Inspector Gadget (1999)

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Released 1-Jun-2000

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Family None
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1999
Running Time 75:11
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (43:39) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By David Kellogg
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Matthew Broderick
Rupert Everett
Joely Fisher
Michelle Trachtenberg
Michael G. Hagerty
Andy Dick
Cheri Oteri
D.L. Hughley
Dabney Coleman
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $34.95 Music John Debney


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Dutch Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Greek Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Hungarian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Polish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Czech Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles French
Italian
Dutch
English for the Hearing Impaired
Icelandic
Croatian
Hebrew
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, better than the film itself, in fact

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

Plot Synopsis

    To summarise exactly how bad this film is, plot-wise, I would like to quote Mr. Cranky for you: "This was 82 minutes of my life that I'd eat one of my own arms to get back." A bit of a while ago, when I was approximately six or seven years old, an animated television series called Inspector Gadget began airing in the later half of every weekday on the ABC. Featuring Don Adams (of Get Smart fame) as the voice of the bumbling, cybernetically over-enhanced detective, this series became one of the few things I had to look forward to during the course of my day-to-day life. It was really quite wonderful to know that after the drudgery of a day at school, where the most challenging thing during the day was to try not to lose patience with peers who took as long to read instruction booklets as I did at the time to read The Lord Of The Rings, Inspector Gadget would be there during the later part of the afternoon to give me something to laugh at. The antics of the bumbling inspector, his child-genius niece Penny (Michelle Tratchenberg in this travesty), and her rather interesting dog of some unidentified breed by the name of Brain, were quite a hit with the schoolchildren of the early 1980s. This, in a nutshell, is what makes this live-action film version the absolute dud that it is. If I had one thing to say about the mysterious art of raising children, it would be that I would be making the same kind of effort to nurture and grow the intellect of my child in a similar manner to what my folks tried with me. In that sense, there is no way I would inflict the intellectually malnourishing garbage that passes for children's television today upon any child of mine. Sadly, the idiots who directed Inspector Gadget do not feel the same way, and the Disney corporation has once again indulged in its tendency to take something that could have been reasonably credible, and made it into something so vapid that even the children raised on such mind-draining demons as Barney or The Wiggles gave it a resounding thumbs down.

    Another annoying factor that could not be more obvious when watching this dreadful film is that its director David Kellogg (whose only other credit is the 1991 film entitled Cool As Ice (as in starring Vanilla Ice), or anyone else involved in the production for that matter, had obviously never caught an episode of the original show. This is made apparent when Doctor Claw (Rupert Everett) tells one of his henchmen that his name is "just Claw... one word". Bzzzzt! Wrong, Disney! It's Doctor Claw - two words - and if there was one unwritten rule in the series, it was this: the face of the rather vile Doctor Claw (who sounded like a cross between James Earl Jones and Lee Dorrian in the cartoon) was never seen. All you ever saw of Doctor Claw during the television series was an arm with a fully-featured hand. This is undoubtedly what led some reviewers to caption publicity shots of Inspector Gadget (Matthew Broderick) and Chief Quimby (Dabney Coleman) with such nasty comments as "Gee, chief, do you feel like an imposter, too?". Then there's the whole usage of Matthew Broderick in this sad piece: I don't know what the hell the staff at Disney think of when they comission a film project, but the first thing I would be thinking when casting for the role would be to get someone who actually looks and sounds like a man. Don Adams might not be in the same vocal class as James Earl Jones, but he might as well be when you compare his voice to that of Broderick. The second Broderick begins reciting the lines that are supposed to activate the plethora of equipment buried within his person, you know its all going to be downhill.

    In a nutshell, the sad pretense of a story that is contained in this dreadful film goes something like this. John Brown (Matthew Broderick) is a security guard who wants to be a policeman, but lacks the necessary experience to qualify. Stop and think about that for a second: Matthew Broderick as a security guard who wants to be a policeman, but lacks the necessary experience to qualify. Anyway, during an attempt to catch Doctor Claw (Rupert Everett) after he raids a facility where cybernetics are being researched, John is blown up. Doctor Brenda Bradford (Joely Fisher), whose father was murdered in the raid, transforms John Brown into what Mayor Wilson (Cheri Oteri) describes as the future of law enforcement: Inspector Gadget, or rather a poor substitute for Robocop. Anyway, anything that resembles a plot is really just an excuse for cheap gags that mostly fall flat, and the real hero of the real stories, a dog named Brain, is reduced to an annoyance. Save your money and wait for the real Inspector Gadget to arrive on DVD.

    (One last note: oddly enough, Don Adams actually does feature in this travesty, as the voice of Brain for a single scene. Too little, too late.)

