PARAMOUNT is releasing a film that surprised this reviewer, for the
better, "CHANGING LANES" on blu-ray. Reviewing so many films makes it
all-too-easy, to over/under estimate films, based on their theatrical trailer.
While the trailer to this dramatic thriller did nothing to make it seem
appealing, "CHANGING LANES" ended up being one of the better surprises of 2002.
It's also, arguably, director Roger Michell's best film. Ben Affleck and Samuel
L. Jackson play two men from seemingly different worlds, facing potentially
dreadful ramifications from delayed appointments, after their lives intersect,
when one of their cars "changes lanes," causing an accident. What could've
easily become poor melodrama, ends up becoming a nail-biting suspenseful drama,
while also attempting to be a morality tale as well!
When Jackson, playing Doyle Gipson(an alcoholic)and Ben Affleck, playing Gavin
Banek(a lawyer) have a car accident with one another, while enroute to important
meetings, an eye-opening aftermath ensues. Banek's self-interest and dismissive
attitude towards Gipson's urgent meeting, doesn't stop at leaving Gipson,
abandoned, on the freeway. But, it quickly comes back to haunt him, when Gipson,
losing custody of his kids upon missing his court hearing, finds he has
possession of a file, essential for the court case Banek was rushing to handle!
Soon, both of these men experience the adrenelin of moral certitude, pushing one
another to bizarre extremes and ultimately regretting their actions and results.
There are so many places along the way wherein the film could've come to a
screeching halt and embarrassing outcome, but it never does. Both actors, and
the supporting cast are terrific. The script and tight pacing make "CHANGING
LANES" the kind of film one can come back to again and again.
PARAMOUNT has provided the correct 2.35:1 aspect ratio for this 1080p/AVC MPEG-4
blu-ray. Intentionally shooting for a kinetic, tense atmosphere, the great
majority of and variety of close-up shots, help the transfer often appear
magnificent. Even the mild grain doesn't feel intrusive. Unfortunately,
fleshtones veer towards unnatural tints in a few spots. Overall, however,
"CHANGING LANES" offers a fine, certainly better-than-average image for blu-ray,
and with very few "flat" scenes.
PARAMOUNT has provided a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix. It's a disappointing mix, due to
lack of full immersion. There are so many scenes that leave the audience
expecting and wanting more surround, that it's frustrating. When ambient effects
do occur, they're so sporadic and uneven, it's kind of jarring. Not an awful
mix, just disappointing.
An audio commentary with Michell is entertaining in spots. However, more
frequently the director feels uninspired and this makes for a tedious listen.
The deleted scenes segment offers two scenes, one of which is great and delves
into Banek's character with so much depth, one wishes it had been re-inserted
into the original film.
Two other featurettes are offered, but only the theatrical trailer is offered in