SRP $28.98 2.40:1 Dolby Digital 5.1 WARNER BROS

WARNER BROS has released the magnificent drama, "MICHAEL CLAYTON" on dvd, blu-ray and hd-dvd/combo.  George Clooney gives another of his consistently great performances as Michael Clayton, a "fixer" in the backrooms of one of those huge industrial size law firms. While the boardrooms may look warm and inviting with wooden tables and fixtures, behind the doors, this firm is a pressure cooker, working feverishly on behalf of their biggest client yet, a nefarious corporation willfully negligent and responsible for numerous deaths with their product. On the night of a settlement, their lead attorney has a breakdown and strips naked during a deposition, causing them to bring in Michael to reach out to this lawyer, his old friend, sedate him, and get things back on board. If and when things don't go the way they want, the client is willing to take more drastic measures to neutralize this situation.

Writer/director Tony Gilroy's "directorial debut" is monumental. He really has a deft hand at what he's doing here.  Having written the Bourne films, as well as some other big films, one might readily assume he may not have had the ability to class up this kind of drama, but he does so with such a gifted measure, the film bares a strong resemblance to the best of Lumet's work!

There are moments of pure brilliance throughout the script, and the film keeps getting better upon watching it a 2nd and third time, an easy thing to do!

WARNER BROS. has provided the correct 2.40:1 aspect ratio for this release in all three formats.  Blu-ray and hd-dvd offer the same 1080p/VC 1 transfer, and the dvd offers 16:9 enhancement.  Colors are often intentionally restrained, giving the film the gritty, somber look its atmosphere requires. Blacks and grays are excellent, allowing for impressive detail in most of the darker scenes. Detail varies from scene to scene, but is always notably more impressive than its dvd counterpart.  The full potential of this release is exhibited in a scene early on, wherein Clayton is driving home from a client as dawn comes. The colors of the morning, as he ventures up a hill to see some horses up close, looks outstanding! There are plenty of other scenes like this, but generally this isn't a film where the image "jumps off the screen." The dvd is a fine presentation, but pales in comparison to both high-def formats. Grain is consistently more obvious throughout the dvd and there are more artifacts present. It doesn't prevent the dvd from being impressive, but it really shows the huge advantages of even average looking high-definition in comparison to standard dvd.

WARNER BROS has provided a Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 mix for the hd-dvd, and standard Dolby Digital 5.1 for blu-ray and dvd. None of these mixes are aggressive, but they're perfectly suitable for the intended atmosphere. Sure, we'd have preferred a Dolby TrueHD or PCM mix, but surrounds were low key in the theatrical presentation as well, allowing the audience to focus on the all important dialogue and less on peripheral enhancements.  The great score kicks in through all speakers at appropriate times, and there are even some fine low bass moments. However, most of the film is focused on the center channel and front stage. Dialogue is always intelligible and free from distortion. There was no clear difference between the mixes of any of the formats.

All three formats offer a brief(5 minutes)deleted scenes section and commentary with the Gilroy brothers(director and editor).