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Details At A Glance

Category Thriller Theatrical Trailer(s) None
Rating Other Trailer(s) None
Year Released 1995 Commentary Tracks None
Running Time 123 minutes Other Extras Production Notes
Cast & Crew Biographies
RSDL/Flipper No/No
Cast & Crew
Start Up Movie
Region 4 Director Wolfgang Peterson

Warner Brothers
Starring Dustin Hoffman
Rene Russo
Morgan Freeman
Cuba Gooding, Jr.
Patrick Dempsey
Donald Sutherland
Kevin Spacey
RRP $29.95 Music James Newton Howard

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)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 1.85:1    
Macrovision Yes    
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired

Plot Synopsis

    Outbreak is a very believable film about a doomsday scenario; What if the government develops a deadly virus to use as a secret weapon? What if this virus accidentally gets out into the wild? What if this virus mutates so that the antidote no longer works? This is essentially the plot of Outbreak.

    The movie stars the excellent Dustin Hoffman as Sam Daniels, a doctor who specializes in the management of outbreaks of rare but lethal tropical diseases. An outbreak of a mysterious and deadly disease occurs, initially in Motaba Valley Africa, but then it spreads to the small town of Cedar Creek USA. Sam and his military team make their way to Cedar Creek to assist the Center for Disease Control in their attempt to contain and treat this viral outbreak. Sam's team consists of Casey Schuler (Kevin Spacey) and Major Salt (Cuba Gooding, Jr.). The principal player for the CDC is Robby Keough (Rene Russo) who just happens to be Sam's ex-wife.

    Complicating the management of this outbreak is the military's desire to keep the outbreak secret. In particular, General Donald McClintock (Donald Sutherland) and General Billy Ford (Morgan Freeman) who have a very nasty skeleton in their closet are keen to keep things under wraps, General McClintock to the extent of wanting to destroy the town and its 2600 inhabitants rather than have this particular skeleton dragged out.

    Overall, Outbreak is an excellent movie, combining a very believable scenario, presented with reasonable scientific accuracy, with copious helpings of action and suspense all in the one movie. This is helped in no small part by Dustin Hoffman's excellent and passionate portrayal of Sam Daniels. I felt that the only weak link in the film was Morgan Freeman, who seems terminally unable to do anything except look exceedingly uncomfortable on screen in this movie. I am used to seeing much better from him.

Transfer Quality


    The video transfer of this movie is acceptable, but I have seen better. Subtitles defaulted to ON, which is a glitch with this disc.

    The transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer was not as sharp as I would have liked in some scenes, but wasn't too bad. Shadow detail was acceptable. No low level noise was apparent.

    The colours were well rendered and consistent throughout the movie, and I had no specific problems with this aspect of the transfer.

    Some MPEG artefacting was seen, generally consisting of small amounts of macro-blocking in the background, and one shot of an AWACS plane was very blocky. This intermittent background artefacting was a major contributor to the lack of sharpness in this movie. Perhaps the bit-rate should have been higher when this movie was being compressed to lessen this problem. It is never beyond the realm of just visible, but I can imagine that these artefacts would get worse with greater magnification of the image.

    Film-to-video artefacts were not a problem with this transfer.

    Film artefacts were relatively common early on in this movie, but then they settled down somewhat to become acceptably few and far between.


    There is only one audio track on this DVD, English Dolby Digital 5.1.

    Dialogue was placed in the centre channel, and was very clear almost all of the time.

    The music by James Newton Howard is suitably atmospheric, and enhances the mood of the movie nicely. It is frequently present.

     The surround channels were often used for music, ambience and special effects. I felt they could have been used a little more aggressively, but this is a minor complaint given that this soundtrack is quite enveloping overall. There is certainly quite an aggressive and wide front soundstage.

    The .1 channel was used for the music and the special effects. It does not work all that hard, but when it is used, it gives a nice kick to the soundtrack.


    There are only limited extras on this disc, but what is there is good.


    The menu design is unremarkable, and is an old-style Warner Bros. menu. You cannot select all scenes from the scene selection menu, only some of them.

Production Notes

    Limited production notes cover shooting locations and technical considerations.

Cast & Crew Biographies

    Extensive Cast & Crew Biographies are present, and are worth reading.


    Outbreak is an outstanding movie presented on an acceptable DVD with some minor flaws.

    The video quality is mostly reasonable, but MPEG artefacts are visible at times leading to a less sharp picture than would be otherwise expected. English subtitles default to ON, which is an irritation.

    The audio quality is very good indeed, with a generally enveloping sound field being created which I felt could have done with a little more aggression in the surrounds.

    The extras are quite limited, but interesting nonetheless.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Michael Demtschyna
18th January 1999

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-505, using S-Video output
Display Loewe Art-95 95cm direct view CRT in 16:9 mode, via the S-Video input. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Denon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital AddOn Decoder, used as a standalone processor. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Amplification 2 x EA Playmaster 100W per channel stereo amplifiers for Left, Right, Left Rear and Right Rear; Philips 360 50W per channel stereo amplifier for Centre and Subwoofer
Speakers Philips S2000 speakers for Left, Right; Polk Audio CS-100 Centre Speaker; Apex AS-123 speakers for Left Rear and Right Rear; Yamaha B100-115SE subwoofer