Very Bad Things (1998)
Dolby Digital Trailer-Egypt
Filmographies-Cast & Crew
|Year Of Production||1998|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Peter Berg|
Sony Pictures Home Entertain
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.85:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Very Bad Things is a heavy-handed addition to the suburban slaughter sub-genre, represented thus far by the likes of Heathers, I Married an Axe Murderer, and John Water's underrated Serial Mom. While there is nothing overly sophisticated about any of these black comedies, Very Bad Things aims for a level of mayhem a gear or two higher, and consequently it loses the control and ambiguity of its contemporaries. Although there are some great moments scattered here and there, I felt it was too haphazard and clumsy to succeed as either a comedy or a drama. Having said that, my flatmate enjoyed this film immensely, so if you are able to cut loose and accept Very Bad Things at face value, it might actually be a Very Good Thing.
Presented in a measured aspect ratio of 1.82:1 without 16x9 enhancement, Very Bad Things looked fine on my 16x9 TV after zooming it to widescreen proportions.
While sharpness and detail levels are excellent overall, 16x9 enhancement would have yielded even more foreground and background resolution. An abundance of surface textures were evident enough for detail junkies such as myself, and the overall crispness of the transfer sometimes made me forget it was not anamorphic. Shadow detail was spot on, which came in handy for the darker scenes in the Arizona desert, and blacks were solid.
Being a recent film, it is no surprise that colours were bold and consistent throughout the feature, with natural skin tones and no colour bleed or oversaturation. Shots of Las Vegas neon tend to thrive on celluloid and digital video; this film was no exception.
A few white specks were the only typical film artefacts I noticed. At 36:13 an unusual glitch occurs when the lower two thirds of the frame overlaps part of the upper frame. At first I thought that dust had caused an MPEG snag, but after examining the problem area, which happens during the body part burial sequence, there is no doubt that the bung frame was encoded as is from the source. Some mild aliasing and film grain is also present, though neither is distracting. Overall, this is an excellent single-layer, 4x3 transfer.
The numerous screaming matches between our traumatized thirty-somethings are delivered effortlessly by the centre channel. Normal dialogue was also easy to understand, although ADR was obvious in places. Distortion and synchronization were no problem.
The original music score by Stewart Copeland, together with the chosen bluesy rock songs, only left a vague impression on me the first I watched the movie, so I cleared some time from my busy schedule to reappraise this aspect of the film. Overall the music was well rendered, with special attention paid to separation across the front stage and keeping everything at the appropriate volume. Bass was generous, and the rears chipped in to pull the melodies toward the viewer. This is a good score to play loud!
As the boys struggled to retain their sanity, the surround channels were exploited well to advance the derangement quotient. Sudden left-right, front-back 'growl' pans had the desired shock effect, giving the satellite speakers and subwoofer a trouncing. Actually, the excellent dynamic range lends punch to all aspects of the soundtrack. Foley effects in particular were prominent in the mix and well imaged.
|Surround Channel Use|
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
Update 18/6/2008: According to site reader "ANU", Flashback Entertainment now distribute this title locally with a 1.33:1 ratio transfer and 2.0 audio, as opposed to the 5.1 track on the old Columbia Tri-Star platter.
Columbia Tristar have spared some expense with the video transfer, which is not 16x9 enhanced, while the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is better than the movie deserves. Considering the superficial nature of the story, Very Bad Things is definitely a try before you buy DVD.
|DVD||Marantz DV-7000 (European model), using RGB output|
|Display||Loewe Ergo (81cm). This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Denon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital decoder.|
|Amplification||Arcam AV50 5 x 50W amplifier|
|Speakers||Front: ALR/Jordan Entry 5M, Centre: ALR/Jordan 4M, Rear: ALR/Jordan Entry 2M, Subwoofer: B&W ASW-1000 (active)|