The good news is that the lovely Rebecca Romjin-Stamos has now removed all doubt that she can act well enough to anchor a major motion picture. The sad part of the story is that Femme Fatale is a strange blend of Run Lola Run and the worst of filmmaker Brian De Palma's own canon that made me repeatedly ask both, "What the hell is going on?" and "Why does any studio finance ridiculous De Palma movies like this?" Brunette doppelgangers, double-crosses, alternate realities: You figure it out, if you have two hours to kill.
The 1.85:1 anamorphic video is a surprising disappointment for a marquee film, with distracting levels of grain in a generally soft image. The frequent appearance of compression artifacts in smoke and other fine textures further mars the image, despite this being a dual-layered disc. Black detail is also so-so at best, but the use of color is intriguing and well represented. The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is fine if not stunning, with a clearly defined front soundstage for the music and dialogue and ample bass when appropriate. By and large, though, the surround-channel activity is extremely subtle. If you don't have surround speakers, you won't miss much.
The most noteworthy extras are a total of four behind-the-scenes featurettes, all overly long, lean on any real insight, amazingly redundant, and ultimately unnecessary. Chances are you won't be curious enough to watch them after the end credits roll, anyway.—Chris Chiarella
DVD: NYPD Blue: Season One—20th Century Fox
Like many viewers around the country, I didn't have the opportunity to watch the first season of NYPD Blue because my local ABC affiliate deemed it inappropriate for my eyes. Over the years, I've seen a few of the episodes in syndication, but the newly released boxed set of the entire first season gave me my first chance to really see what I missed back in 1993. As it turns out, I missed a lot. The first season of NYPD Blue was a true landmark in network television, and not just because it allowed viewers to appreciate Dennis Franz's assets in a whole new way.
After he successfully pushed television-drama boundaries to new heights with L.A. Law, producer Steven Bochco wanted more. ABC balked at first (after Cop Rock, who wouldn't?), but they eventually gave in and allowed Bochco to present the first network show that featured more nudity and foul language than your typical Porky's sequel. It wasn't the sex and violence that made NYPD Blue great, though; it was the superb cast, gritty cinematography, and seamless writing.
All 22 episodes from the first season are present in this six-disc package, and the 1.33:1 picture and Dolby Surround sound are both top-notch. Bonus materials are plentiful, as well, including select episode commentaries and multiple documentaries that reveal almost as much as David Caruso and Amy Brenneman's steamy sex scenes.—Gary Maxwell