Overall | Encounter in the Third Dimension (1999) | Alien Adventure (1999) | Haunted Castle (2001)

Ultimate 3-D Collection, The

Ultimate 3-D Collection, The (NTSC)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 1-Jun-2002

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Overall Package

     The Ultimate 3-D Collection consists of three DVDs and the complete 3D video viewing system, which consists of two pairs of shutter glasses, the video synchronization box, an RCA video extension lead, a power supply and an instruction manual if it's at all confusing (which it isn't really). The DVDs (Encounter In The Third Dimension, Alien Adventure and Haunted Castle) are all fantastic examples of computer generated 3D animation. All discs feature reference quality video, with reference quality dual Dolby Digital and dts audio tracks and are packed with a few extra features, including a great commentary track on each disc. All of this is housed in a package that retails for around $230. Information on where to purchase the product is available at www.mindflux.com.au. I had heaps of fun with this Box Set, and highly recommend it to those interested in 3D film.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Pockett (If you're really bored, you can read my bio...)
Sunday, July 21, 2002
Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Okay with rear-projection TVs? -
Is it possible to actually buy this??? -
IMAX 3D Shutter Glasses; In answer to both questions... - Ben H (My biography. Go on have a read...)

Overall | Encounter in the Third Dimension (1999) | Alien Adventure (1999) | Haunted Castle (2001)

Encounter in the Third Dimension (1999)

Encounter in the Third Dimension (1999) (NTSC)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 1-Jun-2002

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction Trailer-Alien Adventure; Haunted Castle
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Scene Selection Anim & Audio
Audio Commentary
Featurette-Making Of
Theatrical Trailer
Featurette-EPK
Rating ?
Year Of Production 1999
Running Time 35:59 (Case: 57)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL 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 Stuart Pankin
Cassandra Peterson
Case Scanavo-Opaque
RPI $34.95 Music Louis Vyncke


Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 5.1 (224Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/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

     Encounter In The Third Dimension is the first full-length computer animated 3D IMAX film from Belgian-born director Ben Stassen and his team at nWave. If you haven’t yet seen a 3D film at IMAX, a little bit of an introduction is necessary, as these films do not use the traditional 3D that requires red and blue cellophane glasses. It’s a bit more sophisticated than that. Rather than risk confusion, an excellent explanation of how the system works can be found at http://www.nwave.com, which perfectly explains how this 3D technology works.

"To project a 3-D film, two individual images representing the perspective of the left and right eye are simultaneously projected on screen. Without special glasses during the presentation, it will seem like you are seeing double, because in fact you are seeing double. Fortunately, 3-D glasses correct this problem. Each lens of the 3-D glasses has a special filter which blocks out the opposing image, allowing each eye to see only one image. Your brain perceives the fusion of the two separate images as one three-dimensional image."

"There are several ways to project the dual images necessary to exhibit a 3-D film, however not all processes require two separate projectors. The anaglyphic film format simultaneously projects two different images from one single strip of film. One side is coated with a green (or blue) image, the other side is coated red. Spectators are given glasses that sport one green (or blue) lens and one red. The green lens turns the green (or blue) picture on screen to black, while the red lens turns the red image on screen to black. The result is a three-dimensional picture in black and white."

"To see 3-D in colour, the images for the left and right eye must be kept separate. Before today's large format theatres, which use two separate synchronized projectors, previous methods placed two 35mm frames in various configurations, either over and under each other or side by side."

    As director Ben Stassen touches on a bit in the commentaries from all 3 films, the advantage we have with the new CGI era of filmmaking is that you can do things that are not possible with live action filmmaking. The ability to have an entire shot in focus, from the distant background right up to the nearest foreground, is something that can be impossible in a live action scenario, which is essential in 3D. Adding to that, the ability to place the camera wherever you like in your 3D world allows for some great 3D tricks and gags.

    I should also mention the shutter glasses that come in the Ultimate 3D collection. They're not quite as comfortable as I would have liked, but the films all run for under 40 minutes, which is not too long anyway. When in use, the lenses flash very frequently, and I wouldn't recommend wearing them for more than a couple of hours, as they can cause a bit of a headache - as I found out after watching 3 films in a row, rewinding all the good parts a few times.

    Now that’s all the technical stuff out of the way, so onto the review itself. I will not be reviewing this title as a movie (unlike a few critics out there), because I see it as exercise in computer generated 3D filmmaking more than a movie. Encounter In The Third Dimension is basically a not-too-technical documentary on the history of 3D cinema. The detail covered within the production is not enough to keep the viewer interested for too long if watched in 2D, but in 3D, it is a different story altogether (more on that later). We get to see a re-creation of one of the earliest 3D movies ever made, along with some clips from 1950s 3D films, all the way up to more contemporary 3D films such as James Cameron’s Terminator 2: 3D – which is a prominent feature at Universal Studios in the USA. Hosted by “The Professor” (a live action character) and M.A.X (his flying CGI robot sidekick) – acted and voiced by Stuart Pankin respectively – the film also features a musical number from "Elvira, Mistress of the Dark" (the only other live action character). Encounter provided some interesting information on the history of 3D cinema, while at the same time showed off some brilliant effects, everything from objects making you reach out for them to rooms and hallways providing an incredible sense of depth. Even the intro credits looked amazing.

    I found the 2D version of Encounter to be a moderately interesting look at the history of 3D cinema, and felt its characters over-the-top in an unappealing kind of way. When I switched to 3D, I found myself completely immersed in everything that was happening for its entire running time. I give it a high recommendation as far as the 3D side of it goes, but not so much as a 2D documentary.

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

Transfer Quality

Video

     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 that comes down to the viewer’s ability to handle the 3D effect, though.

    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 details and black levels are spot on. There is no low level noise. If there is anything slightly derogatory to mention about this transfer, it is that I found the 3D version looked better after a slight adjustment to the brightness and contrast settings on my TV. Parts of the presentation made me feel like I was watching cut scenes from a video game, which is why the increased brightness and contrast helped the effect whilst 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 nor film-to-video artefacts seen in the entire production. 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 28.11, and was unfortunately mid-sentence. 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 incredibly immersive experience for the viewer, and is of reference quality.

    There are three different audio tracks on this DVD. The default is an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks. There is also a dts 5.1 soundtrack and an audio commentary, which 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 Holly Knight, John Paragon and Louis Vyncke 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, and helped draw me into the on-screen action incredibly well while watching the film in 3D. There was not a single second that my concentration lapsed throughout the entire film, and a lot of that was contributed to by the surround sound mix. As far as Dolby Digital versus dts goes, I noticed a more 360 degree environment whilst listening to 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 - Alien Adventure Teaser (0.40)

Trailer - Haunted Castle Trailer (1.26)

Main Menu Audio & Animation

    The Main Menu features a static picture of Elvira, with some CGI animated smoke in the background. There is no audio.

Scene Selection Animation & Audio

    The Scene Selection menu features a static picture in the background, with animated thumbnails for each scene. There is no audio.

Audio Commentary

    This was a pleasant surprise. This screen-specific audio commentary features Executive Producer/Writer/Director Ben Stassen, who was a real treat to listen to. Stassen barely took a breath for the entire running time. He delves into all aspects of the production, from his background in filmmaking, to his inspirations and motivations, to technical aspects such as how certain parts were composited. There is not one thing you could possibly want to know about the production that Stassen doesn't mention. His Belgian accent isn't too strong in that it is unintelligible, and his excitement and obvious pride in his work makes this commentary quite easy to listen to. You really get a great insight into the effort put into the production, and I recommend this commentary to all those interested enough to want to listen to it..

