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Lots of stuff is still broken, but at least reviews can now be looked up and read.
PLEASE NOTE: Michael D's is currently in READ ONLY MODE. Anything submitted will simply not be written to the database.
Lots of stuff is still broken, but at least reviews can now be looked up and read.
Empire of the Sun: Two-Disc Special Edition (1987)

Empire of the Sun: Two-Disc Special Edition (1987)

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Released 15-Nov-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio
Featurette-Documentary - The China Odyssey
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1987
Running Time 146:33
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (71:07)
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Steven Spielberg
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Christian Bale
John Malkovich
Miranda Richardson
Nigel Havers
Joe Pantoliano
Leslie Phillips
MasatŰ Ibu
Emily Richard
Rupert Frazer
Peter Gale
Takatoro Kataoka
Ben Stiller
David Neidorf
Case ?
RPI $19.95 Music John Williams


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Arabic
Dutch
French
Icelandic
Italian
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian 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

††† Steven Spielbergís Empire of the Sun is based on J.G. Ballard's novel of the same name, which itself is based on the real events that took place in J.G. Ballardís life as a young boy growing up in occupied China.

††† By 1941, Japan and China had been in a state of war for four years. Foreigners continued to live and work in China believing that the Japanese posed no real threat to their way of life, or the safety of their families. Portions of Shanghai were cordoned off to create the International Settlement, a safe zone for foreigners and their businesses.

††† Empire Of The Sun is told through the eyes of Jim Graham (Christian Bale), an 11-12 year old boy who is obsessed with aviation. His father, John (Rupert Frazer), owns a textile factory which accounts for the privileged life they lead in the British Enclave of the International Settlement. The mansion they live in, complete with its manicured lawns and a massive in-ground, provides an interesting backdrop for the early stages of the movie.

††† Scenes of panic-stricken Chinese citizens crowding the streets of Shanghai contrast strongly with the British upper class who have time to attend surreal costume parties. But everything suddenly changes on 7th December 1941, when the Japanese decide to invade the International Settlement. Jim is separated from his parents and is eventually befriended by two American merchant seaman, Basi (John Malkovich) and Frank (Joe Pantoliano).

††† All three find themselves transported to Soochow Creek Internment Camp, which is located next to a Japanese airfield. The foreigners are loosely housed according to nationality, and through his friendship with Basi, Jim finds himself drawn to the laid back Americans.

††† Basi is a shrewd and unscrupulous survivor who is prepared to use others for his own gain, even Jim. It isn't until events towards the end of the war unfold that Jim is able to see Basi for what he is.

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Transfer Quality

Video

††† This is a very good transfer with just a few minor flaws.

††† The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and it is 16x9 enhanced.

††† The image is sharp with good shadow detail. There is no low level noise.

††† The colour palette is rich and varied. While the scenes of Shanghai and the internment camp are subdued, the colours displayed during the fancy dress party are vibrant.

††† I did not notice any MPEG artefacts or film artefacts. A hint of aliasing is evident in the form of a mild shimmer in some distant objects, such as the brickwork of the house at 9:03 and the distant buildings at 10:21. Some grain is present during the darker scenes, such as the ship's interior at 42:15 and the night scenes at 50:09.

††† English subtitles are provided, along with Arabic, Dutch, French, Icelandic, Italian, English for the Hearing Impaired and Italian for the Hearing Impaired. They are easy to read and accurately reflect the spoken word, though there are a few instances where some phrases have been shortened for brevity.

††† This is an RSDL disc with the layer change occurring at 71:07. The layer change was mildly noticeable.

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

Audio

††† The audio transfer is excellent.

††† There are four audio tracks available; English Dolby Digital 5.1, English Dolby Digital 2.0 (Surround), French Dolby Digital 2.0 (Surround) and Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (Surround). I listened to the default English Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track and sampled the English Dolby Digital 2.0 (Surround) audio track.

††† The dialogue was clear and easy to understand at all times. I did not notice any audio sync problems with this DVD.

††† The musical score by John Williams contributes perfectly to the emotion of the movie which, at times, takes on a surreal, dreamlike quality.

††† The surround channels are used to good effect, placing the viewer amidst the crowded streets of Shanghai and reproducing some great panning effects during the many aircraft flight sequences. While the English Dolby Digital 2.0 (Surround) audio track produced a louder and seemingly more pleasing surround experience, the English Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track sounded more natural.

†† †The subwoofer is fairly quiet for most of the movie but it does come to life with the many explosions when Shanghai is invaded and the airfield bombed.

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

Extras

††† Though few in number, the extras are a positive inclusion and well worth viewing.

Disc 1

Menu

††† The main menu follows the compulsory anti-piracy ads and it is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced. The stylised image is not animated but it is accompanied by a Dolby Digital 2.0 (Surround) audio track of the boyís choir, taken from the opening scene of the movie.

Disc 2

Menu

††† The menu utilises the same stylised image as disc one. It is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and it is 16x9 enhanced, though there is no audio.

Theatrical Trailer (1:37)

††† The Theatrical Trailer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced, and is accompanied by an English Dolby Digital 2.0 (Surround) audio track. The picture quality is very good except for the telecine wobble and some grain.

The China Odyssey Documentary (49:09)

††† This is a fairly informative documentary that looks at the making of Empire of the Sun and the history behind the Japanese occupation of China and in particular Shanghai. It is narrated by Martin Sheen and features the author of Empire of the Sun, J.G. Ballard. Although it could have included greater detail, it does make use of some historical footage.

††† The documentary is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and is accompanied by an English Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. Although the image is a little soft and there is a degree of grain and aliasing, it is quite acceptable.

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;

††† For all intents and purposes both versions are the same, unless English isn't your primary language.

Summary

††† Empire of the Sun is one of Steven Spielbergís lesser known titles, yet, for me, it is one of the more memorable movies I have seen. Stunning sets and the fact that the film was shot on location in Shanghai only serve to add authenticity to the tale being told.

††† If you havenít seen Empire of the Sun, or havenít seen it for a number of years, then now is the time. Highly recommended.

††† The video transfer is very good.

††† The audio transfer is excellent.

††† The China Odyssey provides an interesting insight into the making of the movie and the historical events which it is based upon.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Aaron Devereaux (read my bio)
Tuesday, November 22, 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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