The Martins (2001)
Dolby Digital Trailer-Egypt
Main Menu Audio
|Year Of Production||2001|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Tony Grounds|
Roadshow Home Entertainment
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
|Subtitles||English for the Hearing Impaired||Smoking||Yes|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
The Martins is another in an ever-growing list of English-made dark-humour movies. It's the story of a dysfunctional social welfare family in England, whose father Robert (Lee Evans) is convinced he's always about to win the next big prize in some competition or sweepstakes. He constantly assures his wife (Kathy Burke), pregnant teenage daughter (Terri Dumont) and son (Eric Byrne) that the next big win is just around the corner. When he feels he's been cheated out of winning a summer holiday in a local newspaper competition, it all becomes too much and he starts to edge across that line labelled "sanity".
After wielding an unloaded, borrowed pistol in front of some of his antagonists, and liking the power it gave him, Robert decides to take charge and go get that holiday which is rightfully his anyway. Without wanting to give too many details away, the whole family (including the mother-in-law from hell) head off on their holiday and in the process learn one or two things about each other, and their less-than-normal existence.
Now, using dysfunctional families as a means of attempting humour is not exactly a new concept, but the Martins make Al Bundy and his clan seem like the inhabitants of a 1950s washing detergent commercial! In other words, this movie attempts to take the idea to its extremes. For some people, this may come across as very funny, but I have to confess that I just found it all a little too depressing. Admittedly, I have lived in the UK a number of times throughout my life, so the fact that this vividly reminded me about all the most depressing aspects of English life probably didn't help much.
I think the main problem for me, though, was the fact that I really struggled to feel any sympathy or compassion for Robert until the very end of the movie, which was a bit too late to save things for me. I just found it hard to find any humour in the things he did, or the problems he caused for everyone.
However, if you like your humour on the dark side, and don't mind a pretty steady stream of old-fashioned English swearing, then this may well be your cup of tea. The actors certainly played their parts well, and were very real, in the way that English actors seem to be able to pull off. I thought Lee Evans played his character to a T, and it was hard to believe this was the same actor that had played the goofy sidekick in Mouse Hunt. Just don't expect a cheery, feel-good evening with this one.
The video transfer is what you'd expect from a recent film, but it does contain a few noticeable problems.
The transfer is mostly presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced. I say "mostly" because the opening of the film, which has the credits rolling over the onscreen action, is actually presented in a ratio of 2.35:1. The closing credits are the same. The back of the DVD case proudly displays the "Original Theatrical Ratio" message, but all signs seem to point to it originally being screened in the wider 2.35:1 ratio. IMDB confirms this, and some scenes in the film just didn't seem quite right; as if they'd been panned and scanned. This may have been my imagination since I was specifically looking out for it, but I don't think so. On top of all that, the back of the case also claims this is actually a 1.85:1 transfer.
The sharpness of the transfer is well up to scratch (no pun intended), and I couldn't really find any noticeable problems in this area. There are some quite dark scenes late in the movie (69:03 is a good example), and the shadow detail is good, with no low-level noise evident.
Colours are not exactly vibrant, but that is more to do with the locations than anything, and you wouldn't really expect bright, exciting colours in the settings we have here. What colour there is shows no signs of bleeding or chroma noise.
There are some quite annoying bits of aliasing that pop up occasionally, and which I found a little distracting. The Martins' car was a prime example with aliasing around the edges/top of the vehicle being very noticeable (14:23, 18:50 and 50:36 to name a few). There were other examples as well: some windows at 23:57, a receipt at 67:54, and the road lines at 42:57.
The other problem I noticed was quite a bit of grain in some of the darker indoor scenes, such as 31:14, 66:00 and 67:53. They're only small scenes, so don't detract greatly from the overall transfer quality, but it is noticeable.
There is one set of subtitles on this disc: English for the Hearing Impaired. The section I watched with the subtitles on was spot-on in its accuracy. In fact, it helped decipher some of the trickier dialogue that was unclear due to the accents.
This is a single-layered disc, so there is no layer change.
Audio is fine for what this movie needs. It's not going to blow you out of your seat, but that's because this is a dialogue-driven film.
There is one audio track on this DVD; an English Dolby Digital 5.1 track.
The dialogue had no technical problems, although it was quite hard to make out some of the lines due to the strong accents. Sync and volume were fine though.
The musical score did its job well enough. It added to the mood, without jumping out at you in a "what-a-great-score!" type of way.
The surrounds didn't really get much of a look in. This is a very front-heavy track, with the occasional bit of ambience added from the rear speakers (72:27, 42:06). It would have been nice to have a little more, to give the contrast between the sounds of the urban sprawl and the Isle of Man, but heavy surround usage wasn't really required.
The subwoofer kicked in occasionally, usually during the music (67:19, 75:19), but for the most part it had the evening off. Again, like the surrounds, there wasn't really a great deal of call for the subwoofer in a film such as this.
|Surround Channel Use|
The main menu is 16x9 enhanced, and is a static image with 42 seconds of looping music in Dolby Digital 2.0.
The trailer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1:85:1 and is 16x9 enhanced, with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. This trailer has a very rough, grainy image, but gives a decent taste of what the movie is like.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
As far as I could ascertain there is currently no Region 1 version of this DVD. However there is a sell-through Region 2 version available in the UK, which contains a number of extras.
The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;
The Region 2 version of this disc misses out on;
The Region 2 disc is clearly the one of choice unless we get a retail copy over here with similar extras.
The Martins was a movie that didn't hit the mark with me. I found it to be too depressing to be considered a comedy, and too over-the-top to be considered a serious drama. I could see how it might certainly appeal to some viewers, but be aware that it's no light-hearted chuckle-fest.
The video is generally good, but is marred by an incorrect aspect ratio and a few annoying artefact problems.
The audio does its job adequately, without being anything to rave about.
The extras are essentially absent.
|DVD||Omni 3600, using RGB output|
|Display||Sony 1252QM CRT Projector, 250cm custom built 16x9 matte screen. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver.|
|Amplification||Onkyo TX-DS797- THX Select|
|Speakers||Accusound ES-55 Speaker set, Welling WS12 Subwoofer|