Featurette-Making Of (4.46)

    This is just an extended trailer for the film, with some snippets from the EPK (mentioned below) thrown in to extend it out to almost 5 minutes. Not required viewing, as all the interesting stuff is contained within the EPK..

Theatrical Trailer - Encounter In The Third Dimension (1.16)

Featurette - Electronic Press Kit (10.26)

    This was actually a decent featurette, featuring about six minutes of soundbites - interviews with cast and crew. Not too informative, but good to hear from a few other people involved. This was followed by roughly two and a half minutes of B-roll footage, which showed some behind the scenes footage of the actors, and a behind the scenes look at some of the computer work involved. This was all followed by about two minutes of selected clips from the film.

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 made for all regions.

Summary

     Encounter In The Third Dimension was not an incredibly interesting and informative film when watched in 2D, but was the complete opposite in 3D. It managed to provide 36 minutes of fantastic entertainment which intrigued this viewer from start to finish.

    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...)
Thursday, July 18, 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)
IMAX 3D Shutter Glasses Available in Australia. - Ben H (My biography. Go on have a read...)

Overall | Encounter in the Third Dimension (1999) | Alien Adventure (1999) | Haunted Castle (2001)

Alien Adventure (1999)

Alien Adventure (1999) (NTSC)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 1-Jun-2002

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction Trailer-Encounter in the Third Dimension; Haunted Castle
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Scene Selection Anim & Audio
Audio Commentary
Featurette-Making Of
Gallery-Photo-2D; 3D
Theatrical Trailer
Featurette-EPK
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1999
Running Time 33:39 (Case: 85)
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

Mindflux
Starring None Given
Case Scanavo-Opaque
RPI $34.95 Music Louis Vyncke
Lele & The Puzzlers


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 (192Kb/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

     Alien Adventure is Ben Stassen’s 2nd computer generated 3D animation film, a feature of the giant IMAX screens. This second effort is a tour of “Adventure Planet”, a new hi tech amusement park on an alien planet. This sci-fi adventure is basically a trip through a few roller coaster thrill-rides, spliced into a forgettable plotline. As with Encounter In The Third Dimension, I see these 3D films as they are intended – an exercise in computer generated 3D animation. Watched in 2D, this adventure is so-so to watch in your lounge room, but in 3D it is a fantastic piece of entertainment. This one comes with an introduction by the flying robot character M.A.X. from Encounter In The Third Dimension. He warns the viewer that the feature can at times become disorienting, causing dizziness or nausea. I have to agree with him, after finding myself a little dizzy at times. These roller-coaster rides sure do go fast. At times, an object appears on the track ahead of you, which is simply to give the viewer’s eyes a rest from the intense speed at which the roller-coaster is travelling.

    The 3D animation is again incredible, giving a great sense of depth, and providing some fantastic examples of 3D animation at its best. The faster the ride, the harder it is to take everything in. Sometimes it’s the more subtle shots that look the most impressive. The characters in the film are mildly amusing, but that’s not the point anyway. The actual look of the animation is a step up from Encounter In The Third Dimension, in that that the overall production is more stylish. Again, not the strong point to these films, but it just feels a little more polished than Encounter.

    These IMAX 3D films are a whole lot of fun. When watched in 2D, they all leave a bit to be desired, but in their 3D glory they are a real treat to watch. Alien Adventure is no exception to this, providing more 3D eye candy to be watched through the shutter glasses. I don’t quite like this one as much as Encounter, if only because it hones in on the roller coaster approach more than pure 3D imagery, but I still had a heap of fun with it. The total presentation of these DVDs only adds to the overall experience, in that their visual and audio presentations are magnificent (more on that below).

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

Transfer Quality

Video

     Portions of the technical part of this review are identical to those in the Encounter In The Third Dimension review, 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 that comes down to the viewer’s ability to handle the 3D effect. Alien Adventure features a video transfer of the same quality as Encounter In The Third Dimension.

