The Big Green (1995)
|Year Of Production||1995|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Holly Goldberg Sloan|
Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Jay O. Sanders
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.85:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
As we all know, recycling is very good for our insignificant little blue speck that floats around the outer edge of an outer arm of the little galaxy that we know as the Milky Way. It is only by recycling that we will actually be able to continue to live on this little planet home of ours. If we don't recycle, all our resources will be diminished and the future of the human race would be very bleak indeed. So it is good to know that such a large organisation as the Disney Company takes its responsibilities with respect to the recycling of our precious resources so seriously, for this film really does show just how much the organisation is committed to recycling. I mean, to go as far as recycling the entire script of Champions (The Mighty Ducks) three years later as The Big Green is really showing a strong commitment to the recycling of precious, and indeed not so precious, resources... (Not so precious resources such as the oft-lambasted Steve Guttenberg for instance...)
So we have a recycled screenplay, the aforementioned Steve Guttenberg and you were expecting Citizen Kane maybe? Basically take a bunch of losers, introduce them to a game that at best they cannot play and at worst they hate, throw them into a league of teams obviously more competent than they and ... you know where this one is going, right? The story is set in Elma, a town in Texas that has fallen upon hard times and whose youth don't amount to a whole lot. Cue the arrival of an exchange teacher from England, one Anna Montgomery (Olivia d'Abo), whose optimism is just about matched by the pessimism of the kids and the town. The arrival of an attractive single woman in these parts is obviously going to attract the attention of the available males of the area, and that obligatory character is local sheriff Tom Parker (Steve Guttenberg), whose claim to fame is that he was a member of the last sporting success of the town, many years ago. Whilst Tom would love to connect with Anna, which of course sets up the obligatory taunting from the kids, Anna does not connect too well with the kids in a scholastic sense. The answer to her problem? Introduce them to soccer. Sight unseen basically (it's called a plot hole) on the basis of an infinitesimally small number of playground games, she enters the ragtag collection of kids into a league. That involves playing in Austin (the state capital of Texas and a rather nice town) and first up is a game against The Knights - current champions, undefeated in their prior season and coached by Elma-escapee Jay Huffer (Jay O. Sanders).
It's a Disney film, so just like Champions (The Mighty Ducks) this bunch of losers have all sorts of obstacles placed in their path, yet against all the odds (and sanity - they are called plot holes) they make it all the way to the championship game.
I wonder how many times the same basic recycled story has been used by Disney? Now don't get me wrong, that does not instantly make the film a bad film, but what it does is ensure that we know exactly where this film is going before we even place it into the player. So even though we know the ending before the beginning has even rolled by, there must be something to distinguish this from those other films, right? Well, if I really had to guess, I would say it is the kids' novel way of feeding the birds that makes this film different. That's not such a good way to distinguish a film, but what the heck. There is not much here that would pass for originality otherwise, and even less that passes in the way of acting. The less always said about Steve Guttenberg the better and I have a new rule for determining the depths of acting ineptitude - if the actor is playing a character with the same Christian name that they have, they can't act. Step forward Jay O. Sanders and take a bow. So basically we are left with Olivia d'Abo. Well, she looks d*** good and they wisely decided to get her into some body-hugging sporting gear to emphasise the fact. Unfortunately this does not make her acting any better, but at least this time they cast her as an English person so there was no problems with the accent (refer to my review of It Had To Be You if you can't remember the reference). I have a huge soft spot for her, but Meryl Streep she ain't. As for everything else - strictly by the film-by-numbers handbook stuff. Clichéd to within an inch of its death is probably a good way of describing the film.
I know exactly why I selected The Big Green for review initially and why I rescued it from what is affectionately called the dud list after putting it there - the presence of Olivia d'Abo. As such, the expectations were not high for the film or the DVD and therefore there was no way that the film could really disappoint. It didn't, and because the whole thing is approached in a suitable brain-off mode, in some way the whole thing works. Sure, it is not as good as Champions (The Mighty Ducks) but then again I have something of a soft spot for that film too. So if you need some mindless entertainment, with not too much emphasis on "entertainment", this is not exactly ignorable. Just don't have any expectations regarding the film, otherwise you will be very sadly disillusioned. Actually, thinking about it - I had no expectations for the film. It works for me in such a situation.
