Supervolcano (2005)

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Released 27-May-2005

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio & Animation
Menu Audio
Featurette-The Truth About Yellowstone, Parts 1 And 2
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2005
Running Time 119:03 (Case: 156)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (59:46) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Tony Mitchell
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Emy Aneke
Gary Lewis
Shaun Johnston
Jennifer Copping
Rebecca Jenkins
Tom McBeath
Robert Wisden
Susan Duerden
Jane McLean
Sam Charles
Kevin McNulty
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $19.95 Music Ty Unwin


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Supervolcano is a BBC production which screened on ABC television here in Australia during April 2005. While not specifically stating the year, it is supposed to be set sometime around 2020 when the world faces the ultimate threat, not from terrorists or a nuclear blast, but an eruption of a gigantic supervolcano simmering beneath Yellowstone National Park in the United States. Apparently vulcanologists have known for many years that Yellowstone is the possible site for a massive cataclysmic eruption thousands of times larger than Mt St Helens or even Krakatoa, which obliterated an Indonesian island in the 19th century. With fresh seismic activity occurring on a more regular basis in the park, things are looking desperate. The film is obviously a work of fiction, but has documentary elements, such as interviews with actors, that lend a real sense of credibility and immediacy.

    As the story starts to unfold we are introduced to the team whose responsibility it is to monitor the gurgling magma below the park. At the vanguard of the work on Yellowstone's seismic activity is a scientific team, led by Professor Rick Lieberman (Michael Riley). The team monitors the volcano from various points around the park and is intimate with its every move. They provide the necessary warnings to government and media, without trying to raise a general panic. When a massive earthquake shakes the park, the media announce to an unsuspecting world that an eruption is imminent, even though the scientific team denies it is about to erupt.

    Lieberman and his team are forced to go on the offensive, adamant that no eruption is likely any time soon. Unfortunately, they are wrong, and as more alarming seismic activity occurs in the park, culminating with the drying up of the famous Old Faithful geyser, pressure builds on Lieberman's team to explain what is going on. No one wants to make the call that would cause widespread panic and mass evacuations, but there are signs that nobody can ignore and soon the country is gripped with panic.

    Lieberman is ordered by the Department of Homeland Security to appear on national television and downplay the threat in an effort to stymie the chaos, but it is too late as the mass eruption begins and no one has any idea how long it will last. Over the next week the story follows the disaster and the challenge faced by the entire continental United States in the aftermath of an eruption and ash cloud that covers more than 80 per cent of the country.

    This story is one heck of a roller-coaster ride that while featuring a few cheap-looking computer generated special effects, packs enough punch and plenty of what-if scenarios to have you on the edge of your seat. The use of some documentary devices to convey the plot, plus the use of completely unknown actors, gives the production an immediate and almost non-fiction feel.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This is a reasonably new production that is graced with a lovely video transfer.

    It is presented in the widescreen aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is also 16x9 enhanced.

    All the vision is incredibly sharp and detailed, and is consistently good throughout. There isn't a trace of edge enhancement and there are absolutely no problems with shadow detail. There is some grain, but it is well controlled and is barely an issue.

    The colours are excellent, with deep saturation and even and consistent shading. The deep reds of the molten lava or magma look superb as do the lakes and forests of the Yellowstone National Park.

    There are no compression artefacts and video artefacts or film artefacts are also absent. All up, this is a very, very clean image with no problems to report.

    We only get English for the Hearing Impaired subtitles. I sampled them for about half the content and found them to be excellent.

    This is a dual layered disc with RSDL formatting. The layer change occurs at 59:46.

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

Audio

    There are two soundtracks available on the disc and with plenty of bangs, crashes and massive, mighty eruptions your audio system gets quite a workout. First up is a full-bitrate Dolby Digital 5.1 surround soundtrack that offers a fantastic and immersive listening experience. This is complemented by a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack for those with no digital surround processing capabilities. The latter is the default track and does contain enough surround activity to suggest the soundtrack is specifically surround encoded.

    Dialogue is clear and well balanced in the overall sound mix. There are no audio sync problems.

    There is consistent surround use for all manner of sounds such as helicopters, trucks and other vehicles, plus the obvious all-encompassing rumbles of the volcanic eruptions.

    The subwoofer cops some superb use whenever the volcanic rumbles appear (which is with great regularity).



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

Extras

Main Menu Audio & Animation

Menu Audio

Featurette - The Truth About Yellowstone, Parts 1 And 2

    With the concept of a massive volcano eruption at Yellowstone still fresh in the public's mind, this two-part documentary was shown the week after Supervolcano and went to air as part of the ABC's Catalyst programme. The two parts run for 28:17 and 28:27 (for a total runtime of 56:44) and in between interviewing a few notable volcano experts, deal with the lead up to the big bang and what signs might give away that it is about to occur. Part two deals more with the aftermath of such a massive eruption and the real death and disaster that would occur. An excellent extra that is almost worth the price of the disc alone.

R4 vs R1

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

    A Region 1 version of Supervolcano has not yet been released. The UK Region 2 version is identical to the Region 4 release.

Summary

    Supervolcano is a highly entertaining and somewhat terrifying docu/drama. It is based on factual events that haven't yet happened but are almost guaranteed to occur by scientists in the next few thousand years or so. While the CGI effects look a little hokum at times, the pace and tension of the looming eruption and the realisation there is very little that humans can do to prevent it keeps you on the edge of your seat.

    The 16x9 enhanced video and Dolby Digital 5.1 equipped soundtrack are first class and lend some real punch to the subject matter.

    The extra documentary material is very interesting.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Darren Walters (It's . . . just the vibe . . . of my bio)
Monday, June 13, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-3910, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Calida (84cm). Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).
AmplificationHarmon/Kardon AVR7000.
SpeakersFront - B&W 602S2, Centre - B&W CC6S2, Rear - B&W 601S2, Sub - Energy E:xl S10

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