Amazon (Amazone) (2000)

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Released 11-Nov-2009

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Adventure None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2000
Running Time 84:28
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Philippe de Broca
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Jean-Paul Belmondo
Arielle Dombasle
Patrick Bouchitey
Thylda Barčs
André Penvern
Jackie De la Nuez
Ronny Bandomo Casanova
Carlos Padrón
Fernando Echevarría
Case Amaray-Transparent-Dual
RPI ? Music Alexandre Desplat


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None French Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
Not 16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English (Burned In) Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     Edouard (Jean-Paul Belmondo) is a recluse in the Amazon jungle hiding away from a life of eight failed marriages amid the tree tops. One day after a storm he finds a little girl, Lulu (Thylda Bares), who is knowledgeable far beyond her years. He does not realise that she is a long lived creature from another world who came to Earth to experience life, love and death for herself. It seems she had intended to land in Central Park New York, but ended up in the jungle instead! Meanwhile, French astronomer Margot (Arielle Dombasle) had been tracking a message form an alien craft in space and had concluded it had crashed in the Amazon jungle, so sets out to track the site down. To her chagrin, the French secret service is also very interested and sends a force led by Commissioner Benardin (Patrick Bouchity) to accompany her. This is not what she envisages, so she escapes up river alone, attaching herself to Edouard on the way despite his distain and opposition.

     In the interim, Lulu had been having fun and integrating herself with the locals. Margot arrives with Edouard and she quickly realises what Lulu is. She starts to find out more about Lulu and her alien world, such as her anti-aging pill and the fact that her people would be returning for her at the next full moon, while the love/hate banter with Edouard continues. When the military arrive, they abduct Lulu and take her down river where they start conducting tests. It is up to Edouard and Margot, provided they can stop bickering long enough, to rescue Lulu and return her to the jungle in time to be reunited with her own people.

     Amazon (Amazone) had a reasonable pedigree. It was written / directed by Philippe de Broca, who had previously made a number of high successful action adventure films with Belmondo including L’homme de Rio (1964), (Belmondo’s first out and out smash hit), Les Tribulations d’un chinois en Chine (1965) and Le Magnifique (1973). On board for the Amazon score was highly regarded composer Alexandre Desplot whose later credits would include Tree of Life (2009) for Terence Malick and The Ghost Writer (2010) for Roman Polanski. Yet, if the collaboration between Belmondo and de Broca was looking to rekindle the previous magic, the result is a disappointment.

     Amazon had a pretty bad press: “dire” is one word used to describe it. It truth it is not as bad as that, and is interesting in parts, particularly when Belmondo is on screen alone. At this time he was a few years short of 70, and looks suitably grizzled, but he is still in great shape with his shirt off, and retains a screen charisma and knowing glint in his eye that is a pleasure to watch. Less successful is Arielle Dombasle who spends a lot of time being loud and shrill, and is mostly annoying and the relationship between her and Belmondo called for by the script lacks any sparkle. Indeed, the script tries for whimsy and banter that seldom works, although the idea of a benevolent alien, who looks like a little girl, is interesting. The other major plus is the spectacular river and jungle cinematography by Jean-Francois Robin (Betty Blue (1986)).

    Amazon is not a very good film, mostly due to the over-shrill acting of Arielle Dombasle and a silly script. As an attempt to reignite the previously successful partnership of director Philippe de Broca and Belmondo it didn’t work, but the film locations (in Cuba) are beautiful and Belmondo, even in his late 60s, is still well worth watching.

    Amazon is included in the four disc set French Screen Icons: Jean-Paul Belmondo 3 from Madman that also includes The Professional (1981), The Outside Man (1983) and The Loner (1987).

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Amazon is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, the original theatrical ratio, and is not 16x9 enhanced.

     Surprisingly, the only film in this collection not 16x9 enhanced is the most recent and the one with the most spectacular widescreen landscapes! Detail and colours in close-up are fine but any time the film opens up into a wide shot it loses sharpness and the colours become muted and dull. Blacks are fine, but shadow detail is only acceptable. There are a number of small artefacts, aliasing (22:33), a few black marks in the top right hand corner of the screen that look like mini-tyre tracks (18:24, 34:45), end title jump, and occasional motion breakup. However, the most distracting element is the brightness levels, which are sometimes very glary indeed, white clothing takes on a sheen and skin tones vary considerably. Whenever the light is beyond the actor, they can become blurred – stop the film at 18:24 for one good example amid many. At times this becomes quite distracting.

     Burnt in English subtitles are a white font which seem mostly well timed and contain no obvious spelling or grammatical errors. At times they can be difficult to see due to the glare.

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

Audio

     Audio is a French Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded at 224 Kbps that is quite good. Dialogue is clear and effects, such as rain, give a nice enveloping feel. My sub even added a little bass to thunder. The musical score by Alexandre Desplot was occasionally as lush as the jungle, and sometimes added are more playful flamenco beat. It was not intrusive and did a reasonable, if not memorable job.

     Lip synchronisation was good.

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

Extras

     Nothing.

R4 vs R1

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

     There are no listed releases of Amazon in either Region 1 US or Region 2 UK; in fact Amazon.com only lists our Region 4 box set release. There is a Region 2 French version that is listed as including filmographies, publicity spots and interviews, but details are sketchy. That release is listed as having English subtitles, but it is unclear if they are for the extras as well as the feature. With the good value of our release, including 3 other films, it is to be preferred.

     I also cannot find an equivalent Belmondo collection listed on sales sites. The only thing close is a Region 2 UK collection that includes Breathless, Pierrot Le Fou, Le Professional, Stavisky and A Double Tour.

Summary

     Amazon is not a very good film, mostly due to some over-shrill acting and a silly script. As an attempt to reignite the previously successful partnership of director Philippe de Broca and Jean-Paul Belmondo it didn’t work, but the locations are beautiful and Belmondo, even in his late 60s, is still well worth watching.

     The DVD has rather poor video but good audio. There are no extras but the film is presented in a box set with three other Belmondo films which is great value.

     Amazon is included in the four disc set French Screen Icons: Jean-Paul Belmondo 3 from Madman that also includes The Professional (1981), The Outside Man (1983) and The Loner (1987).

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Wednesday, February 01, 2012
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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