|Category||Comedy/Horror||Theatrical Trailer(s)||Yes, 1 - 1.85:1, 16x9 Enhanced, Dolby Digital 2.0|
|Year Released||1990||Commentary Tracks||None|
|Running Time||91:19||Other Extras||Cast & Crew Biographies
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||MPEG||None|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Dolby Digital||5.1|
||Soundtrack Languages||English (Dolby Digital 2.0 ,
German (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192Kb/s)
French ((Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192Kb/s)
Italian (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192Kb/s)
Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192Kb/s)
Czech (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo, 192Kb/s)
Polish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono, 192Kb/s)
|Theatrical Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
To tell you much more about the story would spoil it for you, but suffice to say that Westlake wakes up in a hospital burns unit with haunting memories of the life he once had, and not in the best of moods as a result. He begins exploiting his experimental medical technology in order to wage a war against Durant and his boss, Louis Stack, Jr. (Colin Friels). Although the manner in which he is able to salvage his work is not particularly believable, it does allow for the use of some of the funniest bad-guy-killing sequences ever captured on film. Another issue complicating the matter is his need to demonstrate to his lover, Julie Hastings (Frances McDormand), that he is alive and not so well. This results in one of the best sequences about a man's loss of temper that I have ever seen, which makes sense because the whole film is one of the best films about the beast that lurks within us all and what happens when that beast is unleashed. If you want a happy ending in this film, you're quite seriously barking up the wrong tree. True to the serial comic book style of the film, our hero vanishes off into the sunset at the end to feel the pain of his solitary existence. The very brief appearance of Evil Dead star Bruce Campbell in this ending was a masterful stroke. To top things off, this film gets an extra point out of me for being yet another film that takes one of the themes central to the Bible and rendering it in a much better way than it, or The Matrix.
Shadow detail was good, in that it suited the comically dark feel of the film without plunging into the sort of depths where nothing can be made out. While this DVD certainly doesn't contain the best shadow detail, it does contain the right balance to enhance the movie. The colour scheme was somewhat muted, which is consistent with the approach I suspect Raimi took to the production of this film. It would not surprise me at all to learn that he used the same kind of film and cameras that he used with Evil Dead 2. While this might sound like a bad thing at first, I really think it suits his comic style rather well. MPEG artefacts consisted of some very minor pixelization around the edges of actors in close-up shots at early points in the movie, which settled down by the time Liam Neeson and his character began their amusing and stomach-rolling campaign of violence against Durant. Film-to-video artefacts were not apparent in the film either, although some of the usual culprits (some venetian blinds) and not so usual culprits (the melting of artificial skin) threatened to make their presence felt here and there. Film artefacts consisted of a few black and white marks on the film here and there, but these also settled once the film got moving.
This disc is presented in the RSDL format, but I simply cannot locate the exact point of transition. I've gone back and forth over the length of the programme to no avail, so I will assume that Universal or Columbia Tristar have done some very good work in hiding the layer change between chapters. I failed to notice the change during the first time I viewed this film, and the second viewing on another player that is notorious for showing me where the layer change occurs yielded no results. I suspect that this layer change takes place between Chapters 8 and 9, but I will probably never know for certain.
[Addendum March 14, 2000: I finally found the layer-change position at 63:17, during Julie's conversation with Louis. There are much better places for the transition to take place, but there's also far worse places. As it stands, the pause caused by the transition is so slight that it takes repeated viewings to even notice.]
The dialogue was clear and easy to understand at all times, with every actor speaking in a clear, and powerful voice. This would be partly an artistic choice by the director, because of his propensity to make live-action comic books. Liam Neeson's dialogue is particularly well-rendered and clear, although it also tends to become incoherent at the points which demand it, such as the frequent sequences in which his character is hallucinating and breaking out in a rage. I thought I even heard a slight difference in the dialogue when Larry Drake was dancing around himself telling one of his many henchmen to shoot the other one (a surprising visual effect in the film that I don't want to spoil for anyone who hasn't seen the film). In any case, if the same technology was available then for the making of this film as there would be today, the possibilities would have been enough to give the producers and writers a headache. Audio sync was never a problem at any time in the film.
The music by Danny Elfman was very well-suited to the overall feel of the film, although it lacks any distinction from other film scores included with films of this kind. In spite of this shortcoming, it does envelop the viewer in the film quite tightly. The surround presence is somewhat limited by comparison, although the usage of the subwoofer makes up for this deficiency quite well. Overall, the surround presence and the quality of the sound is where a lot of the comedy in the film is derived from.
The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;
The video quality is well-presented, given what Universal had to work with. It might not look particularly great, but it is an accurate reflection of what the director intended.
The audio quality is somewhat limited by the lack of a Dolby Digital 5.1 remix, but it is well-balanced enough to not matter. However, you may find the alien sound of some dialogue a little rattling.
The extras that are present on this disc are of good value.
|DVD||Grundig GDV 100 D, using composite output; Toshiba SD-2109, using S-video output|
|Display||Panasonic TC-29R20 (68 cm), 4:3 mode, using composite input; Samsung CS-823AMF (80 cm), 16:9 mode/4:3 mode, using composite and S-video inputs|
|Audio Decoder||Built In (Amplifier)|
|Speakers||Panasonic S-J1500D Front Speakers, Sharp CP-303A Back Speakers, Philips FB206WC Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Subwoofer|