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Case Number 18312

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Hard Rain (Blu-Ray)

Lionsgate // 1998 // 84 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // February 12th, 2010

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All Rise...

Check out Judge David Johnson's critically acclaimed one-man musical, inspired by this movie. Showtimes are noon on weekdays in his bathtub.

The Charge

Take a deep breath. You're going to need it.

Opening Statement

We've recently gone past a memorable milestone in cinema: the 12-year anniversary of the theatrical release of Hard Rain, the greatest action epic about an armored truck security guard fighting Morgan Freeman in a flooded Midwestern town ever made!

Facts of the Case

Tom (Christian Slater, Broken Arrow) drew the short end of the stick for his armored transport shift. He's got to ride with his crusty partner into a town that's receiving the business from some fat-ass rain clouds. With nearly everyone evacuated; save for a shifty Sheriff (Randy Quaid, Independence Day), his goofy pals, a stubborn elderly couple and an attractive church renovator (Minnie Driver); the opportunity for a substantial score is there. And Jim (Morgan Freeman, Batman Begins) is poised to seize the day. He's got is eyes on the cash that Tom is hauling around and if it means driving jet skis around a water-logged high school to get his hands on it, then so be it.

The Evidence

Maybe I'm off my rocker, but I'm convinced that Hard Rain is one of the most underrated action movies of the '90s. And that's probably because it's barely "rated" at all, a forgotten outing.

I don't why. It's fast-paced, filled with characters far more interesting than the usual one-dimension cannon fodder and features some of the most bodacious sequences of water run amok since Titanic. Plus, you've got Christian Slater at his sardonic-action-hero best and Morgan Freeman classing up the place.

The flood gimmick is surely what Hard Rain is best known for. It can't be cheap to stage an entire movie in a flooding town and there are plenty of sequences that scream out I Cost a @#$%-Load of Money to Make!, but I appreciate the filmmakers' dedication into doing something slightly different with the heist concept. The film manages to squeeze the flood angle for everything, placing the characters in every conceivable water-based danger scenario, from the get-out-of-the-water-before-the-transformer-blows-and-electrifies-the-crap-out-of-us routine to the limited air supply countdown (done several times).

And it works! At least it worked for me. Hard Rain is consistently entertaining and the amount of H20 chaos on screen is borderline stunning. Maybe its rebirth on Blu-ray will earn it the credibility it deserves.

Or maybe I'm just a deluded Minnie Driver fanboy.

The HD disc of the film is actually pretty impressive for a catalog release, once again showing that Lionsgate is one of the few studios that bring their A-game to the high-def stage. The picture quality is strong, well-detailed and high-res in its 2.35:1 widescreen transfer. Hard Rain takes place almost entirely at night, but the action comes across sharp and clear, a testament to Lionsgate's dedication to the Blu-ray experience. The 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is a fine complement, pushing out the playful score and the copious WHOOSSSHING sound effects as the water overtakes another victim. Extras…yeah, there's nothing.

Closing Statement

If you're of the Screw-you-I-like-Hard-Rain persuasion as I am, the Blu-ray is worth scoping out for the technical upgrades, which are substantial.

The Verdict

Not Guilty. Glub glub.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 95
Audio: 95
Extras: 0
Acting: 85
Story: 85
Judgment: 86

Perp Profile

Studio: Lionsgate
Video Formats:
• 2.35:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
Audio Formats:
• DTS HD 7.1 Master Audio (English)
• English
• English (SDH)
• Spanish
Running Time: 84 Minutes
Release Year: 1998
MPAA Rating: Rated R
• Action
• Blu-ray

Distinguishing Marks

• None


• IMDb

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