Missing, The -
Columbia Tristar Home Entertainment
Date: February 24, 2004
Review posted: March 7, 2004
(Cate Blanchett) is a young woman raising her two daughters in an
isolated and lawless wilderness. When her oldest daughter Lily (Evan
Rachel Wood) is kidnapped by a psychopathic killer with mystical
powers (Eric Schweig), Maggie is forced to re-unite with her
long estranged father (Tommy Lee Jones) to rescue her.
Making perhaps the
quickest theatrical-to-DVD release I can think of, The Missing
is a old-fashioned western. Ken Kaufman's script is devoted to
introducing the characters first and giving the audience a reason
to care before going into the main plot. The main plot then is the
kidnapping of Maggie's oldest daughter and the attempted rescue by
Maggie and her estranged father. While this may sound like
standard fare, it is not. A lot of emphasis is placed on the
relationship between the daughter and the father, and actors Cate
Blanchett and Tommy Lee Jones give them life. Both of them coming
to terms with each other is probably the script's main conflict.
conflicts happen throughout the film, which means well for the few
subplots in the script. One such subplot, although it holds its
own opposite Maggie's search and rescue, is the portrayal of
Lily's capture. She's a hostage in a group with several other
kidnapped females who are forced against their will to be sold off
as prostitutes in Mexico. As Lily, Evan Rachel Wood turns in yet
another impressive performance after Thirteen (after or
before, I don't really know which). The performances in The
Missing are realistic and above all compelling.
Director Ron Howard
stages some really neat scenes here and there, and overall does a
very good job bringing the script to the screen. In between the
slow moments, and there are quite a few within the film's first
hour, the action-filled scenes are intense and staged to
perfection. The most notable of such scenes happens nearly 100
minutes into the film, though it's best not to spoil it. In
general, The Missing contains some pretty good intense
moments, not to mention a select number of shock moments, one of
which features the demise of Maggie's boyfriend played by Aaron
Eckhart. On the other hand, Howard probably should've excised at
least ten minutes to bring the running time down to roughly 125
minutes, yet The Missing is nothing short of looking
extraordinary. Cinematography by Salvatore Totino is quite
beautiful, and he captures all the major landscapes perfectly.
pretty slowly, I enjoyed the film's intense moments, the
characters, and rescue mission. The Missing is not a
perfect western, mind you, but it's not simple either. The drama
works most of the time and Howard's direction is solid. If the
film's pace were more tighter, I'd rate it an 8, but instead I
give it a 7 due to some scenes that actually bored me. However,
I'm not complaining in the overall sense.
Columbia presents The
Missing in 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen. Colors are solid
and bright, while detail looks sharp. Black levels and dark
tones are consistent and look good. Compression artifacts don't
appear, though I noticed several areas containing a speck or
two, as well as spots of grain here and there. The overall
presentation is bright and well-saturated in color.
Columbia presents The
Missing in English 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound. The
main source of audio probably comes from James Horner's towering
score. At times it's pretty quiet depending on the emotional
range of a scene, but the score comes across quite nicely in
this presentation. Dialogue is clear and easy to understand.
Surrounds act on the sound effects, which produces a few nice
moments. Since the film is mainly audio-driven, the overall
surround usage is limited. Still, this is a presentable and good
soundtrack presentation by Sony.
Also available is
a French Dolby Surround dub track.
Despite the lack
of a commentary track by Ron Howard, disc 2 looks pretty stacked
with video-based extras. First up are 11 deleted scenes
that add a little more background to the characters and their
lives. Some scenes are good, but the reason of their exclusion
is obvious. Second is a 2.5-minute outtakes reel that's
mostly mishaps with the animals and a few flubbed lines. It's
not funny, only slightly amusing.
Next are three
alternate endings, but it's somewhat hard to make out the
additional scenes. I didn't find these endings any better than
what's in the film, not to mention they run a bit longer. A
"play all" option is available for these. What Blue Collar
Productions, the DVD production company, should've done is show
the cut footage in color opposite the existing footage in black
& white. This worked well for the deleted scenes on the
Barton Fink DVD.
The best part of
the bonus material shows up in the featurettes menu. The first
of the five featurettes is entitled The Last Ride: The
Story of The Missing, dealing with the origin of the
screenplay, it was adapted from a book. If you didn't follow the
story in the film you might get a better understanding by
watching this featurette.
New Frontiers: Making The
Missing goes on location with the production showing all
sorts of on-set happenings. Interviews with the principals and
behind-the-scenes footage appears back and forth. Viewers also
get to see some preparation for stunt work. Overall, this
featurette gives viewers a neat look into the making of the
The Modern Western Score features an interview with
composer James Horner (Titanic) and director Ron Howard.
They discuss their work relationship and the film's score, among
a few other things. It's not terribly informative, but any fan
of Horner should be interested.
Casting The Missing
takes a look at the major characters and the actors playing
them, namely Cate Blanchett, Tommy Lee Jones, Evan Rachel Wood,
Jenna Boyd, Aaron Eckhart, Eric Schweig, and Howard-favorite
Clint Howard playing a Sheriff. Ron Howard offers comments on
all of the actors.
Lastly, Apache Language School will
give viewers insight into how the production incorporated the
language as well as how the actors prepared to portray their
Next is Ron
Howard On..., a selection of vignettes featuring the
director discussing several different topics, ranging from his
love for westerns and John Wayne to the filmmaking process and
conventions of westerns. On the next page viewers can choose to
watch three short movies by Ron Howard when he was a teenager.
They're not bad, actually. For some insight about them check out
his discussion on home movies on page one. Rounding out the
extras on disc 2 are photo galleries of the cast,
location, and the production.
select to view the film with optional English and French subtitles. The
137-minute feature is organized into
twenty-eight chapters. The paper insert lists only title
recommendations, no chapter selections.
The Missing moves
pretty slow, but the intense moments and drama sustained my interest,
not to mention the acting is very good. Sony's video/audio is pretty
good, and the extras are mostly all informative. This is a pretty nice
DVD package overall. A recommended rental.
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