Walker (1987)

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Released 14-Apr-2003

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Main Menu Audio & Animation
Scene Selection Anim & Audio
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 1987
Running Time 90:43
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (55:54) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Alex Cox
Studio
Distributor

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Ed Harris
Richard Masur
Rene Auberjonois
Peter Boyle
Miguel Sandoval
Marlee Maitlin
Case ?
RPI $29.95 Music Joe Strummer


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
German
Italian
Spanish
Portuguese
Dutch
Swedish
Danish
Finnish
Norwegian
Hebrew
Arabic
Russian
Turkish
Greek
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement Yes, but it is intentional.
Action In or After Credits Yes, rather graphic documentary footage.

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

††† Walker is quite the oddity; an anti-historical, anti-war film with a very black sense of humour, which is at its heart a satirical criticism of US military interventionism. If you can get your head around that, Iíll try another analogy Ė picture a movie that is the combination of Oliver Stoneís Salvador plus Natural Born Killers with traces of Julie Taymorís Titus. In short, this is definitely an arthouse film, and not for everybody.

††† The film follows the exploits of William Walker (Ed Harris), sent to Nicaragua by maniac tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt (Peter Boyle) to put down a civil war to ensure an overland trade route. Fresh from his abortive attempt at conquering Mexico, Walker sets off for Nicaragua with the ideal of bringing Western democracy to the people by force of arms. What ensues is a bloody slaughter culminating in Walker asserting himself as president (read Ďmilitary dictatorí) and finally plunging the whole region into civil war.

††† Supposedly based on a true story, Rudy Wurlitzerís script cleverly juxtaposes Walkerís personal and unabashedly glamorous account of events with a bizarre and often surreal anti-historical reinterpretation. At times, I thought I was watching a David Lynch film. Under the skilful direction of Alex Cox (Repo Man), we are left in little doubt that the film is less a criticism of the foreign policy of the US in the 19th Century, and far more of an indictment of the military adventurism the US embarked on (particularly in Central America) under the Presidency of Ronald Reagan.

††† I know this film sounds very weird, and honestly, it is. When I first started watching this, I didnít know what to make of it. But it is a strangely affecting film with a fantastic, if madly violent, finale Ė not quite the prison riot scene at the end of Natural Born Killers, but getting awfully close. Performances are, for the most part, offbeat, but very good. Given the context in which some of the scenes are set, you wonder how the actors could keep a straight face while saying their lines. I know I was laughing. Rene Auberjonois (who went on to play Odo in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) is a stand-out here as a European mercenary, Major Siegfried Henningson, who joins Walkerís cause. And Ed Harris plays his part to psychopathic perfection.

††† If you prefer Hollywood style movies, I can guarantee you that you will hate this with a passion. Thatís not an indictment on the film - Iím just saying that this film is not for you. Film students, and those looking for an over-the-top but strangely affecting arthouse/cult film should really pick this up; itís bizarre, itís quirky, itís violent, itís political, itís anti-historical, itís very very black, and it is also quite good. Oh, and beware the very graphic documentary footage in the end credits. Not for the squeamish.

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Transfer Quality

Video

††† Presented in 1.85:1, 16x9 enhanced, this is the original aspect ratio.

††† The quality of the picture is outstanding, particularly given the age of the film; it is crisp and clear the whole time. Colours were well saturated, with lots of shades of yellow and red during campfire scenes and lush greens in the jungle. Shadow detail was excellent.

††† MPEG artefacts are virtually non-existent, with only the faintest of aliasing present, and nothing really noteworthy. There is the faintest of low-level noise.

††† There is a bit of grit and dust, but nothing overly distracting. However, a rather thick line cuts down the screen at 77:09 which is quite jarring. It appears for about three seconds before vanishing.

††† There are 16 subtitle options: English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Swedish, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Hebrew, Arabic, Russian, Turkish and Greek. They are white with a black border and are easy to read. The English and German ones seemed to follow the script fairly well. I have no idea about the rest other than that they were legible.

††† The dual layer pause is at 55:54. Although it occurs during a scene, it is very brief and only minimally distracting.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

††† There are five soundtracks available, all in 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo: English, French, German, Italian and Spanish. I checked out the other tracks and they are acceptable. The English track, however, exhibits a fantastic range and clarity.

††† Dialogue is generally clear and easy to understand, however it has been intentionally drowned out in several instances by the music, or by background noises, or by the cast shouting over one another so that none of them can be understood. This is not a fault of the recording; it is meant to be that way, largely for surreal/comic effect. There were no audio sync problems that I could detect.

††† The range is breathtaking for a mere 2.0 Stereo track. Explosions, gunshots, and particularly the enigmatic, sometimes quirky, and often totally inappropriate score by Joe Strummer all stretch deep into the bass and tweak the top ranges of the treble.

††† Surround use is also very good, and although I gave it a listen in pseudo-surround, I found that the information going to the front speakers alone could project some impressive ambience without thinning the tone. There are lots of examples of left-right directional cues.

††† Unfortunately, there is no subwoofer use, but given the quality of the range present here, I donít feel too bad for the loss.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menus

††† All menus are 16x9 enhanced. The main menu has a scene from the movie with a tune from the score playing in 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo. The scene selection menu is also animated, with fifteen second clips from each of the chapters. All other menus are static.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

††† This film does not appear to have been released on DVD in R1. Given its anti-American sentiment and the current security environment in the US, any criticism of US foreign policy and military adventurism (even one as cryptic as this) is likely to float about as well as a lead balloon. Consequently, Iím not surprised. If anyone knows otherwise, let me know.

Summary

††† Walker is a surreal head-trip of a film, guaranteed to set you off balance and linger in your memory.

††† The video is very good, with only one minor film artefact of note.

††† The sound is great, albeit only a 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo matrix mix.

††† This release could have done with some extras; particularly a director/writer commentary.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Edward McKenzie (I am Jack's raging bio...)
Friday, May 30, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPanasonic DVD-RV31A-S, using S-Video output
DisplayBeko 28" (16x9). This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver.
AmplificationMarantz SR7000
SpeakersEnergy - Front, Rear, Centre & Subwoofer

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Comments (Add)
Ed Harris brilliance - wolfgirv