The Thirteenth Floor (1999) [Blu-ray]

Genre(s): Mystery / Science Fiction
Sony || R - 100 minutes - $28.95 || April 14, 2009
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2009-04-04


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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

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

B L U - R A Y
.:: EXCLUSIVES ::.

Blu-ray Exclusives

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Josef Rusnak
Writer(s): Daniel F. Galouye (book); Josef Rusnak & Ravel Centeno-Rodriguez (screenplay)
Cast: Craig Bierko, Gretchen Mol, Vincent D'Onofrio, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Dennis Haysbert


Theatrical Release Date: May 28, 1999


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Feature Commentary
  • Music Video
  • BD-Live


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (2.40)
  • English (Dolby TrueHD 5.1), French (Dolby TrueHD 5.1), Portuguese (Dolby TrueHD 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Portuguese, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

Science Fiction mystery The Thirteenth Floor is a movie with an interesting idea that sadly was poorly executed. The film came out in the midst Dark City (1998) and The Matrix (1999) and actually takes some of those elements, with a bit of “Quantum Leap” thrown in, and outputs a movie that could’ve been so much better.

The Thirteenth Floor stars Craig Bierko (Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas) as Douglas Hall, a “high tech visionary” who, with Hannon Fuller (Armin Mueller-Stahl; The Game) and Jason Whitney (Vincent D’Onofrio; TV’s “Law & Order: Criminal Intent”), created a computer program of a whole new world filled with people oblivious that their reality is all fake.

The movie opens with Fuller writing a letter within this world – 1936 Los Angeles – and giving it to a bartender who looks like Whitney’s computer world counterpart. After Fuller comes back to the present, he stops at a bar where someone silences him... for good! Who did it and why? Complicating matters is both the investigation by an LAPD detective (Dennis “You’re in Good Hands With All State” Haysbert) and a beautiful and mysterious woman (Gretchen Mol; The Notorious Bettie Page) who claims to be Fuller’s daughter, a daughter nobody knew about.

Although the movie could’ve been helped by a better cast since Bierko, while a funny actor, never quite grew into the role and Vincent D’Onofrio just looked out of place with bleach blonde hair, the biggest flaw is both with the direction under relative newbie Josef Rusnak who co-adapted a novel called “Simulacron 3” by Daniel F. Galouye. The problem is as a mystery, Thirteenth Floor reveals its hand early on and so rather than the audience discovering clues and the ultimate truth with the protagonist, we already know ahead of time and now must merely watch and wait for him to catch up (which takes a good 30-minutes to do so). And, actually, if you’re adept enough, you’ll find out within the first 20-minutes...

The story and idea itself were actually interesting and made the film, even in a Matrix-world, stand out from the rest. In better hands such as a Steven Spielberg or, if made today, Christopher Nolan, The Thirteenth Floor could’ve stood as a solid science fiction movie rather than just another space filler at Blockbuster. And it’s a shame because when you look beyond amateurish direction and a screenplay that could’ve used some work; this wasn’t that bad of a movie. It is a movie with some decent performances and basic visual effects, which is good keeping the movie fresh.

However, in spite of all the film’s flaws and a story that revealed itself far too soon, I still found myself enjoying the movie from beginning to end. If you haven’t had a chance to check it out, go to your local store and rent the DVD, it just may be worth the time and effort.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

There’s not much to this Blu-ray disc other than a commentary track with Co-writer/Director Josef Rusnak and Production Designer Kirk M. Petruccelli and the music video to “Erase/Rewind” by The Cardigans. And there is also a BD-Live portal for those inclined to watch some trailers.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

Although black levels and overall color arrangement on the Blu-ray disc looked fine, the picture itself was a tad soft in places and contained some noise in some background elements. Given the film’s age now (10 years), I wasn’t too surprised. If you don’t already own the movie on DVD, then it might be worth the extra money. The movie is presented in its OAR of 2.40 and is in 1080p high-definition with an MPEG-4 video codec on a 50GB Blu-ray disc.

A little more impressive is the rich, and bass-loving, Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track that provided a nice audio experience from dialogue which came via the center channel and audio effects which were extensively used on the other speakers.



.::OVERALL::.

The Thirteenth Floor isn’t some masterful science-fiction flick even though it had that potential with the right cast and crew in place, but it is entertaining even with a “twist” you could see coming 20-minutes in and 30 miles away. This is not the best looking catalogue Blu-ray Sony has released but it’s certainly acceptable especially alongside an audio track that sounds great for a 10 year old movie.