Arlington Road (Universal) (1999)

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Released 13-Dec-2000

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1999
Running Time 112:40
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (59:54) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Mark Pellington
Studio
Distributor

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Jeff Bridges
Tim Robbins
Joan Cusack
Hope Davis
Robert Gossett
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $29.95 Music Angelo Badalamenti


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Auto Pan & Scan Encoded English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.40:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
German
Dutch
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    For Michael Faraday (Jeff Bridges) and his 10 year old son Grant (Spencer Clark), life hasn't been very easy of late. Their wife and mother died only two years ago, and both are still having difficulties coming to terms with her loss. Michael is a college professor who teaches American history. The main focus of his lectures these days is terrorism in the United States. This has become an obsession since the death of his wife, an FBI agent, in a bungled raid on the house of a local gun dealer and right wing activist. Michael is still bitter about the raid which was carried out without sufficient investigation and ultimately lead to the death of his wife as well as the deaths of two other innocent people.

    Michael meets his new neighbours after he saves the life of their son, Brady (Mason Gamble), who is seriously injured while playing with fireworks. This unfortunate incident is a blessing for Michael and Grant as they are soon good friends of Oliver (Tim Robbins), Cheryl (Joan Cusack) and the rest of the Lang family. Oliver is an architect who is supposed to be working on some alterations to a local shopping mall. All is not what it seems though, and Michael becomes suspicious of Oliver when he sees some blueprints of an office building that Oliver claims are of the mall. Michael begins to investigate and this leads him on a downward spiral to disaster.

    This is one intense thriller! You are hooked in early by a confronting opening sequence and held there by the strong performances of Jeff Bridges and Tim Robbins. The direction and cinematography are both excellent as is the writing, all of which make this an excellent watch. Some suspension of disbelief is required, but if you hang in there you are rewarded for your efforts. This is definitely worth renting, and if you're a fan of good thrillers, worth adding to your collection.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This DVD contains a good 2.35:1 aspect ratio 16x9 enhanced video transfer that also has Auto Pan & Scan information encoded into it.

    The sharpness of this transfer is generally good, although there are a couple of occasions when it looks a little soft. I noted one example of this at 6:04-6:24, where Tim Robbins and Joan Cusack appear to be slightly out of focus. Shadow detail is excellent, while the black level suffers a little due to an overly bright transfer. Highlights sometimes blow out and become featureless blobs which I found slightly distracting.

     The contrast level is also high, although I don't think that this is a problem with the transfer but rather appears to be a deliberate choice on the part of the filmmakers, one, I imagine, intended to add impact to the film.

    The colours in this film are, for the most part, excellent. My only criticism is that skin tones often have an orange/red look to them that appears to be caused by the use of tungsten lighting and daylight film. I noted one obvious occurrence of this at 44:12-45:36. At other times, skin tones are perfect. Watch the section at 66:44-68:04 for an example of this.

    There are two types of MPEG artefact present in this transfer; pixelization and macro-blocking. Minor occurrences are seen in darker scenes such as at 15:03-15:25 and more obviously at 70:45-70:50. I also noticed them during a fast camera pan that passes an olive-coloured wall at 52:27-52:29. Grain is extremely fine and essentially invisible.

    Film-to-video artefacts are found and take the form of aliasing and moiré effects. Aliasing is not a particularly bad problem. The following sequences contain typical examples: 31:55-32:01, 33:08-33:20 and 50:53-51:19. Moiré effects are a little more obvious, but only slightly distracting. See 13:04-13:15 and 98:23-98:27 for examples of this artefact.

    Film artefacts were almost non-existent. I saw one or two small black or white flecks flash past but each was tiny and easily ignored. I did see one odd oval-shaped artefact which must have been on the camera lens as it moved when the camera panned. It was visible during the period 36:00-36:29 and did not appear again.

    This is an RSDL disc with the layer change occurring at 59:54. On my Philips DVD-711, the layer change took approximately 3/4 of a second and was not overly disruptive to the flow of the movie.

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

Audio

    The audio presented on this DVD is good although lacking in surround use, especially for effects.

    There are two audio tracks present, each Dolby Digital 5.1 and encoded at a bit rate of 448 kb/s. These tracks are in English and German. I listened to the English track. I was pleased to note that the higher Dolby Digital bit rate was used for this disc, as I feel it improves the fidelity of the score which is an essential part of this film.

    Dialogue was always clear, even during the tense action sequences. Audio sync was never a problem.

    The score is by Angelo Badalamenti with additional music by TOMANDANDY. This score beautifully supports the on-screen action. It is a little unusual being very percussive and driving at times while at others, quite eerie. It is nicely mixed into the surrounds which increases its effectiveness.

    Surround activity is very limited. The rears are used only to carry the score but are put to good use in this regard. There is quite a lot of dialogue in this film and for long periods of time, only the centre channel is active. During other periods, ambient sounds are added to the mains. A good example of this can be found at 33:08-35:10.

    Normally one would consider such limited use of the surrounds for effects work a negative. However, I felt that the driving, rhythmic nature of the score made up for this absence. Having said that, I'm sure that the car chase scene, towards the end of the film, would have been greatly enhanced by appropriate use of the surrounds for effects.

    The subwoofer was well used to support both the score and the action sequences. Good examples of its use supporting the score can be found at 1:32-1:44 and 39:52-42:22. A stand-out example of its use supporting the action can be found at 103:31-103:45.

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

Extras

    There are no extras on this DVD.

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 disc misses out on:    The Region 1 disc misses out on:     Reviews of the  Region 1 version are mixed. Some, such as Widescreen Review and DVDFile, are very happy with the video transfer while The BIG Picture notes similar faults to our own disc. Each site finds the audio to be fine although the lack of surround use for effects is highlighted by all. Only DVDFile comment on the extras, which they are very pleased with.

    Given that the quality of the Region 1 disc appears to be similar to our own and the extras present are of high quality, I would have to give the nod to the Region 1 version.

Summary

   Arlington Road is an excellent thriller presented on a good disc that is unfortunately missing the high quality extras available to Region 1 purchasers.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© John Richardson (read my bio)
Saturday, October 28, 2000
Review Equipment
DVDPhilips 711, using S-Video output
DisplayGrundig M70-281. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationSherwood 8090R
SpeakersMains and Rears: Tannoy Mercury M1. Centre: Tannoy Mercury MC. Subwoofer: Polk Audio PSW-120

Other Reviews NONE
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