Escape From Absolom

(No Escape)

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Details At A Glance

Category Action Theatrical Trailer(s) None
Rating Other Trailer(s) Yes, 1 - DVD Teaser #2
Year Released 1994 Commentary Tracks None
Running Time 113:35 minutes  Other Extras Featurette - Making of
Filmographies-Cast & Crew
RSDL/Flipper RSDL (66:01)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region 2,4 Director Martin Campbell

Columbia TriStar Home Video
Starring Ray Liotta
Lance Henriksen
Stuart Wilson
Kevin Dillon
Kevin J O'Connor
Michael Lerner
Ernie Hudson
Case Transparent Amaray
RRP $34.95 Music Graeme Revell

Pan & Scan/Full Frame No MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Dolby Digital 2.0
16x9 Enhancement Yes Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192 Kb/s)
French (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192 Kb/s)
German (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192 Kb/s)
Italian (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192 Kb/s)
Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192 Kb/s)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
Macrovision Yes Smoking No
Subtitles English
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    And those of you in Far North Queensland might enjoy seeing what was done in this film to that part of the world. Yes people, another of those films shot in Australia that pushes us a little closer to the leading edge of movie film making - at least as far as locations go. The film itself leaves something to be desired.

    John Robbins (Ray Liotta) is a Marine captain convicted of the premeditated murder of his commanding officer, sending him to jail for life. After escaping from two jails he is sent to the Leviticus jail from where he is shipped to Absolom after an altercation with The Warden (Michael Lerner). Absolom is the perfect jail - no one escapes and very few know of its existence, as this is not exactly a legal facility. It is an island where men with no future are sent to eke out an existence as best they can in an anarchy. The island is dominated by the Outsiders led by Walter Marek (Stuart Wilson) and Robbins stumbles upon them: given his penchant to date, he naturally upsets Marek and escapes to "freedom". Robbins eventually throws his lot in with a group led by The Father (Lance Henriksen) who have re-established a relatively civilized and peaceful existence in this hell. But Robbins is determined to escape from the island - something that no man has ever done - against a back drop of the plundering Outsiders and a system very tightly controlled by The Warden.

    This is not an especially great story and I found it less than engrossing, but it has its moments. Whilst Ray Liotta has generally been seen as a supporting actor, here he takes the lead and I am not quite sure that the role suits him well. He does however give a decent fist of a character that really has not been given much of a fleshing out in the story. Stuart Wilson lacks a little as the leader of the Outsiders and really does not have the same sort of dark side the character needs that say a Dennis Hopper or a Gary Oldman would bring to the role. The rest are adequate and not a whole lot more in a story not especially well brought to life by Martin Campbell, who later went onto much better things with GoldenEye and Mask Of Zorro. Still if you like action then this is not too bad a film - just ignore the less than believable explosion that destroys the boat - although there are better around. Whilst this is rated M, I would caution that some scenes are just a little more graphic than I would have expected.

Transfer Quality


    Okay, back to a Columbia TriStar transfer so we know that there is nothing too much wrong here, blah blah blah.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and it is 16x9 enhanced. The Internet Movie Database lists the aspect ratio of the film as 2.35:1; if this is indeed correct then it is a little unusual that we have not got that ratio from Columbia TriStar.
[Ed. Several other sources that I checked also indicated that the correct aspect ratio for this movie is 2.35:1. The cinematographic process used for this movie was Arriscope (similar to CinemaScope and Panavision), so this image must have been cropped at the sides rather than open-matted, as far as I have been able to ascertain.]

    Whilst this is clearly not amongst the very best that Columbia TriStar can offer, there is not too much wrong with the transfer. In general it is a very sharp transfer with some very nice detail to it. At times the transfer seemed a little grainy, but this suits the film quite well and was not overly distracting. Shadow detail was very good in general. There did not appear to be any low level noise in the transfer.

    The colours are in general quite vibrant, with the greens really coming up very well. There was quite a palette on offer here as the colours in both camps were somewhat muted, although consistently well rendered, whilst some of the scenery shots were extremely vivid. There was no hint of oversaturation of colours at all.

    There did not appear to be any significant MPEG artefacts, whilst film-to-video artefacts comprised some relatively minor aliasing that was barely noticeable. There were a few film artefacts present, although none were especially distracting to the film.

    This is an RSDL formatted disc with the layer change coming at 66:01. The layer change is noticeable although not especially disruptive to the film.


    Whilst the 2.0 soundtrack remains faithful to the original theatrical release, and it is a fine soundtrack, the film could really have benefited from a 5.1 remaster.

    There are five audio tracks on the DVD, all Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded: the default English, French, German, Italian and Spanish. I listened to the default English soundtrack.

    The dialogue was clear and reasonably easy to understand, although a couple of times I needed to boost the sound level a little to hear what was being said.

    There did not appear to be any problems with audio sync with this transfer.

    The music score is provided by Graeme Revell, who has turned up on a few films that have made it through the player. Frankly I do not find his work especially memorable and this is another instance of that. I can only presume that this is his understated style and I simply do not respond to it.

    This is actually a very nice surround encoded soundtrack with some lovely surround detail through both the front and rear channels. At times it almost sounded like a 5.1 soundtrack without bass. The resultant sound stage is very believable and you feel a real part of it. Nonetheless when the action gets going, you do really miss that bass channel making its presence felt..


    A passable collection is on offer, although the lack of a theatrical trailer is a notable omission.


Featurette - Making of Escape From Absolom

    A twenty eight minute look at the making of the film, mainly through interviews with most of the main cast and crew. This is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, not 16x9 enhanced and with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. It comes with a choice of German, French, Dutch, Spanish and Italian subtitles. This is a not particularly interesting effort, although those in Atherton might enjoy some of the memories. This is quite noticeably affected by MPEG artefacting.

Filmographies - Cast and Crew

R4 vs R1

    The Region 4 version appears to miss out on:     The Region 1 version appears to miss out on:     In view of the apparently incorrect aspect ratio, it would seem that Region 1 would be the way to go even though Region 4 is 16x9 enhanced. I would normally prefer correct aspect ratio wherever possible, all other things being equal, although others will no doubt disagree and opt for 16x9 enhancement..


    Escape From Absolom is not a bad action film, although some tighter character and plot development may have aided its cause a little more. Fans of the genre would find little to complain about here but others would be advised to preview the film first.

    A good video transfer.

    A good audio transfer.

    A reasonable extras package.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ian Morris
28th November 1999

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-515; S-video output
Display Sony Trinitron Wega 84cm. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Built in
Amplification Yamaha RXV-795. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Speakers Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL