PARAMOUNT continues to raise their bar with their superb selections for simultaneous release on both hd-dvd “and” blu-ray formats.  “THE ULTIMATE MISSON COLLECTION”, available in both formats, is probably the best reason, thus far, for movie fans to head out and buy a player, let alone the collection! 

In addition to the incredible “MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 3” film, both of the earlier MISSION IMPOSSIBLE films are included, and not available to purchase separately(at this time), making the collection even more attractive! 

While all three of the films in the series have their fine points, one can only wonder how much better the first two would’ve been had J.J. Abrams been on board instead of Brian DePalma and John Woo.

MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 1 with the correct 2.35:1 aspect ratio, still shows its age in some ways(and it’s not that old!) The master source for this transfer is filled with dirt and scratches. It’s really surprising at times, to find that this film hasn’t been cleaned up better.  Although grain is also frequent, it doesn’t feel intrusive and even adds a bit of an edgy “gritty” feel to the atmosphere.  The detail, however, is often dazzling. The famous, often imitated but unequaled scene featuring Cruise being lowered on rope into the CIA computer room, really showcases how much the hd-dvd format has to offer. The crucial moment where a bead of sweat might spell his end, looks amazing here!!! Colors are dead on as well.

The Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 mix is aggressive, and offers numerous effects to show off one’s home theater, but none of it equals the power of the mix to MI3.

Although MI2 offers the beautiful and underappreciated acting talents of Thandie Newton, Director John Woo fails to enhance the film’s potential after its opening scene. Because so many of his previous films featured ridiculous slow-motion gun scenes, he has elected to shoot most of the film with the same loss of reality in its scope.  The first scene in which Newton and Cruise meet is unintentionally laughable and slow at the same time! It’s just infuriating!  Thankfully, the script is decent enough to make up for a variety of Woo’s mishaps, and although the final confrontation between Cruise and the main villain borders between engaging and silly, it’s undeniably entertaining.

Again, PARAMOUNT has preserved the film’s correct 2.35:1 aspect ratio.  The scratches and grain afflicting the predecessor, are absent for this transfer.  Woo’s continuous dependence on giant explosions, and ballet-like shooting scenes, showcases the impeccable detail of the HD-DVD format once again.  Colors are bolder than on the MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 1 film. 

PARAMOUNT has provided a DOLBY DIGITAL PLUS 5.1 mix. It’s more aggressive than on the first film, with more emphasis on bass, mostly due to increased reliance on explosions.  The frequent chase scenes are well complimented with complete immersion by surround speakers and a multitude of discrete effects. Dialogue is always intelligible and this is no simple feat, considering the layers upon layers of music and sound effects throughout the film.

Saving the best for last, “MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 3” is quite possibly the best looking and sounding film to be found so far on either hd-dvd or Blu-ray format!!!

“MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 3” is not only the best film in the series, but possibly the best, most intelligent, action film of the past 5 years!  J.J. Abrams has really upped the ante for action films. He brings his impeccable abilities in generating suspense within brief segments on tv, to the film medium with a vengeance that pays off!  The opening sequence to “MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 3” is arguably one of the most intelligent, gripping moments in recent film history, and it allows critics to really acknowledge his amazing acting talent, as his character goes through a wide range of emotions, all believably within a segment lasting less than a minute. It’s incredible to watch!

There are plenty of thrills within MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 3, but the story’s great too! Unlike MI 1, it’s not overly convoluted, just smart! Unlike MI 2, it’s never downright silly, although there are some funny moments.

The 2.35:1 aspect ratio is intact here.  Abrams’ ability to utilize the widescreen format, even with a penchant for close-ups, to maximum effect, is always dazzling. Everything about the way this film looks is more impressive than the previous films, on this format of course, but also in terms of conception. Abrams should really be the one to revisit the “BOND” series. He proves he could make it what it needs to be, great fun and very intelligent and believable at the same time!

No matter the scene, every frame yields incredible depth! The detail is flawless. Colors are vibrant and dead-on throughout. The darkest scenes look incredible, as is evident in the film’s helicopter chase sequence.

PARAMOUNT has provided a DOLBY DIGITAL PLUS 5.1 mix. From the opening lighting of the fuse, and the pumped up, invigorating theme music, audio-philes are in for a treat!  But, while it’s a great mix, loaded with great use of bass, discrete and panning effects, one can’t help but wish PARAMOUNT would begin using PCM 5.1 mixes. 

All three films are loaded with extras! The first film offers some really fun segments exploring the International Spy Museum, stunts, and much more. 

The 2nd film offers a commentary with Woo. While difficult to comprehend, he’s engaging and aspiring filmmakers will appreciate what he shares about the filmmaking process.  An alternate title sequence and more are also included on the disc.

The third film offers the most impressive extras.  Most of the extras are offered in 1080 format.  A video commentary with Cruise and Abrams is included on the hd-dvd format, but only the audio portion of this feature is available on the blu-ray format due to space. 

“THE MAKING OF THE MISSION” showcases tons of behind-the-scenes footage from the film and some funny bloopers as well.  There are plenty of other features, but among the best are “SCORING THE MISSION” in which Cruise ventures into the recording studio, demonstrating his attention to detail and quest for excellence in every aspect of the film. It’s really impressive.