Her Alibi (1989)

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Released 13-Oct-2003

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy None
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1989
Running Time 90:19
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Bruce Beresford
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Tom Selleck
Paulina Porizkova
William Daniels
James Farentino
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $14.95 Music Georges Delerue


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    We've all done something rather daft in the quest for love or even just companionship, haven't we? Made a ridiculous pass for that gorgeous blonde down the other end of the bar, for instance? Most of the time we have crashed and burned severely, right? Just ever so occasionally though, something unusual has happened - a connection. A connection that might well have had a life-changing consequence. Maybe that ridiculous pass was just the right sort of chance for meeting the one perfect person in all the world for you? Well, granted that most of us have not had that sort of luck, but you never know do you?

    Well, want to compete with mystery writer extraordinaire Phillip Blackwood (Tom Selleck)? He is currently having something major in the way of writer's block, thanks to the wife dumping him. As you do in these circumstances, he finds himself hounding the courts in search of inspiration. What he finds is a gorgeous Romanian immigrant called Nina (Paulina Porizkova), on trial accused of murder. Smitten something chronic, and without any regard for the basic question of whether or not she is guilty, Phillip (no doubt under the heavy influence of hormones) comes up with the perfect alibi for this lady he does not know - she is his lover and was with him on the night of the murder in question. In the face of such a compelling confession, and perfect alibi, the police release the lovely Nina. As a consequence of this, Nina ends up staying with Phillip - but the question remains as to whether she is a killer. Will Phillip actually survive her visit?

    It might not sound like much, and I guess in reality it is not likely to be confused with quality film making, but in the right sort of situation, Her Alibi is not too bad a way to spend ninety minutes of your life. The good things? Well, Paulina Porizkova is definitely very easy on the eye, if not exactly a riveting actress (although having married Ric Ocasek one does have to question her taste in men). Similarly, for the women, there is Tom Selleck, who apparently has the ability to weaken the knees of the fairer sex, if not a riveting actor. At the helm we have the normally more-than-competent Bruce Beresford, although perhaps not quite so normal here. Thereafter the situation gets a little less than a barrel-load of good stuff. Indeed, the bad stuff really starts getting in the way. An obvious problem is the fact that 'comedy' sort of implies the ability to raise a laugh. Well, at one time the film could probably do that, but after repeated viewings there is little here to raise a chuckle over, let alone a laugh. The screenplay is not that good, and whilst the premise has loads of potential, the execution realises little if any of it. The whole thing is rather predictable and the dialogue is fairly banal in the extreme. And that is before you even consider the atrocious story that Phillip narrates throughout the film...

    While certainly not one of the great comedies of all time, Her Alibi has an interesting enough premise, but its execution really does it no favours at all. The eye-candy value of the leads, depending upon your gender or orientation, might lift the film a bit but not enough to make this an essential purchase. At this price point it is worth investigating, but perhaps only for fans.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Maybe it was the prospect of a budget title, or the possibility of many Warner NTSC Region 1 rehashes being released in Region 4, but I was not expecting much from this release. The fact that there is barely a remark in my notebook indicates that this title well and truly exceeded my expectations. In broad terms this is a pretty decent transfer in all respects.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and it is 16x9 enhanced. The original theatrical ratio was 1.85:1 by my recollection, so this is pretty darn close to the mark.

    Very decently sharp throughout, the detail in the transfer was probably the main thing I was not expecting. There was little grain and that was the big plus, as it allowed the inherent detail to shine through. There were a few odd lapses in definition where perhaps a slightly softer image was noted, but this was balanced by a few occasions where the super-sharp definition had the film looking way younger than it was (most notably with exterior shots of the house in Connecticut). If you freeze the image almost anywhere, you can see that the transfer is about as sharp as we could reasonably expect. Shadow detail was adequate, although once or twice you wished for something a little more sparkling. The transfer is quite clear throughout.

    The colours are well handled and the transfer is quite vibrant at times. A lack of consistency is perhaps indicative of the age of the source material, but there is little to be worried about in this regard. Nicely saturated throughout, there is no hint of over saturation or colour bleed. Black levels were just about spot on for the film.

    The transfer is free of any obvious MPEG artefacts, although the source material itself has some minor issues here and there with slight resolution loss in pan shots. Film-to-video artefacts are pretty much absent from the transfer except for some very obvious aliasing in the louvres of the barn at 62:41 and 63:18. A complete absence of film-to-video artefacts would of course have been nice since the transfer is fairly well blessed with film artefacts. Thankfully the most obvious examples are the little white dirt specks; they are momentary annoyances.

    This is a single layer, single sided DVD, so there is no layer change to be worried about.

    The subtitle options are limited to English and English for the Hearing Impaired. They are very good and I had no real complaints about them from the samples I made of both. Note that the Romanian language option has burned-in English subtitles, so no further selectable subtitles are available for this dialogue.

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

Audio

    There is just the one soundtrack on the DVD, and as such it is obviously an English effort in Dolby Digital 2.0.

    The dialogue comes up fairly well in the soundtrack - there are no real issues with understanding what is being said. There are no obvious issues with audio sync in the transfer. The dialogue does have something of a hollow sound to it at times which I suspect is a reflection of the age of the soundtrack, and the fact that it is probably the original stereo effort.

    Georges Delerue contributed the original music score and it pretty well suits the film - serviceable and lacking distinction.

    The entire soundtrack really is little more than functional. Having only two channels obviously mean a lack of serious dynamics, but of course the film does not need it. There are no real problems with the soundtrack as it is, meaning that at least we don't have to put up with the Rice Bubble effect. It could have been cleaner overall, but there is nothing to really worry about.

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

Extras

    What exactly are they and what relevance do they have to this release? Well, apparently an interactive menu and scene access are extras...

Menu

    Pretty average in all respects.

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 1 release is one of those budget-line DVDs released by Warners, where pan and scan abominations abound and the only extras are confined to the film itself. So whilst we get pretty much the same extras as Region 1 (nothing), we can take solace in the fact that we get a widescreen presentation as opposed to a pan and scan presentation, and our cheap list price is cheaper than their cheap list price. Presumably the Region 2 release is the same as the Region 4.

Summary

    Her Alibi is a triumph of gloss over substance. As such, in brain-switched-off mode, it represents some mindless entertainment for a cold, wet Sunday afternoon. There is certainly some eye-candy worth watching here but if you want some meat in your viewing, you are definitely barking up the wrong tree. As one of the new releases in the budget price range from Warner Home Video, it is to some extent welcomed (anything that progresses a move towards cheaper DVDs has to be a good thing). However, this is genuinely lightweight stuff only and has to be regarded in that light.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ian Morris (Biological imperfection run amok)
Monday, October 20, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-1600, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Aconda 9381ZW. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha RXV-795
SpeakersEnergy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL

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