The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, but unfortunately it is not 16x9 enhanced. Most of what ails this transfer may possibly be attributable to that fact, for this is not the prettiest sight on a widescreen display.
The transfer is reasonably sharp throughout but freeze framing playback does demonstrate that slight lack of resolution that seems to be consistent throughout. It is not really bothersome mostly, although on occasions I did wish that it were a little less obvious. On the plus side, it probably did aid in keeping the major issue with the transfer under a bit of control. Detail is quite good, but hampered by that self-same major issue with the transfer. Shadow detail is very good, simply because the film does not have much opportunity for any issues to become noticed. Grain is present throughout, mainly of the light variety thankfully.
Colours come up pretty well with no major issues to report. Saturation is pretty decent throughout, tending towards underdone but no doubt deliberately to emphasise the rundown nature of the town setting. It's not an especially vibrant transfer, but that again would be counter to the image being created. Skin tones look natural enough, but black levels could certainly have done with a bit of a boost. Colour bleed is not an issue with the transfer at all.
There did not appear to be any MPEG artefacts in the transfer. That, however, leads us on to the major issue with the transfer - film-to-video artefacts. How much can a transfer include in the way of aliasing? Plenty on the evidence here. Just about any time you have a sharp edge, be prepared for copious aliasing. Fences, cars, blackboards, buildings, walls, furniture, bleachers and bridges - any time you see them, you will almost certainly see aliasing. At times it gets a bit too obvious too, really detracting from the transfer in every way. Add into the mix some moiré artefacting, most especially in clothing and the goal nets, and this is not a great transfer from the mastering side of things. It got so bad that I basically gave up recording instances of the film-to-video artefacts simply because my head was down too much scribbling notes - I was missing too much of the film itself, and having to watch this a third time through for one review was not an option I wanted to pursue. Just to keep the bad news going, there are some rather obvious film artefacts floating around the transfer - black marks of various types are readily noted.
Given the amount of data on the DVD, this would have to be an RSDL formatted DVD. The problem is, I have no idea where the change is located.
There is a decent selection of subtitles on the DVD. The English efforts were a little disappointing as they often did not present the entire trite dialogue, although to be fair little that is missed actually makes that much difference to the film.
There are three soundtracks on the DVD - all Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks in English, French and Spanish. The English effort is at the higher bit rate of 448 Kb/s whilst the other two are 384 Kb/s soundtracks. Not that it made much difference to me as I stuck with the English soundtrack anyway. What I did find surprising was the fact that there even was a six channel soundtrack on the DVD.
The dialogue comes up well enough in the transfer and was quite easy to understand. This means of course that you have to endure some of the rather banal dialogue without any relief. There did not appear to be any significant audio sync issues with the transfer, despite the copious ADR work that must have been done on the film given the list of persons in the end credits.
The original music score comes from Randy Edelman and it is right up there with the rest of the quality shown in the film. Enough said really.
The film really does not need a six channel soundtrack and that is part of the reason that it was surprising to find one on the DVD. The fact that it has so little to do is probably evidence of the lack of that necessity and it really does not offer much to the film at all. The surround encoding is not brilliant but is enough to keep a small amount of dynamic in the soundtrack, so that it does not come across as flat as it could have potentially been. The subwoofer does not get much of a work out here at all.
|Surround Channel Use|
The effort expended by Disney in the recycling of the script was matched by the decision not to expend precious resources in preparing an extras package. There simply is not one.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
It would appear that there is rather little choice in this film on DVD so far: the Region 1 release apparently is not due for release until 4th May, 2004. So if you really need to see this film, the choice is limited to what we have here in Region 4 it seems - presuming of course that the Region 2 version is the same as ours.
As a contribution to the recycling efforts of the world, The Big Green is a big hit. As a contribution to the world of film, well, let's just say that it leaves plenty to be desired. By no means the worst to ever emanate from the Disney studios, it is very much of the formulaic nature that the studio is rather well known for. In just about every respect the DVD transfer is not a great contribution to the art either. However, given that those dreaded summer school holidays are here and given the cheap price that it has been available for since release (under $15 in a certain discount department store), it provides some variety to keep the kids happy with.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-515, using S-Video output|
|Display||Sony Trinitron Wega (80cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL|