Retroactive (1997)

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Released 5-Oct-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction Scene Selection Animation
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1997
Running Time 87:15 (Case: 91)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Louis Morneau

Starring James Belushi
Kylie Travis
Shannon Whirry
Frank Whaley
Jesse Borrego
M. Emmet Walsh
Sherman Howard
Guy Boyd
Kristina Coggins
Robbie Thibaut Jr.
Roger Clinton
Case ?
RPI $9.95 Music Marcus Barone
Tim Truman

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
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, Final scenes of the movie
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    The U.S. Government has been conducting time travel experiments at a research facility located in the Texas desert. With the Pentagon about to cut funding to the project, Brian (Frank Whaley) makes one final attempt to send a subject back through time. In this case the subject is a recently deceased rat.

    The story then jumps back ten minutes in time and we see Brian stepping through the final experiment again, oblivious to the fact that he has already succeeded. However, this time around the rat is aware of the trap that is about to kill it, demonstrating that it has retained memories of the events leading up to its death.

    Karen Warren (Kylie Travis) is a hostage negotiator whose actions led to the death of six hostages on her last assignment. Following her resignation from the Chicago Police Force we find her travelling along an isolated stretch of highway, where she is involved in a minor accident. Waving down the next car that passes, Karen accepts a lift from Frank (James Belushi) and his wife Rayanne (Shannon Whirry), not knowing that Frank is a deranged psychopath.

    When events push Frank’s short temper to breaking point he commits murder. Karen witnesses the murder and must then flee to avoid becoming Frank’s next victim. She eventually stumbles upon the research facility and is let inside by Brian.

    When Karen is accidentally transported 20 minutes back through time, she tries to prevent the murder from occurring by influencing the events that  lead up to it. Despite her best efforts, Karen only manages to produce an outcome that is worse than the original. A series of time jumps are then carried out to try and right the wrongs, but it seems the more Karen tries, the worse the situation becomes.

    Retroactive explores the quandary of using time travel to influence events that have already taken place. The same concept was explored in The Butterfly Effect and 12 Monkeys. Retroactive is an entertaining movie that incorporates a number of car chases and explosions. Although the storyline is engrossing, it fails to engage the audience on an emotive level as The Butterfly Effect did.

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Transfer Quality


    The quality of the video transfer is very good.

    The movie is presented in an aspect ratio of 2:35:1 and it is 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer is sharp and the shadow detail is good. There is no low level noise.

    The colour palette is generally subdued to accommodate the many desert scenes. Tinting has been used on many of the external scenes to accentuate the horizon and skyline. The results of the tinting are questionable as they introduce unnatural looking yellows and reds, though perhaps this is intentional. Skin tones look natural.

    Apart from some mild posterization there are no MPEG artefacts to report. I did not notice any aliasing or telecine wobble, however there are a number of film artefacts. Some of the more obvious are a hair at 11:50 and large black flecks at 14:30 and 34:27.

    In addition to French, Italian and Spanish there are English subtitles for the Hearing Impaired. The subtitles are well placed, appearing in the black bar below the image. They are easy to read and accurately reflect the spoken word.

    There is no layer change during the movie.

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


    An otherwise exceptional sound track is let down by some flat dialogue.

    There are two audio tracks on this DVD, the default English Dolby Digital 5.1 and Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0.

    The dialogue was always easy to understand but there were occasions when it sounded flat, with the front sound stage collapsing to the centre speaker. One example is the scene where Frank exits his car at 14:30.

    Audio sync was generally good with just a few occasions where it appeared to be out by just a touch.

    The musical score by Tim Truman supports the on screen action perfectly.

    The soundtrack makes exceptional use of the surround channels during the time travel sequences and the car chases. The surround channels could have been used to a greater extent to improve the general ambience of the movie during the quieter moments – see the above dialogue comments.

    As with the surround channels the subwoofer was utilised extensively to support the car chases and explosions.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    Apart from the menu there are no extras on this DVD.


    Although the main menu isn’t animated the chapter selection menu is. The menus contain no audio and they are presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced. The main menu offers the following options; Play, Chapters (of which there are 16), Languages and Subtitles.

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; 

    The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;

    I would recommend the Region 4 version as it is 16x9 enhanced.


    Every now and then you pick up a little known DVD title and are pleasantly surprised by what you see. Retroactive is one such movie. It combines time travel, car chases and explosions to create an overall enjoyable experience.

    While the video transfer is very good, it is the audio transfer that makes this movie. Retroactive relies heavily on the audio track to support the on screen visuals - and it succeeds.

    There are no extras on this DVD.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Aaron Devereaux (read my bio)
Thursday, October 06, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-533K, using Component output
DisplayInFocus Screenplay 7200 with ScreenTechnics 100" (16x9) screen. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to Amplifier. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC -A11SR
SpeakersJamo D6PEX wall mounted Speakers and Powered Sub (7.1)

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