Albino Alligator (1996)
|Year Of Production||1996|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4,5||Directed By||Kevin Spacey|
UGC D.A. Inter.
Sony Pictures Home Entertain
M. Emmet Walsh
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
In 1996, the versatile Kevin Spacey had received the Best Supporting Oscar for his performance in The Usual Suspects and unsurprisingly stepped behind the camera to direct Albino Alligator. With his directorial debut he proves he is just as competent as a director as he is a celebrated actor.
On the surface Albino Alligator draws parallels with Quentin Tarantino's directorial debut Reservoir Dogs, as both share an above-average cast, a well-written script, a claustrophobic setting and clever plot twists, yet the two films differ in their intentions. While Reservoir Dogs is a modern stylised crime thriller recalling Hong Kong cinema, Albino Alligator is set in a world recalling the classic American film noir cinema of the 1930s.
The tightly constructed film centres on three petty criminals, Dova (Matt Dillon), Milo (Gary Sinise) and Law (William Fichtner) who are on the run from police after their heist turns awry. In the early hours of the morning the desperate criminals seek refuge in Dino's Last Chance Bar in which there are few inhabitants. As the police surround the bar, Dova, Milo and Law take staff and patrons hostage and slowly lose control of the situation. Through this frantic situation the characters' actions, motives and loyalty are all strained.
The solid cast includes Faye Dunaway, Viggo Mortensen, John Spencer, Joe Mantegna, M. Emmet Walsh and Skeet Ulrich. Each actor excels in their subsequent performance as they are required to display a range of emotions from anger, to horror, to contempt, to desperation. Spacey creates tension throughout the pacing of the film as everything is not what it seems. Written by Christian Forte, the script is smart and knowing but for every formulaic convention there is a surprise for the audience.
I thoroughly enjoyed Albino Alligator and have been careful not to reveal too much of the plot - it is ultimately a stylish crime thriller which is visually pleasing and elegantly written.
The PAL transfer of Albino Alligator is clean and suffers the odd film artefact but this does not detract from viewing the film.
The transfer is in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and it is 16x9 enhanced.
Detail and sharpness are evident despite the fact that most interior sequences are shot with minimal lighting and the exteriors are set in mid-morning fog.
There is no apparent use of filters evident and the look of the film is natural with rich colours.
There is minimal MPEG compression artefacting and no evidence of colour bleeding.
Overall the transfer of Albino Alligator is very good, handling the differences between light and dark well.
The subtitle tracks available are large and visible and true to the on screen dialogue.
The film is divided into 20 chapters.
Albino Alligator is a dialogue heavy film and the English Dolby Digital 5.1 track is encoded at 448Kb/s.
The audio is subtle and effective and makes use of the surround sound. Throughout the film, Dino's Last Chance Bar is under siege and outside SWAT, police and media surround the building. This is largely an atmospheric film and such restrained use of sound effects lends to the noir setting - for example, helicopters can be heard in the rear speakers during the film.
Dialogue is clear and there are no audio sync issues.
Other audio tracks available are German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s), Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s) and Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s.
The original music was composed by Michael Brook, who provides a score fusing a jazz score with an orchestral melodramatic touch.
The music is in the backdrop of most scenes and lends itself to the tense and ambiguous nature of the plot.
|Surround Channel Use|
The main menu is a static image and omits a scene selection option but the user is able to select chapters once viewing the film.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The Region 4 version omits an audio commentary by director Kevin Spacey and a behind-the-scenes featurette
The Region 1 version omits foreign language tracks including German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s), Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s) and Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s).
I would prefer the Region 1 version for the extra features although please note it is 2.35:1 non 16x9 enhanced (Non-Anamorphic)
Albino Alligator is an excellent thriller in the tradition of classic American film noir.
The Region 4 DVD is bare-bones but the video and sound quality are above average.
For fans of Kevin Spacey the Region 1 disc may be more desirable.
I would recommend this title to those who enjoyed Dog Day Afternoon, Blood Simple, or Phone Booth.
|DVD||Denon DVD-1910, using DVI output|
|Display||Panasonic PT-AE 700. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.|
|Amplification||Yamaha DSP-A595a - 5.1 DTS|
|Speakers||(Front) DB Dynamics Polaris AC688F loudspeakers,(Centre) DB Dynamics Polaris Mk3 Model CC030,(Rear) Polaris Mk3 Model SSD425,(Subwoofer) Jensen JPS12|