If you’re fan of “CSI”, this is your chance to get at least one, feature-length, episode in high-definition given Paramount has seemingly given up on releasing the series on Blu-ray now (seasons 1 and 9 are the only two). I do wish they had offer up more features rather than merely porting over the one featurette from the season box set (how about a commentary?). Even so, if you can grab this at a good price, then it might be worth it.
Genre(s): Crime, Suspense
Paramount | NR – 85 min. – $24.99 | February 7, 2012
Directed by: Quentin Tarantino
Writer(s): Anthony E. Zuiker (created by); Quentin Tarantino (story), Naren Shankar, Anthony E. Zuiker, Carol Mendelsohn (teleplay)
Cast: William Petersen, Marg Helgenberger, Gary Dourdan, George Eads, Jorja Fox, Eric Szmanda, Robert David Hall, Paul Guilfoyle
Features: Featurette, DVD Copy
Number of Discs: 1
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 1.78
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Disc Size: 22.4 GB
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
THE MOVIE – 4.0/5
Plot: This two-hour “CSI” special episode opens with CSI Nick Stokes (GEORGE EADS) being called out to a crime scene where intestines are found lying in the middle of a vacant parking lot. Odd scene for sure, but it is Vegas after all. As he scans the area for more evidence, he’s grabbed from behind. On the scene, Nick’s fellow CSI’s, Grissom (WILLIAM PETERSEN), Catherine (MARG HELGENBERGER), Sara (JORJA FOX), Warrick (GARY DOURDAN) and Captain Brass (PAUL GUILFOYLE) are on the case to find out who took their man and why. When we next see Nick, he’s being thrown in a box in the ground, lid shut tight and dirt thrown on top. He’s being buried alive with a gun, glow sticks and a limited supply of air being pumped in.
Cue “Who Are You” by The Who and the opening credits.
As a standalone story, “CSI: Grave Danger” is fine but you really need to be a viewer of the series to at least keep up and, especially, care about these characters. As somebody who has watched the show since the beginning, I thought this episode was well done with the right amount of drama, suspense and even some dark comedy, the latter of which is a tell tale sign of Quentin Tarantino’s writing and direction. Now, if you aren’t a fan of the show, never seen it or are merely a casual viewer, you might not get anything out of it and in fact might find it a bit tedious.
In terms of the acting, I don’t think it’s the finest episode I’ve seen from William Petersen, Marg Helgenberger or even George Eads, but they all give it their all and for the most part step up the plate.
Admittedly, this is a bit uneven because there are scenes that look like any other episode but there are more than one that is quintessential Tarantino: i.e. a one-shot going around a table as the CSIs listen to an eerie message from the killer using music or a dream sequence of Nick watching his own autopsy. Those scenes are done real well and at least allow the episode to stand out from the rest.
All in all, it’s a good episode but not exactly primer material to those who may not have kept up with the series. However, if you have been or still are a fan, then you no doubt have already seen this episode, but now presented on its own, it might be worth checking out.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 1.5/5
The only feature is CSI: Tarantino Style (17:36; SD) which was ported over from the season five DVD set. Shame they couldn’t have added an extra feature or two to make this release more worthwhile…
Also included is a standard DVD Copy.
VIDEO – 4.0/5
Paramount releases “CSI: Grave Danger” onto Blu-ray with a good looking 1080p high-def transfer (AVC codec). The color array is well done from the brighter elements during the daylight scenes to the darker shots which only show off some minor artifacting. The detail levels are also pretty good as are the skin tones. Basically, this video is probably on par or perhaps marginally better than what originally aired.
AUDIO – 4.0/5
The disc comes with a nice 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track, an upgrade over the standard Dolby Digital track that’s included in the DVD season set. While I can’t say this lossless track is overpowering, you do get a nice sense of depth with some ambient noises coming through the front channels with the center being reserved mainly for dialogue. The score is probably the most powerful elements but at the same time, it has smoothness to it rather than being merely loud.
OVERALL – 3.5/5
Overall, if you’re fan of “CSI”, this is your chance to get at least one, feature-length, episode in high-definition given Paramount has seemingly given up on releasing the series on Blu-ray now (seasons 1 and 9 are the only two). I do wish they had offer up more features rather than merely porting over the one featurette from the season box set (how about a commentary?). Even so, if you can grab this at a good price, then it might be worth it.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman
Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.