Idiot Box (1996)

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Released 11-Dec-2001

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Main Menu Audio
Theatrical Trailer-1:29
Featurette-5:44
Interviews-Cast & Crew
Featurette-Location Shots
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 1996
Running Time 81:45
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (57:01) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By David Caesar
Studio
Distributor

Shock Entertainment
Starring Ben Mendelsohn
Jeremy Sims
John Polson
Graeme Blundell
Deborah Kennedy
Robyn Loau
Case Alpha-Transparent
RPI $34.95 Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Screen, not known whether Pan & Scan or Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/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, frequent
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    This movie seems a bit confused. It wants to be a comedy and a drama, and doesn't really succeed at either.

    The central characters (hardly heroes) are Kev (Ben Mendelssohn) and Mick (Jeremy Sims). They are dole bludgers. Or, should that be economically disadvantaged members of the non-working classes? Or occupationally-challenged? (I have trouble keeping up with the latest PC terms) Of course, they are victims of a callous society - that's why we see them lying about their attempts to get work. Sorry, these two are dole bludgers, young adult delinquents, and vandals.

    The cover of this DVD quotes Rolling Stone as saying: "...hits you with maximum impact, snapping your head back...outstanding" - sounds like they were watching Once Were Warriors, rather than this film. I think that's the root of my problem with this disc - when someone gears you up for Die Hard, or The Thomas Crown Affair,  and you get the Two Stooges, you're bound to be disappointed. This is a lightweight effort, for all that the participants seem to think that they are making high art, judging by the extras.

    Kev and Mick lounge around, watching TV, playing air guitar (or air bass), visiting the video arcade if they have money, buying beer if they have money, and generally wasting their time. Their only big appointment is their trip to the dole office to tell lies to justify the continuation of their dole.

    Their descent into crime starts with grabbing a donations bucket from a guy in a koala outfit (I thought the koala suits were collecting for Wilderness, not Athletics). They are a bit disappointed in their take, though. The step from that to robbing a bank is (apparently) a small one. They spend a long time planning their robbery.

    In parallel with this we follow a number of other threads: a real bank robber and his drug-addicted wife, two detectives (Graeme Blundell and Deborah Kennedy - they get the most amusing material) who are after this bank robber, and a small-time drug dealer. The most sympathetic character is Mick's girlfriend (Robyn Loau) - she works in the bottle shop where they buy their beer.

    Mick is a reasonable bloke, but Kev is a bit of a nutcase - he is filled with anger (why do I think I'm going to be told that he is filled with anger at his situation and the iniquities society has inflicted upon him?). This anger comes out at the least provocation. It comes out as bad language at first, then violence - Kev is a ticking time bomb. There's an awful lot of bad language in this film.

    It's not a terrible film, but it is far from what it might have been with a better script.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    The DVD is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, not 16x9 enhanced. As far as I can discover, the theatrical aspect ratio was 1.85:1 - this looks like it's pan and scan, but there's no definitive answer; it could be open matte. To be honest, it doesn't really matter how they butchered the original image to get it into a 1.33:1 aspect ratio, it is not the way the picture was intended to appear.

    The picture is soft, but not bad. Shadow detail is rather good. There's no low-level noise.

    Colour is good, with no oversaturation and no colour bleed. There are some nice colours to be seen - a gorgeous blue sky, for example - but there's a lot of dull colours around, too.

    There is a lot of aliasing on display, and the occasional moment of moire. There are a few film artefacts (like the circular mark top centre at 73:58), but they are not troubling. There's a little bit of mosquito noise. Overall, the transfer is reasonably clean.

    There are no subtitles.

    The disc is single sided and RSDL-formatted. The layer change comes at 57:01, in a scene showing the lights of a suburb at night - it is barely noticeable, save for the pause in the sound.

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

Audio

    The soundtrack is presented in English, in Dolby Digital 2.0, surround encoded. That's all there is.

    The dialogue is sometimes a little hard to make out, but it is generally clear. There are no visible audio sync problems.

    There is no one person responsible for the score - it is mostly contemporary songs, but there is one credit for additional compositions - Tim Rogers. The music is a bit loud and discordant, reflective of the characters involved.

    The subwoofer is unused. The surrounds get nothing significant to do.

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

Extras

Menu

    The menu is static, with music.

Theatrical Trailer (1:29

    This trailer is presented in widescreen, not 16x9 enhanced - irritating for a movie that's not presented in widescreen. The sound level on this trailer is higher than on the rest of the disc - it sounds compressed, like an advertisement (wonder why?).

Featurette (5:44

    The menu lists this as "a 4 minute promo doco" - clearly they didn't check their facts, because it is rather longer than that. However, it is a classic promo piece - full of mutual admiration.

Interviews

    The questions aren't easy to hear, but the answers are interesting enough. A lot of this material is repeated from the featurette - sometimes I wonder if they think we won't watch both, or if they think we have a 20 second memory span.

Location Shots (0:48

    This is one of the shortest extras I've seen.

R4 vs R1

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

    The R4 version of this disc is missing:

    The R1 version of this disc is missing:

    I suspect that the R1 version is not 16x9 enhanced, but even so I favour the R1 because the DVD should show the intended aspect ratio.

Summary

    Idiot Box is a mediocre film on a DVD in the wrong aspect ratio.

    The video quality is reasonable.

    The audio quality is fairly good, but the dialogue is not always easy to make out.

    The extras are not bad (what there is of them).

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Saturday, April 13, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
IDIOT BOX - MARK PERRY
Idiot Box - follow-up to Tony R's review. - Clem
Did you guys watch this movie?? -
Maybe you should stick to watching Die Hard -