|Category||Comedy||Theatrical Trailer(s)||Yes, 1 - 1.33:1, not 16x9, Dolby Digital 2.0|
|Year Released||1994||Commentary Tracks||None|
|Running Time||105:27 minutes||Other Extras||Biographies - Cast and Crew
Featurette - Making of
|RRP||$39.95||Music||James Newton Howard|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||MPEG||None|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Dolby Digital||5.1|
||Soundtrack Languages||English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384Kb/s)
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)
|Theatrical Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Dr Alexander Hesse (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and Dr Lawrence Arbogast (Danny DeVito) have developed a new drug that works wonders in overcoming the problems of miscarriages - at least in chimpanzees. Along with Noah Banes (Frank Langella), head of the university's biotechnology program, they seek Food And Drug Administration approval for an invasive human test program. Naturally, the FDA knocks them back - there would not be a film otherwise - and the university decides to can the project, thereby releasing the laboratory resources to another project headed by Dr Diana Reddin (Emma Thompson) involving cryogenically frozen ova... see where this is heading yet? Hesse decides to return to Europe but is talked out of it by Arbogast who is trying to encourage further investment from Canadian sources. One condition though - they have to have human test results. How to obtain human test results without FDA approval for a test program? Obtain an egg, fertilize it and implant it into a host. Which was all duly done of course, with nature taking its course - except the mother is also the father. Yes, Hesse provides the sperm to fertilize the egg, which has of course been nicked from Reddin's collection of frozen eggs and the resultant embryo is implanted into his peritoneal cavity for carriage through to the end of the first trimester, courtesy of the wonder drug. Of course, when that time arrives the pregnancy is not terminated - otherwise there still would not be much of a film - and Hesse continues the pregnancy through to the bitter end, along the way having a relationship of sorts with Reddin. Toss in the slightly wacky ex-wife of Arbogast in Angela (Pamela Reed) who also happens to be pregnant and the mayhem should continue along nicely, but really ends up being lamer than a one-legged donkey.
Ivan Reitman has been responsible for some genuinely funny films but sadly this is definitely not one of them. In fact, this is so lacking the one essential element of a comedy - the comedy - that it is bordering on false advertising to call it such. In all the times that I have watched the film, and to be honest it is middling enough for me to have indulged in previously, I have never raised even a smile from the film. The whole thing simply lacks credibility at any level, and especially so as a comedy. Indeed, about the only thing that lifts this out of the steamy mists of a bog is the presence of Emma Thompson, although quite why she decided to do the film I guess I will never know. Still, her performance as the socially inept scientist is wonderful and completely believable, highlighting the fact that she can indeed act and not just in the period pieces she is so well-known for. I suppose that Arnold Schwarzenegger, bless his dodgy little heart, at least tries to come to the party with a performance, but really, he completely lacks the subtle comic talents to carry his role as the expectant father. However, the major disappointment here is Danny DeVito who really seemed to be stuck in neutral for this effort. Overall, though, the performances do not do justice to what could have been a great story, although the screenplay did need a little more work than it seemed to have gotten, and the direction of Ivan Reitman did nothing to really hide the lack of comic talent from the star.
This is definitely not going to be confused with a great comedy and given its treatment here there is nothing that should really encourage you to indulge.
The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.
Where does one begin with this dull, tired looking effort? This is a curious-looking transfer in that it is almost devoid of any depth to the picture, which gives it a really one-dimensional look. At times, there was so little foreground/background separation that you may as well have been looking at a colour photograph. Compounding this is the fact that this is quite a grainy transfer and so it never really exuded any sort of clarity. Whilst not the grainiest effort that I have ever seen, the sheer consistency of the grain really does detract from the transfer enormously. As you may have gathered, this really is not a sharp transfer at all and it is seriously underdone as far as definition is concerned. There were some hints of low level noise, but that is the least of the problems here. Interestingly, these problems are not as apparent on the Region 1 release which is very interesting in view of the inherent lack of resolution in the NTSC transfer.
Then, we get this rather muted palette of non-colours really. This is in general so undersaturated that skin tones especially come up quite pale. This is definitely not a vibrant transfer and even when the opportunity is there for a splash of bright colour, it ends up being quite muted anyway. In fact, if it were not for the fact that the Region 1 release is noticeably richer in tone, I would almost have suggested that the pale, muted look was a deliberate choice of Ivan Reitman. There is nothing remotely approaching oversaturation here at all.
There are no apparent MPEG artefacts in the transfer. The main problem with the transfer, though, is the consistent problem with aliasing. Just about every horizontal line on this effort exhibits the problem and after a while it becomes so glaringly obvious that it ends up being very distracting to the film. Some especially poor moments involve clothing and there are some quite disgusting effects seen at around the 10:00 minute mark and the 32:30 minute mark. What really disappoints, though, is the fact that the Region 1 release is almost entirely devoid of such problems! There are plenty of film artefacts on offer here, and although none in themselves were especially distracting, the overall result was just a little disappointing.
This is an RSDL format disc with the layer change coming at 47:57, unusually right in the middle of a chapter. The fact that it still was not that noticeable would suggest that it must have been a pretty good one, although there were far more logical places to put it, notably, in some scene changes.
There are five soundtracks on the DVD, one an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, with the others being Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded efforts in German, French, Italian and Spanish. I stuck with the English default, despite the very flat nature of it.
After finally finding a decent listening level about ten minutes into the film, the dialogue was reasonably clear and easy to understand, but you would be advised to turn the volume up here just a little. There did not appear to be any problems with audio sync in the transfer.
The original music score is from the usually reliable James Newton Howard and it has to be said that this would not be one of his more memorable efforts. There is nothing really wrong with it, but it just lacks a lot of individuality and it sort of comes across as if he watched the film and was completely uninspired by it, so just clichéd some music together to honour his contractual obligation.
The DVD cover says that this is a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. PowerDVD says that this is a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. My DVD player says that this is a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. Perhaps my ears are deceiving me, but this sure does not sound like a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. There is minimal use of the bass channel and not a whole lot more out of the surround channels either, the rears being especially inactive in this soundtrack. The dialogue seemed to be coming from a rather muddied centre channel with not much else going on at all. It is not an especially spacious-sounding effort, and it does seem quite congested at times. I suppose the only thing to be thankful for is the fact that there is not an awful lot for the soundtrack to do, so you really do not end up noticing the deficiencies here all that much.
From a technical point of view, the Region 1 release has it all over the Region 4 effort: it is richer in colour, is barely bothered by aliasing and very unusually for an NTSC format DVD, has slightly better resolution. Sorry, but Region 1 is the way to go here.
A poorish video transfer, especially for a film of this age.
An average audio transfer.
A reasonable extras package.
© Ian Morris (have a
laugh, check out the bio)
25th June 2000
|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|