Short Circuit (1986)

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Released 10-Nov-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Interviews-Crew-How No. 5 Came Alive: Meet The Men Who Made It Happen
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1986
Running Time 94:12
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By John Badham

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Ally Sheedy
Steve Guttenberg
Fisher Stevens
Austin Pendleton
G.W. Bailey
Brian McNamara
Tim Blaney
Marvin J. McIntyre
John Garber
Penny Santon
Vernon Weddle
Barbara Tarbuck
Tom Lawrence
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $19.95 Music David Shire

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, deleted scenes / reprise scenes

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

Plot Synopsis

Number 5 ... is alive!

    Short Circuit is an entertaining film about a robot who gets hit by lightning and develops a personality. Given that he is a war robot, and the personality he develops is pacifist, this is the source of some problems.

    Nova Robotics is a defence contractor. Their latest development is a war robot which is notionally intended to carry nuclear bombs: Strategic Artificially Intelligent Nuclear Transport (SAINT for short). They are more like a robot replacement for foot-soldiers. Five of these robots are demonstrated making short work of a tank and troop transports. They are not truly intelligent, but are capable of limited autonomous responses in the field. The five robots have the ingenious names of Number One to Number Five. Number Five gets struck by lightning in an unfortunate accident. This has a very strange effect on him...

    Once Number Five is roaming around outside, there are three responses. The inventor, Newton Crosby (Steve Guttenberg, in one of his better performances), wants to learn more about what has happened. Howard Marner (Austin Pendleton), president of Nova Robotics, isn't too worried what happens, as long as they get the robot back without adverse publicity. And Skroeder (G W Bailey), the head of security for Nova Robotics, wants to blow the robot away. By chance, Number Five meets Stephanie Speck (Ally Sheedy), who runs an unlicensed animal shelter, and has a soft heart. She sympathises with Number Five, and helps him to learn (he keeps demanding "input").

    This is a fun movie, with most of the laughs working well. There's nothing much in this film that you'd worry about putting in front of children (the PG rating is justified on the basis of low-level coarse language and low-level violence — that should be "very low-level"). I think most parents would be happy to share this film with their children.

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Transfer Quality


    The DVD is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.40:1, and is 16x9 enhanced. The original theatrical aspect ratio was 2.35:1 — this is about as close as you can get without being exact.

    The picture is a little soft, but that is probably a good thing, because it reduces some of the aliasing. Shadow detail is somewhat limited, but it will do. There's occasional light film grain. There's no low level video noise.

    Colour is a bit dull, but adequate. There are no colour-related artefacts.

    There are some film artefacts, but they are tiny.

    There's occasional noticeable aliasing (such as on the van grille at 47:00), but no moiré, and no shimmer, and no MPEG artefacts..

    The only subtitles are English for the Hearing Impaired. These are easy to read, accurate, and mostly well-timed to the dialogue.

    The disc is single sided, dual layer, but they have managed to fit the whole of the movie onto the first layer, so there's no layer change. The extras are on the second layer.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    There is only one soundtrack, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 (not surround encoded) at 224kbps.

    The dialogue is mostly comprehensible — even Fisher Stevens' odd pseudo-Indian speech — only some of the robot voices are difficult to understand (one of them sounds almost identical to Stephen Hawking). There are no obvious audio sync glitches in the humans.

    The score, mostly electronica, comes from David Shire. It's quite a decent score.

    The surrounds and subwoofer aren't used by this pure stereo soundtrack.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



    The menu is static and silent after a short intro. It's easy to operate.

Missing Theatrical Trailer

    Although the cover claims that there is a trailer on this disc, there is no such trailer.


    These are two lengthy interviews with two of the men behind the star of this film:

R4 vs R1

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

    This movie was released in Region 1 quite a while ago — I got my copy in 2000.

    At first glance, this comparison looks quite uneven, with the Region 1 including a stack of extras and a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack — looks like a slam-dunk win to the Region 1 disc. But there are a couple of things to consider...

    The complete list of extras on the Region 1 disc is impressive:

    Here's the catch: the Region 1 transfer is far too dark, has harsh contrast, and is not 16x9 enhanced. And for those who care: the R1 is in a snapper case.

    In the end, if you want the better version of the movie (decent transfer, 16x9 enhanced), you have to get the Region 4 disc. If you want all the extras, then get the Region 1.


    This is a fun movie presented fairly well on DVD.

    The video quality is good.

    The audio quality is good enough.

    There are only two interviews for extras.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Monday, December 06, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

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Comments (Add)
Great little movie - John