Lassie (1994)

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Released 12-Nov-2002

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Family None
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1994
Running Time 91:06
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Programme
Region Coding 4 Directed By Daniel Petrie
Studio
Distributor

Paramount Home Entertainment
Starring Tom Guiry
Helen Slater
Jon Tenney
Case ?
RPI $24.95 Music Basil Poledouris


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Portuguese Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
Portuguese
Hebrew
Greek
Croatian
Italian
Spanish
Slovenian
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement Yes, guess which cola company paid for the film...
Action In or After Credits Yes, Lassie running around during the credits

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

Plot Synopsis

    Now after reading some of my most recent reviews, you wouldn't be expecting me to review such a DVD as the 1994 production of Lassie, would you? Now, I know it sounds like I am about to dive in and bash this film, but I do have some good things to say about it, so I will get the negatives out of the way right here and now. First of all, the story is not quite of sufficient substance to sustain a ninety-one minute film, and the screenplay smells strongly of having been written by different people at different times. Tom Guiry starts the film as being quite annoying in particular - okay, so he is being displaced from a home he loves, but there is no excuse for being so irritatingly whiny a hundred percent of the time. The tone of the film in the first two acts is also so juvenile that it would have turned me off watching the film when I was six years old, leave alone the man I am today.

    However, when the pro-country-life and anti-disbelief nonsense is cast aside in the third act, what we do have is a credible story about a family trying to start a farm for reasons that are terribly clichéd, and the sheepdog that helps out. Steve Turner (Jon Tenney) makes up his mind to move back to the country town where he grew up, and lived with the mother of his two children, who is only seen in flashbacks because she is deceased for reasons that are not really detailed in the film. Steve packs up and moves with his current spouse, Laura (Helen Slater), and his two children. The young daughter, Jennifer (Brittany Boyd) is irrelevant to the plot for the most part, and most of the action actually centres around Matthew Turner (Tom Guiry).

    Along the way to their new home, the Turner family pick up a collie that was lost after a truck carrying sheep ran into the back of another car. There is enough childish arguing along the way from Matthew and his sister that it made me sick, but in the end, the Turners settle into their new place, trying to settle into the rhythm of life in a strange environment. Having moved interstate myself around twelve months ago, I could at least sympathise with Steve and Laura in that respect. Anyway, those who have seen the television series on which this film is based will know what happens - humans set themselves up for a disaster that puts their life in danger, Lassie rescues stupid humans, all are happy and so on. So I will just leave my summation of the plot at that.

    If I am not mistaken, the actor who plays Matthew's love interest, Michelle Williams, is one of the actors who plays Sil from Species as she is halfway between the child who breaks out of the facility and the adult that the heroes attempt to track down. Scary thought, that.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Lassie is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, and it is 16x9 Enhanced.

    This is a very sharp transfer, with vibrant detail bursting out of every frame. The shadow detail is very good, and there is no low-level noise.

    The colours are very bright and vibrant, especially in the outdoor scenes. No composite artefacts or colour bleeding was noted.

    MPEG artefacts were not found in this transfer. Film-to-video artefacts consisted of some aliasing on such things as cars at 6:11 and 12:53, or the hotel sign at 10:42. This artefact was distracting at first, but it soon settled down to a very tolerable level once the action in the farming town got underway. Film artefacts were found in small amounts, with the occasional white mark appearing on the picture.

    There are nine subtitle options on this DVD, one of which is an ordinary English stream. I found this subtitle stream to be more accurate and better-timed than most of the English for the Hearing Impaired subtitle streams I have encountered in the past few months.

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

Audio

    Five soundtracks are available on this DVD. The first, and default, soundtrack is the original English dialogue, which is encoded in Dolby Digital 5.1 at 448 kilobits per second. The four dubs are encoded in Dolby Digital 2.0 with surround-encoding. In order, they are in French, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese. I stuck with the English dialogue for this DVD.

    The dialogue is very clear and easy to understand at all times, accents notwithstanding. There are also no obvious errors with audio sync.

    The music in this film consists of a score by the great Basil Poledouris, and some contemporary artists. The first contemporary artist seen in the picture is none other than the Red Hot Chili Peppers, whose classic number Breaking The Girl can be heard (and seen) at 2:33. I really don't feel that much, if any, of the contemporary music was really appropriate for this film. Poledouris' score, on the other hand, is rich and vibrant, giving a dramatic feel to shots that would otherwise be very droll, and generally adding tension to a lot of scenes where it is needed. He has literally pulled a diamond out of the rough with this effort.

    The surround channels are used frequently to support the sounds of rain, bats, sheep, and other environmental sound effects that give this effort a fairly immersive feel. This is a big improvement over the last Paramount DVD I have reviewed, Grease, but it still could have been just a tiny bit better.

    The subwoofer was used in small amounts to support gunshots and thunder. It was only used occasionally, but it did not call undue attention to itself.

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

Extras

Menu

    The menu is static, silent, and 16x9 Enhanced.

R4 vs R1

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

    From what I have read, the Region 1 version of this disc is formatted in pretty much the same manner as ours, except that there is an additional English Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded soundtrack, and the only dub on said disc is a French Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo effort. There does not appear to be much else in the way of differences between the two.

Summary

    Lassie started out on the wrong foot in a big way, but the last reel was a pleasant watch. It is basically an extended version of the original television series, and it will bear watching once.

    The video transfer is very good.

    The audio transfer is good.

    There are no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Dean McIntosh (Don't talk about my bio. We don't wanna know.)
Sunday, October 06, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 2109, using S-Video output
DisplaySamsung CS-823AMF (80cm). Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony STR DE-835
SpeakersYamaha NS-45 Front Speakers, Yamaha NS-90 Rear Speakers, Yamaha NSC-120 Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Active Subwoofer

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