Heat: Director’s Definitive Edition, 1995.
Directed by Michael Mann.
Starring Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Val Kilmer, Jon Voight, Tom Sizemore, Ashley Judd, Mykelti Willliamson, Natalie Portman, Amy Brenneman, and Hank Azaria.
Heat has been released on Blu-ray before in a pretty definitive edition, but this new one features remastered video from a 4K scan supervised by director Michael Mann, along with a new audio mix. The bonus features found on the two-disc DVD and earlier Blu-ray were ported to this edition, which also has two new discussions from 2015 and 2016 with Mann and many of the cast members.
Can a crime drama be considered epic? Sure, movies like The Godfather Parts I and II and Casino would fall into that category, but they’re films that take place over long periods of time that trace a rise-and-fall arc. Heat’s story unfolds along a relatively short timeline, but it takes its time with its characters, telling us more about who they are, what they want, and which weaknesses will likely lead to their undoing. It’s actually Shakespearean in that way.
Heat is also notable for uniting Al Pacino (career-driven detective Lt. Vincent Hanna) and Robert De Niro (tough-as-nails criminal mastermind Neil McAuley) in their first onscreen appearance together (The Godfather Part II obviously didn’t count). The story unfolds as a tense cat-and-mouse game, as McAuley moves his pieces into place for a big score and Hanna pursues leads that he hopes will enable him to nab McAuley. Along the way, both men deal with personal relationships that interfere with their plans.
Writer and director Michael Mann surrounded Pacino and De Niro with a supporting cast packed with big names, including Val Kilmer, Tom Sizemore, Danny Trejo, and a young Natalie Portman. Mann may not be as big of a name as other directors who broke through in the 1970s, but Heat still stands as not only one of his greatest films but also one of the best crime dramas ever made. Like The Shawshank Redemption, it’s a 90s era film that didn’t light the box office on fire but found a second life on home video, growing in stature over time.
This new double-disc Blu-ray set is billed as Director’s Definitive Edition, although it’s the same version of the movie that’s been released before. Mann made a few small trims to the theatrical version that are pretty inconsequential, so it’s not like there’s a major need for both versions of the movie to be included here. However, Mann did oversee a new 4K scan of the movie that’s used here, so the visual presentation is supposed to be greatly improved over the 2009 Blu-ray (I only have an earlier bare bones DVD, so I can’t do much of a comparison). There’s also a new audio mix.
An audio commentary by Mann accompanies the movie on the first platter. It’s the same track that was previously recorded for a two-disc DVD release, but if you haven’t heard it before, it’s worth a listen. He covers a wide range of topics, including the inspiration for the movie, technical details, anecdotes about the making of the film, and much more. He falls into silence a little more than I’d like, but you can’t have it all.
Over on disc two, we have the original, nearly hour-long The Making of Heat documentary, which was also ported from the original DVD to the earlier Blu-ray. Mann, Kilmer, Pacino, De Niro, Sizemore, and others lend their thoughts to a comprehensive look at the movie. I really enjoy these kinds of making-of features, so this was right up my alley.
Some other materials were also ported over, including:
- Pacino and De Niro: The Conversation (10 minutes): A closer look at the diner scene that features the two leads. (The pan-and-scan version of the film on VHS back in the 90s led some people to think the actors were filmed separately and didn’t appear together onscreen in this scene, but thankfully those days of visually butchered movies are long gone.)
- Return to the Scene of the Crime (12 minutes): A visit to the LA locations used in the movie.
- Deleted scenes: There are 11 of them, running almost 10 minutes total. When viewed in the context of the finished product, they offer a nice lesson into how editing shapes a movie and how little things can have a big impact. (Note that temp music was used, so they don’t reflect the final score for those scenes, had they been included.)
However, that’s not all for this one. A pair of new extras were created:
- 2016 Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences Panel: Christopher Nolan hosted this 63-minute discussion with Mann, Pacino, De Niro, Kilmer, and others.
- 2015 Toronto International Film Festival Q&A: Mann was interviewed for this 30-minute look back at the movie.
The new discussions don’t contain anything earth-shattering, but, if you’re a sports fan, I would describe them as similar to those retrospective documentaries where players and coaches look back on memorable seasons, championships, and so forth and get a chance to bask in the glow of their victories once more. That’s what the 2015 and 2016 discussions entail, but that’s not a bad thing, especially for fans of the film. They show how Heat continues to stand the test of time and will remain a classic film.
If you haven’t picked up Heat before, or want to upgrade your DVD, this is a worthwhile purchase, especially since you can find it pretty cheap online. That low price means it’s even a worthwhile upgrade for those who have the earlier Blu-ray.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★