Unbreakable (Rental) (2000)

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Rental Version Only
Available for Rent

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2000
Running Time 102:18
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (63:16) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By M. Night Shyamalan
Studio
Distributor

Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Starring Bruce Willis
Samuel L. Jackson
Robin Wright Penn
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI Rental Music James Newton Howard


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    Unbreakable is what I'd like to call a modern-day interpretation of a classic comic book superhero story, somewhat of a contemporary Superman if you will. Although on the surface it may seem complex, it very much derives from Superman's good vs. evil mentality.

    David Dunn (Bruce Willis) is a man struggling through a mid-life crisis; he is semi-separated from his wife, has a dead end job and never accomplished his dream of playing professional football. One day when returning from New York, he is involved in a train derailment. As it would turn out, he is the sole survivor out of over one hundred and thirty passengers on the train. David simply decides to get back to his ordinary life after the incident, until he receives a note from Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson), who suffers from a rare genetic disorder. I'll leave the plot synopsis there, as the film then starts to twist and turn, and I don't want to spoil anything for the first-time viewer.

    This is M. (stands for Maroj) Night Shyamalan's follow-up to The Sixth Sense, and as such has an eerie feel about it, though it is a very different film. Some comparisons between the two films can be drawn in the structure and look of the films but other than that (and Shyamalan's cameo), Unbreakable should stand alone as a film in its own right, something that didn't happen when the film was exhibited theatrically.

    Here's a bit of trivia for you - Bruce Willis stated that this was the first part of a trilogy when the film was released, so make sure you see this one before the others are made, if ever.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The film itself is essentially the only video stream on this disc apart from the Touchstone logo. This means the transfer of the film has potentially the whole RSDL disc to spread itself across. I was therefore expecting a stellar transfer, but unfortunately things didn't turn out that way.

    I was pleased that this transfer was presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 with 16x9 enhancement, unlike other rental releases we have reviewed which have been pan & scan transfers.

    The transfer is basically crystal clear at all times, as the opening train scene shows. Some of the film seems to have been processed with some sort of bleach bypass process (see 7:34 for an example). Shyamalan uses several different filming techniques to make his point, such as shooting off mirrors and other reflective surfaces, and these techniques are conveyed exquisitely by this transfer. Shadow detail is a little lacking though, as the black level is always a bit too bright and ends up being a dark grey rather than a distinct black. This limits the available shadow detail.

    Colour has been purposely muted and subdued for the film. As you may notice, most of Bruce Willis' scenes have a green tint about them, whilst Samuel L. Jackson's scenes have a purple/blue tint about them. This reflects the fact that the characters are opposites of each other. Very bright colours stand out remarkably, presumably also as a result of bleach bypass film processing. These bright colours are mainly present in the clothes of the people that Willis makes a connection with.

    I never thought that this transfer would be subject to possibly the most annoying artefact that DVD has to offer - aliasing - but it is. Nearly every scene has at least some aliasing. Some examples are at; 2:33 on clothing, 6:20, 6:45 and 7:10 on Bruce Willis' shirt, 9:59 on the doctor, 12:08 on the ever-so-troublesome blinds, 13:26 on another shirt, 13:50 on a wall, 14:35 on the bookstand, 14:52 on the priest, 17:35 on a locker, 17:47 on a beam and on Noel's shirt, 22:15 on several park bars, 22:35 on wood, 25:33 on a customer's jacket, 38:35 on Bruce Willis, 50:41 on a bar, 51:02 on the flag poles, 54:02 on Dunn's car, 60:44-61:02, 61:27 on a door in the background, 81:08 on a wall, and finally 96:15 on a shelf. Hopefully this will be rectified before the disc is released to the sell-through market. No other problems were spotted.

    This disc is RSDL formatted with the layer change occurring at 63:16. This is at a scene change so it is of minimal annoyance.

Audio

    Unlike the video transfer, Unbreakable sports an excellent audio transfer.

    There are two soundtracks present on the DVD, being Dolby Digital 5.1 mixes in English and Italian. I listened to the English track only.

    Dialogue was clearly audible at all times. I could not point out a time where I had to struggle to hear a single line. There were no audio sync problems during the film.

    The musical score by James Newton Howard suited the film to a T. It was always there to provide the emotional undertone that the scenes needed, especially that of tension in the latter parts of the film.

    The surround mix, although not overly used, was a fine example of how a subtly immersive soundtrack can be created. The film is very much dialogue-driven, which would suggest small amounts of surround usage only, but this was not the case entirely. Fine examples of dynamic range and surround usage can be found at 4:45 and at 5:59. Rain is conveyed very well through the surround channels as the action begins to hot up during the climax of the film. The underwater scene is the best example of surround usage in the film, suiting the scene perfectly.

    The LFE channel was used much more sparingly than the surround channels. Its main use was for music, but it was also used for musical stabs at moments of tension.

Extras

    Being a rental-only DVD, this disc is devoid of extras.

Menu

    This is static, with a picture of Bruce Willis. The menu options are Set Up and Play - there isn't even a chapter selection menu!

R4 vs R1

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

    This disc is due to be released in Region 1 on the 19th of June, 2001. Extras will include an audio commentary with composer James Newton Howard, deleted scenes and a dts soundtrack. When the sell-through version of this disc is released here in 6 months time, hopefully it will include all of the extras present on the Region 1 version.

Summary

    Unbreakable is a thought-provoking comic book thriller that left me stunned. The video quality is problematic but the audio is brilliant. As this is a rental-only disc, we don't get any extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Andrew Siers (I never did my biography in primary school)
Tuesday, May 08, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-626D, using Component output
DisplayToshiba 34N9UXA. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha CX-600 Pre-Amp, Yamaha MX-600 Stereo Power Amp for Mains, Yamaha DSP-E300 for Center, Teac AS-M50 for Surrounds.
SpeakersMain Left and Right Acoustic Research AR12s, Center Yamaha NS-C70, Surround Left and Right JBL Control 1s

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