Beethoven's 4th (2000)
|Category||Family||Trailer-Beethoven; Beethoven's 2nd; Beethoven's 3rd|
|Year Of Production||2000|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (51:29)||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||David Mickey Evans|
Universal Pictures Home Video
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.85:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.78:1||Miscellaneous|
|Subtitles||English for the Hearing Impaired||Smoking||No|
|Annoying Product Placement||Yes, mildly|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
To quote Newton Davis - Oh My God! After the pretty lousy depths that Beethoven's 3rd managed to plumb, you would have thought that we had seen the end of the Beethoven franchise. Now don't get me wrong. I like St Bernards as much as the next guy, but please - enough is enough. The jokes ceased to be funny after the second instalment and how the heck anyone could imagine that the antics of the loveable St Bernard would warrant expenditure on a fourth instalment almost defies logic. One can only presume that the studio execs are hell-bent on ensuring we get a complete set of Piano Concertos at the very least.
Since someone somewhere did decide to greenlight a fourth instalment, and then compounded the economic woes by ensuring a DVD release, I find myself in the company of the same old bunch from Beethoven's 3rd, back to terrorise my life for another 90 minutes.
This instalment of the franchise sees Richard Newton (Judge Reinhold) taking on the Mr Mom role as wife Beth (Julia Sweeney) heads back to work. Naturally enough, the antics of Beethoven continue in the same vein as in the previous instalments, namely house destroying and generally creating mayhem and mischief. This time it seems that his supposedly temporary owners have just about had enough, especially when he destroys Richard's latest masterpiece and the family work out the BB and AB expenses of the household (come on - you should be able to work out what those initials stand for). So the bad news is almost passed onto kids Brennan (Joe Pichler) and Sara (Michaela Gallo), who need a plan of action. Sara comes up with one that is guaranteed to keep the lame gags coming - dog obedience school.
Meantime, not too far away is the ultra-rich Sedgwick family and their mansion - in which resides the thoroughly obedient and well-trained Michelangelo, obviously another St Bernard. Young Madison Sedgwick (Kaleigh Crish) has yuppie type parents whose parenting skills are about as well-defined as the truth-telling skills of a lawyer. So, she endures a basically privileged upbringing where dad Reginald (Matt McCoy) and mom Martha (Veanne Cox) have less of an interest in her than their disgruntled butler Simmons (Mark Lindsay Chapman).
I take it that you can see where this one is heading? Yes, that is correct - the short version is the old botched doggie-napping and doggie switcheroo. Nothing like being as predictable as a two-bob watch in Hollywood is there?
Those are the highlights - it gets worse from there. Really and truly, I doubt that anyone would really want to claim responsibility for this piece of predictable nonsense. Starting with a lousy, dull, unoriginal and decidedly unfunny story is only the half of the problems here. You then populate the cast with the ilk of the talentless Judge Reinhold, the even more talent-challenged Julia Sweeney, and expect miracles? Yeah, right. It comes to something when the acting talent is in the junior members of the cast, along with the dog.
There is basically nothing here at all redeemable as far as the film is concerned. So run-of-the-mill it is not funny, and I really mean it is not funny, with so many bits swiped from films since the 1960s, you would have a hard time thinking of anything nice to say about this dog of a film. Avoidable.
Just like the previous Beethoven's 3rd, a dog of a film has been given an almost exemplary transfer in every respect. Quite why you would waste it on a film like this is beyond me but there you are.
The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, and it is 16x9 enhanced.
Basically there is little to say about the video transfer. It is very sharp, has lovely definition, is very clear, has no problems at all with shadow detail, has no obvious grain problems and has nothing in the way of low level noise. Simple really.
Like the basic transfer itself, there is very little wrong with the colours at all. There is plenty of vibrancy, lots of bright colours, and generally a lovely consistency of tone. There are just a few odd places where perhaps a little more vivacity could have been advantageous but overall there is nothing wrong here at all. There are no oversaturation problems and colour bleed again is not a problem.
There did not appear to be any significant MPEG artefacts in the transfer. Ditto for film-to-video artefacts. Ditto for film artefacts.
This is an RSDL formatted DVD, with the layer change coming mid-scene at 51:29. Even though it is mid-scene, the change is well-handled as it comes during a still shot on the face of Martha. It is not really noticeable and does not disrupt the flow of the film at all.
There is just the one subtitle option on this DVD, being an English for the Hearing Impaired effort. Very good with little missing at all, and certainly from the sample I made, missing nothing of consequence.
There is somewhat unusually only the one soundtrack option on this DVD - an English Dolby Digital 5.1 effort. Now you might well wonder why only one soundtrack and then why 5.1 for what is essentially a family film with limited scope for use of the full surround sound experience. Listening to the soundtrack only confirms these ponderances as something of importance.
The dialogue comes up well and is easy to understand throughout. There did not seem to be any issue with audio sync here at all.
The original music comes, just as it did on the predecessor, from Philip Giffin and just like its predecessor it is thoroughly unmemorable and terribly hackneyed. One of the funny things is having the subtitles on and seeing the description of the music being played. Very rarely are they accurate and that about says it all for the lousy contribution of the music - most of it misses the mark by a good distance.
There is very little to say about the sound transfer, other than the fact that it rarely makes full use of the six channel system. Sure there is some use made but really and truly for all intents and purposes the LFE channel rarely gets any use and the rear surrounds are almost as lifeless in general.
|Surround Channel Use|
Not much on offer here, but considering the quality of the film I guess expecting much more was never going to be a realised desire.
Pretty simple stuff in much the same format as the earlier episodes in the franchise.
All three are presented in a Full Frame format, are not 16x9 enhanced and come with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. They naturally enough are for Beethoven (2:21), Beethoven's 2nd (0:56) and Beethoven's 3rd (1:10). Decent enough with no real problems. Well, this is a direct crib from the review for Beethoven's 3rd and it is almost true. Puzzlingly the first two are actually presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, raising the question as to why those on Beethoven's 3rd weren't. The timings are also slightly different - Beethoven runs for 2:30 whilst Beethoven's 2nd runs for 1:00.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
This film has been released in Region 1 and it would appear that the Region 4 release misses out on:
The Region 1 release misses out on:
Since none of this stuff is really essential, there is not much to choose between the two packages. Some of the available Region 1 reviews suggest some minor problems with the video transfer that are not apparent on the Region 4 DVD. Accordingly, I would suggest that the local release is the preferred option if you want high quality, at least everywhere except in the film.
I am very much guessing that Beethoven's 4th was made back-to-back with Beethoven's 3rd given the copyright date is the same. Presumably this was done so as to reduce the costs - basically get two films for the price of one. That would be the only logical explanation for why anyone would make another dog of a film to follow a dog of a film. Anyone over the age of six is probably going to find little in the way of enjoyment here and this is strictly for keeping the young ones quiet during school holidays - once. In accordance with the accepted theorem, the lousiness of the film is inversely proportionate to the excellence of the transfer it has been given. Basically, avoid.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-515, using S-Video output|
|Display||Sony Trinitron Wega (80cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL|