Clerks (Shock) (1994)

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Released 22-Oct-2001

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Main Menu Audio & Animation
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 1994
Running Time 88:03 (Case: 112)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Kevin Smith
Studio
Distributor

Shock Entertainment
Starring Brian O'Halloran
Jeff Anderson
Marilyn Ghigliotti
Jason Mewes
Lisa Spoonhauer
Case Click
RPI $29.95 Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Pan & Scan English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, dialogue from Jay at the end of the credits

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

Plot Synopsis

"I'm not even supposed to be here today" - Dante Hicks

    This is where it all began. The first major movie from View Askew Production, Clerks is now a cult classic and rightfully so. The prequel, of sorts, to Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Dogma, and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back really only contains a few overlapping characters - those being the infamous Jay and Silent Bob. Kevin Smith single-handedly financed the production of Clerks, or so it is said, and it was filmed on 16mm black and white film stock. Don't let the budget production values detract from the movie as it is very enjoyable and presents some very real, and biting, comments on human nature.

    Dante Hicks (Brian O'Halloran) has a dead-end job as a convenience store clerk, while his best friend Randal (Jeff Anderson) works next door and has an equally unexciting position as a video store clerk. Dante has serious problems saying no and suffers from inertia with little interest in changing his life. So it happens that one morning after a hard night he gets a call from his boss asking him to work the store that day. Now Dante had worked the entire day before and wasn't rostered on, and what's more, he had a hockey game to play that day! However, his inability to say no sees him stuck in the store.

    Dante's day starts off very badly and gets worse. The film focuses on his weakening relationship with girlfriend Veronica (Marilyn Gighliotti), his pining for ex-girlfriend Caitlin (Lisa Spoonhauer) and his interactions with irritating and annoying customers. The local drug dealer, Jay (Jason Mewes) and his silent offsider, Silent Bob (Kevin Smith), are out to make life hell for everybody, customers and employees alike. Central to all of Dante's problems is his serious lack of inspiration - he cannot seem to make himself improve or even change his life in any way. This leads to all sorts of hilarious situations in everyday circumstances. Will Dante sort himself out? Or will Randal drive him mad before he gets the opportunity?...

    Clerks is not a movie for the easily offended. It contains a LOT of swearing and plenty of insulting remarks. Clerks approaches topics that had never been touched before, in a comedy or otherwise. Kevin Smith can really be applauded for raising the bar in such a way. Some of these topics are very sensitive and are normally avoided like the plague, but Kevin Smith ploughs right on through.

    This is a great movie hampered by a shocking transfer to DVD in this country. Read on to find out just how BAD a DVD can be in the wrong hands.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Where to start? In all honesty, there are a lot of problems with this transfer. In fact, this would rate as the worst DVD transfer I have ever seen. Most of the problems stem from the terrible quality of the source material, combined with incorrect framing.

    The feature is not presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1. Although originally shot on 16mm film, Clerks was blown up to 35mm and matted for theatrical release at 1.85:1. This transfer is 1.33:1 and is very poorly framed. The sides of the picture are obviously missing a sizable portion of the image, so much so that the opening credits are cropped a letter on either side, as can be seen at 0:46 and 1:46. Throughout the feature this is very noticeable, as characters on the edge of the frame are often cropped in half very unnaturally. The right-hand side of the picture seems to be cropped somewhat more than the left. Coupled with, and most likely causing, the incorrect framing is an obviously stretched image. It is almost, but not quite, as bad as displaying a 1.33:1 image in 16x9 enhanced mode. The characters are a little short and fat throughout - very, very disappointing. Not only is the cropping done very poorly, the actually film stock is crooked, as can be seen during the opening credits. This is by far the worst film-to-video framing effort that I have seen, and likely will see for quite some time.

    Another disturbing problem with this transfer is the abysmal shadow detail. Shadow detail often deteriorates to almost nothing. Some examples of terrible shadow detail can be found around 65:39 (can you see Silent Bob dancing??). There are numerous other examples that I won't list because I would be here all day. However, what is even more disturbing than the poor shadow detail is the variable brightness of the transfer. This is most noticeable during the short black scenes displaying a single word that are spread throughout the movie. In a few of these scenes, the black level approaches black, while in others it ranges from grey to grey-blue (more about the colour variances later on). Needless to say, the sharpness on display is very, very poor. A lot of these problems can be attributed to the 16mm film stock used to shoot this movie, but not all. The grain present in this feature is, for lack of a more suitable word, abhorrent. It constantly threatens to wipe out the entire picture, but is usually just held at bay. I don't think a worse film stock could have been chosen if it had have been dredged from a vat of corrosive liquid. On the other hand, a corrosive bath may have removed some of the film artefacts...

