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Details At A Glance

Category Action Theatrical Trailer(s) Yes, 1 - 1.78:1, Dolby Digital 2.0
Rating Other Trailer(s) None
Year Released 1996 Commentary Tracks None
Running Time 109:52 Minutes  Other Extras Cast & Crew Biographies
RSDL/Flipper No/No
Cast & Crew
Start Up Movie
Region 2,4 Director Charles Russell

Warner Home Video
Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger
James Caan
Vanessa Williams
James Coburn
Robert Pastorelli
Case Snapper
RRP $29.95 Music Alan Silvestri

Pan & Scan/Full Frame None MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Dolby Digital 5.1
16x9 Enhancement Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384Kb/s)
French (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384Kb/s)
Italian (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384Kb/s)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
Macrovision ? Smoking Yes
Subtitles English 
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    Eraser is considered by many to be Arnold Schwarzenegger's last good film (at least so far), while others bestow that sad honour upon True Lies. The plot is rather flawed and the characterizations are very shallow, but these factors can be overlooked with the greatest of ease once the immense, powerful action gets started. John Kruger (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is a US Marshal who works with the witness protection program as an "eraser", which basically means he deletes a witness' past as a protective measure. As you would expect from an Arnie film, he is considered to be the best of the best in his line of work, equalled only by his boss and mentor, Robert Deguerin (James Caan). After erasing a particular mob stool pigeon known as Johnny C. (Robert Pastorelli), Kruger is assigned to protect a woman working for a government weapons contractor by the name of Lee Cullen (Vanessa Williams). Essentially, the company she works for was awarded a contract to make rail-gun technology usable in a hand-held size. What they have been hiding from the US government is the fact that they have succeeded in doing so, and they are now selling the weaponry to anyone who has the cash to pay for it, in this case a group of Russian terrorists.

    To tell you much more about the film would spoil the few surprises that it offers, so I will leave it at that. Apart from a wonderful skydiving sequence that makes Point Break look decidedly tame, and a sequence with some CGI alligators, the true highlight of Eraser is the worst one-liner Arnie has ever uttered, and he's had some real shockers in his time: "You're luggage". It's always reassuring to see that they can make a piece of dialogue so bad that it becomes an immortal classic. The special effects of this film are generally very good, although the aforementioned sequence with the CGI alligators looks rather fake. The rail gun effects are a major highlight of the film, with the illusion of these proverbial bolt-throwers becoming complete enough to suspend your disbelief in one fell swoop. If you enjoy a high-class action film, then Eraser is definitely for you.

Transfer Quality


    If only all Warner Brothers transfers could be this good, or so I heard myself thinking at some points in this particular film. The only real concern I noticed with this particular video transfer is the presence of some minor to moderate aliasing, which reflects the relative youth of the transfer. Eraser was an early effort from Warner Brothers, and aliasing was a little bit of a problem with all of their transfers around this era. The transfer is presented in the original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1, complete with 16x9 enhancement. The transfer was razor sharp and crystal clear from start to finish, with many scenes looking so vibrant and clear that I wished I could crawl into them via my television set. Shadow detail was excellent, with everything the director intended you to see being completely clear in the darker sequences. There was no low-level noise apparent at any time.

    One aspect where this transfer rides all over any other version of this film that I have seen other than the theatrical exhibition is in the area of colour saturation - all the blues, reds, and greens in this film are so well-rendered that you could be forgiven for thinking you were watching the show live via high-definition broadcast. MPEG artefacts were absent from the transfer, in spite of the bit rate of the transfer generally being stuck in the middle of the road to accommodate the two hours of video information in this package to one layer. Film-to-video artefacts consisted of some aliasing along the edges of objects such as cars during some shots, but this was only mildly distracting from the film's manic pacing. Film artefacts were so occasional and mild as to be non-existent. There appeared to be one white dot on the screen during the rail-gun attack upon Lee's home and Kruger's dive from the jet, but these were extremely mild and so occasional as to make me wonder whether I had hallucinated them.


    Three audio tracks are included with this DVD, all of them in glorious Dolby Digital 5.1: the original English dialogue, and dubs in French and Italian. I listened to the English dialogue, and sampled some of James Caan's lines in Italian to satisfy my curiosity. The dialogue was always clear and easy to hear, save for the airplane action sequence and the odd word or three from Arnold Schwarzenegger, but neither of these lapses are any fault of the transfer. There were no audio sync problems apparent with this disc, although some of the action sequences must have given whomever was in charge of dubbing the sound effects a real headache.

    The score music in this film was composed by Alan Silvestri, and this is a much better effort than I am used to hearing from this particular composer. The best part of the score was definitely during the zoo sequence, but this was otherwise an appropriate and supportive score without being particularly remarkable or original. There were times when it seemed to be mixed a little too low into the overall soundfield, but this was a trivial issue that has nothing to do with the transfer.

    The surround channels were aggressively used throughout the film by the special effects, particularly for such sounds as the rail-gun rounds flying through the air. Explosions were loud and enveloping, the dialogue was loud and enveloping, and the gunshots were loud and enveloping. In fact, everything was loud and enveloping except for the occasional ambient sound effect, which was well-supported by the surrounds. The subwoofer got a major workout supporting the plethora of gunshots, explosions, and crashes. This was a highly enveloping soundtrack that I would rate as being even better than the soundtrack as it was heard theatrically, and a truly demo quality sound transfer in every respect.



    The menu is loosely themed around the movie and is 16x9 enhanced, with the scene selection menu offering access to only nine out of the 44 available scenes on the film. Truly pathetic, even for a Warner Brothers scene selection menu.

Cast & Crew Biographies

    Limited biographies are provided for Arnold Schwarzenegger, James Caan, Vanessa Williams, James Coburn, Robert Pastorelli, and director Charles Russell. Even Arnie's biography is annoyingly short and pointless.

Theatrical Trailer

    This is a surprisingly entertaining trailer. It is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, with 16x9 enhancement and Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded sound. The trailer's soundtrack is extremely aggressive, in keeping with the nature of the rest of the DVD.

R4 vs R1

    Well, from what I have been able to ascertain, Eraser is presented in Region 1 as another one of those dual-sided efforts with a Widescreen version on one side and a 4:3 Pan & Scan version on the other. Given that the DVD format already allows for automatic Pan & Scan encoding, not to mention the fact that the 4:3 shape is on its way out, and that flippers attract fingerprints in much the same way as Schwarzenegger attracts stupid dialogue, I have to say that the Region 1 version is a loser to steer well clear of.


    Eraser is an excellent action film by Arnie standards, presented on a very good DVD that mostly looks and sounds even better than the original theatrical exhibition.

    The video quality is excellent except for a moderate amount of aliasing.

    The audio quality is reference material, through and through. A shining example of how to do a Dolby Digital 5.1 action soundtrack.

    It's a shame about the extras.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Dean McIntosh (my bio sucks... read it anyway)
April 23, 2000

Review Equipment
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)
Amplification Sony STR-DE835
Speakers Panasonic S-J1500D Front Speakers, Sharp CP-303A Back Speakers, Philips FB206WC Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Subwoofer