Sweet Revenge (Revengers' Comedies, The) (1998)

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Released 1-Sep-2003

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Dolby Digital Trailer-Train
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1998
Running Time 86:19
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Malcolm Mowbray
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Sam Neill
Helena Bonham-Carter
Kristin Scott Thomas
Rupert Graves
Martin Clunes
Steve Coogan
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $36.95 Music Alexandre Desplat


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/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 for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Sam Neill plays Henry Bell, a man we meet as he's about to jump off Tower Bridge in London after losing his job to a colleague whom he hates. As he's preparing to leap, he hears cries for help from the other side of the bridge, and he discovers Karen Knightly (Helena Bonham Carter) dangling by a strap after a failed suicide attempt on her behalf. Ideas of suicide now dispelled from both their minds, they sit and talk about what (or more to the point, who) caused them to want to prematurely end their lives, and an unusual bond of companionship seems to form.

    Karen takes Henry back to her huge family estate in the country, and manipulates him into an agreement to dole out bitter revenge on the two people that have made them so miserable. It's her job to wreak havoc on Henry's successor, Bruce Tick (Steve Coogan of Parole Officer fame), which she goes about by becoming his secretary, whilst Henry must reap vengeance on Imogen Staxton-Billing (Kristin Scott Thomas), the wife of Anthony Staxton-Billing (Men Behaving Badly's Martin Clunes), whom Karen had an affair with.

    All seems to be going to plan on Karen's side, but when Henry starts to take a liking to Imogen, and comes up against her repulsive husband, things start to get a little complicated in this small English village. We also begin to see that all is not quite as Karen would have had Henry believe.

    This film has all the makings of a classic British comedy; quality main actors, great supporting cast, a quirky storyline, eccentric characters, an English countryside setting, subtle humour, and green gumboots (sorry - Wellingtons). So how could you go wrong? Well, I wouldn't go so far as to say the movie goes "wrong", but it does fail to fulfil its potential. You really are left with a feeling that it never actually gets fully into its stride, and mediocrity is sadly the result. The actors do a good job, with Coogan and Bonham-Carter having some excellent scenes together, and the humour is suitably gentle (which personally is what I find makes it better than American humour), but everything just lacks a bit of punch, and the story sort of meanders along and ends up being ultimately unsatisfying. It's almost as if a lot of the story ended up on the cutting room floor, and the short runtime might back this theory up. Having never read any of the plays that this film was adapted from though, I can't comment on how close they are to the original story.

    So all in all I found this to be a bit of a letdown (partly due to some high expectations on my behalf), but by no means is it a horrible movie. If you're a fan of subtle English comedy (which is also quite dark at times in this offering), and decent acting, then this is well worth a rental at least. It's no Shooting Fish though, so don't go in with unrealistic expectations.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced, which is very close to the original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1.

    The transfer is not always overly sharp, with quite a soft image in some scenes. The film is shot on location in the UK, with its characteristic softer lighting anyway, but that's not really an excuse for some of the shortcomings of this transfer. Scenes where the lack of sharpness are evident include 1:34, 26:18 and 40:58. Blacks are very solid with no low-level noise, but shadow detail is a bit lacking in some of the darker scenes, such as 12:30 and 78:56.

    Colours are generally quite soft in the exterior shots, but I think this is more to do with the location than anything else, as occasionally we do get some colourful clothing and interior shots (such as the opening shot). They are certainly accurate enough, with no signs of bleeding or chroma noise.

    I didn't notice any of the dreaded aliasing or edge enhancement in this transfer, and MPEG artefacts are also absent. There were some quite noticeable film artefacts in the early stages of the movie (such as 1:56 and 12:25), but after about 15 minutes I didn't see any more. It's almost as if they missed a reel during the clean-up process. Very strange.

    There is one subtitle stream on this disc; English for the Hearing Impaired. I sampled these subtitles and found them to be about as accurate as you can get. They're also the type of subtitle that tries to place the words underneath, or close to, the character on-screen who's actually saying them. Often I find these sorts of subtitles are just plain confusing, but I thought they did a pretty decent job on this disc.

    There's no layer change, as this is a single-layered DVD.

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

Audio

    There is just the one track on this disc; English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s). I found it a little strange that we're treated to the Dolby Digital Train trailer before the film starts, since this isn't really relevant for a stereo soundtrack. It's a pity that we don't have a 5.1 mix included, but for a dialogue-driven movie such as this, it's not really a problem.

    Dialogue is very clear, helped in no small part by the well-spoken actors. Audio sync is also spot on.

    The score by Alexandre Desplat is orchestral and very suitable for the material. It heightens the mood required at any particular time without taking over.

    Using Prologic II decoding, there was a little bit of action from the surrounds, but it was nothing to write home about, mainly ambient sounds in the outdoor scenes, such as birds and other country noises, as well as the music.

    Like the surrounds, any subwoofer action is based solely on whether your receiver directs the bass in stereo tracks to your LFE channel. The only time I noticed it at all was during some of the music.

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

Extras

Dolby Digital Trailer - Train

    As mentioned in the audio section - this seems somewhat out of place.

WB Movieworld Trailer

    In all its edge-enhanced glory. I'd classify this more as an annoyance than an extra.

R4 vs R1

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

    As best I could tell, the US version seems identical to ours (PAL/NTSC issues aside), so there's no reason to import.

Summary

    A pleasant enough movie with some great performances, but I found that it just had something missing, which made it come across overall as a bit mediocre. Having said that though, even mediocre British comedy is better than a lot of the dross we get from the US these days, so for fans of such comedies with quirky storylines and characters, I'd recommend you at least check it out at your rental store.

    The video quality is decent, with a few shortcomings.

    The audio is fine for the type of film this is.

    There are no extras to speak of.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© David L (Only my Mum would have any interest in my bio)
Wednesday, December 31, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDOmni 3600, using RGB output
DisplaySony 1252QM CRT Projector, 250cm custom built 16x9 matte screen. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-DS797- THX Select
SpeakersAccusound ES-55 Speaker set, Welling WS12 Subwoofer

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