Race to Space (Rental) (2000)
Menu Animation & Audio
|Year Of Production||2000|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Sean McNamara|
Universal Pictures Home Video
Alex D. Linz
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
I'll admit right from the start that I enjoyed this film despite the many plot holes, some of which are large enough to launch a Mercury rocket through, and the predictable storyline. What we have here is a pretty standard story placed against quite a novel backdrop. That being said I think this is a particularly good example of this type of story and had fun watching it.
The backdrop for the story is the early days of the Mercury space program just as they are about to launch the first chimpanzee into space. Our story revolves around the Von Huber family and in particular Billy, a young boy (Alex D. Linz). The father (James Woods) is one of the German scientists that was brought to the US from Germany at the end of World War II to kick start the American space program. In this version of the story he has a son that he is somewhat isolated from because of his dedication to his work, and because his wife had died about three years earlier.
The son is having some problems at school, both because of the isolation at home, and because the other children tease him about being German. Thanks to a call from the headmaster, the father decides that his son should come to the NASA base each afternoon to do his homework.
After becoming bored one afternoon, the son takes a walk around the base. He comes to a door marked 'Keep Out'. This is, of course, an open invitation to a 10 year old boy. Inside, he discovers the training centre for the chimpanzees that are going to be the first Americans in space. The head of the training centre, Dr. Donnie McGuiness (Annabeth Gish), decides that Billy has a bond with the chimps and that she needs his help in preparing the chimps for their mission. Along the way, Billy also makes friends with Alan Shepard. Initially, Billy's father is not too happy about these new friends, particularly when Billy risks his life to save his favourite chimp. One final piece of the story is a highly improbable sabotage attempt on the rocket that will launch the chimpanzee into space.
From here we go through a number of disasters and recoveries and along the way Billy and his father are reconciled and the chimp successfully launches into space with an exiting ending built around whether the chimp will get home safely.
There is a little something for everyone in this story. We have elements that look at prejudice, both racial and sexual, there are some quite good comedic moments and there is the sentimental story of a boy and his father. All in all, a very good night's family entertainment.
We are presented with a 2.35:1 image which is 16x9 enhanced.
As mentioned above, the sharpness of this film is not good. It varies from average to downright blurry. As an example, there is a sign on a door at 14:08 in quite large lettering. I think that I should be able to read this sign and I cannot. Shadow detail is good and there is no low level noise.
Colour is excellent throughout with good saturation and no noise or colour bleed. Skin tones are spot on.
There are no MPEG artefacts, no pixelization or blocking, no posterization; and the scene changes, always a danger spot for single layer discs, are clean. I personally find a soft image more distracting than the occasional burst of pixelization but others may find the reverse to be true. There is no aliasing or telecine wobble present. The film source is in excellent condition with only a few flecks and no scratches, and there is little grain in the transfer.
There is a very small amount of edge enhancement present, an example being the left shoulder of Billy's father at 8:38.
This is a single layered disc.
Dialogue quality is excellent. I had no problems understanding everything that was said. The audio sync was also spot on.
I enjoyed the music that accompanied this film. It worked well with the on-screen action, building tension or emotion as required. Some may find it a little blatant in its emotional manipulation.
The surrounds are used mostly to expand the front soundstage but they do get some good use with planes flying overhead and even some split effects when the chimpanzees invade your home theatre.
There is some quite good use of the subwoofer. In particular, the LFE channel is used for the rocket launches. While the whole room was not shaking, the LFE channel was nonetheless very well integrated.
|Surround Channel Use|
The menu features a simple animation with the moon revolving in the background. It is accompanied by a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack with the surround flag set. The menu loop runs for 59 seconds.
The trailer is our only extra and is presented at 1.33:1 and is not 16x9 enhanced. The audio is Dolby Digital 2.0 with the surround flag set. I found the trailer did not do the film justice and gave the wrong impression of the true nature of the film.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
There does not appear to be a Region 1 version of this disc at this time.
While this kind of film is not for everyone, for those searching for something that the whole family can watch, this G rated film fits the bill perfectly.
The video is soft, sometimes very soft.
The audio is surprisingly good for a family film.
This is the rental version so we shouldn't judge the extras yet.
|DVD||Skyworth 1050p progressive scan, using RGB output|
|Display||Sony 1252Q CRT Projector, 254cm custom built 1.0 gain screen. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre.|
|Speakers||B&W DM305 (mains); CC3 (centre); S100 (surrounds); custom Adire Audio Tempest with Redgum plate amp (subwoofer)|