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Wide World of Stunts

The DVD release of John Woo's 'Mission: Impossible 2' has plenty of action--and shows how 11 scenes were staged.

November 09, 2000|SUSAN KING | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The year's highest-grossing film, "Mission: Impossible 2," makes its DVD debut thisweek with an action-packed, testosterone-heavy disc (Paramount, $30). Even if you didn't care much for the film--they couldn't come up with a less confusing story?--some of the extra features on how it was made may be of interest.

Besides the wide-screen version of the movie, which starred Tom Cruise and was directed by John Woo, the disc includes three behind-the-scenes components:

* "Behind the Mission" is a standard documentary featuring interviews with Cruise, Woo, executive producer Paula Wagner and co-stars Thandie Newton, John Polson, Ving Rhames and Dougray Scott.

* Far more entertaining is "Mission: Incredible," about the filming of some of the movie's action scenes, including the incredible opening with Cruise climbing the rocky cliffs at Moab, Utah.

* "Impossible Shots" is a fun look at how 11 of the stunt sequences were done--including the mountain-climbing sequence and the car-chase scene with Cruise and Newton. It contains clips, Woo's storyboards and interviews with Cruise, Woo and stunt coordinator Brian Smrz.

The DVD also features an alternate title sequence, the "I Disappear" Metallica music video and "Mission Improbable," a very funny six-minute parody from last summer's "MTV Movie Awards" with Cruise, Woo, and Ben Stiller as the actor's stunt double, Tom Crooze.

Rounding out the disc is audio commentary from Woo, who talks about how his goal for this sequel to the 1996 hit was to make it more romantic and humanistic than the original.

*

Though it didn't burn up the box office this summer, the animated sci-fi adventure, "Titan A.E." (Fox, $27) is worth a look on DVD.

Directed by Don Bluth and Gary Goldman ("Anastasia"), this action-filled epic tells the story of how, after Earth is destroyed by an alien attack, an orphaned young man (the voice of Matt Damon) learns he has the ability to save mankind. Drew Barrymore, Bill Pullman and Nathan Lane also supply voice talent.

The nifty DVD features a "making of" documentary, the wide-screen version of the film, TV and theatrical trailers, four deleted scenes (including the original ending), TV spots, a music video by Lit and a stills gallery. Goldman and Bluth also supply the interesting audio commentary. The two veteran directors had their work cut out for themselves with this project. They replaced the original directors of the film in late 1998 and had just 18 months to deliver it.

*

There are three audio commentaries on New Line's entertaining disc of "Frequency" (New Line, $25)--one with director Gregory Hoblit, another with writer Toby Emmerich and his brother, the film's co-star, Noah, and an isolated score and composer commentary from Michael Kamen. None of them is actually a scintillating listening experience. But there are plenty of other extras that make it fun to watch.

Dennis Quaid, Jim Caviezel and Andre Braugher star in this sentimental but intense drama about a police detective who, because of the sky storm called the aurora borealis, is able to talk on the ham radio to his father, who died in the line of duty as a firefighter 30 years earlier.

The DVD includes an informative documentary that looks at the scientific aspects of the film, including solar science, time travel and ham radios. There's also a fun fact-and-fiction subtitle track that offers scientific, mechanical and historical tidbits during the movie. Rounding out the DVD edition is the wide-screen version of the film, deleted scenes, a look at how the opening special effect of the sun was created, cast and crew bios, deleted scenes and trailers.

*

The old-fashioned romantic comedy "Return to Me" (MGM, $27), starring David Duchovny and Minnie Driver, has been turned into a standard DVD. Besides the wide-screen transfer of the comedy directed by Bonnie Hunt, there's also a deleted scene and a music video from Joey Gian. Hunt, who also co-wrote and co-stars in the film, and co-writer Don Lake offer the pleasant but unmemorable audio commentary.

*

Kino on Video's latest releases are two Italian epics from the early days of cinema ($25 each on video, $30 each on DVD): 1913's "The Last Days of Pompeii" and 1914's "Cabiria."

Despite the lavish sets and costumes, "The Last Days of Pompeii" is pretty rough going for modern audiences. Adapted from Edward Bulwer's classic novel, the romantic drama focuses on the final hours of the populace living below Mt. Vesuvius. "Pompeii" is one of the last of the tableaux films--scenes are explained by a title, then dramatized with a single wide shot. The acting is pretty stilted and the action is inert. The Kino edition was digitally mastered from a 35mm print and it is color tinted.

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