The Man from Earth (2008) (NTSC)

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Released 6-May-2009

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction Main Menu Audio
Featurette-From Script to Screen
Featurette-Star Trek: Jerome Bixby's Sci-Fi Legacy
Featurette-On The Set
Featurette-The Story of the Story
Audio Commentary-Richard Schenkman and John Billingsley
Audio Commentary-Emerson Bixby and Gary Westfahl
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2008
Running Time 87:01
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (76:10) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Richard Schenkman
Studio
Distributor
Anchor Bay Entertainment Starring David Lee Smith
Tony Todd
John Billingsley
Ellen Crawford
Annika Peterson
William Katt
Alexis Thorpe
Richard Riehle
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI ? Music Mark Hinton Stewart


Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Alternate Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 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

    History professor John Oldman hosts an impromptu gathering of colleagues and friends to celebrate/comiserate his leaving. As the group sits about the fireplace in Oldman's living room, casual conversation leads him to confess to his friends that he has lived for thousands of years and is moving on as he's found that staying in the one place for more than ten years, and living the one life there, tends to make life too difficult. The reaction of Oldman's friends varies wildly from belief to disbelief, from intrigue to anger. As the group interrogate him further, they find he has a rational answer to every question, but every answer poses them another question.

    Jerome Bixby's The Man From Earth is a frustratingly mixed bag. The story itself, the last work of the late Fantastic Voyage and occasional Star Trek screenwriter Jerome Bixby, is decent, but some of the plotting is clumsy and the characters seem poorly balanced. The screenplay generally seems unrefined, which is quite possibly due to Bixby's passing. The acting is a mixed bag containing more on the poor side than the good. What really spoils the work is the direction, or lack thereof as seems to be the case. The pacing of the film is clumsy and erratic, the framing of almost every shot is bland and the realisation of many of the scenes seems out of touch with the intent of the work and good story-telling practices in general.

    Jerome Bixby's The Man From Earth is probably worth a look for die hard fans of dry science fiction, but consider yourself warned that the execution is more than a little clumsy.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The film is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio and is 16x9 enhanced. The video is NTSC which may present a problem for playback on older equipment.

    The video looks mediocre at best. The image is not particularly sharp and features noticeably limited shadow detail. There is excessive low-level noise and coarse grain visible throughout the film.

    The colour is dull, though even, throughout and skin tones are a little on the orange side.

    Macro blocking artefacts are visible fairly frequently in the transfer, but not overly distracting (not nearly as distracting as the low-level noise, at any rate). No film artefacts are noticeable in the transfer, although I suspect this was a purely digital transfer with no intermediary film step in the process.

    No subtitles are present for the feature.

    This is a RSDL disc. The layer break occurs at 76:10 but was not noticeable on my equipment.

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

Audio

    English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 Kbps) and Dolby Digital 2.0 (192 Kbps) audio tracks are present for the film.

    The audio is clean and clear, but sounds a little overcompressed. The dialogue is at a good level and is easy to understand. There are no sync issues.

    The movie features a dull, fairly minamalist score from Mark Hinton Stewart.

    There is not much in the way of surround usage for abmient effects or music. There is no praticularly noticeable subwoofer usage, though there is not really any call for it either.

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

Extras

From Script to Screen Featurette (2:12)

    A brief, poorly recorded interview with the the director and exec producer who explain the decade long process from script to screen. You can probably guess it all (aborted starts, money woes) without needing to watch this brief featurette.

Star Trek: Jerome Bixby's Sci-Fi Legacy Featurette (3:50)

    A brief biography of author Jerome Bixby, largely told through anecdotes from the experiences of the cast and crew with the author.

On The Set Featurette (4:00)

    A generally constructive featurette about the on-set experience of producing the film, presented by producer/director Richard Schenkman. Schenkman bemoans the limited budget, the fact that the hot meals delivered by craft services are luke warm, and the many pitfalls of location shooting rather than soundstage shooting (particularly the noisy neighbours).

The Story of the Story Featurette (2:12)

    An unnecessary series of snippets featuring the cast and crew discussing the more obvious moral issues the story touches upon. ho-hum.

Audio Commentary With Producer/Director Richard Schenkman and Actor John Billingsley

    A fairly fluid, but uninteresting commentary. The pair talk non-stop, but really don't really have much interesting to say other than background trivia about the locations and such. An amiable listen, but nothing more.

Audio Commentary With Executive Producer Emerson Bixby and Sci-fi Scholar Gary Westfahl

    An unnecessary commentary that spends most of its time restating the obvious and overplaying the significance of the film. Skip it.

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 edition is identical to the Region 1 edition, right down to the NTSC format of the disc.

Summary

    Jerome Bixby's The Man From Earth appears to have been a labour of love for the filmmakers, but sadly the love is unlikely to extend to the audience (think of it as the cinematic equivalent to Jazz - nobody watching it will ever enjoy it as much as the cast and crew enjoyed making it). The film presents a few reasonably original science fiction concepts in a very clumsy fashion, which will frustrate most viewers who are attracted to the story.

    The video presentation is ruined by excessive low level noise and grain. The audio is adequate, but noticeably limited. The extras are middling.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Adam Gould (Totally Biolicious!)
Monday, February 02, 2009
Review Equipment
DVDSony Playstation 3, using HDMI output
Display Samsung 116cm LA46M81BD. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL).
Audio DecoderPioneer VSX2016AVS. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX2016AVS
Speakers150W DTX front speakers, 100W centre and 4 surround/rear speakers, 12 inch PSB Image 6i powered sub

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