HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Escape From Alcatraz
HTS Overall Score:65
“Escape from Alacatraz” is the last film of a long collaboration between Director Don Siegel and Clint Eastwood. This also happens to be the most polished and grounded work the two of them have ever done. Instead of treading new ground, Siegel and Eastwood develop a carefully crafted thriller that is based upon the real life escape of Frank Morris and friends from the previously unescapable island prison of Alcatraz. The movie is tense and nail biting, without a whole lot of actual action or movement. We watch the main characters build up to an incredible finale, trapped in not only the world’s most tightly controlled prison, but also with a warden who makes life even more difficult than it has to be.
Frank Morris (Clint Eastwood) has broken out of more prisons than you could count, leaving the government with no choice than to send him to the impregnable fortress known as Alacatraz. Stuck out in the middle of the ocean, with armed guards at every corner, no one has ever been able to break out of Alcatraz. The Warden (Patrick McGoohan) warns the incarcerated prisoners that no one has ever broken out and no one ever will, but Morris has already started his escape plan. Noticing the sea salt cement walls that are starting to crumble, the prisoner starts to dig away at the walls, getting through it piece by piece.
Knowing HOW to get through the walls is one thing, but how do you get through the upper levels, out on to the balcony, down the fence and out across the ocean without getting caught. The answer lies in the friendship of several other prisoners, which allow the trio of escape artists enough leverage and manpower to successfully figure out a plan of escape which will be successful. Fears start to run a bit higher than normal though, and on action day, things start to warm up a little bit TOO much, and their escape window narrows to the barest of slivers as a result.
“Escape from Alcatraz” manages to be one of the better Eastwood films of all time, or at least one of the most consistently loved by audiences. Siegel and Eastwood manage to capture the tone and grittiness of “The Great Escape”, but keeps the action and harder language to a minimum, allowing for a family friendly Clint Eastwood, which are few and far between. The directing is solid, with Eastwood taking the majority of the work, but the other prisoners that lend to the escape all have honorable mention. McGoohan as the twisted warden works perfectly as a foil to Morris’s likeable anti-hero. The scene where he takes away Doc’s painting privileges for the pettiest of reasons cements his status as villain for the rest of the movie.
Rated PG, Parental Guidance Suggested
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=55794[/img]Much like “Witness” and “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance”, “Escape from Alcatraz” looks to be the same disc as the international release from Paramount several years ago. Colors are decent and show some pizazz, but are not heavily saturated and the high contrast levels tend to keep skin tones and the overall picture quality rather pasty. Detail is solid enough, with some good fine detail in close ups, but there is some definite softness and a thin coating to DNR to keep the image from really shining. There’s not a whole lot of range on the colors, as they tend to be monochromatic, and the black levels do look pretty good, if not for some greyed out levels every once in a while. The master is probably the same master as the old DVD from Paramount, but no one seems to know the exact age of the mastering, so this is all just guess work. Still, more than acceptable for a cheap catalog title.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=55802[/img]The 5.1 Dolby TrueHD track is the exact same audio track as the Paramount international release, offers the same front heavy mix. Dialog is clean and clear, free from any distortions or background hiss that I could detect. There’s some ambient sounds of prison in the side channels, but there isn’t a whole lot more than that, leaving the bulk of the work to the front 3 channels. There is definitely some nice directionality and clarity in those front 3 speakers, and a good accompaniment of LFE when it’s called upon. I was a bit disappointed that the original mono mix was not included, but the 5.1 mix we have here is close enough being that it really is more than a tad front heavy in the mixing department.
“Escape from Alcatraz” is one more notch in Clint Eastwood and Don Siegel’s working repertoire and possibly one of his better films. The tense situations without a lot of action is unique for Eastwood, and he keeps it at a nice PG level, making it a much more family friendly film that other outings for the squinty eyed actor. Audio and video are pretty decent for an older release, but the low MSRP makes the middling specs a little more palatable. Definitely recommended.
Starring: Clint Eastwood, Roberts Blossom, Patrick McGoohan
Directed by: Don Siegel
Written by: J. Campbell Bruce (Book), Richard Tuggle (Screenplay
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 AVC
Audio: English: Dolby TrueHD 5.1, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese DD 2.0
Studio: Warner Brothers
Runtime: 112 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: October 13th 2015
Buy Escape From Alcatraz On Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Highly Recommended
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