Why "MEET JOE BLACK" didn't achieve bigger box-office results defies reason. It's a great film. This modern adaptation of "DEATH TAKES A HOLIDAY," is nearly flawless in every way. The cast is outstanding. Anthony Hopkins, always terrific to begin with, may be giving his best performance here as billionaire William Parish, the man whom "Death" decides to learn about life from, in exchange for delaying his departure to what lies ahead in the next world.
Brad Pitt, as in "Se7en," proves he's not just a great looking face, but a gifted actor. Claire Forlani as Parrish's daughter and eventually the love interest of "death," is perfect and beautiful in her role. The direction by Martin Brest, is his finest yet. While deliberately paced, it's never "slow" as some of his earlier work. The music is unforgettable and on and on and on. Thankfully, UNIVERSAL has provided a great transfer on HD-DVD so that new viewers can appreciate the film in its best possible presentation.
UNIVERSAL has provided a 1080p/VC-1 transfer with the correct 1.85:1 aspect ratio. It's a stunning image! Especially when compared to the majority of recently released "catalogue" titles on hd-dvd, "MEET JOE BLACK," is a huge improvement! Perhaps the studio recognized how good the film is, and wanted to take care of it, as it was one of the first films to be released on the now defunct, "D-VHS" format.
Colors are vibrant in every scene and blacks are extremely deep. There's incredible detail throughout and the elaborate production design is perfectly complimented here. The great level of contrast control also helps make this one of the best looking hd-dvds to come out this year, so far!
UNIVERSAL has provided a Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 mix. While not overly aggressive, effects are impressive and often immersive. Brest utilizes music and ambience for maximum impact and it works here brilliantly. When the final talk between Pitt and Hopkins comes about, and the music swells, it's a powerful moment, complimented perfectly through all speakers.
This reviewer is only a little disappointed that UNIVERSAL didn't go all out for this release, offering a DTS mix and the original "DEATH TAKES A HOLIDAY" film, as they did already for the "collector's edition" dvd.