    Being a black and white film, you would expect the colour section of this review to be quite short. In fact, you would hope that it was non-existent. Well, guess again - this feature has some colour! Unfortunately, it is not the kind of colour you want to find on a DVD. The film stock must have suffered exposure to something nasty as there are periods during the movie where the entire screen takes on a distinct blue tint (29:00, 1:22), moving through brown/sepia tones (59:40). It almost looks as though it has been shot through a colour filter but it is all due to poor film stock.

    In terms of MPEG artefacts, this transfer only really suffered from one - pixelization. In reality, it would be difficult to tell if there were any other artefacts present due to the terrible quality of the basic transfer. Pixelization is noticeable in the background throughout the feature where the high levels of grain have lead to a severe lack of detail in backgrounds. There was no aliasing as the picture was never sharp enough to warrant it. Telecine wobble was present throughout to some degree, particularly noticeable during the credits. Fortunately, it was never bad enough to cause sea-sickness. I am not even going to try and mention all of the film artefacts that are present. There are constant dust flecks and hairs visible. Some of the more interesting artefacts resulted in a few frames being distorted (5:18), the odd vertical line, and numerous splotches and marks.

    There are no subtitles on this disc, and no layer change.

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

Audio

    The audio transfer is in a much better state than the video. But, really, that would not be difficult. This is by no means a pristine, or even good, effort but it did not make me cringe quite as much as the video. However, transplant the audio onto a disc with a decent video transfer and I imagine my response would be far less favourable.

    The only soundtrack available on this disc is an English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo soundtrack encoded at 224kbps. Nothing at all exciting here.

    The main problems associated with the audio on this disc are hiss, pops, and a little dialogue distortion. There is very noticeable hiss over the opening credits and around 11:47, but in reality it is there throughout the movie. There are numerous pops throughout the feature. The most noticeable occur at 63:40, 65:09, and 83:20. The pops are accompanied by bad film artefacts and/or a few mangled frames where the telecine has obviously jumped around in the transfer process. The pops are not loud enough to damage your speakers but they are very annoying.

    Dialogue is reasonable. There are a few instances where dialogue distortion is obvious, particularly at 13:20 where Dante and Veronica are arguing (shouting) at each other. There are numerous other points where the dialogue only just avoids major distortion. Audio sync, surprisingly, seems fine throughout.

    The soundtrack is comprised entirely of contemporary music, usually in the Heavy Metal/Rock genre. The soundtrack suits the gritty feel of the movie very well.

    The surrounds were not used and the sub was not called upon. There is nothing in this soundtrack to really warrant any involvement.

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

Extras

    There are no extras on this DVD, not a single one.

Menu

    The menu is animated, poorly. If you have access to a DVD-ROM drive, try playing the menu - the moving Clerks causes the top and bottom of the menu image to be affected. You probably won't notice it on a TV due to overscan. It is hard to explain the problem but if you want to have a look you will soon see what I mean.

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 version of this disc misses out on;

    The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;     The Miramax Collectors series of Clerks available in R1 is the obvious choice. Do not ever, even slightly, think about buying the R4 version of Clerks.

Summary

    Clerks is a great movie presented on an absolutely horrible DVD. I warn you now - you do not want the R4 DVD in your collection. The R1 version is the only option.

    The video quality is terrible.

    The audio quality is very poor.

    The extras are non-existent.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Nick Jardine (My bio, it's short - read it anyway)
Saturday, March 09, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-535, using Component output
DisplayLoewe Xelos 5381ZW. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-DS787, THX Select
SpeakersAll matching Vifa Drivers: centre 2x6.5" + 1" tweeter (d'appolito); fronts and rears 6.5" + 1" tweeter; centre rear 5" + 1" tweeter; sub 10" (150WRMS)

Other Reviews NONE
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