Evil Under the Sun (1982)

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Released 20-Jun-2001

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Main Menu Audio
Theatrical Trailer
Featurette-Making Of
Gallery-Photo
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Easter Egg-Murder On The Orient Express Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1982
Running Time 111:45 (Case: 116)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (69:14) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Guy Hamilton
Studio
Distributor

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Peter Ustinov
Jane Birkin
Colin Blakely
Nicholas Clay
James Mason
Roddy McDowall
Sylvia Miles
Denis Quilley
Diana Rigg
Maggie Smith
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $36.95 Music Cole Porter
John Lanchbery


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Universal Pictures Home Video are releasing two Hercule Poirot movies at the same time - one is Murder On The Orient Express (see that review here), the other is Evil Under The Sun.

    Hercule Poirot is one of Agatha Christie's two most famous detectives, and he has been portrayed by a variety of actors. I really like David Suchet's interpretation in the TV movies, because I think it is perhaps the most true to the original stories, but Murder On The Orient Express has Albert Finney, who does a marvellous job. The movie under consideration here, Evil Under The Sun has Peter Ustinov, who does an excellent job of capturing many of Poirot's mannerisms, but he is the wrong size, shape, and hair colour. However, despite my personal misgivings about Peter Ustinov as Poirot, he has been popular - this was his second outing as Poirot, after Death On The Nile.

    Both Murder On The Orient Express and Evil Under The Sun. have star-studded casts. This movie lists ten actors before the title - that's pretty much everyone who gets more than a line or two, except for the young girl, who gets mentioned immediately after the title.

    Evil Under The Sun presents a nasty little problem - a murder where everyone appears to have a cast-iron alibi. And, we get an extra twist thrown in when you least expect it (don't bother trying to - you won't!). Good quality classic Christie.

    There's an interesting moment of tribute when Poirot is checking the hotel register. Immediately before our suspects checked in there must have been an impressive guest list: we see signatures for Ivan Novello, Fred Astaire, Cole Porter, Charlie Chaplin, and Maurice Chevalier - I'm sure one of our readers can come up with an explanation for those names being there.

    Evil Under The Sun is another DVD that is rather a must for any murder mystery fan.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    How shall I put this? This video transfer is marvellous. Find the people who did this transfer, and pay them lots of money to keep doing what they're doing - skill like this must be rewarded!

    The movie is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. It is 16x9 enhanced. The original aspect ratio is 1.85:1, but this is quite close. It looks really nice on a widescreen display, and only shows narrow black bars on a 4:3 screen.

    The picture is exquisitely sharp, clear, and vivid. Shadow detail is excellent, and there is no trace of low-level noise.

    The bright Spanish sun makes colours stand out nicely. The clothing is high fashion 1930s, so colours are a little more muted than they might be today, but are nicely saturated nonetheless, and the scenery is pleasant to look at, too.

    There are numerous tiny film artefacts, noticeable only to the reviewer (we see everything!). There is very little aliasing, and the only dot crawl noticeable was on the closing credits.

    The disc is single sided and dual layer (RSDL) with the layer change at 69:14 between scenes. I didn't spot it on the way through, and had to locate it by technical means - excellent work.

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

Audio

    Like Murder On The Orient Express, we get exactly one soundtrack option: English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono.

    Dialogue is readily understood, and there are no audio sync errors. There's one instance of obvious ADR work at 14:39, but it shows mainly because of the inappropriate audio cues (it sounds like they are talking inside, when they are actually in a boat) - you have to be listening with a critical ear to notice.

    The score is a selection of Cole Porter tunes ("always steal from the best"), arranged by John Lanchbery. It is quite appropriate, and enhances the storyline. At one point Diana Rigg sings "You're The Top" (very well, too), with Maggie Smith stepping on a couple of her lines - b****iness can be quite entertaining.

    The surrounds and subwoofer get a rest - this soundtrack is not surround-encoded.

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

Extras

    The extras are limited, but not as basic as those found on Murder On The Orient Express.

Menu

    The menu is static, with some music. Easy to operate.

Trailer (3:05)

    This is an interesting trailer, with Peter Ustinov addressing the audience directly. It is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, with Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound.

Featurette - The Making Of Evil Under The Sun (14:37)

    This is a fairly average making-of. It is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced, with Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound and no subtitles. The video quality is not good - it is very soft.

Photo Gallery

    We get 8 black-and-white and 10 colour stills.

Biographies and Film Highlights

    Seven of the actors are covered, plus Agatha Christie (this is the same bio as on Murder On The Orient Express). Colin Blakely, Nicholas Clay, and Denis Quilley miss out.

Easter Egg

    There's a minor Easter Egg on the Special Features menu - if you press the right arrow when Biographies and Film Highlights is selected, then a picture of a train is highlighted. Press Enter and you will get the trailer for Murder On The Orient Express.

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 and Region 1 versions of this disc appear to be identical, as far as I can tell, even down to both being without any subtitles. I'd suggest that you go with the Region 4; PAL instead of NTSC, and cheaper, too.

Summary

    Evil Under The Sun is good Agatha Christie, well acted, on a nice DVD. Recommended.

    The video quality is superb and of reference level.

    The audio quality is fine for a Dolby Digital 2.0 mono soundtrack.

    The extras are fine.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Sunday, June 10, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-737, using Component output
DisplaySony VPL-VW10HT LCD Projector, ScreenTechnics matte white screen with a gain of 1.0 (280cm). 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 and Right: Krix Euphonix, Centre: Krix KDX-C Rears: Krix KDX-M, Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

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