Warner Home Video has had some intriguing Blu-ray releases of late, including the 14-year-old film Heat, starring Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Val Kilmer. As excellent as the movie is, even its storytelling panache can’t entirely explain why now marked the best time to release the film. The film’s a nice change of pace from so many of today’s Blu-ray action-film releases, which focus on high-speed elements first and character development second, but its film quality definitely shows signs of age, and even its audio elements seem a bit hollow at times (full review here). But before you dismiss its full multimedia capabilities, you’ve got to experience Heat with D-BOX Motion Code. Because really, in this day and age, D-BOX is the only way to really feel the Heat.
Heat’s Motion Code isn’t included on the disc, and in fact it’s a recent addition to the downloadable code over at D-BOX HQ. Like other recently available Motion Code tracks, Heat’s follows the model of “only use motion when needed, not just for the sake of adding it,” and it pulls it off with aplomb. In the opening sequence, a gentle rumble shakes a D-BOX-equipped seat as if the viewer were standing on the subway platform, an effect that feels good but inadvertently makes one wonder whether Heat will suffer from some “cheap tricks” when it comes to Motion.
Thankfully, it doesn’t.
Heat implements action only in those scenes where it’s truly warranted, whether it be in the film’s handful of helicopter scenes (hello, great swooping movements!) or its half-dozen or so car sequences (D-BOX always does car scenes right). The film also has more than its fair share of gunshots and explosions, each of which gives a satisfying thump to the chair.
Not surprisingly, though, the most memorable scene in terms of Motion Code is also the film’s most memorable scene in general: the downtown shootout after a botched bank robbery. Easily lasting 10 minutes, this scene provides an opportunity for D-BOX nirvana: explosions, gunfire, car chases, blunt collisions and all manner of audio-induced movements. It’s clear that the motion engineers put a lot of work into this scene, because nearly every possible element that could have supported motion does support it. The ironic part of including all this action in a single scene, though, is that there’s so much movement and thumping that it actually almost “numbs” viewers into forgetting it’s there. Truly, to start taking D-BOX Motion for granted — whether in a home-viewing environment or at the handful of theaters where motion-equipped seating is available — is a sad thing. Yet the almost “over-stim” nature of this scene flirts with achieving just that.
On the whole the Motion Code is minimally used throughout the film, but take into consideration that the movie’s nearly three hours long, so the ratio of exposition to action is particularly high. In addition, D-BOX wisely let Heat’s plot unfold and characters develop without the unnecessary distraction of errant movements, using Motion Code only where it makes the most sense. As a result, Heat is an excellent film that makes excellent use of D-BOX support, but it’s not necessarily “The One” title you’re going to use to showcase the technology. Its best scene is almost overwhelming, while the rest of it provides a perfect complement to the film without going overboard. Experiencing Heat with D-BOX in full force is still a very fun experience, but considering that Motion Code “gawkers” are probably more interested in fast-paced action than deep exposition, Heat isn’t the best option for showing off the system to your friends.
- Score: 8.2
— Jonas Allen