Bats: Collector's Edition (1999)

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Released 6-Dec-2000

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Dolby Digital Trailer-City
Theatrical Trailer-(Full Frame, DD2.0, 1:12 minutes)
Featurette-Bats Abound (Full Frame, DD2.0, 5:32 minutes)
Gallery-Conceptual Artwork
Gallery-Mechanical Drawings
Storyboard Comparisons-2 (1.85:1, DD2.0, 5:12 minutes)
Featurette-Special Effects Comparisons-2 (1.85:1, DD2.0, 6:49 minutes)
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Audio Commentary-Louis Morneau (Dir) & Lou Diamond Phillips (Actor)
Isolated Musical Score
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1999
Running Time 87:30
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (49:17) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Louis Morneau
Studio
Distributor
Columbia Tristar F/D
Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Lou Diamond Phillips
Dina Meyer
Leon Carlos Jacott
Bob Gunton
Case Soft Brackley-Transp
RPI $36.95 Music Graeme Revell
Glenn Garland


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Isolated Music Score Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/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
German
Dutch
Arabic
Bulgarian
Croatian
Czech
Danish
Finnish
Greek
Hebrew
Hindi
Hungarian
Icelandic
Norwegian
Polish
Swedish
Turkish
German Audio Commentary
Dutch Audio Commentary
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement Yes, Sony monitors
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    The Plot: Bats kill some people - some people kill the bats - The End.

    Two words are sufficient to describe Bats: Pointless and Stupid. There really is nothing to recommend this film. The plot, such as it is, is devoid of interest, there is no characterization and even the many deaths occur with a randomness and lack of consequence that just goes to show how little thought went into the film's making.

    There is no surprise to learn that this is a story about killer bats, loose on the citizens of sleepy Gallop, Texas. By necessity (is it ever anything else?) the bats in question are the product of some genetic/viral experimentation by a government agency, staffed by loony power-hungry scientists and with links to the military. Dr Shiela Casper (Dina Meyer) is the local authority on bats, and she and her sidekick Jimmy Sands (Leon) are called in to help eradicate the bats. The happy group is rounded out by the town's Sheriff Emmett Kimsey (Lou Diamond Phillips), the nice guy Dr Tobe Hodge (Carlos Jacott) and the loony scientist Dr Alexander McCabe (Bob Gunton), but they are gradually whittled down as they go about their quest of killing the bats by - wait for it - refrigerating their lair.

    We are treated to lots of scenes of bats flying, killing, sleeping and generally hanging around looking nasty. Funny thing was, I never felt even the least bit scared. It's that type of film.

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

Transfer Quality

Video

    The film is presented with an aspect ratio of 2.35:1. It is 16x9 enhanced.

    Picture clarity is pretty much spot on, but there is so much camera motion throughout the entire film that it's hard to get long views of anything much. Personally I found all that movement more than a little irritating. Given the subject matter, much of the scenery is shot at night, yet shadow detail is wonderful all the way through. There wasn't even a hint of low level noise.

    The colour palette was a little odd, in that yellows and greens seemed to dominate during daylight scenes. Blue was the colour of night. This tended to lend the whole film a strange feel - similar to the feel of a sweltering summer's day. Perhaps that was the desired effect. I have no evidence to suggest that the colours presented on the disc are anything other than what was originally intended by the filmmakers.

    Other than a tiny instance of aliasing on a USA flag the transfer held up with no noticible artefacts. There is not much you can say beyond that - well done again to the guys at Columbia Tristar.

    The disc is an RSDL with the break coming between chapters 15 and 16 at 49:17. It is your normal garden variety break and is not disruptive to the flow.

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

Audio

    There are two audio tracks, English and German Dolby Digital 5.1. I listened to the default English.

    Dialogue is clear at all times. There is clearly a lot of looping throughout this film but it comes across very naturally. There are no problems with audio sync at any stage.

    The musical score by Graeme Revell provides a dark backdrop heavy with percussion, but it is far from memorable.

    The area where this film and DVD really stand out is in the surround channel action. I doubt if I've ever heard as much sound coming out the back as here, where the sound of flapping wings literally comes at you from everywhere. It's great, but not enough to see the film just for this reason. Unfortunately, the subwoofer doesn't seem to get the same treatment, which is strange given the size of the explosions that make up the finale to the film. All in all it seemed to get into the action when there wasn't any, and failed to show up when there was.

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

Extras

    There is quite a range of extras, a nice surprise given that we're not dealing with a classic.

Dolby Digital City Trailer

    I would like to repeat my fellow reviewer, Ian's, pleading for a little variation in the Dolby trailers. They're always welcome, but (call me sentimental) I would especially love to see the Locomotive trailer.

Theatrical Trailer

    Presented in Full Frame with DD2.0 audio. You would have to call this a failure, because if I saw it I would cross Bats off my list of films to see.

Featurette - Bats Abound

    This is more of a promotional spot than an informative featurette. There are some interesting behind-the-scenes shots. Presented Full Frame, with DD2.0 audio. The picture seems to have come from a reasonable quality video source.

Gallery - Conceptual Artwork

    Displays 10 concept drawings of bats. Seen one, seen 'em all.

Gallery - Mechanical Drawings

    Displays 12 concept drawings of animatronic/puppet bat controls. Seen one, seen 'em all.

Storyboard Comparisons

    Displays 2 scenes "picture in picture" with the relevant storyboards. Shows that some things worked precisely as planned, others were clearly made up as they went along.

Special Effect Comparisons

    Displays 2 finished scenes "picture in picture" with the live action photography marked up ready for the addition of CGI bats. This ended up being the best of this subset of extras.

Biographies - Cast and Crew

    Usual sort of effort.

Audio Commentary with Louis Morneau and Lou Diamond Phillips

    Perhaps there should be a law against stupid B-grade films having Audio Commentaries. Invariably, they either:
(a) congratulate themselves and each other on how excellent they are,
(b) embarrass themselves with inane comments,
(c) compare their work with some of the greatest films of all time, or
(d) all of the above.

    In this case, the answer is (d). There was never going to be anything to be said, so why spend an hour and a half saying it. To top it all off we are even promised a sequel!

Isolated Music Score

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;     Oh, what a choice. I choose neither - they're about equally bad!

Summary

    Bats is a terrible film that never deserved the fine treatment afforded it on this DVD. I've been waiting for just this disc to become my first DVD coffee cup coaster.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Murray Glase (read my bio)
Tuesday, December 12, 2000
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba SD-K310, using S-Video output
DisplayPioneer SD-T43W1 (125cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-D906S
SpeakersRichter Wizard (front), Jamo SAT150 (rear), Yamaha YST-SW120 (subwoofer)

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