(movie review written 2001)
Like John Travolta, it's not been a particularly good last few years for Arnold Schwartzenegger. Although the action star has several strong successes a few years back with "True Lies" and "Eraser", "End Of Days" and other recent efforts have left his star power at a somewhat questionable level. Although "The 6th Day" didn't particularly do the kind of business that was expected of it, the film showed at least a strong-step in the right direction as Arnold joined with respected director Roger Spottiswoode ("Tomorrow Never Dies") and a strong supporting cast including Robert Duvall.
The film stars Arnold as Adam Gibson, a normal, everyday guy spending time in the future with a nice family and life's usual events arriving. Unfortunately, the family pet passes away and the choice comes up to have the pet taken to "RePet", which offers to bring the passed pet back. Such technical advances as cloned re-pets, creepy dolls and virtual girlfriends are the deal of the day in this "not-too-distant-future".
Unfortunately for Adam, he also finds himself in the middle of a scientific plot as he finds that he's been cloned by a secret agency headed by Drucker(Tony Goldwyn). Adam comes home to find...himself, and three of Drucker's drones (Michael Rooker, Rodney Rowland and Sarah Wynter) are after him to erase the original. At this point, the build-up stops and the usual Arnold-style action begins.
"The 6th Day" is not a fantastic picture, but it's certainly a return to form for the action star and slightly better than the usual genre offers. The film's discussion of cloning generally isn't too detailed, and certainly not as fascinating as Andrew Niccol's look at the human gene in "Gattaca", but makes for a film that's not completely without some minor thought-provoking moments. Some of these dialogue-driven sequences are a bit on the lengthy side though, and at 124 minutes, "The 6th Day" could have used an occasionally snappier pace - some of the middle of the films does drag. That, and the special effects and story involved with all of the neat little gadgets that are available in the future are realistic and well-done.
The performances are not stand-outs, but even Schwartzenger is noticably better than he has been in the last couple of films he's starred in - funnier, less wooden. The great Robert Duvall is underused as the scientist who does all of the cloning and the supporting performances by Michael Rooker, Rodney Rowland and Sarah Wynter are decent, but not great. Michael Rappaport also turns in a decent performance as the sidekick. Tony Goldwyn as Drucker doesn't make much of a bad guy, but all of the equipment (neat lasers, etc) that they go after Arnold's character with defnitely are exciting enough.
"The 6th Day" is a an above-average picture - and, actually, a little bit of fixing and it could have been even better. Still, it's a return to form for the action star and an fairly thoughtful (for an action movie) vision of what the future might be like.
VIDEO: "The 6th Day" is presented by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment in 2.40:1 (AVC/1080P). The presentation is generally terrific; while maybe not demonstration quality in terms of Blu-Ray, the release is a noticable improvement over the DVD edition. Sharpness and detail remained top-notch throughout much of the movie, although depth to the image ranged from good to just adequate. The other issue with the film's clarity is that - like some other films that are several years old or more at this point - some of the weaker effects (some of the film's effects are terrific (for their age), some not so much) shots look even a little more lackluster thanks to the Blu-Ray edition's definition.
The only concern that was spotted during the running time was some slight instances of edge enhancement that were spotted in a few scenes. This wasn't particularly distracting, but it was still a little dismaying to see. Otherwise, the presentation showed no noise, pixelation or print flaws. The film's vibrant color palette looked great, with excellent saturation and no smearing or other faults. Black level also remained solid, as well.
SOUND: The film is presented in English Dolby True-HD 5.1, as well as French and Portuguese Dolby True-HD 5.1 and Thai & Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1. The combination of Schwartzenegger and sci-fi should make for a pretty amazing presentation in Dolby Digital 5.1 and often, "the 6th Day" lives up to expectations. The film is not a consistently action-packed feature, and certain periods of the movie offer a more dialogue and score driven experience than others. Still, when the action becomes more intense, the sound boasts some terrific instances of agressive audio use.
During the film's chase/action sequences, gunfire (or, more specifically, laser fire) and action envelop the viewer with the surrounds agressively offering effects and Trevor Rabin's enjoyable, occasionally intense score. These scenes are presented with an engaging amount of activity and usually do their job at bringing the viewer into the middle of the action. The film's few explosions and more intense sequences also provide solid, if not overpowering, bass. Dialogue also sounded clear with no issues. Not a consistently thrilling presentation, but exciting at its best. The audio presentation is improved here, with the Dolby True-HD presentation sounding somewhat crisper and more dynamic.
EXTRAS: The isolated score/commentary included on the DVD release has - unfortunately - not been carried over for the Blu-Ray edition. Extras are not in HD.
"The Future is Coming" is the standard Showtime "making of" documentary and runs about 15 minutes. The presentation offers up interviews with the cast and some basic behind-the-scenes footage. While there's a few interesting tidbits about the effects and production, this is mostly the cast and crew talking about the story and how great the flick is. "On the 6th Day" runs 48:23 and is made up of a series of featurettes that explore mainly the chase sequences, stunts and effects.
We also get 2 animatics, 3 storyboard comparisons and trailers for a couple of other Sony releases. This Blu-Ray release is D-Box enabled and BD-Live (which just offers some additional trailers on this particular title) enabled.
Final Thoughts: A somewhat underappreciated sci-fi action flick, "The 6th Day" doesn't quite reach the full potential that the story had, but the film still entertains. The Blu-Ray edition offers excellent audio/video quality and a decent helping of extras. A recommended rental.
The Film B-