Here On Earth (Rental)

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Details At A Glance

Category Drama None
Rating pg.gif (1010 bytes)
Year Released 2000
Running Time 93:00 Minutes 
RSDL/Flipper No/No
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region 4 Director Mark Piznarski
Fox.gif (4090 bytes)
Fox Home Video
Starring Chris Klein
Leelee Sobieski
Josh Hartnett
Michael Rooker
Annie Corley
Bruce Greenwood
Case Transparent Amaray
RPI Rental Only Music Andrea Morricone
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Pan & Scan English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384 Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
Macrovision Yes Smoking No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    When I first read about this film on Mr. Cranky's much-loved website, my reaction was to declare it a write-off. However, I tried to put that aside when I read a plot synopsis on the Internet Movie Database, where the film currently enjoys an average vote of 4.6 out of ten. Here On Earth can be loosely described as a romantic comedy about a young bastard who, having been made to fix the damage he has caused by being a bastard, remains a bastard.

    The film begins with Kelley (Chris Klein) learning that his father will not be present at his graduation from an exclusive boarding school, when a Mercedes is delivered to him as a graduation present. After breaking the campus rules regarding motor vehicles and taking off with some friends for a drive, he comes into contact with Samantha (Leelee Sobieski), who is working as a waitress in the local diner. After being ejected by Samantha as the result of a scuffle with some of the more blue-collar patrons, Kelley challenges Jasper (Josh Hartnett) to a race, which ends in the destruction of the diner. Judge Maddick (Isabell Monk) decides to impose a sentence upon the two young men that, unorthodox as it may be, seems quite appropriate on the surface of it all. They must work together with Michael Arnold (Michael Rooker) and his construction company, who have already been awarded the contract to rebuild the diner.

    As I have mentioned, Kelley remains a complete bastard, but Jasper is basically an all-around nice fellow who is inoffensive and harmless, whom Samantha has known almost all her life. In spite of this, Samantha decides that she wants to be with Kelley - never mind the fact that the audience will probably hate his guts from the film's beginning to its end. I almost wanted to stick a fork through my eye because of this element, in spite of the fact that it is the one with the most consistency to real life. As I sat there asking myself exactly what on earth is wrong with these people, the magic plot element that sews this whole thing together is revealed: cancer. Samantha broke one of her knees when she was a track athlete and had been going to the doctor for regular checkups, and the word cancer is not mentioned once. Then, one day when she falls and injures the knee again, we are told that she has a form of cancer that has spread from her knee to her liver, which the doctors tell her family was always a possibility. Excuse me a second while I try to find a single example of a physical injury from sports causing cancer, especially a form that spreads so fast that the doctors basically tell the family to give up and wait for the patient to die so soon after its discovery.

    I think this is about the point where I stopped caring about the film's plot, because it was obvious that the screenwriter, Michael Seitzman, had no respect for my intelligence. At least Cruel Intentions resolved its story in a manner that was consistent and made perfect sense, if nothing else. Leelee Sobieski puts in a great performance, and Chris Klein works well in spite of the fact that his character develops about as much as a one-celled protozoan, but they are not enough to save the film from its own script. Somehow, I don't think this film will survive the rental market at all, as there are simply too many superior titles available on the shelves, many of them romantic comedies of a much better quality. Windscreen Review have a suggestion for an alternate ending where the three principal characters appear on the Rikki Lake show and resolve things by screaming at one another. It would have made a very nice extra.

Transfer Quality


    The transfer is presented in the aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and it is obviously not 16x9 Enhanced. According to Widescreen Review, the proper aspect ratio for this film is 1.85:1, and the framing of some shots in this transfer leads me to believe that this is not a full-frame transfer. I held my tongue when Stir Of Echoes was presented in this manner, but enough is enough, Fox. I simply cannot accept being asked to view only a portion of the picture simply to appease the lowest common denominator. DVD Video is meant to be the format of the future, not the best-forgotten past, which means it is widescreen or nothing.

