Fox // 1997 // 120 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Sean Fitzgibbons (Retired) // July 21st, 1999
They were fighting over a woman when the plane went down. Now, their only chance for survival is each other.
Despite a few drawbacks, Fox manages to produce a nice DVD to accompany The Edge, one of the best survival films made in years.
Most films about survival against the elements turn me off. When things start to tense up in these films, and people start eating each other, I begin to lose interest. The basic problem I find with these films is that there is no true enemy, except the inner turmoil in those lost in the wilderness, or on top of a mountain. Thankfully The Edge proves to be more than your typical man-versus-the-elements film and provides for an exciting and suspenseful two hours.
The film begins as multi-billionaire Charles Morse (Anthony Hopkins) accompanies his wife, Mickey (Elle Macpherson), on a modeling photo shoot, headed by Robert Green (Alec Baldwin), in northern America (exact location never actually stated, possibly Alaska). In the middle of the photo shoot, Robert discovers a photograph of a local hunter and decides that the man would be a perfect addition to his shoot. Robert, along with fellow photographer Stephen (Harold Perrineau), resolves to fly out the cabin of the man in the photograph and asks Charles to join them and have an "adventure." Charles agree and the trio boards Morse's personal plane to fly further north. During the flight the plane runs into a flock of geese and causes a crash landing into a nearby pond. The pilot of the plane dies in the crash, but Charles, Robert, and Stephen survive. After recovering from the crash, the group begins to plot how they will survive in the wilderness and journey to an area where they will most likely be rescued. However, the men soon find themselves hunted by a bear; a man-killer who has tasted human flesh before and is now determined to feast on the three men lost in the wilderness.
With the addition of the bear, The Edge creates a more engaging survival film as a physical manifestation of the men's' struggle hunts them day and night. The men ultimately realize that they cannot hope to survive with their pursuer and decide to turn and fight the bear; a feat Robert believes is suicidal.
One might suspect that in a film like The Edge would show the viewer that despite all his intelligence and wealth, Hopkins' character is defenseless in the harsh wilderness. Instead, the extremely intelligent billionaire uses all of the "useless" facts he has accumulated in his mind to help survive in the wilderness, make compasses, catch food, start fires, et cetera. This, of course, demonstrates what separates man from the animals -- our intelligence.
So, with such a great film you'd love to have a great DVD, right? Of course! Fox delivers, at least in the audio/visual department. First of all, despite not being anamorphic, the 2.35:1 widescreen video transfer on this disc is top notch. Spread over two layers, the image is crisp and clean with no visible artifacting. The film transitions from many landscapes; from green forests, to snow-covered mountaintops, and late night fires, the colors remain dead on. Meanwhile, the 5.1 Dolby Digital audio track is equally well done. The plane crash scene is perfect reference material with a good use of the subwoofer and surround effects. Throughout the rest of the film the wilderness is brought to life through the audio track, especially when you hear the bear roar!
If you're looking for a theatrical trailer than this disc won't disappoint you. If you're looking for anything else, prepare to be disappointed.
Fox is looking more and more like Paramount lately. Actually, I guess that's not quite accurate since now Paramount is providing a few extra features with their discs and even *gasp* anamorphic widescreen transfers! So, Fox is actually more like the old Paramount, providing solid, non-anamorphic, video transfers along with great audio tracks, and usually one theatrical trailer. Fox discs also have the same retail price as Paramount, $30 ($25 street), unless you're purchasing a brand new release (on video entirely), which will set you back upwards of $35. I don't need to draw a road map...you people know where I'm going, right?
The Edge is a film that has some lasting appeal and it's too bad that the disc could not provide a bit more; at least an anamorphic transfer. However, I'm smelling change in the air over at Fox (according to the latest rumors spreading the Internet) and it seems as if their DVD production house is doing major staff reorganization. Our old anti-anamorphic friends are "resigning" and some new blood is being brought in. Unfortunately, The Edge was released before this change over, but hopefully Fox will re-issue the DVD with more content in the future.
I wouldn't hold my breath for Fox to re-release this disc with an anamorphic transfer. The Edge is a good enough film to make a DVD without many extras or an anamorphic transfer still worth purchasing, especially in light of the good audio and video transfer done on this disc.
The film is acquitted as is the disc, solely because the film and the exceptional transfer is good enough to carry the DVD. I suspect Fox will not be so lucky with many of their other DVDs, though. Fox is sentenced to two years parole.
Review content copyright © 1999 Sean Fitzgibbons; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2015 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 2.35:1 Non-Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (French)
Running Time: 120 Minutes
Release Year: 1997
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Theatrical Trailer