Drop Zone [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray A - America - Lions Gate Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Andreas Petersen (2nd April 2010).
The Film

Sometimes a group of people who engage in certain hobbies can be amazingly interesting. Entire movies can be based around the cultures that are born out of such activities, such as movies about motorcycle gangs, graffiti artists, or two guys trying to beat each other’s Donkey Kong scores. However, sometimes movies try to make the culture behind something more interesting than it really is. I’m talking about all those ski movies, all those fashion movies, and now I’ve seen a film that is trying to make the hidden world of skydiving interesting. Sorry "Drop Zone," I’m not buying it.

The story follows US Marshal Pete Nessip (Wesley Snipes). He is escorting a key witness (Michael Jeter) out of jail and onto a flight so he will be able to testify against major figures in the drug trade. Once on the plane, a group of terrorists, led by Moncrief (Gary Busey) kidnap the witness, then skydive out of the plane. For some reason, no one believes that anyone could escape from a plane flying that high, and Nessip is blamed for the whole thing, and is suspended from duty. Nessip digs deeper, looking into skydiving schools, and must infiltrate the underworld of skydiving to find out the culprits. The whole thing spirals into a plot involving Moncrief’s gang discovering the identities of undercover DEA agents, and selling off the info.

The movie itself doesn’t have a terrible plot. I’ll say that about twenty times more thought went into the film’s story than about 80% of action movies in the 90's era. However, the main problem with the film is how hokey the whole thing comes off. It’s an awkward blend of fun-action movie with brutal-we-shoot-civilians political thriller. The movie never really fleshes out into one or the other, and the whole thing felt entirely off balance.

Then there’s the fact that this movie plays up skydiving culture as something to be reckoned with, and maybe I’m just ignorant, but I found it to be pretty laughable. There is a scene where Nessip goes to a “skydiving” bar, and it may has well been strait out of the biker bar from "Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure" (1985). The skydivers get in a fight with Nessip for being an outsider, and when they hear that a skydiver died that day, they all have a moment of silence a raise their beers.

And then there’s how 90's the movie is. Maybe some people find terrible 90's movies to be ironically funny or charming, but the overuse of electric guitar riffs that played whenever someone did anything dramatic was driving me insane. Also I have no doubt that skydiving was really “cool” in 1994, but man, the look just doesn’t hold up in anyway. The tights, the neon colors, all of it is just bloated remains of the late 80's, and it’s terrible.

The movie has it’s moments thought. The escape from the plane was really well shot, as well as an awesome fight scene with Snipes and some dudes in a bathroom. Also, the film didn’t shy away from showing real skydiving footage with some of the real actors, and that’s something I feel is lacking in movies today. If "Drop Zone" was made today, there would have been twice as many terrible green screen shots, and for that I’m thankful.

In the end, "Drop Zone" is a “totally” 90's movie that is going to be easy to forget about.

Video

"Drop Zone" is presented in a 1080p 24/fps 2.35:1 HD transfer mastered in AVC MPEG-4 codec, and is easily the best thing about the disc. The colors are clean and polished to a level that made me take notice early on. For a movie that I imagine no one cares about, Lionsgate really came through with the transfer here, and at least made the film less of a pain to watch. There is little to no grain, and I was watching out for that in the film’s final scenes, which entail a big sequence at night. Night scenes in a 90's movie that no one cares about? You’d think there would be trouble, but everything looks surprisingly great.

Audio

"Drop Zone" is presented with an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 transfer mixed at 48kHz/24-bit, and is suitable enough. The skydiving scenes lacked a certain punch that I would expect (i.e. not enough bass to come close to simulating skydiving itself). However, the action sequences involving guns made proper use of my surround sound setup, and for the most part all the audio was clear enough that I never had to second guess a line of dialogue. The sound quality itself may be taken into question, as the movie definitely sounds like it was made nearly 20 years ago.
Optional subtitles are included in English, English for the hearing impaired and Spanish.

Extras

"Drop Zone" offers up only a theatrical trailer and a promo bonus trailer for other "Lionsgate Blu-rays," and are discussed further below:

First up is the theatrical trailer for the movie itself, which runs for 2 minutes and 5 seconds.

Next is the promo bonus trailer for other "Lionsgate Blu-rays", and it runs for 1 minute and 1 second.

Overall

The Film: D Video: B+ Audio: B Extras: F Overall: D+

 


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