Real Genius (1985)

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Released 8-Oct-2002

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Trailer-Hook, Groundhog Day
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1985
Running Time 101:34
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Martha Coolidge

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Val Kilmer
Gabe Jarret
Michelle Meyrink
William Atherton
Patty D'Arbanville
Robert Prescott
Louis Giambalvo
Jonathan Gries
Ed Lauter
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $24.95 Music Thomas Newman

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

Genius is a phenomenon that is discussed far more often than it occurs. Come up with one cute idea and you may get labelled a genius. You probably aren't sorry! True genius is extremely rare. And it is quite hard to understand judging by their writings, even real geniuses don't understand the phenomenon. Hollywood certainly doesn't understand them, but I think the movie that came closest was I.Q., and that was because it portrayed them as normal people, with normal feelings, and an extraordinary talent in one field. That doesn't stop Hollywood from trying to depict geniuses, though (did you think it would?).

Real Genius, despite Val Kilmer's appearance on the cover and the label, is mostly told from the viewpoint of Mitch Taylor (Gabe Jarret). Mitch is a 15-year-old who has just been admitted to university (Pacific Tech I guess they didn't dare call it MIT), encouraged by the famous Dr Hathaway (William Atherton, playing his standard slimy creep). Mitch is already something of an authority on lasers, and that's why Dr Hathaway wants him. He is assigned to work on a team with Chris Knight (Val Kilmer). The team is attempting to build a 5 MW laser that's small and easily portable. Because they are young and easily fooled, they don't think about the consequences, the reasons for building such a laser.

Mitch gets a shock when he discovers he's rooming with Chris. Chris is rather strange. Mitch gets further shocks. There's someone called Lazlo (Jonathan Gries) living in their closet. There are some other very bright people living in the same dorm, including Jordan (Michelle Meyrink), a hyperactive insomniac gadget builder she's a lot of fun. There is also the requisite brown-nose, called Kent (Robert Prescott).

The military are putting pressure on Hathaway to deliver the laser. He puts pressure on Chris and Mitch. They resist. Get the idea?

There are some sweet lines: "You don't act like one of the top ten minds in the country" "Oh, how many have you met?" "Seven you're number eight". And "It's the perfect peace-time weapon" "So it's immoral and unethical?". There are also some cute shots in a montage gotta love the tape recorder sequence (I think I took that subject!).

This film is mostly fun, with the occasional scenes that just don't work (like the student beauticians...). Relax and enjoy the good bits, and don't think too hard about it.

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

Transfer Quality


The DVD is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and is 16x9 enhanced. That's the original aspect ratio, so that's good.

The picture is excellent. It is rather sharp and quite clear. Shadow detail is very good. There is no low level noise.

Colour is quite good there are some fairly bright colours, and they seem well-reproduced. There are no colour-related artefacts.

There are a few film artefacts (surprisingly few, actually). Perhaps the most noticeable is the black scratch in the top left corner of the frame at 98:31. There's a fair bit of light grain, but it's never annoying mostly it is confined to the backgrounds (suggesting it's a result of slight over-compression). There is very little aliasing, no moire, and no MPEG artefacts worthy of comment. All in all, this is quite a clean transfer, which is nice.

There are subtitles in seven languages, including English. I watched the English subtitles. They miss out entire lines, and abbreviate others, but they are well-timed and easy enough to read (and presented in a nice clean font).

The disc is single sided and single layered. That means no layer change, which is not a bad thing.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


There are soundtracks in five languages, including English. I listened to the English soundtrack, which is Dolby Digital 2.0, surround encoded.

The dialogue is clear and easy to understand. I noticed no audio sync problems.

The score, from Thomas Newman, is fine, but not at all memorable. There are a number of contemporary songs worked into the soundtrack, but they are not especially memorable, either.

The soundtrack makes no significant use of the surrounds or subwoofer. As far as I can tell, the only reason for surround-encoding this soundtrack is to channel the dialogue to the centre speaker.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



The menu is static and silent.


R4 vs R1

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

The Region 1 release came out fairly recently. It is one of those discs that are not uncommon in Region 1 double-sided, with the wide-screen version on one side, and the pan-and-scan version on the other. Ours is effectively the wide-screen side of the R1, but in PAL. If you're addicted to pan-and-scan, then you'll have to get the R1 disc. If you prefer wide-screen, then get ours single-sided discs are much easier to handle.

The Region 1 release is missing:

The Region 4 release is missing:

The video and audio quality of the two discs is pretty much equivalent, although the R1 shows a bit more aliasing and some minor shimmer. I think you're better off with the R4 disc.


Real Genius is an amusing movie on a very good DVD.

The video quality is very good.

The audio quality is good, as stereo soundtracks go.

The extras are sub-minimal.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Wednesday, November 06, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

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Comments (Add)
An underrated gem - cztery REPLY POSTED
A great cult film - cztery