    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 level are spot on. There is no low level noise. Alien Adventure is quite dark in parts, and really does need a bit of an adjustment to the brightness and contrast settings to be fully enjoyed in 3D. I feel that the 3D illusion is only enhanced by adjusting the levels slightly. Please remember that all TVs are configured differently, and not every set out there will require adjusting.

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

    There were no MPEG artefacts or film-to-video artefacts seen throughout the entire production. 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 23.11, and again was unfortunately mid-sentence. 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 incredibly immersive soundfield. It is of reference quality.

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

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

    The music by Louis Vyncke and Lele & The Puzzlers was perfectly clear, never becoming distorted or too loud. With support from all channels, it is presented very well by 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, and helped draw me into the on-screen action incredibly well while watching the film in 3D. There was not a single second that my concentration lapsed throughout the entire film, and a lot of that was contributed to by the surround sound mix. As far as Dolby Digital versus dts goes, I noticed a more 360 degree environment in the dts track, but the Dolby mix was still of a very high standard.

    The aubwoofer 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 - Haunted Castle Trailer (1.26)

Main Menu Audio & Animation

    A fully animated shot from within a spaceship from the film, featuring our 3 main aliens.

Scene Selection Animation & Audio

    A static background picture, with fully animated thumbnails for the scenes from the film.

Audio Commentary

    Just like the commentary for Encounter, this screen-specific audio commentary features Executive Producer/Writer/Director Ben Stassen. This is just as informative and enjoyable as the track on Encounter, only this time there are a couple of occasions where Stassen has a very short breather. There's not quite as much to discuss this time around, but Ben still manages to provide a track well worth listening to.

Featurette-Making Of (4.12)

    This featurette is just really an extended trailer that features clips from the EPK (discussed below).

Gallery-Photo

    This is a 2D picture gallery featuring 39 shots from the film to look at. Those same shots are also presented in a short featurette running for 12.54 which you need your shutter glasses to view. They are just static shots, with 3D effect.

Theatrical Trailer - Alien Adventure (0.40)

Featurette - Electronic Press Kit (15.01)

    This was actually a decent featurette, featuring about three and a half minutes worth of soundbites (interviews with the cast and crew). It was not too informative, but it was good to hear from a few of the other people involved. This was followed by roughly two and a half minutes of B-roll footage, which showed some behind the scenes footage of the actors, and a behind the scenes look at some of the computer work involved. This was all followed by about three and a half minutes of selected clips from the film.

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

     Alien Adventure was not an incredibly interesting and entertaining film when watched in 2D, but was the complete opposite in 3D. While maybe not quite as good as Encounter In The Third Dimension, I still had a lot of fun with it.

    The video quality is excellent and is of reference quality. Only a couple of shots were a bit too dark on my screen, but not enough to keep it from receiving the highest score.

    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...)
Friday, July 19, 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)
IMAX 3D Shutter Glasses Available in Australia. - Ben H (My biography. Go on have a read...)

Overall | Encounter in the Third Dimension (1999) | Alien Adventure (1999) | Haunted Castle (2001)

Haunted Castle (2001)

Haunted Castle (2001) (NTSC)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 1-Jun-2002

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

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 Stassen’s fourth IMAX film, and his third 3D film in one. It’s also Stassen’s most polished work yet in my opinion. Yes, the storyline lacks, but that’s 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 – which Stassen alludes to in his commentary.

    The film is about a young musician named Johnny (Jasper Steverlinck – 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 Tap’s 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, doesn’t it? Well, whilst watching the film, I never really cared about the storyline enough to realise how crappy it sounds. As I’ve 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 Johnny’s 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 “I don’t think it’s degrading. A little head chopping and electrocution goes a long way”. 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 I’ve 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.

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

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 viewer’s 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, I’d 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 you’re 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 film’s 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)
IMAX 3D Shutter Glasses Available in Australia. - Ben H (My biography. Go on have a read...)
New 3D Titles -