Haunted Castle (2001) (NTSC)

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Released 1-Jun-2002

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Animation Trailer-Encounter In The Third Dimension; Alien Adventure
Menu Animation & Audio
Scene Selection Anim & Audio
Audio Commentary
Featurette-Making Of
Theatrical Trailer-2
Notes-ARID
Gallery-2D; 3D
Featurette-EPK
Rating ?
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 38:20 (Case: 132)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Ben Stassen
Studio
Distributor
nWave Pictures
Mindflux
Starring Jasper Steverlinck
Kyoko Baertsoen
Harry Shearer
Case Scanavo-Opaque
RPI $34.95 Music ARID


Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.44:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

†††† Haunted Castle marks Ben Stassenís fourth IMAX film, and his third 3D film in one. Itís also Stassenís most polished work yet in my opinion. Yes, the storyline lacks, but thatís not what these films are about. The computer generated 3D animation is up to scratch with Encounter In The Third Dimension and Alien Adventure, only this time the film has a more polished look to it. There are some really nice shots here, which makes it hard to believe that it was not storyboarded Ė which Stassen alludes to in his commentary.

††† The film is about a young musician named Johnny (Jasper Steverlinck Ė who also contributed some of the music with band Arid), who has been summoned to the castle by his deceased mother. Whilst in the castle, Johnny is confronted by Mephisto (voiced by This Is Spinal Tapís Harry Shearer), henchman to Mr. D (also voiced by Shearer) and finally offered a proposal; surrender his soul in exchange for fame and fortune. Wow, that sounds really bad, doesnít it? Well, whilst watching the film, I never really cared about the storyline enough to realise how crappy it sounds. As Iíve stated over and over, these films are not about their plotlines, and should be watched only for their visual and aural extravaganzas. The film is almost always seen through Johnnyís eyes, except for one scene when we get to see Johnny show off his lead guitar skills to Mr. D.

††† I have to make mention of a scene in the film which caused a bit of a stir with the head honchos at IMAX. It takes place in a torture chamber. Johnny walks through, looking to his left and right at floating mirrors which hang in front of defunct execution contraptions. The mirrors act as a look into some past executions such as guillotine decapitations and electrocutions. Stassen half-jokingly says ďI donít think itís degrading. A little head chopping and electrocution goes a long wayĒ. I agree that it is not gory or scary, but still think it may be a bit much for children without any warnings. He mentions that the scene was inspired by the Smirnoff Vodka commercials, in which people look into a bottle and see a different space each time.

††† Haunted Castle is just as enjoyable as any 3D film Iíve seen, and is a nice addition to the Ultimate 3-D Box Set. I wholeheartedly recommend anyone interested in 3D to give these DVDs a go, as I had a heap of fun with them.

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Transfer Quality

Video

†††† Portions of the technical part of this review are identical to those in the Encounter In The Third Dimension and Alien Adventure reviews, as they are all of reference quality.

††† The transfer of the 2D film is excellent, and is of reference quality. The transfer of the 3D film is of the same quality, only in 3D it appears to be less sharp. I think, though, that this comes down to the viewerís ability to handle the 3D effect. Haunted Castle features a video transfer of the same quality as Encounter In The Third Dimension and Alien Adventure.

††† The film is presented in a full frame aspect ratio of 1.33:1, which means there is no 16x9 enhancement. I should mention that this is a Region 0 NTSC disc.

††† Being digitally remastered from the large format film, the image is extremely clear and extremely sharp. The detail of the image is as crisp as can be. Shadow detail and black levels are spot on. There is no low level noise. Like Alien Adventure, Haunted Castle can be a little dark in parts, but did not require the same adjustments to the brightness and contrast levels to be enjoyed properly in 3D.

††† Being a computer generated film, the colours were vibrant throughout its entire running time. Reds were bold and bright, never bleeding or smearing.

††† There were no MPEG artefacts seen. Some slight aliasing was noticeable on a couple of occasions, but was never distracting.

††† The 3D portion of the DVD copped the layer change which occurred at 29:18. This did not interrupt any dialogue, unlike the other two 3D films. The 2D portion fits comfortably within 1 layer, and required no layer change.

