Who Killed the Electric Car? (2006)

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Released 9-May-2007

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary Featurette-Jump-Starting the Future - Feature on electric cars and alte
Music Video-"Forever" music video performed by Meeky Rosie
Deleted Scenes
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2006
Running Time 88:43
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Chris Paine
Studio
Distributor

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Chris Paine
Ed Begley Jr.
Phyllis Diller
Colette Divine
David Freeman
Reverend Gadget
Mel Gibson
Tom Hanks
Peter Horton
Huell Howser
Alexandra Paul
Paul Scott
Bob Sexton
Case ?
RPI ? Music Michael Brook


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/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 None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

      Who Killed The Electric Car? is a 2006 documentary exploring the birth, some say successful, others say dismal, sales, and then the controversial death of the battery electric vehicle in the United States with particular focus on the funky looking EV1 produced by General Motors in the mid 1990s. Taking on the role of investigator, the film directed by Christopher Paine, presents a case against a series of suspects, each charged with the crime of killing the electric car - something that obviously in this day and age of global warming and peak oil doom and gloom is considered about the worst crime of all time. Those named  include the obvious suspects in any conspiracy theory - the government - who some considered to be buckling under industry pressure, the big oil companies (as usual with much to lose these guys are always the villains!), and the big car manufacturers (who it was deemed just didn't do enough to promote the car and also buckled under pressure from big oil). All of these suspects get some serious attention paid to them as do battery makers (poor buggers - like it was their fault) and the California Air Resources Board who made the original recommendation mandating for a small percentage of the State's fleet to be zero emission by 2000. Lastly the consumer is also put under the microscope and for me this is really where the blame lies. Companies make goods to sell and if the consumer doesn't buy them, the company stops making them - end of story. Sometimes the answer to a problem is just so simple yet a filmmaker will have you believe it is just ripe for a good conspiracy theory - which also means a bit of controversy leading to interest and then to his own bums-on-seats profits. Despite this notion not being anywhere remotely as romantic or exciting as the old conspiracy theory, there are several times when there is no conspiracy at work. There is no smoking gun or grassy knoll, and Elvis isn't alive (even though he would have unlikely driven an EV1 if he was). For me the blame lies fair and square with the consumer, despite what the passionate group of former EV1 owners state when it comes time to argue their case in the film. You can certainly not fault their passion for their vehicle - but putting it simply there just wasn't enough of them.

    Sometimes the answer to the question is as simple as the darn thing just wasn't economically viable - which is the sole reason that business exists in the first place. The EV1 was killed because it didn't sell. If it had sold thousands of units - like Toyota does with its Prius - GM would still be making them and this documentary would never have to be made.

    An interesting documentary, but one that stretches credibility and the balanced view just a little too far.

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Transfer Quality

Video

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

    The film is fairly low-budget and is fairly typical of most on-the-run style documentaries made in recent years. As a result don't expect too much in terms of pristine, vibrant or colourful images here. The interview material is clear and sharp, while grain and all manner of noise and artefacts are present on some of the older archival footage.

    Colours are hardly vibrant, but the style of film and the content matter presented doesn't really call for heaps of bright colour.

    There are no MPEG or film-to-video artefacts. Film artefacts are also mostly absent in the new material, but often dominate the archival footage.

    There are no subtitles.

    The disc is single layered so there is no layer change with which to contend.

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

Audio

    Like a few other recent examples and again somewhat surprisingly this documentary comes complete with a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack.

    Being a soundtrack dominated by narration and interviews, it really doesn't need the use of all six speakers - which is just as well because it really only uses the front three. It is mostly anchored to the centre channel for much of the running time, with a bit of separation across the front speakers. Dialogue is clear and there are no audio sync problems.

    Despite being a full 5.1 soundtrack, there is little surround channel or subwoofer usage.

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

Extras

Featurette - Jump Start The Future

    A 15:11 featurette dealing with what alternatives are currently available to replace the pollution-causing internal combustion engine. This short program takes a look at technology such as hydrogen fuel cells, hybrid electric vehicles and other alternative fuels.

Music Video - Meeky Rosie - "Forever"

    Seems a little odd to have a music video included on a documentary DVD. This one is for the song Forever performed by Meeky Rosie. Runs for 3:51.

Deleted Scenes

    A total of 10 deleted scenes with some adding quite a bit of information that didn't make the final cut. Worth a look.

Trailers

    Trailers for Riding Alone For Thousands of Miles and Facing the Giants.

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 1 title is exactly the same as the Region 4 version.

Summary

    Who Killed The Electric Car? is one of the new breed of who-dunnit style documentaries. Rather than just present the facts from all angles, a particular side is taken and then given a prod along with a bit of a dramatic narrative. This is entertaining enough, though at the end of the day it isn't too hard to work out why GM killed the car off - it simply wasn't economically viable - which in business is the only reason for a product's continuing existence.

    The video quality is average, and is about what you would expect from the style of film.

    The audio is functional. The inclusion of a 5.1 surround soundtrack is bit of overkill, but it is clean and clear.

    There's a handful of extras, though they are not really all that meaty.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Darren Walters (It's . . . just the vibe . . . of my bio)
Friday, September 14, 2007
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-3910, using HDMI output
DisplayPanasonic TH-42PX600A 42" Plasma. 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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