Logan's Run (1976) (NTSC)

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Released 30-Jul-2002

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction Main Menu Audio & Animation
Audio Commentary-Michael Anderson, Michael York & Bill Thomas
Featurette
Theatrical Trailer
Easter Egg-Logan's Run Life Clock
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1976
Running Time 118:36
RSDL / Flipper Dual Sided Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,4 Directed By Michael Anderson
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Michael York
Jenny Agutter
Richard Jordan
Roscoe Lee Browne
Farrah Fawcett-Majors
Peter Ustinov
Case ?
RPI $29.95 Music Jerry Goldsmith


Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Pan & Scan English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, end titles over aerial shot of City

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

Plot Synopsis

    It's hard for me to admit, but I actually saw Logan's Run during its initial theatrical release (gives you an idea how old I am). At that time, I was quite captivated by it - the whole concept of a futuristic society where people lived in the pursuit of leisure in huge domes that looked like an overgrown theme park plus shopping mall combined, except the bad authoritarian central computer decrees that no one can live past the age of 30 - presumably as a method of population control. I also remembered wishing I was as pretty as Jenny Agutter wearing costumes as nice as hers with Michael York by my side.

    It was not until years later that I discovered how much of a "cult" movie it was amongst science fiction fans. Even today, there are several web sites dedicated to the film, and "Sandmen vs Runners" is a favourite game at SF conventions. The film itself is based on a novella by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson. Apparently the book was written in about 3 weeks and was about a world in which the young successfully rebelled against their elders and resulted in a rigidly enforced law that decreed no one can live past the age of 21.

    For various reasons, including budget and casting, the film changed the premise to a post-apocalyptic world apparently devoid of human life apart from a single gigantic city enclosed in domes. Here the population have their every needs catered for by an omnipotent Computer (Lara Lindsay), and have apparently forgotten their past. There is no concept of marriage, and all children are taken away from their parents at birth and brought up in a nursery. The age limit has also been raised to 30 (apparently because it was hard to find decent and famous actors who could convincingly look under 21) but there is now also a pseudo-religion built around reincarnation. Everyone who reaches the age of 30 will need to enter the "Carousel" where they literally ascend to the heavens and get blasted to bits, but if you are really meritorious, lucky, or both, you get the chance of being "renewed" by the Computer into a new-born baby.

    The film as well as the book deals with a group of people who are unwilling to accept the age limit and decide to "run" when they reach the age limit. "Runners" are pursued by a deadly efficient Gestapo-like police force called Sandmen. The story is about Logan 5 (Michael York), a Sandman, and his colleague Francis 7 (Richard Jordan). The numerals after a person's name apparently indicates genealogical numbering, which is a practice that seems somewhat curious and anachronistic given the film's premise that parents do not know or bring up their children.

    After killing a runner, Logan retrieves a curious symbol called an ankh from the runner's clasped hand. When Logan hands this to the Computer, the Computer informs Logan that the ankh is linked to a place called "Sanctuary" where over a thousand unaccounted-for runners may have ended up. The Computer then sends Logan on a super secret mission to discover the location of Sanctuary. Even though Logan is 26, the computer reprograms the crystal in his hand (which indicates his age) to a blinking red 30 to ensure that Logan is sufficiently "motivated" to find Sanctuary.

    The rest of the film is about Logan's efforts at penetrating an underground network of runners and runners-to-be and his quest to find Sanctuary, aided and abetted by a young girl called Jessica 5 (Jenny Agutter). In their travels, they encounter rebellious "cubs" (feral kids), a cosmetic surgeon (Michael Anderson Jr.) and his assistant Holly (Farrah Fawcett), as well as many strange things and experiences leaving the city.

    What I really liked about Logan's Run was its effective combination of various themes and sub-genres within science fiction: a post-apocalyptic world, a futuristic Utopia, the omnipotent evil computer, the test-tube bred society, an Arthurian-like quest, immortality or the lack thereof, and even Biblical references to Adam & Eve and Genesis.

    I can think of numerous books with which the film appears to share themes: Homer's Odyssey, Arthur C Clarke's Against The Fall Of Night/The City and The Stars, Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, Isaac Asimov's The Caves of Steel, and even H. G. Well's The Time Machine.

    By the way, watch out for one of the extras raising his hand in a Vulcan salute at the end of the film around 116:20!

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Transfer Quality

Video

    I received two single sided single layered discs for the review, but these are marked "Side A" and "Side B" so I suspect the retail packaging will be a dual sided disc. This would make sense as the Region 1 release (which the transfers and disc authoring has been sourced from) is a dual sided DVD-10 disc.

    There are two transfers present, one on each side: a Pan & Scan transfer on Side A, and a widescreen 2.35:1, 16x9 Enhanced transfer on Side B. The Pan & Scan side even has a warning about being "formatted to fit your screen" displayed right after the opening Warner Bros. logo. And yes, both transfers are in NTSC. If your system won't handle NTSC...

    In general, I am pretty impressed by the transfer given the age of the film. The widescreen transfer looks fairly sharp with vibrant colours. Although there are quite a few film marks present (including some rather large and distracting ones) there is minimal grain. Thankfully, edge enhancement has also been kept to a minimum.

    Given that we have an almost two hour film shoehorned into a single layer (together with extras such as a featurette and audio commentary track), I am very impressed by the lack of compression artefacts. Basically there is some Gibb's effect ringing here and there, particularly in the background, but otherwise this is a very watchable transfer.

