyboarding with War of the Worlds, he didn't seem as restricted on this project. We also get more sound bites from Spielberg discussing filming the Munich massacre when he initially was going to go with archive footage. Most interesting about this featurette was the son of one of the murdered Israeli athletes (Guri Weinberg played his father, Moshe).

The International Cast (12:49) - Spielberg speculates that this is a film with the most speaking parts than any other he's directed (he guessed maybe 155). The casting team went all around world to find a wide variety of actors to fill the various roles. For instance, actress Lynn Cohen, who played Israeli PM Golda Meir, watched news footage of her character to get down different gestures and vocal elements... Along with some of the major characters, they also talk with others like Mathieu Amalric (Louis), Michael Lonsdale (Papa) and Geoffrey Rush (Ephraim).

Editing, Sound and Music (12:36) - Another slightly extensive look, this time at the post-production aspects of Munich with discussions with the producers, editor Michael Kahn and composer John Williams. The post-production took a brisk 9 weeks (short time for a major production), not to mention how much work John Williams had in '05 with Star Wars: Episode III, Memoirs of a Geisha and War of the Worlds (along with Munich).



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

IMAGE

Picture: Munich is presented in anamorphic widescreen, 2.35 aspect ratio. Spielberg showcases the style and times of the 70s very well but doesn't overdue it and make the audience aware they're watching a different time. Picture wise, it's clean but not so clean like some modern films. All in all, a great transfer.

Sound: The most disappointing part of the DVD is the non-inclusion of a DTS track, normally found on a Steven Spielberg movie on DVD. A DTS mix would've been great with the tense explosions along with John Williams fantastic score. But, as it is, we get the standard Dolby 5.1, which is still fine and distributes the sound nicely.



.::OVERALL::.

Even though there's certainly a great amount of material in the extras department (totaling around 70-minutes in all), but I can't quite recommend going for the 2-disc Limited Edition unless you're a collector of OOP titles or really enjoy special features. As for the film itself, you'll be able to find the 1-disc edition at a more reasonable price ($17 in its first week) and you'll still get Spielberg's introduction as well.