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October 2, 2009
The Siege Blu-Ray Movie Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
26/12/19983/9/2009FoxEdward Zwick
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
AVC MPEG-4DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1MDenzel Washington

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Denzel Washington in The Siege.

With Courage Under Fire and Legends of the Fall completed in the previous four years, director Edward Zwick was on a roll, and The Siege not only brought together another stellar cast, but also contained a most controversial topic, how far a country would, or should, go to protect its citizens.

When a crowded city bus blows up in Brooklyn and a campaign of terror begins to make its bloody mark on the streets of New York, it's up to FBI special agent Anthony "Hub" Hubbard and U.S. Army General William Devereaux to find out who's responsible and put an end to the destruction. Together, they face explosive danger at every turn when they team up to a wage an all-out war against a ruthless band of terrorists.

This movie is interesting for one main reason; it was made prior to the events of September 11. It's fair to say that most Hollywood movie studios wouldn't have the balls to make a film like this after those tragic events in 2001, but this movie, made three years prior, puts terrorism and interrogation front and center. In fact while this movie was well received prior to September 11, it probably has even more impact today as what it did upon release.

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Owww, look at the pretty explosion!
One of the big questions this movie asks is how far should someone, or a country, go in order to protect its citizens. Is it worth torturing prisoners to save civilians? How far does the torturing go? How many people need to be tortured to get the desired results? When the movie was made this was a thought provoking message, since September 11 it has become very relevant.

Are there racial undertones? Quite possibly, but let's be realistic, there are a lot of racist people in the world with much of it, unfairly, directed towards Arabs and Middle Easterners. What I also found rather interesting is that 65% of the worldwide gross for this movie was taken in overseas markets - this being at a time when a 50:50 split was impressive. Could it be that American's didn't want to see themselves being portrayed as racist? It's a good question...

The Siege is a very interesting movie. Solid performance back what is a very topical theme in today's world. Years ago I may have said this was just another action/drama movie, today, it takes on so much more meaning and is worth viewing.

Unlike the American version of The Siege on a single layer BD-25 Blu-Ray which apparently has a rather average MPEG-2 compression, the Australian release from Fox is lavished with an AVC MPEG-4 codec on a dual layer BD-50 disc. This 1080p encode is quite impressive with rich colours and a sharpness that far surpasses the DVD release and provides considerable detail. The transfer is free of any major film or compression artifacts which is understandable given that the bitrate seems to hover between 30 and 36Mbps trough the majority of the films 116 minute runtime.

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Annette Bening and Tony Shalhoub.
Being ten years old now the transfer here is impressive, but there are some scenes where the image is a little soft or out of focus. It's rare, but they are there and we suspect that these were an inherent problem with the original filming rather then the transfer. Beyond that it probably still lacks a little bit of zing, but overall this is still a solid presentation.

While the visuals are impressive the audio is a few notches above due to the lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track (24-bit/48Khz). Thanks to the lossless audio codec the dialogue in this movie is crystal clear, and the music by Graeme Revell (Sin City, The Crow) is also impressive. There is solid use of surround sound channels and while a little understated the sub-woofer gets a workout at times too.

Other audio tracks on this disc include Spanish, German and Italian DTS 5.1 tracks each encoded at 768kbps. While not quite as clear as the lossless English track, each is still more then acceptable with a good clarity from the brief samples we did. Subtitles are provided in a range of languages including English, Spanish, German, Italian, Danish, Finnish, Swedish, and Norwegian. Subtitles are also provided for the commentary which is a nice addition.

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Time for interrogation in The Siege.
Again the Australian version of The Siege on Blu-Ray trumps the American release. While their release lacked extras, the Australian disc has quite a few (mostly ported from DVD). Here we go...

Audio Commentary by Producer/Director Edward Zwick and Executive Producer Peter Schindler: Recorded 9 years after the film was released this commentary offers not only plenty of insight into the movies production, but also how it has become even more relevant since the events of 9/11 and how the American psyche has changed in the years, including how the movie is remarkably accurate in some instances to the events since September 11.

Inside the Mind of a Suicide Bomber (42:15): From The History Channel comes this stunning 2002 documentary which is very graphic, but brilliantly produced and includes interviews with people from both sides of the fence - terrorists, and those trying to stop them. It gives a great insight into the minds of suicide bombers, but also details the history of suicide bombing from the Japanese kamikaze pilots in World War II to those in the Middle East today.

The Siege: Taking New York (14:08): This documentary looks at developing the movie which was inspired by the first bombing at the World Trade Center. There are plenty of interviews with the cast and crew including fiding the actors for the parts, and especially Annette Benning's role.

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Bruce Willis as Major General William Devereaux.
The Siege: Freedom is History (13:17): Made after 9/11 in 2006 this featurette looks at how this movie has a lot more meaning after the attacks on the World Trade Centre. Interviews with cast, crew, and people in the military and other individuals this is a little brief, but interesting nonetheless.

1998 Featurette "The Making of the Siege" (13:52): Made in 1998 this is a more EPK styled look at the movie with plenty of clips from the movie and reiterating of the story. Nice to have it for completeness sake, but really there is little value.

Theatrical Trailers (4:32): The two trailers for the movie, sadly only in Standard Definition though.

The Siege is a decent movie with a great cast, and some interesting thought provoking themes. The transfer to Blu-Ray is solid, if a little muted, and there are some decent extras. Overall this another very good release from Fox and well worth adding to your collection.

Review By: Dave Warner


Note: All images in this article are Copyrightę Fox. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.