The 13th Warrior (1999)

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Released 21-Jun-2000

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action None
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 1999
Running Time 98:25
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (63:12) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By John McTiernan
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Antonio Banderas
Diane Venora
Omar Sharif
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $36.95 Music Jerry Goldsmith


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/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 Italian
Spanish
Dutch
Swedish
Norwegian
Danish
Finnish
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

     The 13th Warrior is based on the Michael Crichton novel Eaters Of The Dead. Ahmed Ibn Fahdlan (Antonio Banderas) is sent to the north to be an ambassador to the Vikings. Travelling with Ahmed is Melchisidek (Omar Sharif) who is his adviser and translator. On their arrival, they witness the funeral of a great Nordic warrior. That night, a ship arrives and the Vikings are asked to help a kingdom that is being attacked by a band of legendary and feared bear-like creatures.

    The Vikings' oracle proclaims that thirteen men must go to help the kingdom and do battle with the fabled beasts. Twelve men volunteer, but the thirteenth man must be a foreigner - thus Ahmed is drafted. At sunrise they start their journey to the kingdom. After some horseback riding and a stormy night or two on a Viking ship, they arrive at their destination. It's not long before the creatures start attacking.

    This movie offers more that the usual hack and slash plot, with some great character development intertwined with the action.

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Transfer Quality

Video

   The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1. It is 16x9 enhanced.

    The sharpness in this transfer can only be described as superb. It is clean and crisp from the opening scene to the end credits, and is truly magnificent to behold. The shadow detail is also superb. It is, however, worth mentioning that there are a number of scenes in this movie where there is little to no detail in the black areas, but this is how the cinematographer meant it to be, as it was the same at the cinema. I would suggest that you watch this movie under controlled lighting conditions so that you can get the most out of these scenes. There was no low-level noise, edge bleeding or excessive edge enhancement noted.

    The colour was exemplary, and beautifully saturated. It is without a doubt right up there with the best. In one particular sequence, where the team of warriors are in the caves with only torch lights to light their way, their faces take on a reddish, washed-out appearance, but this was an intentional look, and is how the film looked theatrically.

    There was only one instance of graininess seen for the entire film, which occurred at 0:58. It has been a long time since I have seen such a wonderfully grain-free transfer.

    No MPEG artefacts were seen. More astounding was the total lack of aliasing, with not even one occurrence seen during the movie proper. This is really impressive considering the sharpness and detail of this transfer - it begs the question of why can't all DVDs be like this? Having said that, when the credits starting rolling, a cross between moiré and aliasing occurs throughout.

    Film artefacts, unfortunately is where this transfer loses its reference quality rating. There are far too many small film artefacts for the age of this film. Not a minute goes by without one popping up somewhere on the screen. These film artefacts are always small and usually unobtrusive, but there are also a couple of smallish hairs or fibres to be seen as well. I expect most will go by unnoticed when you are actually watching the movie.

    This is an RSDL disc, with the layer change occurring between Chapters 11 and 12, at 63:12 at a scene change. There is a small pause, but it is pretty well placed and it is not disruptive to the flow of the movie, even though it is easily spotted.

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

Audio

    There are three audio tracks present, I listened to the default English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. The other soundtracks on the DVD are an Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack and a Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack.

    The dialogue was extremely clear and easy to understand throughout the entire movie. No audio sync problems were noticed.

    Jerry Goldsmith's music score suits the movie perfectly, as it adds to and enhances the on-screen action.

    The surround channels were very aggressively used for ambience, music and plenty of special effects. Directional effects and precise sound placement within the sound field were the norm rather than the exception. The sound placement across the front sound stage in particular is magnificent. In fact, I don't think I have ever heard better sound placement than this. Some of the scenes that contain exceptional surround usage can be found at 20:47, 26:59, 28:55, 36:30 and 84:13.

    The .1 LFE channel is so seamlessly integrated into the sound stage that it almost sounds like it is not there, but believe me it is. It is continually working to subtly add bass to many scenes, and is highly active during most of the dramatic action sequences.

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

Extras

    There are absolutely no extras at all, not even Cast & Crew biographies/filmographies.

Menu

    The Menu is not 16x9 enhanced and features a still picture of Antonio Banderas. The Menu selections are; Chapter Selections (17), Setup (Languages) and Play.

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 R1 transfer quality is also superb. If the sound quality hadn't be so fantastic on the R4 version, I may have been swayed towards the R1 version with its higher 448Kb/s soundtrack. But, since the sound is perfect and the only extra on the R1 version is a single Theatrical Trailer, I feel that the R4 version is the better choice here due to PAL's superior picture resolution over NTSC. I know I sound like a broken record on this point but when you have a projector this becomes very important.

Summary

    The video quality is stunning, and would have easily been reference quality if it weren't for the large number of small film artefacts. I expect most of these will go by unnoticed when you are actually watching the movie.

    The audio quality is superb and is easily of reference quality.

    There are no extras at all.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Paul Williams (read Paul's biography)
Sunday, July 02, 2000
Review Equipment
DVDSony DVP-725, using Component output
DisplaySony Projector VPH-G70 (No Line Doubler), Technics Da-Lite matt screen with gain of 1.0 (229cm). This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SV919THX
SpeakersFronts: Energy RVS-1 (3), Rears: Energy RVSS-1 (2), Subwoofer: Energy EPS-150 (1)

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