Spaceballs (1987)

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Released 17-Jun-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1987
Running Time 92:14
RSDL / Flipper RSDL Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Mel Brooks
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Bill Pullman
Daphne Zuniga
John Candy
Rick Moranis
Mel Brooks
Case ?
RPI $31.95 Music John Morris


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Dutch Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
Not 16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
German
French
Italian
Spanish
Dutch
Swedish
Finnish
Norwegian
Danish
Portuguese
Polish
Greek
Turkish
Hungarian
Hebrew
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, Clips of the characters

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

Plot Synopsis

   It has been a long time since I have watched Spaceballs. I had fond memories of it from primary school and from reading the novel adaptation. It was a little strange watching the movie again, and I was a little disappointed in that I did not find it nearly as funny as I had remembered it to be. Directed by Mel Brooks, the story is a parody of sci-fi movies at that time, such as Star Wars and Alien. In many cases the jokes now fall flat, but there were still some jokes that made me laugh out loud.

    The beautiful Princess Vespa (Daphne Zuniga) is about to marry a prince that she has no interest in, and thus escapes in her spaceship with her robotic friend Dot Matrix (voiced by Joan Rivers). The evil Spaceballs, led by President Skroob (Mel Brooks) and Dark Helmet (Rick Moranis) attempt to capture the Princess, but Lone Starr (Bill Pullman) and his half-man half-dog companion Barf (John Candy) come to her rescue. They escape the clutches of the Spaceballs, but need to find their way back to her home planet of Druidia. During their adventure, they meet the old and wise Yogurt (also played by Mel Brooks), and Lone Starr learns the way of the Schwartz and who he really is.

    As I mentioned earlier, there are some quite funny scenes and lines in the movie. The humour is still biting and cynical, but in some cases is downright stupid. Perhaps I have out-grown most of this kind of humour (eg. blasting someone in the groin using the Shwartz just isn't as funny now as it was when I was in primary school). But some of the one-liners are classics, and make you smile or laugh out loud (eg. the surrounded by a*******s sequence is very funny indeed!).

    For fans of the movie, this DVD will be a vast improvement over worn VHS copies. There probably won't be another release for a while, and this is the best the movie has ever looked or sounded, so go buy it if you're an old fan of the movie, or a fan of Mel Brooks' type of humour.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     I found the video quality to be quite good considering the age of the movie.

    The movie is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, which is the original theatrical ratio. Unfortunately, we are not provided with a 16x9 enhanced transfer, which would have made this DVD look much better on widescreen TVs.

    Sharpness level are surprisingly good throughout the movie, with most scenes looking fairly sharp and defined. However, there were a number of scenes that seemed a little blurry and soft, with actors in the scenes seeming to be out of focus, although this may not be an issue with the transfer itself. Black levels are also not too bad, with the many scenes set against the black of space being solid, although greys do appear on some other occasions. Shadow detail is lacking, but for a movie this age we probably can't expect too much in that detail. Grain was also surprisingly rare, although it did pop up on a small number of occasions during the scenes in the desert, such as at 41:33 where grain is visible against the sky and sand.

    Colour is good throughout the movie. For the most part, the colour scheme is the stock standard for sci-fi films, with the usual whites, greys, and blacks. However, when colour is shown, it is fairly clear and vibrant, such as the opening scenes on Druidia. Skin tones are also natural and never over-saturated.

    For a film this age there are not all that many film artefacts to mention, but those that do appear stick out quite a bit. For example, there were a couple of instances where a fairly large splotch would appear for a frame, such as that seen at 23:38 and 39:12. These appear to be flaws in the actual film negative and resemble coffee stains. Also, the occasional black or white fleck appears intermittently throughout the movie. Edge enhancement is for the most part absent, with the only obvious instance occurring around the Jawa type characters in the desert. Aliasing did pop up distractingly a few times though, against the usual culprits such as car grilles. The most annoying occurrence is at 25:03 against the grilles of Princess Vespa's spaceship. They shimmer very distractingly, as do a number of pans across the star field.

    A very large number of subtitles are provided on the DVD. The English subtitles are fairly accurate.

    This is an RSDL-formatted disc, with an imperceptible layer change (i.e. I could not detect it even though I went back through and played most of the movie over to try and find it).

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

Audio

    The audio is satisfactory, and is a decent mix of the original soundtrack.

    An English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 Kb/s) soundtrack is provided, along with French, Dutch, and Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded (192Kb/s) tracks. I listened to the English track, and only sampled the others to confirm surround encoding.

    The remixed Dolby Digital 5.1 track provides clear dialogue at all times with no audio synchronisation problems. Good stereo separation is also present, given a nice open front soundstage. A good example occurs at 16:30 with the laser fire around the Princess' spaceship.

    The music score by John Morris is quite good, with a nice orchestral feel with a tinge of humour. The musical cues sometimes parody other sci-fi movies such as Star Wars quite well, with cues being instantly recognisable.

    For the most part, the surrounds are not used all that much during the movie, but do come alive on a few occasions. These are to support the musical score and music tracks (a good example is at 9:28), and to give some nice directionality to the spaceship fly-bys (eg. 19:17).

    The subwoofer is not called into action all that much, but supports the music and explosions well at those times that it is called into play.

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

Extras

    Only the Theatrical Trailer is provided as an extra. It is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and is of poor quality. There are many film artefacts and the colour seems a little dull and pale. It would have been nice to have a few more extras, such as a director's commentary, but sadly these are not present.

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 4 release misses out on:

    The Region 1 release misses out on:

    If you are into listening to director's commentaries, then I would recommend the Region 1 version. For those that do not, I would recommend the Region 4 version based on RSDL formatting and PAL resolution. It would have been nice if the audio commentary was included for Region 4.

Summary

    A very funny movie at times, Spaceballs parodies other sci-fi movies well. The humour is at times biting, cynical, and hilarious but is also at times rather stupid. I enjoyed it for the nostalgia factor more than anything. It should be a must for fans wanting to update their old VHS copies.

    The video quality is satisfactory, although the lack of 16x9 enhancement is disappointing.

    The audio quality is satisfactory, and is a decent remix of the original soundtrack.

    The extras are nothing to write home about. The exclusion of the audio commentary is another disappointment.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Chanh-Khai Ly (My biodegradable bio)
Monday, June 30, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDOnkyo DV-SP500, using Component output
DisplayRK-32HDP81 HDTV. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderOnkyo TX-SR600 with DD/DD-EX/DTS/DTS-ES matrix and discrete. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR600
SpeakersKef KHT 2005 5.1 Home Theatre System

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Comments (Add)
Spaceballs - Audio Commentry -
Are you sure it's RSDL? - REPLY POSTED
Layer change -