The Good

This great movie gets solid treatment on DVD.

The Bad

I wish Edward Norton was more involved with this release.Primal Fear is a legal thriller of the highest order. At the outset one sees it as a film about a lawyer (Richard Gere) who is cutthroat, manipulative and craves the attention of the media. One might think that this man will eventually get religion and become a better person. What they don't suspect is that he gets involved in the case of a meek altar boy (Edward Norton) and soon finds himself embroiled in the case of his life. With deception, greed, mental disorders, cover-ups and other human emotions being the order of the day, what eventually happens to Gere's character (and the viewer of this film) showcases just how powerful the gospel of movies can be.



There are a bevy of people talking on this commentary track. They are director Gregory Hoblit, Writer Ann Biderman, Producer Gary Luccchesi, Executive Producer Hawk Koch, and Casting Deborah Aquila. Okay, as much as I appreciate the effort on the part of Paramount to jam pack this DVD with extras, it isn't that kind of movie. We're not talking about some fanboy DVD that people want to know how the key grip liked the production. Just having Gregory Hoblit on this commentary would have been fine as he seems to be the creative force that lead this train to being the exceptional movie that it is. He talks about the production, casting Edward Norton, the script, and how he turned the legal drama on its ear.

Primal Fear Featurettes


Widescreen. This movie looked really sharp on DVD. I saw this film a couple of times in the theater and it looked solid there. On DVD I played it on my 13" TV and all the colors and tones held up quite nicely. This film is edited in such a way that makes all of the information, story and legalese go done very easy. This says nothing of the nuance of performance that also make this movie sizzle.


Dolby Digital. The audio on this release was good. I didn't hear anything that sounded out of order. I turned up my TV a little less than halfway and I didn't find that the audio wafted in and out of loudness like it sometimes can. The sound designer also seemed to use the audio to tell us about the characters. This might have been done without us knowing it was happening but it really worked to good effect here.


Coming in a ziplock bag that has "PHYSICAL EVIDENCE" written in red across it, this release is made to look like a piece of evidence that might be used in a court of law. The artwork, which features Gere and Norton, looks very thrown together and all of that plays to great effect here. The back continues this "evidence" look with critics quotes, a description of this film, a Special Features listing, a cast list and technical specs.

Final Word

Primal Fear: Hard Evidence Edition is a most own for all different sorts of DVD collectors. The acting in this movie by Gere and Norton is top notch. While Gere often plays characters that close their eyes and raise their face to the heavens (his signature move) in every film, Edward Norton has stayed just enough under the media radar to be able to surprise his audiences consistently. As great as he is here, one cannot look at this role and say he never did anything better.

Filled with good extras and a backed up by a great film, Primal Fear: Hard Evidence edition isn't just an exceptional legal drama, it is a brilliantly conceived film.


Primal Fear was released March 6, 1996.