…and on the sixth day, God created…ARNOLD!
Would our world really be the same without the "Austrian Oak"? Let's be honest—no one truly believes that Arnold Schwarzenegger is a gifted thespian. I've never had a cinematic discussion with anyone who's made the statement, "Yeah, Kevin Spacey is okay, but that Schwarzenegger…now he can act." While Arnold may not have a lot of range, he does have a certain charisma that keeps action fans coming back for more. Maybe it's the accent, maybe the build, or maybe just the imposing way he says phrases like "listen to me" (which end up sounding like "lizen do me-a"). Anyway you slice it, everyone's nuts for a good old fashioned rock-'em-sock-'em Arnold flick. Lately, Schwarzenegger's films haven't performed that well at the box office. Could it be that he's past his expiration date? (By my calculations, that would be 1994.) Perhaps, but that doesn't mean his movies aren't still exciting and endlessly entertaining. Prime example: director Roger Spottiswoode's summer of 2000 bang buster The 6th Day. Columbia released The 6th Day on a generally bare-bones edition a few years back, but have done a welcome double-dipping with this newly created two-disc The 6th Day: Special Edition DVD.
Facts of the Case
Are you sure you're who you think you are? Adam Gibson (Schwarzenegger) sure isn't. Adam is an ace helicopter pilot who learns that he's been scientifically cloned—and both Adams are on someone's hit list!
After an evil corporation (is there any other kind?) and a brilliant scientist (Robert Duvall, M*A*S*H, Falling Down) illegally clone Adam (in the near future a "6th Day" law prohibits any human cloning), Adam is on the run to protect his family, who think his clone is really him! A group of thugs, led by the vicious Marshall (Michael Rooker, Cliffhanger) and the head honcho Drucker (Tony Goldwyn, Ghost), need to get rid of the evidence, and Adam is it! However, it won't be easy as each time one thug is killed, they're easily replaced by a clone of themselves! With the help of his partner (Michael Rapaport, Deep Blue Sea), Adam must race against the clock to reclaim his life and family before it's too late!
Jean-Claude Van Damme did it twice. Michael J. Fox did it three times in Back To The Future Part II. I guess it was only a matter of time before we got an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie where Arnold plays himself—in dual roles! (Well, actually he did it in Last Action Hero, but that doesn't count.) The 6th Day is a fairly wild action ride that takes on the up-to-date cloning issues of today and utilizes them to fashion a well wrought sci-fi screenplay. Let me start off by saying that this movie isn't half as violent as some other genre flicks; The 6th Day is rated PG-13, and for good reason. There's no excessive bloodshed or gore, but there is plenty of car chases and explosions. Director Roger Spottiswoode (Tomorrow Never Dies) is a master at briskly paced action movies. Actually, he did direct Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot and Turner and Hooch, but I'm going let those slide. While I didn't think that Tomorrow Never Dies was the best Bond movie ever made, I did think it was a hell of a lot better than the excessively long The World Is Not Enough. Spottiswoode has a keen eye for briskly paced action and adventure (which is more than I can say about Arnold's atrocious End Of Days).
An impressive feat by the production designers is the way The 6th Day's future seems eerily like I'd suspect it might actually look in about 25-30 years: the bathroom mirrors have built in TVs, a stunningly beautiful virtual girlfriend is at your fingertips, and deceased pets can be replicated by "Re-Pet," a cloning business working to keep children's broken hearts mended. Does it all seem a bit creepy? It is, which seems to be the movie's point. In one scene Adam even quips that he likes things "the old fashioned way," which means when you or your pet die, you stay dead. I guess that you could say this is the science fiction version of Pet Sematary.
Arnold Schwarzenegger once again plays a variation on every other character he's ever played. By this time, we're all used to the fact that a huge, hulking bodybuilder with an accent could easily live next door to us in the suburbs, no questions asked. Surrounding Schwarzenegger is an impressive cast that includes the ever reliable Robert Duvall as a good hearted scientist who seems to have been led astray, and Michael Rooker as the relentless hunter who'll stop at nothing to find Adam and have him terminated. Michael Rapaport works well as Adam's best friend, but the role is ultimately wasted with little to do but crack jokes and shuffle on and off screen.
