Case Number 00205


Fox // 1999 // 113 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Sean Fitzgibbons (Retired) // December 9th, 1999

The Charge

The trap is set.

Opening Statement

A refreshing "heist" film pairs up one of Hollywood's hottest new stars, Catherine Zeta-Jones, with one of its oldest crowd pleasers, Sean Connery, and delivers an enjoying flick with some real intelligence.

The Evidence

I love Catherine Zeta-Jones. For some reason, out of most of the Hollywood actresses today, Zeta-Jones really stands out. Lately, films have been centering on strong women in lead roles, but strongly-written characters are usually played by second rate, unbelievable, and just plain laughable actresses (*cough* Denise Richards *cough*). Now don't get me wrong, I like Denise Richards, but to cast her as a brilliant nuclear physicist, especially with her horrid acting, is entirely insulting to movie audiences. Back to Entrapment, as I was saying, Catherine Zeta-Jones is believable as a strong female personality. Although not necessarily physically threatening, Zeta-Jones' attitude and personality as a strong woman is entirely believable, and this is why I believe she will go on to be a huge star. Of course, there is Sean Connery, who it seems this film was written for, playing his role as if it were something he has been doing for his entire acting career...maybe because it is what he has been doing for his entire acting career. But I'm a firm believer that if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Entrapment will not woo you with incredible performances, but the film is well cast and all roles are played well by the actors involved -- and they did assemble an impressive cast for this film. Entrapment has a few clever plot twists that serve the film, instead of overcomplicating it. As I watched the film I kept on trying to figure out how certain aspects fit into the trailer for the film I had seen. The trailer tried not to give much away, but in turn clumps together a few plot elements from the film, and just serves to confuse the viewer. So, in other words, forget the trailer (which thankfully does not ruin the best surprises of the movie) when you sit down to watch Entrapment.

Set at the close of the millennium, Entrapment begins as an insurance investigator, Virginia Baker (Catherine Zeta-Jones -- The Mask of Zorro), plans to lure master thief, Robert "Mac" MacDougal (Sean Connery), out of retirement and back into the spotlight for the heist of a highly valued mask. Before long, Baker is captured by Mac and taken to his secluded castle to plot the forthcoming heist. As the robbery grows closer, the plot begins to thicken and twist in a few directions you sometimes do, and sometimes do not, expect. Then again, it's best to leave these twists undetailed to allow for further enjoyment of the film. Suffice to say, despite some rough beginnings, a romance between the unlikely duo develops and becomes a major plot point throughout the film. Not to be overlooked are the great supporting performances by Will Patton (Armageddon) as Virginia Baker's boss at the insurance agency, Ving Rhames (continuing his string of great supporting performances, including Mission Impossible, Pulp Fiction, and Out of Sight among others) as Mac's suspicious business partner, and Maury Chakin (Dances with Wolves) as an eccentric art collector.

Maybe it's just me, but I could watch Catherine Zeta-Jones crawl around laser-beams in a skin tight leather outfit all day long. I feel that Entrapment uses the sexual tension between the Connery and Zeta-Jones characters with very good, if not old-fashioned, taste -- keeping things dicey, but never exceeding its PG-13 rating. Many have criticized this film, especially Sean Connery fanatics, but I came to watch Catherine Zeta-Jones, and I walked away pleased.

While nothing in Entrapment sets the film out as a classic, the plot and solid performances create an enjoyable film. It's almost like a popcorn film for a more sophisticated audience. Since the movie is set at the close of the millennium, a unique atmosphere is created, and while it might not be accurate to my experiences as this year comes to a close, it certainly adds enjoyment to the film as you watch it during the holiday season.

The DVD from 20th Century Fox is nothing new from the studio, unfortunately. Although placed entirely on a single layered disc, the 2.35:1 non-anamorphic widescreen transfer for Entrapment is surprisingly well done. Black levels, flesh tones, and even the fine red laser-beams present in parts of the film, are all handled flawlessly. For a non-anamorphic transfer, especially on a single layer, this is just about as good as it gets. The 5.1 Dolby Digital audio track is also handled splendidly by Fox with good dialogue placement on the front soundstage and atmospheric effects during the tense heist scenes. However the track finally kicks into high gear during the last ten minutes of the movie -- in the presence of head-on action.

If you really want to see the convoluted Entrapment trailer, Fox has kindly included it as the only extra feature on the disc, along with a trailer for the film Rising Sun (another recent Fox DVD). Aside from the trailers, I really like the new menus Fox is implementing. I first noticed this with their Last of the Mohicans release and I was surprised to see it again on Entrapment. It's nothing too complicated, but it looks good and is easy to navigate. It's nice to be able to navigate menus without going through a ten-minute video clip -- New Line and Warner take note.

The Rebuttal Witnesses

Overall, I'm pleased with the transfer Fox has done for Entrapment, my only anger is that the title is non-anamorphic. With recent anamorphic releases of films like Patton I thought Fox was ready to get behind the format, but apparently I spoke too soon. A year ago I dismissed the anamorphic format because I did not have a widescreen display, but now a year later, with TV formats slowly, but surely, switching over to 16:9 ratios (and now that I'm making enough money to afford a widescreen TV!) it's truly disappointing to purchase films on DVD while knowing that they will not look good on an anamorphic display.

Extra content anyone? Again, once you think Fox has the right idea, they turn around and produce mediocre discs. Everything at Fox is steering in the right direction, despite not releasing anamorphic transfers, Fox is releasing good transfers for their films, but the extra content is consistently not present. It just seems that Fox is in a gradual move towards better DVD content, but it will still be some time before they are a provider of consistently solid DVDs.

The high price tag ($35 MSRP) for Entrapment just allows the disc to scream rental to most consumers. If Fox intends on only selling their DVDs to rental outlets, then they're well on their way to achieving their goal. Somehow I have a feeling they would like consumers to purchase their discs too, but it just isn't working...

Closing Statement

Entrapment is a fun film, especially if you like Catherine Zeta-Jones, and worth a rental for fans of a slightly more intelligent popcorn flick. The transfer is solid, but again, Fox fails to make this DVD worthwhile by slapping it with a high price and virtually no extra content. This is one consumer trap that Fox should not have tried to set.

The Verdict

Film acquitted. Fox is to continue their life sentence of imprisonment, their request for parole has been denied due to this high price, low content disc.

Review content copyright © 1999 Sean Fitzgibbons; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2016 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Video: 90
Audio: 92
Extras: 20
Acting: 88
Story: 79
Average: 74

Perp Profile
Studio: Fox
Video Formats:
* 2.35:1 Non-Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)

* English
* Spanish

Running Time: 113 Minutes
Release Year: 1999
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13

Distinguishing Marks
* Theatrical Trailer
* "Rising Sun" Trailer

* IMDb

* Official Site