    The sharpness of this transfer is variable, with everything in the foreground being distinct and clear, while background details are often fuzzy and blurred. As to whether this is a deliberate photographic effect or an effect of the compression, I am not entirely sure. The shadow detail is excellent when called for, with details in the infrequent dark scenes being easy to make out. There is no low-level noise in any part of the transfer.

    The colour saturation is bright and vivid, with the earthy and occasionally cold tones of the locations being perfectly rendered. There is no evidence of bleeding or misregistration at any point in the transfer, although the red elements of the film appeared to have been emphasized for reasons I cannot really imagine. Skin tones appeared to vary wildly in certain shots, but I suspect that this is more the result of shooting in an environment where the sun shines brightly for days on end rather than a flaw in the transfer process.

    MPEG artefacts were not readily apparent in the transfer, aside from a little background softness in one or two scenes. Film-to-video artefacts consisted of some minor aliasing at 72:43 and 76:30, but these were the most prominent examples I could find, and I didn't find them especially distracting. Film artefacts were not a problem, save for the occasional black spot on the picture every thirty minutes, none of which were particularly intrusive.


    The audio transfer is presented with a single soundtrack: the original English dialogue, encoded in Dolby Digital 5.1 with a bitrate of 384 kilobits per second. No foreign dubs or commentary tracks are provided, much to my general disappointment. Nonetheless, the dialogue is clear and easy to understand at all times, even within the limits of Chris Klein's and Josh Hartnett's shared tendencies towards occasional mumbling. There were no perceptible problems with audio sync, even with lines that were clearly looped in.

    The score music is credited to one Andrea Morricone, with music supervision by Dana Millman. I did some searching on the Internet Movie Database, as well as Fox's web site for the film, and discovered that Andrea Morricone is the son of the same Ennio Morricone who composed the score for The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly. While this film's score never reaches those lofty heights, this is more because of the film itself rather than any fault of this composer. The contemporary music selected by Dana Millman has more presence, mainly because of its lack of subtlety, but it leaves much less of an impression upon me.

    The surround channels were used to support the music and other such ambient sounds as cars in motion and insects chirping, but there are numerous sequences in which nothing can be heard from the surrounds at all. The dialogue is spaced out through the centre and stereo channels well enough to create a spatial, expansive feel, but the overall soundtrack is heavily biased towards the front. This is a real shame in some sequences, as there are a number of missed opportunities for some subtle surround effects to create an immersive, theatre-like experience. The subwoofer was infrequently used to support the sound of cars and the resultant collision, but it was barely used at all once this part of the film was over and done with. The film has few sequences that require the use of the subwoofer channel, and those that do require it are well handled, with the subwoofer being well integrated into the mix. In fundamental terms, however, this is little more than a stereo soundtrack with the occasional surround usage. I suspect that a Pro-Logic mix could have handled the surround information in this soundtrack just as well.



    The menu follows the same basic (and rather ugly) design as that for the rental version of Stir Of Echoes, with the film's theatrical poster set against a Fox logo background. It is not 16x9 Enhanced.

R4 vs R1

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;     Of the above features, the only one I really miss is the correct aspect ratio. However, Widescreen Review state that the transfer afforded to the Region 1 version of this disc is less than optimal, with occasional pixelization and an unnaturally dark transfer. I really find it difficult to recommend buying any version of this film, transfer quality aside, but if you must have this film, it would be a good idea to wait and see what the Region 4 sell-through version is like.


    Here On Earth is a mess of a film, presented on a reasonable DVD.

    The video quality is good, but can we please stop it with the Panning and Scanning, Fox?

    The audio quality is passable, but a matrixed soundtrack would have done the job just as well in my opinion.

    There are no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

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© Dean McIntosh (my bio sucks... read it anyway)
December 9, 2000

Review Equipment
DVD Toshiba SD-2109, using S-video output
Display Samsung CS-823AMF (80 cm) in 4:3 mode, calibrated using the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Built In (Amplifier)
Amplification Sony STR-DE835, calibrated using the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Speakers Yamaha NS-45 Front Speakers, Philips PH931SSS Rear Speakers, Philips FB206WC Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Active Subwoofer