Wild America (1997) (NTSC)
|Year Of Production||1997|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||William Dear|
Warner Home Video
Jonathan Taylor Thomas
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Pan & Scan||English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||480i (NTSC)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||Yes, a montage of wildlife footage in the early credits|
Wild America is a basic adventure film with an interesting premise, and in spite of my original reservations, I can honestly say that I enjoyed it.
The film concerns itself with the adventures of three brothers growing up in rural America during the 1960s: Marty (Scott Bairstow), Mark (Devon Sawa), and Marshall (Jonathan Taylor Thomas). The three Stouffer brothers live with their father, Marty Senior (Jamey Sheridan), and their mother, Agnes (Frances Fisher), as well as a farmhand named Leon (Tracey Walter). The three boys spend a lot of their spare time filming misadventures on a sixteen millimeter camera, when one day a thirty-five millimeter camera makes its way into the local photographic store. After scraping together the cash to buy said camera, Marty and Mark set off to capture film of some rare bears, with Marshall stowing away in their truck.
Okay, so it is a very basic and minimal plot, but I would be kidding myself if I said it was aimed at anyone over the age of ten. The positive thing I can say in regards to this film is that it is never boring through its hundred and seven minute running length, which is more than I can say for a lot of other films. I would even be recommending it if it weren't for certain aspects of the transfer it has received...
The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and it is obviously not 16x9 Enhanced. As a matter of fact, the first thing that will greet the viewer upon inserting the disc, other than the usual copyright messages and Warner Home Video logo, is the following image:
This film was so obviously intended to be shown in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio that it is not funny, with a bare hint of wide rolling panoramas showing the beauty of nature in all its glory shining through in the half of the picture we do get to see here.
The transfer is sharp, but has the slight haze and pasty look which is characteristic of all NTSC transfers. The shadow detail is good, but not great, and there is no low-level noise.
The colours in this film are well-transferred, with a bright and varied palette in all sequences represented with no artefacts in evidence.
MPEG artefacts were not noticed in this transfer, although there are some times when the image looks a little hazier in the backgrounds than it should be, mainly due to the tighter compression. Film-to-video artefacts consisted of some occasional aliasing that was moderate in its severity, and tolerable because it did not happen very often. The most objectionable instance was noted in the roof of a shed at 30:21. Film artefacts were found in moderate amounts, with occasional instances of very noticeable ones.
There are no Hearing Impaired subtitles on this disc, and the standard English subtitles occasionally vary quite considerably from the spoken dialogue.
There is only one soundtrack included on this DVD: the original English dialogue, rendered in Dolby Digital 5.1 with a bitrate of 384 kilobits per second.
The dialogue is clear and easy to understand at all times, and no audio sync problems were noticed, apart from Jonathan Taylor Thomas delivering a line while his lips are not moving.
The score music in this film is credited to Joel McNeely, and a credible effort it is at that. Like the sweeping panoramas that we do not get to see in this transfer, the music lends an open-air feel to the film that builds atmosphere in an admirable fashion. For those who like a little bit of contemporary music in their films, there are also a couple of such numbers thrown in for good measure, namely Born To Be Wild and Golden Man.
The surround channels were used in a gentle fashion during some sequences where the boys are filming wild animals, supporting ambient sounds such as bird calls or the echoes of bears growling. The music also made its way into the surround channels, but overall, the surrounds were not worked terribly hard by this soundtrack.
The subwoofer was used in moderate amounts to support bear growls, music, and even the occasional explosion. It was not worked terribly hard, but it did support the soundtrack when needed without making itself conspicuous.
|Surround Channel Use|
The menu is static, not 16x9 enhanced, and superfluous to requirements.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The Region 4 version of this DVD misses out on;
The Region 1 version of this DVD misses out on;
The Region 1 version of this DVD is clearly the version of choice.
Wild America is an entertaining, if not especially memorable, film about the lives of three brothers who enjoy making documentaries about the natural wonders of our world. Unfortunately, the DVD it is presented on is pan & scan, and impossible for me to recommend to anyone who has made the jump to DVD for the right reasons.
|DVD||Toshiba 2109, using S-Video output|
|Display||Samsung CS-823AMF (80cm). Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL).|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.|
|Amplification||Sony STR DE-835|
|Speakers||Yamaha NS-45 Front Speakers, Yamaha NS-90 Rear Speakers, Yamaha NSC-120 Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Active Subwoofer|