|Category||Drama/Romance||Theatrical Trailer(s)||Yes, 1|
|Year Released||1998||Commentary Tracks||None|
|Running Time||172:52||Other Extras||Biographies - Cast & Crew
Featurette - Spotlight on Location (9 mins)
Marcia Gay Harden
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||No||MPEG||None|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1||Dolby Digital||5.1|
|16x9 Enhancement||Yes||Soundtrack Languages||English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384 Kb/s)
French (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||
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
This is a most unusual film in that it is almost three hours long and it travels at a fairly leisurely pace, yet it never seems to lose your interest. Whilst Anthony Hopkins is a stand out as usual (is he capable of a poor performance?), Brad Pitt once again proves that he is a quality actor, with an exceptionally engaging performance as Joe Black. This is a performance of charm, naivety and innocence from Brad Pitt that would, in my view, have to be his finest performance in film, and in most respects he upstages Anthony Hopkins. Claire Forlani is most convincing and engaging as the beautiful and intelligent daughter, and a finer trio it would be hard to imagine. The story is beautifully crafted and wonderfully directed by Martin Brest, with some wonderfully moving sequences and some rather unexpected twists.
The transfer is at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced.
Overall, the transfer is very sharp and nicely defined, although a little grainy. Given the consistency of the transfer, it is possible that the graininess is inherent in the original film, but irrespective of that, one soon adjusts to the image without concern. Shadow detail is very good. Some of the effects work involving Joe's arrival in the library is extraordinarily surrealistic.
Colours are very nicely rendered, and have a nice vibrancy, without being garish. There is no hint of oversaturation in the colours and the transfer has a wonderful naturalness to it.
There were no MPEG artefacts noted. There were no video artefacts noted. There were no noticeable film artefacts noted, and overall this is an almost unblemished transfer - something of a rarity for a modern film.
This is an RSDL formatted disc, with the layer change occurring at 92:31. The layer change is noticeable, but not disruptive to the flow of the film.
There are four audio tracks on the DVD. The default is an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, the other options being: French Dolby Digital 2.0 surround sound, Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 surround sound and Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 surround sound. I listened to the English default.
The dialogue was clear and easy to understand at all times, although some may prefer to raise the volume on this one a little above their normal listening volume. Some of the dialogue involving Joe Black and the woman in the hospital benefits from this treatment.
Audio sync was not a problem with the transfer at all.
The music score by Thomas Newman is wonderfully atmospheric and complemented the film very well indeed.
The surround channels were not especially well used during the film, being balanced very much in favour of the front and centre channels: little use is made of the rears, except late in the film during the party sequence. This is not to say that the soundtrack is flawed, as even with this balance there was an ethereal quality to the soundtrack that I believe was intentional and certainly suited the style of the film.
The bass channel was barely used during the film; this is not an aggressive soundtrack at all, and minimal use was made of bass at all.
It would appear that there is no difference between the Region 1 and Region 4 releases, so the deciding factor would have to be the superior resolution of PAL compared to NTSC, making the Region 4 release the better choice.
The overall video quality is very good indeed with a virtually unblemished transfer albeit a little grainy.
The audio quality is very good, with a nicely atmospheric soundtrack.
The extras were somewhat better than other discs in this batch of releases from Universal.
© Ian Morris
3rd September 1999
|DVD||Pioneer DV-515; S-video output|
|Display||Sony Trinitron Wega 84cm|
|Audio Decoder||Built in|
|Speakers||Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL|