HTS Moderator , Reviewer
HTS Overall Score:76
Virtual reality has been a much filmed concept going back as far as 30+ years. We’ve seen it with “Tron”, “Tron Legacy”, “The Matrix”, “The Thirteenth Floor”, “Gamer”, “Avalon” and the list goes on and on. The idea that we can create a fantasy world that we can interact with on a “real” level is enticing beyond belief. The ability to create something under our control that we can truly EXPERIENCE calls and beckons the human race, even as we come closer and closer to maybe taking a peak at that future. The 90’s was rife with those types of movies and that sort of 90’s “cheese” permeates every bit of “Virtuosity”. It’s a hammy little sci-fi flick that seems to have been mostly forgotten about, but that tasty ham and cheese combo makes it a cult favorite amongst cinephiles.
It’s the near future (or at least it was near future in 1995 when the movie was made) and law enforcement are using virtual reality to train their police officers. SID 6.7 (Russell Crowe) is an artificial intelligence that was created using over 200 different personalities from over 200 different famous serial killers. After an incident where SID kills a police officer INSIDE the virtual reality simulator with safety protocols engaged, it becomes clear that the machine is starting to get a taste for the violence. Ex-officer Parker Barnes (Denzel Washington) is the only one who can see the danger of the machine, but is helpless to do anything as he is stuck in prison after killing in cold blood the same murderer who killed his wife and children years ago. SID’s own creator, Dr. Lindenmeyer (Stephen Spinella) is too enamored with his creation for his own good and ends up giving SID 6.7 an actual body that is stronger, faster and can heal itself quicker than any human body can.
With SID gaining mobility, it’s only a matter of time before the body count starts to rise as the newly created lifeform gains freedom to kill in the real world. Being the only person alive who’s ever gone up against SID in the simulation, the authorities are forced to let Parker out sniff out his nemesis. To make things even more interesting SID starts displaying characteristics of the same serial killer who he took out years ago. Upon further investigation it becomes evident that there is more than meets the eye. One of those 200 killer psycho profiles that made up SID’s consciousness WAS that same killer, pitting nemesis against nemesis once more. With time running out, Parker and SID move towards a showdown that will put one or the other (or even both) into the morgue and as they attempt to bury the hatchet (in each other) one last time.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=48642[/img]“Virtuosity” is a bit of an under remembered movie, in my opinion. It came out in 1995, about the same time all of the other major VR movies were hitting the market and soon go outclassed by “The Matrix” which came out a few years later. It has some plot holes, and an UBER hammy performance by Crowe, but it’s a load of 90s fun, much the same way “Timecop” is considered a blast even today. Crowe and Denzel play well off of each other. Denzel does his normal tough guy cop role, hardened and relentless to the end, but the real fun comes from Crowe just eating up the scenery with enormous bites. His portrayal of SID is just short of mixing The Riddle from the Batman 1990’s batman movies, with the lunacy Ed Gein. The end result is a whacky character that just cheeses through every scene spreading humor and death around him.
The CGI from the day is OBVIOUSLY low grade 1990’s CGI, but it adds a bit of nostalgic charm to the film, reminding us just how far we’ve gone. Even for back in the day it was considered cheesy CGI, but it was a big deal to add it into a movie like this, especially so much of it. The beginning scene where they’re in the VR simulator as you see blood spray that looks like globlets of CGI good, and computer game level bones knitting back together on a green screen just make you chuckle. I can’t say the movie is an exceptional gem, but it’s a fun movie that certainly doesn’t deserve to be forgotten about.
Rated R for strong futuristic violence, some brutal beatings and some language
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=48650[/img]“Virtuosity” is one of the older Paramount titles that Warner got their hands on in a distribution deal a few years ago, and is one of several that are being put on the market in the next couple of months. As they are only distributed by Warner don’t expect a magical 4k resolution remastering, but do expect a decent looking disc devoid of extras. The master appears to be the same master used for the early 2000 era DVD from Paramount and has a sort of smooth look to it that denotes some use of DNR and even some mild aliasing at times. However, colors are bright and vivid, displaying the technicolor world they live in and detail is pretty good. That smoothness takes away some of the facial and fine detail, but lots of scenes still showcase enough detail to be visually satisfying. Black levels show some nice inky levels and don’t looked washed out at all. Sometimes I noticed nigglings of black crush, but overall the disc itself looks to be in good shape.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=48658[/img]There is a long 5.1 DTS-HD MA track for us English speakers and it is more than enough to please listeners. “Virtuosity” has a very dynamic soundscape, with lots of action going on to immerse the listener at every corner. Explosion carry some very good weight to them, with punchy LFE and a very hefty use of the surround channels. Dialog is clean and free of any distortions, while the dynamic range shows enough variety to impress me. The LFE is nice and punchy as mentioned, but it isn’t WILDLY powerful, adding a nice amount of depth and weight to the low end, but never feeling like it really is as hot or powerful as it could be. A minor nitpick, but one I did notice.
Every generation has their own specific “texture” to movie making and I’m a huge fan of the 80’s and 90’s era action/sci-fi genre. They’re cheesy, hammy and full of more blood squibs than our generation seems to have a taste for. “Virtuosity” is one of those good time movies that really doesn’t incite a lot of thinking, but still is more than enough for a good time. Solid video for an aging movie, coupled with impressive audio and a really cheap price makes this a no brainer in my opinion. Definitely recommended for a fun watch.
Starring: Denzel Washington, Russell Crowe, Kelly Lynch
Directed by: Brett Leonard
Written by: Eric Bernt
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, Spanish DD 2.0
Runtime: 106 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: July 7th 2015
Buy Virtuosity On Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Fun Watch
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