    The pan & scan transfer seems to be from a different print, as the film marks are different and less intrusive, although there are still plenty of them.

    There are English and French subtitle tracks. I turned on the English subtitle track while listening to the audio commentary and it's about average in terms of accuracy. The font used to render the subtitles look nice and well formed rather than pixelated.

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

Audio

    There are three audio tracks on the disc: English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s), French Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s), and English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s). I listened to the English soundtrack and the commentary track.

    The Dolby Digital 5.1 track sounds quite pleasant. I was surprised to find the surround speakers rather extensively used throughout the film, particularly for the music score which appears to have been remixed into full surround. I also noticed some good panning of foley effects across the front speakers but did not really notice significant use of the rear channels for foley effects. The subwoofer is not used extensively except at the end during the explosion scenes.

    I had no problems understanding the dialogue and there were no audio synchronization issues.

    Incidentally the music score by Jerry Goldsmith seems to be a combination of analogue synthesizer noises and sounds, which are very prominent in the "City" scenes highlighting the artificial and sterile nature of the city, juxtaposed with a more conventional and lush orchestral score which mainly comes into play when Logan and Jessica are outside.

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

Extras

    Given that we have a two hour film shoe-horned into a single layer/side, I am surprised at the inclusion of extras, including an audio commentary track, a featurette and a trailer. The extras are identical and repeated on both sides of the dual-sided disc.

Menu

    The menus are either full frame or 16x9 enhanced depending on the side of the disc is being played. The main menu is animated and includes background audio.

Audio Commentary - Michael Anderson, Michael York & Bill Thomas

    This commentary track was originally recorded for the laserdisc edition several years ago (at one stage Michael York comments about "now" being the "nineties"). It is a fairly informative and continuous running commentary about the casting, the sets, the special effects, and the costumes. I have the feeling that the commentary participants have been recorded separately and then edited together, because I did not detect any interaction between them and they often repeat the same facts or even contradict one another.

    For example, it's been a long standing joke in the science fiction community that the film can't make up its mind in terms of the boundaries between the different coloured age groups (white, yellow, green, red) - statements made by the characters at various points in the film with respect to their age are inconsistent with one another. I'm delighted to notice that twenty years later the crewmembers are still confused: director Michael Anderson notes "blue" being an age group in between green and red (Not true: the various time clocks in the Sandmen headquarters do not include blue despite several costumes looking somewhat cyanish). Then, seconds later, Bill Thomas chimes in with a statement that you are yellow till 12, green till 24, and red till 30 (What happened to white? Also, the film references a cub turning from yellow to green at the age of 16).

    The best bits in the audio commentary for me are when they describe how the special effects were achieved, including the scale model of the city, Carousel scene, how the maze cars work, and the combination of matte paintings and live action used in the Washington scenes. I remembered being awed by the special effects when I first saw this film (apart from the rather cheesy city scenes which look like a scale model) and it's nice to finally find out how the effects were achieved.

Featurette (9:23)

    This is a making of featurette entitled "A Look Into The 23rd Century". It features behind the scenes footage, excerpts from the film, and interviews with cast and crew including:

    The featurette is presented in full frame and Dolby Digital 2.0 (192 Kb/s). The transfer is somewhat grainy, and the film excerpts look quite yellowish.

Theatrical Trailer (3:00)

    This is presented in 1.85:1 with 16x9 enhancement and Dolby Digital 2.0 (192 Kb/s). The transfer is somewhat grainy and has poor black levels.

Easter Egg - Logan's Run Life Clock

    This is a single still that explains the colours of the "crystal life clock" in the palm of all citizens of the domed city and what age groups they correspond to. As noted in the commentary, the dialogue in the film is not always consistent with the information in this still, and neither are the recollections of those participating in the commentary track.

    This Easter egg is accessed by using the menu navigation buttons to select the "crystal" in the palm of the hand in the main menu (navigate to "Special Features" and then use the right arrow key to get to the crystal, then press Enter).

R4 vs R1

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

    There have been at least three versions of this title released in Region 1 as far as I can tell. The first version only includes a widescreen transfer but comes with a 8 page colour booklet containing production notes. Then there was another version containing both widescreen and pan & scan versions on a single sided dual layered disc. Finally, the latest version (currently on sale) is a dual sided disc reportedly with an improved pan & scan transfer. All versions are missing the second featurette and additional stills that were on the laserdisc edition.

    The Region 4 version seems to be identical to the current Region 1 release. The R4 review disc is even marked "Region 1/4 N-Amer/Australia." The content appears identical to my retail Region 1 disc.

Summary

    Logan's Run presents a classic science fiction film in both pan & scan and widescreen transfers. Both audio and video are fairly decent considering the age of the film, and the audio has even been remixed for Dolby Digital 5.1. Extras include an audio commentary track, a featurette, theatrical trailer and an Easter egg. Unfortunately this is another one of Warner's rehashed region 1 transfers so the video is in NTSC.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Christine Tham (read my biography)
Wednesday, September 11, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-626D, using Component output
DisplaySony VPL-VW11HT LCD Projector, ScreenTechnics 16x9 matte white screen (254cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationDenon AVR-3300
SpeakersFront and rears: B&W CDM7NT; centre: B&W CDMCNT; subwoofer: B&W ASW2500

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Superb movie - Andrew (Read my Bio.)
How can we complain to Warners? - Simon O'Connor (I wouldn't suggest reading my bio)
NTSC = Superior Sound - james
PAL speed-up is 4%, not 5 - Neil