The Package (1989)

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Released 13-Sep-2000

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Theatrical Trailer
Booklet
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1989
Running Time 103:34
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (61:29) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Andrew Davis
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Gene Hackman
Joanna Cassidy
Tommy Lee Jones
John Heard
Dennis Franz
Reni Santoni
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $34.95 Music James Newton Howard


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
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
German
German for the Hearing Impaired
French
Italian
Spanish
Dutch
Swedish
Finnish
Norwegian
Danish
Portuguese
Polish
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Negotiations are under way at an American-Soviet nuclear disarmament summit, where an end to the cold war between the two countries appears to be at hand. But, it appears that not all the people involved in these talks actually want to see the agreement completed, and these people are busily plotting the sabotage of the talks.

    Johnny Gallagher (Gene Hackman) is the leader of one of the American patrol teams guarding the talks. After a car-load of VIPs are ambushed and killed, Johnny cops a lot of flack from Colonel Glen Whitacre (John Heard), who seems intent on blaming someone for the breach in security. Johnny is subsequently given a seemingly dull, routine assignment -  to escort an American soldier named Thomas Boyette (Tommy Lee Jones) back to the United States for a military court-martial.

    Thomas escapes, in what appears to be accidental circumstances. When Johnny visits Thomas' wife, in an effort to retrieve his "package" (Thomas), he finds out that the man he was escorting was not in fact Thomas Boyette at all. Johnny now realizes that his escape was no accident, and everything had been carefully planned...but by whom? and for what purpose?

    Johnny turns to the one person he knows he can trust, his wife, Eileen Gallagher (Joanna Cassidy) who now outranks him. She enlists the help of another officer (Pam Grier) in an effort to find some answers, and when they start digging into the identity of the impostor, red flags start getting raised in higher places.

    Johnny reports in, advising that he has lost his package. Immediately after this, Johnny is placed under arrest for the murder of Thomas Boyette's wife. By now, Johnny is starting to wonder what he has gotten caught up in, or whether in fact he was deliberately placed in the middle of something much larger. There's plenty more to come, so sit back and enjoy the rest of the film.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, and is 16x9 enhanced.

    The picture sharpness is very good throughout the entire film, but the picture lacks those razor sharp edges that are now seen in more recent films, however, there is still an excellent amount of detail in both the foreground and background. There is no low level noise, edge bleeding or excessive edge enhancement.

    The colour is well saturated and natural looking, with some nice splashes of colour here and there. Good examples can be found at 79:30 and 87:30. For most of the movie, the colour appears slightly muted, but I believe that this is the nature of the film rather than an actual problem with the transfer.

    There are a couple of instances where the background is affected by some grain. One noteworthy occurrence is at 1:14, where the sky and stone walls are noticeably affected. Another sequence that suffers from excessive grain/pixelization is at 61:29, where both Tommy Lee Jones' face and the background are quite affected. The grain/pixelization on Tommy Lee Jones' face is rather distracting, but luckily it only lasts for a few seconds. Apart from these two instances, the rest of the film is basically grain and pixelization free.

    No MPEG artefacts were seen. I only saw two instances of aliasing for the entire film, at 30:03 and 90:45, and both of these were really trivial.

    There is some telecine wobble throughout the entire film. Thankfully, it isn't really noticeable during the film, but during the opening and closing credits...well, let's just say that I started feeling a little seasick. I don't know if this is inherent in the original film or was caused by a fault during the transfer process.

    There are a reasonable number of small film artefacts scattered throughout the movie, however they were usually small and unobtrusive. The ones I specifically noticed and took note of were at 1:40, 24:01, 23:45, 50:38 and 53:23.

    This disc is an RSDL disc, with the layer change occurring at 61:29 in Chapter 10, right on a scene change. Its placement is good, but it takes a good second or two before the audio and video resume, which for me was just long enough to slightly disrupt the flow of the movie.

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

Audio

    There are four audio tracks on this DVD; English, French, German and Italian, all of which are 192Kb/s Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtracks. Before the Main Menu is displayed you are asked to select your preferred menu language, and on playing the movie you get the audio track for that language. I selected English and got the appropriate English soundtrack. If you select Spanish, you also get the English soundtrack, as there is no Spanish soundtrack. The packaging incorrectly claims that a Spanish soundtrack is present, and incorrectly claims that the other soundtracks are Dolby Digital 5.1, when in fact they are only Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded.

    The dialogue was clear and easy to understand throughout the movie.

    No audio sync problems were noticed with this transfer, and only one instance of dialogue replacement was noticed, at 38:13.

    James Newton Howard's musical score suits the movie well, as it adds to or enhances the on-screen action nicely.

    Things really get interesting with this disc in the area of surround usage. The soundtracks are do not carry the requisite flag which indicates that they are surround-encoded, misleading suitably-equipped decoders into replaying this soundtrack in stereo. This is actually incorrect, as the soundtracks are in fact surround-encoded, and aggressively surround-encoded at that.

    At first, I started watching the movie in stereo mode, but at one point I thought I'd just try engaging Prologic decoding mode to see what it sounded like. I was immediately hit with a truckload of surround effects, all of which were perfectly positioned and integrated into the overall sound field. Subsequently, I listened to the rest of the movie in surround mode (obviously).

    The overall soundstage is very good indeed, being one of the better surround-encoded soundtracks that I have heard. At no stage did the front soundstage collapse into just the centre channel. The surround channels are frequently used for both music and special effects. For much of the movie you are enveloped in a nice subtle sound field. There are also many occasions where the surround channels are used aggressively, which puts you right in amongst the action. The best examples of surround channel use can be found at 18:03, 27:55, 34:03, 41:12, 59:40, 78:40 and 83:53.

    There are not too many sequences that need the subwoofer but when it is needed it is there, adding extra punch to the soundtrack.

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

Extras

    The extras are extremely limited, comprising just one theatrical trailer.

Menu

    The menus are presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1. The main menu selections are; Play, Scene Selections (16), Theatrical Trailer and Language options.

Theatrical Trailer (2:09 minutes)

    This is of very good quality, presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, non-16x9 enhanced and with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.

Booklet

    This is the typical booklet that comes with MGM DVDs, containing production notes. This one is a little briefer than others that I have seen. The back page of the booklet incorrectly lists 30 scene selections when there are only 16 chapters on the disc itself.

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;     Since both versions have the same number of extras and suffer from similar, if not the same audio and picture limitations, it comes down to how much of a problem manually selecting or forcing your audio decoder to use surround sound mode is, versus the inevitable picture resolution losses and 3:2 pull-down artefacts you will get with the NTSC R1 disc.

Summary

    For me, The Package is a good movie, presented on a very good DVD.

    The picture quality is very good.

    The audio quality is also very good, but the surround-encoded soundtracks omit the requisite processor flag.

    The extras are extremely limited.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Paul Williams (read Paul's biography)
Wednesday, August 30, 2000
Review Equipment
DVDSony DVP-725, using Component output
DisplaySony Projector VPH-G70 (No Line Doubler), Technics Da-Lite matt screen with gain of 1.0 (229cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SV919THX
SpeakersFronts: Energy RVS-1 (3), Rears: Energy RVSS-1 (2), Subwoofer: Energy EPS-150 (1)

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