UNIVERSAL continues their winning streak in releasing HD-DVDs that are exciting enough to make one feel the need to purchase HD-DVD players now. There have only been a few titles that were mediocre or even horrible, but for every piece of crap like “VAN HELSING” there’s a “CINDERELLA MAN”, “TRAFFIC”, or “SEABISCUIT”.
“TRAFFIC” is one of those special films that true film lovers feel the need to push others to see. Director Steve Soderbergh is at his best here, or at least near it(“KING OF THE HILL” is magnificent too)But, everything about this film is stellar. Steve Gaghan’s Oscar winning script is often astounding, and it’s hard to imagine Catherine Zeta-Jones ever giving a performance more demanding of acclaim than what she’s given here. Michael Douglas gives his best performance since “WALL STREET” and every other single actor is at the top of their game. The plot interweaves between several stories, all of them connecting in an accessible way that never leaves one scratching their head. There hasn’t been and may never be a film that feels as honest about the “drug war” as “TRAFFIC” and it deserves to be in every film lover’s video collection, in one format or another.
Soderbergh’s visual style is inherently problematic for video transfers. When the film’s focused on a story set in Mexico, a different stock, more grainy in nature, is used. The lighting is different too and colors vary from inter-cutting stories with either a very rich or drab palate.
Still, UNIVERSAL has created a HD-DVD transfer to be proud of. While contrast varies from scene to scene, the blacks and grays are perfectly distinguishable. Colors vary from vibrant to washed out in appearance, but it's been done intentionally. The detail is excellent in every single scene.
Soderbergh has always seemed to favor less flashy sound-mixes. UNIVERSAL has provided a DOLBY DIGITAL PLUS 5.1 mix. While never aggressive, there is a fair amount of separation in the front soundstage. Surrounds are scarcely used, but when they are, it adds greatly to the film's impact.
Several trailers and a featurette are included.