Machine, The (Blu-ray) (2013)
|Year Of Production||2013|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Ads Then Menu|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Caradog W. James|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Pan & Scan||
English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
English Dolby Digital 5.1
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Science Fiction is certainly one of my favourite genres and often small independent films in the genre provide interesting concepts and ideas even if their budgets do not allow them to be realised in the best possible way. Such is probably true of this British film, The Machine from writer/director Caradog W. James. There are certainly interesting concepts here (maybe too many) which makes for interesting viewing, however they do not quite come together into a great film. It was made for less than 1 million pounds and mostly shot in Wales.
The plot is set in the near future where a cold war between the west and China has driven western economies into recession. Vincent (Toby Stephens) is a robotics and brain implant scientist working for the British Department of Defence who has a daughter with a severe brain dysfunction. He is trying to cure what should be fatal brain injuries by using implants to replace brain function in wounded soldiers. One of his early tests on a soldier with half his brain missing results in the violent death of his research partner. Accordingly, he stages a selection process ostensibly to approve a government grant into artificial intelligence research. In reality he is looking to recruit a new research partner. Through this process he finds Ava (Caity Lotz) who has developed some quite impressive artificial intelligence technology. He convinces her to join him in his research and together they try to combine their research. Their boss at the Department of Defence, Thompson (Denis Lawson) is keen on the military applications of their work and is pushing for them to create super soldiers who could be used to replace real soldiers in dangerous situations. When tragedy strikes, Vincent attempts to create a super soldier in the image of Ava.
The description above only covers some of the ideas included in this film despite its fairly short running time. There are cyborgs who communicate in their own language, one particular cyborg that seems to control all the computer systems and some interesting ideas around how an artificial intelligence would react to be trained and ordered to kill. There is also some rumination on what it means to be alive and when something created by man takes on life. So, lots of interesting ideas to ponder. On the downside the film is more of a catalogue of ideas than it is a clear and easy to follow narrative. I feel that with some more development and a bigger budget there could have been something much better in this material. The ideas here are probably enough for two films and if they had been teased out and explored some more individually would have improved what is already an interesting film.
The set design and production gets a lot done with a very small budget, however the limitations of the budget are also obvious.
Well worth a look for Sci-fi fans.
The video quality is disappointingly in the wrong aspect ratio.
The feature is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio which is NOT the original 2.35:1. It is 1080p HD encoded using the AVC codec. It has obviously been cropped and when watching the film things seemed too close to the camera and parts were out of frame. This is very disappointing and there is a proper aspect ratio edition available globally so the need or desire to crop the film completely escapes me in this local edition.
The detail and clarity is quite good, although the darkness of the film and its underground bunker sequences reduce the clarity as does the flaring lights in some scenes.
The colour is very good without being spectacular.
There are no obvious artefacts.
There are no subtitles.
The audio quality is also a bit disappointing especially from a dialogue clarity perspective.
This disc contains an English soundtrack in DTS HD-MA 5.1 and an alternate track in English Dolby Digital 5.1. I found that the dialogue in the lossless version was much harder to make out than in the Dolby Digital track which considering the lack of subtitles meant that the other benefits of that track could not be enjoyed. The lossless track is of course more atmospheric and fills the sound field in a more enveloping way, however the lack of clarity in the dialogue meant that I found the standard Dolby Digital track a better overall listen.
Dialogue is lacking in clarity, worse in the lossless track but nothing special in either.
The score is suitably tense and works well with the film.
The surround speakers are well used for atmosphere and in the action sequences.
The subwoofer was also used well for music and tension noises.
|Surround Channel Use|
The menu includes motion and music from the film.
Trailers for other films.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The Region A release is in the correct aspect ratio and includes some minor extras. It is an obvious choice if your system can handle it.
Disappointing audio and video for a Blu-ray.
|DVD||SONY BDP-S760 Blu-ray, using HDMI output|
|Display||Sharp LC52LE820X Quattron 52" Full HD LED-LCD TV . Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||Built into amplifier. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.|
|Speakers||Monitor Audio Bronze 2 (Front), Bronze Centre & Bronze FX (Rears) + Sony SAW2500M Subwoofer|