Steven Spielberg’s back catalogue is slowly making its way onto Blu-Ray starting with Saving Private Ryan and now this, Minority Report. The idea of the Berg working for the first time with Tom Cruise was something that generated a lot of buzz at the time. The idea that they were both working on a Philip K Dick short story brought it to a whole other level. At the time only a handful of films had been made from Dick’s source material – and they were either regarded very highly (Blade Runner) or disappeared as quicker as they appeared (Screamers).
The anticipation may have been high for this, but very few probably doubted that the duo would make a decent stab at the piece. If anything by this point in his career Spielberg was known as the guy who likes his adventure films to feature family units and children who come away unscathed by the end credits. Minority Report managed to feature a broken family unit – broken because of the potential murder of a child that we never hear from. So right there he has twisted expectation.
Making science fiction that makes you question the future, and even compare it to the present is something that Philip K Dick did so well in his writing. Usually, the film adaptations come with their own little surprises at the end; but the ones that have really lasted originate in the idea itself and not just the twists that occur along the way.
Minority Report (originally a long time ago pitched as a sequel to Total Recall) features cruise as the head of a pre- crime unit whose job it is to arrest would be murderers before they commit the crime. How? Well they have three very special people lying in a glowing pool who can predict such things. Having these three wired up to the pre-crime system allows the machine to determine when, where and by whom a crime will be committed.
This all comes under scrutiny by Colin Farrell’s ace on the block who wants to figure out if the system itself may be or can be flawed. Matters are not helped by the fact that Cruise’s leader is then apparently set up on a murder charge himself and in true PKD form – has to go on the run to try and clear his name.
So ensues a vision of the future unique in itself and not without its political and social commentary. Minority Report sits up there with Blade Runner and Total Recall as one of the best adaptations of a Philip K Dick’s work. It does fall slightly short of these two titles in that it seems to end perfectly well but then decides to go on for another 15 minutes purely to serve us with a rather trumped up happy ending. The end confrontation itself is a rather pathetic turn in the proceedings. If only Cruise and Spielberg had the nerve to end on the down note –this could have been an absolute classic PKD type of twist. There are arguments that the ending is all taking place in our hero’s head – but it seems like a desperate excuse to hold onto the more bleak presentation that appeared before the tacked on end.
It is still a very impressive film with some decent action and some very well edited scenes of tension mounting. Even more impressive is the Blu-Ray package that rightfully builds on the already pretty good DVD edition out there.
All of the extra material from the fairly study DVD package are here along with some new features. Dick’s own family get involved in discussions of his material as well as Spielberg’s look at the work. There’s a look at the props used in the film including an extensive look at the board that pre-crime use to edit and manipulate images in order to locate the criminals they are chasing. The most impressive is an interactive guide that features interview footage that can be redirected to similar snippets of information and dialogue about the film via onscreen options.
It’s a real step up and helps sell the idea of moving from one format to another. Oh yes, and the film does look beautiful in high definition!