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

Audio

†††† This is an excellent audio transfer that enhances the production by creating an immersive soundfield that draws the viewer into the on-screen action, and is of reference quality.

††† There are three different audio tracks on this DVD. The default is an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. Also present are a dts 5.1 soundtrack and an audio commentary, presented in Dolby Digital 2.0.

††† The dialogue was always clear and intelligible. There were no problems whatsoever with audio sync throughout the entire running time.

††† The music by Arid was perfectly clear, never becoming distorted or too loud. With support from all channels, it is presented very well in this audio transfer.

††† The surround channels were used constantly to support everything including dialogue, sound effects and music. Creating a 360 degree environment, the surround channels were used very effectively, enhancing the overall experience dramatically. There was not a single second that my concentration lapsed throughout the entire film, and a lot of that was due to the surround sound mix. As most of the film is seen through the main character's eyes, his voice surrounds you nicely with great use of the surround channels. As far as Dolby Digital vs. dts goes, I noticed a more 360 degree environment with the dts track, but the Dolby Digital mix is still of a very high standard.

††† The subwoofer was used just as well as the surround channels, in that it perfectly supported all music and sound effects with some great bass. Like the surround channel usage, the subwoofer was mixed perfectly, adding greatly to the experience. I also give the edge to dts in the subwoofer department, if only just.

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

Extras

†††† All extra features are presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio. There are 3 audio tracks to choose from, but they are all identical.

Trailer - Encounter In The Third Dimension Trailer (1.15)

Trailer - Alien Adventure Teaser (0.40)

Main Menu Audio & Animation

††† A static shot, with some animated lightning in the background. No audio.

Scene Selection Animation & Audio

††† A static background picture, with fully animated thumbnails for the scenes from the film. No audio.

Audio Commentary

††† Just like the commentaries for Encounter In The Third Dimension and Alien Adventure, this screen-specific audio commentary features Executive Producer/Writer/Director Ben Stassen. Just as informative and enjoyable as the aforementioned tracks, Iíd place this in between those two as far as overall worth goes. Motivations and inspirations are covered, along with some background information in regards to the animation as well as the actors involved. These commentaries really are worth a listen if youíre at all interested in 3D animation, and especially these IMAX 3D films.

Featurette-Making Of (4.12)

††† Again, this featurette is just really an extended trailer that features clips from the EPK (discussed below).

Notes - Arid biography

††† Four pages of biographical notes for the band behind the filmís music.

Gallery-Photo

††† This is a 2D picture gallery featuring 39 shots from the film to look at. The same shots are also presented as a short featurette running for 12.34 which you need your shutter glasses to view. They are just static 3D shots.

Theatrical Trailer - Haunted Castle (1.26)

Featurette - Electronic Press Kit (13.33)

††† This was actually a decent featurette, featuring about five minutes of film clips, followed by about four minutes of soundbites (interviews with the cast and crew). It was not too informative, but nonetheless it was good to hear from a few of the other people involved. This was followed by roughly four and a half minutes of B-roll footage, which showed some behind the scenes footage of the actors, and in particular, a look at the recording of the music for the film. To cap the EPK off, we get a behind the scenes look at some of the computer work involved.

R4 vs R1

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

†††† This is a Region 0 release which is the same across all regions.

Summary

†††† Haunted Castle feels like a collection of cut scenes from a video game, and is quite cheesy and forgettable when watched in 2D, but was the complete opposite in 3D. I thoroughly enjoyed Haunted Castle as a piece of 3D entertainment, and it fits nicely in the same box as Encounter In The Third Dimension and Alien Adventure.

††† The video quality is excellent and is of reference quality.

††† The audio quality is excellent and is of reference quality, which enhanced the overall production substantially.

††† The extra features are better than anyone would expect, with a fantastic audio commentary, and a good (if too short) look at some behind the scenes action. Not the most elaborate set of extras, but better than I was expecting.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Pockett (If you're really bored, you can read my bio...)
Saturday, July 20, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-525, using Component output
DisplayTeac 82cm 16x9. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationSony STR DE-545
Speakers5 Sony speakers; Sherwood 12" 100w Powered Subwoofer

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
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