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

Transfer Quality

Video

    The plot is an insult to one of the few things I don't look back upon in anger, so it stands to reason that the transfer is essentially faultless, with only the odd mild blemish to stop the transfer from attaining reference status. The transfer is presented at the true, accept-no-substitutes aspect ratio of 1.85:1, and comes with that nice, essential feature of 16x9 enhancement. The transfer is uniformly sharp and clear from start to finish, with even the backgrounds being quite well-defined for the most part. Shadow detail is excellent, with the minimal sequences taking place in darkness being fully detailed and exceptionally clear. There was no low-level noise at any point in the film. The colour saturation was very clear and accurate for the most part, although some of the sequences involving the use of toothpaste had a slightly oversaturated look. Whether this is merely because of the fact that the toothpaste colour in itself is so dramatically different from what surrounds it, or a fault in the transfer, I really cannot say. Given that this is the only time when I noticed the problem at all, I will go with the former.

    No MPEG artefacts were noticed at any point in the film, reflecting the fact that this is a seventy-five minute film compressed over two layers. Film-to-video artefacts consisted of some mild aliasing in areas that you would be hard pressed to notice. Film artefacts were the only disappointment here, as there were one or two large black marks on the picture that distracted a little from the film, although you may not notice them if you're not actually reviewing the film. This really should not happen on a film that is less than a year old, and only lasted a handful of weeks (if that) at the theatres.

    Surprisingly, this disc is presented in the RSDL format, with the layer change taking place after Inspector Gadget is caught inside Doctor Claw's headquarters, at  43:39. Although this layer change is quite noticeable on the Toshiba SD-2109, it does not interrupt the flow of the film at all.

Audio

    The audio transfer is presented in a total of eight languages, the maximum allowed by the DVD-Video specification. In the ever-so-wonderful Dolby Digital 5.1 corner, we have the original English dialogue, as well as dubs in French and Italian. In the Dolby Digital 2.0 with surround-encoding corner, we have dubs in Dutch, Polish, Czech, Hungarian, and Greek. I listened to the default English while sampling some lines in Dutch and Italian for curiosity's sake. The dialogue is always clear and easy to make out, with the only limitations on this statement being imposed by the actors rather the transfer. Audio sync was not a problem at any particular point in the film. Having said that much, most of the lines that the original animated series had turned into its trademarks are delivered in such a poor and contrite manner during this film that fans would begin to wish there was some kind of problem with the dialogue.

    The music in this film was a mix of contemporary songs and a score supervised by Peter Afterman, with neither of these inclusions leaving any impression upon me at any point. The much-overused theme from The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly, as composed by Ennio Morricone, makes an appearance during one scene, but this was the only memorable music in the film. Like much of the rest of this film, the general mix of music in this film left very little impression upon me.

    The surround channels were used to support everything from helicopter rotors to springed legs, creating a subtle, but involved surround presence that makes for a pleasurable listening experience. A lot of the music was poured through the surround channels, with the dialogue focused on the center and stereo speakers. There are no overly impressive effects directed into any specific channel, but this is a soundtrack that certainly enhances the feel of the film. The subwoofer had some fun with the occasional explosions and car crashes, being very well integrated with the rest of the soundtrack to create a nice, subtle low end.

Extras

    Once again, Warner Brothers have left all of the extras included on the Region 1 version of this disc out of our version. This is not on.

Menu

    A static menu with 16x9 enhancement and nothing else to offer. At least the scene selection menus are complete.

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;     The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;     In spite of our version being bereft of extras, it seems that our version is the version of choice due to being 16x9 enhanced. However, the tendency of Warner Brothers and anyone they distribute to leave any and all extras from the Region 1 version off our discs is getting more than a little tiring. I heartily recommend protesting this by buying neither version (trust me, with this film, it won't be hard).

Summary

    Inspector Gadget is a film that I find insulting. The DVD is just fine, however.

    The video quality is near enough to reference quality as makes no odds.

    The audio quality is very good.

    The extras are non-existent.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Dean McIntosh (Don't talk about my bio. We don't wanna know.)
Wednesday, June 14, 2000
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 2109, using S-Video output
DisplaySamsung CS-823AMF (80cm). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver.
AmplificationSony STR DE-835
SpeakersPanasonic S-J1500D Front Speakers, Sharp CP-303A Back Speakers, Philips FB206WC Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Subwoofer

Other Reviews
DVD Rent - Deej

Comments (Add)
I Wholeheartly Agree - DarkEye (This bio says: Death to DNR!)
Saruman, Inspector Gadget 2 looks somewhat better than the first. - Christopher