If The 6th Day has any downfall, it's that the film is much too tame for its own good. It's not that I wanted to see a lot more blood, just more action pieces. What effects there are work great; unfortunately, the movie may stretch on too long as it clocks in at over two hours. Those complaints aside, The 6th Day deserved a better fate than it was handed at the box office. It may not be up there with the great Arnold movies of the past (Predator, Terminator 2: Judgment Day), but it is a slick little thrill ride with some nice twists and turns. Just make sure the person next to you is REALLY your significant other.
The 6th Day is presented in anamorphic 2.35:1 widescreen. As suspected, Columbia has done an excellent job on this recent film's transfer, beautifully framed and filled with vibrant colors and tones. The black levels are solid and exceptional looking while halo, shimmer and digital artifacting are non-present. Though I searched and searched, I found nary an imperfection or defect. By all means, this is a great looking transfer.
Audio is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 in English, Spanish, Portuguese, and French. Columbia has also put forth time and effort into this soundtrack, making sure that the surround feature is utilized throughout the entire feature. The bass feels thick and rumbling as futuristic helicopters and explosions rocket around the viewer. All aspects of the dialogue, music and effects are clear and free of any distortion. This soundtrack should give your home theater a rough and through workout. Also included on this disc are subtitles in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Thai, Korean, Chinese.
The 6th Day was originally released in a generally bare-bones edition with only a few slim extra features. Columbia has gone back and retooled this movie into a two-disc set filled with all-new supplemental materials. To start off with, there is a commentary track with score composer Trevor Jones as well as an isolated 5.1 music track (also available on the original edition). The score sounds very much like a typical Trevor Jones movie score (ala Deep Blue Sea or American Outlaws). Jones himself has very interesting things to say about writing a film score and how it's produced, so for film music buffs this track is a must.
Flipping over to disc two, we start off with "The Future Is Coming," an exclusive Showtime special that is typical promotional fluff. The featurette, which runs well under a half hour, is filled with all kinds of interviews with actors Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Rapaport, Tony Goldwyn, Michael Rooker, Robert Duvall, and Wendy Crewson, producers Mike Madavoy and Jon Davison, director Roger Spottiswoode, executive producer Daniel Petrie, Jr., and more. The featurette includes more clips from the film than is necessary, plus cast and crew members expounding upon the virtues of cloning in the near future.
"On The 6th Day" is a batch of nine short featurettes that take a closer look at specific parts of the production. Each of these featurettes are very quick (usually under about five minutes), and while interesting, end up being much too brief. The featurettes included in this section are: "Another Way To Fly," which focuses on the sleek looking CGI helicopters; "Find Sim Pal Cindy," which takes a look at the animatronic doll used in the film; "The Art Of The Chase," focusing on…duh…the chase sequences; "Over The Cliff," a look at how a certain action sequence was accomplished; "Virtual Girlfriend," a titular view at everyone's favorite synthetic sex toy; "In The Tank," which deals with the large water tank used at the end of the movie; "Free Falling," a feature about some more stunt work featured in the film; "Detonation," dealing with the pyrotechnics; and "Enhancing The Look," which focuses on some more special effects utilized to make the movie look sleek and real. Taken as a whole these featurettes are a fine—if not extensive—look into the making of The 6th Day.
Three "storyboard comparisons" are available, including Car Chase, Whisper Craft Crash, and Cloning Tanks. These are typical storyboard comparisons which show the hand drawn boards on the top of the screen and the actual film on the bottom. A "RePet Infomercial" and ":30 Second TV Spot" is a lot of fun to watch (and a tad bit creepy. If I am allergic to my cat, they can make it hypoallergenic or color coordinate my pet to match my decorating. Ewwww). A section of two "animatics" are basically storyboards combined with computer composites.
A lightweight yet entertaining action movie, The 6th Day asks some intriguing questions about the dangers of cloning (though smartly avoids answering most of them in lieu of some fun helicopter chases and exploding buildings). Columbia has done a nice job on these discs which should thrill most Schwarzenegger fans. A few of the features are a bit lightweight, but overall the two-disc set is very substantial.
The 6th Day: Special Edition is free to go, as is Columbia for a well done new edition of this sci-fi potboiler.
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Scales of Justice
• Audio Commentary by Composer Trevor Rabin with 5.1 Isolated Music Score
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