The Net: Special Edition

January 28, 2012 8 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

Angela Bennett (Sandra Bullock) works as a software engineer, but she is an expert on all things computer related, perhaps to a fault. She spends most of her time doing work, playing with new programs, chatting on-line, and other computer activities, to the point where she even orders her pizza from her desk. But this causes her to have no real social life, very few friends, and outside of visiting her mother, she rarely leaves her terminals. But she plans to take a vacation in a short while, which comes as a surprise to all those who her and to an extent, even she is kind of surprised herself. She is to meet a friends of her, who calls to tell her he has sent a disc to be debugged, but in a strange twist, he winds up dead in a plane crash. As she inspects the disc he sent, she notices some very unusual content and even some top secret data, which ends up getting her into more trouble than she can imagine. Her vacation is a chance to leave her life behind, but before long, she’ll wish she was herself again, as criminals erase her very existence. Can she stay one step ahead of them and deliver the hidden data to the authorities, regaining her life in the process, or is she doomed to life her life as someone else?

This film was one of the earliest DVDs released by Columbia, which meant it had a good picture, good sound, and little else. But now that some time has passed, the studio has started to revisit some of those first titles and The Net’s turn has finally come, so fans should be thrilled to add this new special edition to their collections. Although the film itself will not be remembered as a classic of its time, I’ve liked it since it was in theaters and even after repeated viewings, I think it stands as a solid paranoid thriller. It has a complicated, but well handled premise, good suspense, some nice chases, and perhaps best of all, a female lead character. Yes, Sandra Bullock takes center stage and makes it all work very well, much better than I had expected. As with any movie with such a tricky basis, some inconsistent moments arise, but on the whole, The Net is able to seem real and suck in the audience, which is what matters. This is an above average, pretty engaging popcorn thriller and fans of suspense/thrillers won’t want to miss The Net. As such, this excellent new special edition is highly recommended, without even the slightest hesitation.

I think it is very cool to have a female lead in a film like this, where the focal character has to draw upon wits, strength, and inner drive, since most roles of this kind go to male performers. I admit that she wouldn’t have my first choice to take on the role, but Sandra Bullock handles herself well and puts in a more than solid effort. She is able to seem vulnerable, but also strong and steadfast, which makes her character seem very real, so we can relate to her. And we need to feel for the character here, since she is having her life torn apart and all that, so Bullock’s turn hits the right notes, to be sure. No, her work here is not award level, but she does as well as the material allows and then some, so no real complaints. Other films with Bullock include Demolition Man, Forces of Nature, Miss Congeniality, Gun Shy, and Speed. The cast also includes Jeremy Northam (Gosford Park, Mimic), Dennis Miller (Joe Dirt, Bordello of Blood), and Diane Baker (The Silence of the Lambs, Strait-Jacket).

Video: How does it look?

The Net is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. This is not a rehash of the previous treatment either, as Columbia has created a new transfer struck from a high definition master, which means enhanced visuals at all turns. The image reminds me of Columbia’s Superbit line, where subtle detail is enhanced and the picture is much sharper, but some of the inherent flaws of the source material are more obvious. The slight increase in grain is no issue however, neither are some print defects, which remain minimal at worst. I found this new transfer to be a solid improvement over the previous edition, because of the enhancements noted above, with only minor faults to discuss. The colors also seem warmer and flesh tones more accurate, while black levels remain sharp and very refined. This is a superb looking visual effort in all respects and of course, I commend Columbia for not just reusing the older transfer here.

Audio: How does it sound?

The included Dolby Digital 5.1 option is quite good and stands a mark or two above average, but don’t expect a reference level powerhouse here. The nature of the film allows for some tense scenes and those are represented by more dominant audio, but for the most part, this is a more reserved picture, in terms of audio presence. But the track doesn’t fall asleep at the wheel in quieter times, it establishes solid atmosphere, clean & crisp vocals, and a rich musical score, so it never slacks off in the least. When the tempo of the film picks up however, is when this track shines and it adds more tension to the events, which is just how it should be. This disc also includes French, Spanish, and Portuguese language choices, as well as subtitles in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Korean, Chinese, and Thai.

Supplements: What are the extras?

The crown jewels of this new special edition are two audio commentary tracks, both of which should delight fans of the material. The first track with director Irwin Winkler and producer Rob Cowan, who discuss the technical side of making The Net. I was pleased with the information the two give, but I was let down by some extensive silent spots and also some narration, which slows down the track at times. The second session is a little more consistent and I think better, with writers John Bracato and Mike Ferris on deck. The two still tend to clam up at times, but they share some humorous stories, background information, and even poke fun at the material, which makes it a more enjoyable overall track. This disc also includes the Inside the Net HBO special, an exclusive behind the scenes featurette, some talent files, and the film’s theatrical trailer.

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