Sometime during the 1990’s, big-budget blockbusters stopped getting by on special effects alone. Even though Independence Day, Godzilla, and Armageddon showed us that ground-breaking special effects don’t translate into quality films, Hollywood kept making them — and people kept spending their hard-earned money to see them.
Stealth is the newest movie in that mold. Heavy on great visuals and special effects, it fails to deliver any character development, emotion or common sense, result…ng in a lop-sided film. Had Stealth been released 10 years ago, it may have been considered ground-breaking and its shortcomings may have been overlooked. Today it feels old, even though most of the visual technology used in the movie is new, which may explain why it was considered a massive flop in theaters.
However, it’s not all bad. While Stealth has zero character development, emotion or common sense, it is technically well made. Although we’ve pretty much seen everything CGI can do — from bringing dinosaurs back to life in Jurassic Park to creating a total CGI film in Final Fantasy — we haven’t really seen what it can do with fighter jet combat. This is where Stealth succeeds. The scenes in the air are some of the finest action sequences in films of the genre to date.
Rob Cohen doesn’t just watch the planes from the ground, as most films involving air combat have done in the past. He swings around the top and bottom of the plane, zooms in on the pilots in cockpit, has the planes fly toward the camera, and follows missiles as they’re launched from the plane to seek out their target. All of this is extremely busy and loud, and totally computer generated, but it results in a pure action film adrenaline rush.
But that doesn’t vindicate the filmmakers for making such a dumb movie. What could have been a solid sci-fi film about the dangers of next-generation technology on the battlefield becomes a low-IQ actioner that is all over the map. There’s the AI jet that gets “re-wired” and becomes bad. Then there’s the double-cross by higher-ups who want to save their own hides when things go haywire. Then the AI jet is good. Then bad. Then good again.
More improbabilities: When the team members fly with the AI jet for the first time, a training mission becomes a real mission too quickly. Then Josh Lucas’ character blacks out at Mach 5, 30 feet above an inner city highway, for about 30 seconds. Does he crash into the next overpass? No way, he wakes up and guides the plan to safety. Finally, the AI jet can identify faces and read fingerprints at Mach 5 speeds, miles away from the target. All this may sound cool in principal, but it’s just another example of this movie’s high-speed, no brain approach.
Don’t get me wrong, Stealth is mindless fun for the most part. However, mindless fun movies also need to make sense. I’m more than willing to turn down my IQ to enjoy a movie, but I can only do it so many times in a movie’s run-time before it gets old. Whereas a film like True Lies was mindless fun, it at least strung together enough plausibility to hover just above “dumb action movie” status.
As for the acting, it’s about as good as it can get in an action movie of this sort. Josh Lucas has carved out a nice career for himself doing a Matthew McConaughey impression, and here he smiles when needed, flashes his baby-blues when needed, and acts serious when needed. Jamie Foxx is in a supporting role mode here, and tries to offer some comedic relief, but the script never really allows him to break out. Jessica Biel, who got a lot of bad press for her role in this movie, doesn’t feel out of place, as many people have said. Sure, I don’t believe her to be one of the top 3 pilots in the world, but there are a lot of things I don’t believe in this movie. And besides, she looks really good in that blue bikini. Biel supplies the human eye candy about as good as any actress could do.
Rob Cohen, who directed The Fast and The Furious and xXx, never really injected either of those movies with the intensity and excitement he does with Stealth. While Stealth is right at home with The Fast and the Furious and XXX in regards to intelligence, Stealth has much more going for it, especially in the FX department. Stealth may lack the star-power that Vin Diesel brought to the aforementioned films, but going off of Cohen’s resume, it’s much better than anything else he has done in the genre.
Overall, Stealth is a dumb movie, and knows it is for the most part. It’s not sure if advanced technology on the battlefield is good or bad. But it is sure that advanced technology on the battlefield should be loud and fast. And that’s what Stealth offers, lots of visceral thrills and little else. If you’re in the mood, it’s worth it. If not, it will feel like a complete waste of time. Watch it accordingly.
In the near future, 3 elite Navy Pilots (JoshLucas, Jamie Foxx and Jessica Biel) take on anArtificial Intelligence fighter jet as the 4th memberof their close-knit flying team. When their newcomputerized partner is struck by lightning, it gets“re-wired” and begins to evolve and think on its own,becoming a danger to the other members of the team.
Stealth is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. The picture is clear and vibrant, but not razor sharp. Slight grain is always present, and there is some slight color saturation. At certain times during the film, there was major pixelation. So much so, that I thought the disc might malfunction. I’m not sure if this was a problem with the particular disc I was watching, or if it’s universal. Outside of the troubling malfunctions, there are no major complaints with the video, but I have seen better.
This is the DVD’s strong point. Stealth is loud and fast and so are the DTS 5.1 and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio tracks. From jets whizzing from your front speakers to the rears — to missiles zipping from left to right — every aspect of your home theater will be utilized by Stealth. Although it may be the kind of film you’d never consider owning, it is the perfect demo disc.
The DTS 5.1 track was excellent from beginning to end. My surround speakers and subwoofer were constantly being pushed to the limit and I had a smile on my face the entire time. There was a lot going on in this film — and the sound separation is excellent. I felt like I could hear each aspect of the action perfectly.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is not as impressive, but very much competent. It will still rumble your subwoofer and abuse your surrounds, just make sure you’ve got the volume up high enough. When I was flipping between the DTS and DD tracks, I noticed that on the same volume level, the DTS track was much louder and more aggressive.
However, both tracks will tickle your fancy and you’ll be showing your friends various scenes from Stealth for months.
Notable HT demo scenes are: EDI’s “re-wiring”, Kara’s Fall, and the entire Alaska sequence.
Stealth is packed with extras over 2 discs, mostly going behind the scenes to show the viewer how many of the 800 special effects shots were created.
- The Music of Stealth – Rob Cohen discusses his desire to score the film so that it sounded new and less traditional. The band Incubus also explains their involvement in the film and how they created 3 original songs for the film.
- Music Video – Incubus, “Make a Move”
- Previews – contains trailers for:The Legend of ZorroRentFun with Dick and JaneThe Pink Panther (2005)The Da Vinci CodeInto the BlueThe Best of WWII MoviesGodzilla: Final WarsRingers: Lord of the FansThe CaveSeinfeld: Seasons 5&6
- Harnessing Speed: The Making of Stealth – a behind the scenes look at the filming and special effects process from before the film was given a green-light to its release. This feature mainly focuses on Cohen’s experimentation with speed on film.
- Detailed and Declassified: Scene Deconstruction with MX Technology – the feature shows you different methods used in filming two of the film’s biggest special effects sequences, “Kara’s Fall” and “The Big Suck.” During the featurette, mini-screens pop up and you’re able to click on them to see a different method of creating the special effect sequence.
- MX Multi-Channel – This featurette uses the same clickable mini-screen to select from different cameras filming the same action sequence. These are “Welcome to Alaska” and “Escape from Alaska.”
While the movie itself may be lacking in some areas, the DVD of Stealth is not. It’s loaded from top to bottom with a great picture, excellent audio, and lots of interesting and informative extra features. If you own a home theater of any kind, you’ll want to check out Stealth to see what your system can really do.
Special Features List
- The Music of Stealth
- Music Video
- Harnessing Speed: The Making of Stealth
- Detailed and Declassified: Scene Deconstruction with MX Technology
- MX Multi-Channel