Paperback Hero

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Details At A Glance

Category Romantic Comedy Main Menu Audio
Cast Biographies
Cast & Crew Interviews
Featurette-Making Of (4:15)
Theatrical Trailer
Rating ?
Year Released 1998
Running Time 92:12
RSDL/Flipper No/No
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region 1,2,3,4,5,6 Director Antony J. Bowman
Australian Film Finance Corporation
Universal Pictures Video
Starring Claudia Karvan
Hugh Jackman
Angie Milliken
Andrew S. Gilbert
Jeanie Drynan
Case Transparent Amaray
RPI $36.95 Music Burkhard Dallwitz

Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
Theatrical Aspect Ratio ?1.85:1
Macrovision ? Smoking Yes
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Annoying Product Placement Yes, very slightly
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    When I slipped Paperback Hero into my DVD player, I had absolutely no idea what it was about. I'd never heard of it, and all I knew about it beforehand was that Hugh Jackman was in it. What do I know now? I know it's nominally a Romantic Comedy. I know it's very Australian. I know it has a great story and great characters. I know I really enjoyed it. Mind you, it's not one of those rare gems that comes along every once in a while, but it isn't far off.

    Jack (Hugh Jackman) is a truck driver who lives in the middle of the outback, in Lucktown. He's your typical bloke's bloke - he drinks with the boys, he drives a huge road train for a living, he has a blue heeler as a pet, and he writes romantic novels. Well, one romantic novel, anyway. His novel was duly published, and he has become the toast of the big city. The problem is, blokesTM don't write romantic novels. Accordingly, Jack has used a pseudonym for all his dealings with the publishing company, Ruby Vale (Claudia Karvan), the name of a close friend of his, which gives rise to a second problem - she doesn't know about any of this until the publisher's publicist, Ziggy (Angie Milliken) comes to visit Lucktown in order to discuss "Ruby's" second novel and to discuss a publicity trip to Sydney.

    At its heart, this is a story that we have seen before, with Jack and Ruby taking the roles of the rom-com pair. Seemingly insurmountable obstacles are placed in their way, not the least of which is Ruby's extremely decent fiancé, Hamish (Andrew S. Gilbert). What makes this story stand out from the rest are its fully-rounded support characters and its uniquely Australian viewpoint on the whole affair.

    It's just a ripping good yarn.

Transfer Quality


    This is an excellent transfer which reflects the limitations of the source material without imposing any limitations of its own.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of exactly 1.85:1. It is 16x9 enhanced.

    The image is generally crisp and clear, although darker scenes tended to lack in detail. Shadow detail was quite limited at times, mostly because of the lighting utilized. We saw what was intended to be seen. If it was not intended to be seen, it was black, and that was that. There was no low level noise.

    Colours were very strongly saturated at times, particularly reds and oranges, to the point of skin tones having an oversaturated orange tinge about them at times. This appeared to be a deliberate effect in order to emphasize the outback setting of the movie, as scenes in the city had quite a different colour balance about them and they certainly never appeared oversaturated. Despite this very strong colouration, there was never any colour bleed noted.

    There were no MPEG artefacts seen. Neither were film-to-video artefacts nor film artefacts seen. This transfer is clean as a whistle in this regard.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    There is only a single audio track on this DVD; English Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded, which I listened to.

    Dialogue was clear and easy to understand at all times, and no audio sync problems were noted at all.

    The music was composed by Burkhard Dallwitz, and really complements the movie nicely. It frequently makes use of laid-back ambient guitar riffs which add a layer of extra class to this movie - the music really paints a sublime emotional tapestry around which the movie is hung.

    The surround channel was used extremely aggressively by this soundtrack, much to my surprise. Music in particular was aggressively mixed into the rear channel, almost to the point of excess. The rear channel almost, but not quite, overpowered the front channels musically. Ambient noises were frequently present and clearly audible. This was totally unexpected and really helped to create an enveloping mix. This also prevented the soundfield from collapsing into mono-only for dialogue. The sounds of both the outback and the city were nicely recreated in this mix, and it is certainly one of the very best surround-encoded soundtracks I have ever heard.

    The .1 channel was used appropriately to support the music when necessary and to support the occasional sound effect. It was very nicely integrated into the overall sound field, and never called attention to itself.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Main Menu Audio

Cast Biographies

Cast & Crew Interviews

Featurette-Making Of (4:15)

        The interviews with the director, Antony Bowman, are rather interesting and worthwhile. Otherwise, these extras are all standard EPK-style non-noteworthy extras.

Theatrical Trailer

R4 vs R1

    There appears to be no other versions of this DVD anywhere else in the world, making our disc the version of choice.


    Paperback Hero is a really good Australian yarn, and definitely worth checking out, particularly with its excellent transfer and surround soundtrack.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Michael Demtschyna (read my bio)
30th November 2000

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-535, 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. Denon AVD-1000 DTS AddOn Decoder, used as a standalone processor. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials and the NTSC DVD version of The Ultimate DVD Demo Disc.
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; Hsu Research TN-1220HO subwoofer