K19: The Widowmaker  (2002)


Starring: Harrison Ford, Liam Neeson, Peter Sarsgaard
Director: Kathryn Bigelow

Rating: R

Studio: Paramount

Review Posted: 12.16.02


By John Teves


The Movie


At the height of thei1960's Cold War, Russia launches its flagship nuclear submarine, theiK-19. In command is iron willed Captain Alexei Vostrikov (Ford). Also aboard is popular executive officer Mikhail Polenin (Liam Neeson), who clashes with Vostrikov but shares his unwavering patriotism. As theiK-19 heads toward American waters, a shocking discovery is made: the vessel's nuclear reactor system is leaking, imperiling the men and the sub's missiles. With time running out, the fearless Vostrikov and his crew join together as brave countrymen who must decide the true meaning of duty, honor, and sacrifice.


K-19: THE WIDOWMAKER is one of those films you really want to like, but it just doesn't click for some reason. The theatrical preview really sets this film out to be a real brilliant idea, but I found myself checking my watch multiple times while watching this film.


Neeson and Ford are intense together making the acting performances first rate. The visuals are convincing, and the film captures the tension that goes along with any enjoyable submarine flick. But thereís not much else to this film, which makes for a substandard piece that drags at times.


>Read Justin Bishop's Film Review.


The Video


K-19 appears in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 on this single-sided, dual-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Sharpness consistently appeared genuine. The film remained crisp and clear threw out its presentation. I noticed no signs of softness. There were no concerns related to jagged edges; I did notice a little bit of edge enhancement but it wasnít really a big deal for this type of picture. I noticed grain in certain shots, along with speckles, grit and a streak here and there. This is very surprising for such a new video transfer.  You may need to brighten up your tube for this one.


K-19 was generally a dark presentation. Colors were accurate but not as vivid as I would have hoped for such a new film. Black levels were deep, while shadow detail appeared neat and precise.


The Audio


K-19 is presented in a Dolby Digital 5.1. The soundtrack mix provided a lively and involving piece of work. The soundfield spread through all five channels, as it created a perfect sense of environment. Audio quality came was fine. Speech was natural, with no issues related to edginess. Music score sounded bright and energetic. Effects sounded fantastic packing a nice punch when needed.


The Extras


- Commentary by director Kathryn Bigelow and cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth

- The Making of K-19

- Featurette: Exploring the Craft

- Featurette: Breaching the Hull

- Featurette: It's in the Details

- Theatrical trailer(s)




Overall, K-19 really didnít spark much interest from me. For those who favor this type of film of honor and patriotism, then the film offers a compelling and confrontational piece of toil. The DVD features a decent picture with excellent sound and a rather small package of extras. If you like movies like Hunt for Red October, Crimson Tide, and U-571 then you should give K-19 a peek.



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