Aspen Extreme (1993)

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Released 27-Nov-2003

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1993
Running Time 113:05
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (73:30) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Patrick Hasburgh
Studio
Distributor

Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Starring Paul Gross
Peter Berg
Finola Hughes
Teri Polo
William Russ
Trevor Eve
Martin Kemp
Stewart Finlay-McLennan
Tony Griffin
Julie Royer
Patrick T. Johnson
William McNamara
Gary Eimiller
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $14.95 Music Michael Convertino


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.66:1
16x9 Enhancement
Not 16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
German
Spanish
Dutch
French
Swedish
Norwegian
Danish
Finnish
German Titling
Spanish Titling
French Titling
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement Yes, a lot of it!
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Detroit local and budding writer T.J. Burke (Paul Gross) decides that he's had enough of his job in a car factory after another failed attempt to get one of his stories printed in a magazine. He talks his best friend Dexter Rutecki (Peter Berg) into quitting his dead-end job and going off to a ski resort with him to start new lives. After substantial research (they read a list of resorts from a ski magazine), they head for Aspen - playground of the rich and famous - to see what adventures await them.

    Managing to wangle ski-instructor jobs for both of them (after the incredibly bizarre "selection" process of just getting all hopeful candidates to ski through some moguls - no recognised official qualifications needed here, thank you very much), the pair start their new lives, living out of the back of their van.

    The two friends are quite different, with T.J. being the ambitious, upwardly mobile guy, while Dexter seems quite happy just to cruise along in life. One thing they do have in common, though, is that they're excellent skiers, despite growing up in Detroit, and they soon draw attention from different sources. T.J. catches the eye of Bryce Kellogg (Finola Hughes), rich businesswoman and playgirl, as well as getting some interest from the local DJ and resident cutie, Robin Hand (Teri Polo). Meanwhile, Dexter starts to spend time with Tina (Nicolette Scorsese), and gets mixed up with some of her less-than-honest friends. Of course, there's also the mandatory mean ski instructors with German accents (what would a ski movie be without evil ski instructors?), cameos from a few famous skiers, and a myriad of 1980s-looking extras on the mountain.

    I started this movie expecting a standard, weak, fluffy story and some TV-movie acting, simply being an excuse for a bit of ski footage. After the first 40 minutes or so, things were going exactly to plan, and I was starting to wonder if even the ski scenes made it worth sitting through. Although filmed in 1993, there's a distinct 1980s flavour to the fashions and hairstyles, which really contributed to the feeling that this was just another one of those by-the-numbers summer-camp/winter-camp movies that seemed to blight my childhood. However, the film does start to develop a different mood about half way through, and things get a little more serious, to the point where I actually started taking interest in the story rather than just trying to stay awake until the next action scene.

    Much as I feel this will ruin my credibility, I ended up getting quite involved with these characters, despite the mediocre acting and laughable fashions. I think there's just something about stories that examine friendships, and differences in motivation for different types of people. In the end I came away with a positive view of the whole experience; there are some excellent ski scenes (if a little few and far between), and there's also a half-decent story in there somewhere gluing the whole thing together. At the budget price you can pick this up for, I'm almost tempted to recommend it as a purchase for those who are snow-inclined, but most definitely as a rental. Just seeing the lifestyle of the ski-bum in an unfamiliar resort will bring back happy memories to those who've shared the experience.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.66:1 and is not 16x9 enhanced. This ratio is far enough from the original 1.85:1 for me to ask "why?". If you're going to go for something other than a standard 1.33:1 pan and scan transfer, then why not make the effort to at least get it closer to the original aspect ratio? Even 1.78:1 would have been acceptable in my opinion. I have read on the web that the 1.66:1 ratio was gained by simply cropping the top and bottom of a 1.33:1 source, which could explain why. If that is the case, then shame on you Hollywood Pictures!

    Sharpness is acceptable, although certainly not up to the standard of some transfers from the same period. Some of the indoor scenes come across as a bit dark and murky, and when it's a night-time interior shot there is poor shadow detail (such as 33:57). Blacks were solid enough, though.

    Colours are fairly bright, with lots of horribly-coloured ski gear making its way on-screen. Flesh tones are accurate, and there aren't any signs of bleeding - even when we have red clothing against white snow.

    The most visible film-to-video artefact is the aliasing that appears regularly throughout the movie. Examples can be seen at 37:22, 49:17, 60:56, and 73:36. Thankfully, I didn't notice any major edge enhancement, which would really stand out with all the scenes in the snow. Film artefacts appear frequently, but are mostly very minor specks. One exception to this is at 82:27 where a number of major smears and blobs appear.

    There are 13 subtitle streams; English, English for the Hearing Impaired, German, Spanish, Dutch, French, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Finnish, German Titling, Spanish Titling, and French Titling. I sampled the English ones, which were of average accuracy. They generally got the correct message across, despite frequently missing out on words.

    The layer change occurs at the 73:30 mark, and is well hidden in a scene transition.

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

Audio

    Another question for the authors of this DVD; why does an American-made movie have 5.1 audio for 2 of the foreign language tracks, but only 2.0 for the English one?

    This disc has 4 tracks; English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s), German Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s), and French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s). I listened to the English track, but also sampled some of the 5.1 tracks to do a comparison.

    There are no problems with the dialogue or audio sync.

    The music is a mixture of very 1980s sounding pop/rock and also a generic orchestral movie score by Michael Convertino. It's not particularly good or bad - it's just there.

    The surrounds got a little bit of work whenever there was a helicopter present, and during any skiing or (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) avalanches. It's very much a front-heavy track though, even with Pro Logic II processing.

    The subwoofer kicked in once, during (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) an avalanche (well, that was the only time it was noticeable anyway).

    A quick comparison with the foreign 5.1 tracks revealed that those of us who only speak English aren't actually missing out on much here. The tracks are certainly not very dynamic in nature, and when I compared them to the English 2.0 version of the (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) avalanche scene, I actually found the English version to be more immersive! When your receiver is faking a 5.1 output better than an actual 5.1 mix, you know you don't have to worry too much about missing out.

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

Extras

    Nope.

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 version of this disc appears to be identical to ours, besides being NTSC obviously.

Summary

    A film about the changes that take place in the lives of two friends when they try to start a new life. Set against the backdrop of a ski resort, the story itself ends up being almost as much reason to watch this as the few impressive ski scenes, despite there being plenty of corn and sub-standard acting. Not exactly a masterpiece, but worth a viewing if you're at all interested in the subject matter.

    The video isn't awful, but it's not 16x9 enhanced, and if there's truth to the theory that the aspect ratio was achieved by simply cropping a pan and scan image, then there is much reason for displeasure.

    The audio is fairly mediocre.

    There are no extras at all.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© David L (Only my Mum would have any interest in my bio)
Monday, February 09, 2004
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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