Legal Eagles (1986)

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Released 13-Jun-2001

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy None
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1986
Running Time 110:51
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (58:15) Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Ivan Reitman
Studio
Distributor

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Robert Redford
Debra Winger
Daryl Hannah
Brian Dennehy
Terence Stamp
Steven Hill
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $36.95 Music Elmer Bernstein


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.20:1
16x9 Enhancement
Not 16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
Portuguese
Danish
Finnish
Swedish
Norwegian
German
Dutch
Czech
Polish
Turkish
Hungarian
Bulgarian
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, snippets during end credits

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

Plot Synopsis

    Legal Eagles stars Robert Redford as Tom Logan. Tom is an aspiring assistant District Attorney in New York who teams up with defence lawyer Laura Kelly (played by Debra Winger) to defend her slightly strange and spaced-out client Chelsea Deardon (Daryl Hannah). Chelsea, the daughter of a once-respected but now dead artist, is accused of art theft and murder. Tom and Laura begin snooping into Chelsea's past and get involved in the high-brow New York art scene, beginning to uncover some sinister goings-on. Throw in a corrupt gallery owner played by Terence Stamp, and all the ingredients are set for an interesting story.

    Unfortunately, Legal Eagles doesn't quite seem to know what type of movie it is and tries to be too many things at once. Some may refer to it as a thriller, others a courtroom drama, others a romantic comedy. Sure, it has elements of all those - in particular the try-hard romantic banter between Redford and Winger harks back to the Hepburn/Tracy era, but it is a weak effort really. It simply doesn't do one thing well enough to classify it into one particular genre.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Overall, Legal Eagles offers a very ordinary video presentation. A lack of 16x9 enhancement, almost constant aliasing, and an abundance of film artefacts make this a very difficult viewing experience.

    Presented in an aspect of 2.20:1, this is different from the original aspect ratio of 2.35:1. It is unfortunately not 16x9 enhanced.

    Sharpness varies greatly. It ranges from a glowing softness around each character to a nice level of sharpness which then exposes all of the aliasing problems. The soft images certainly dominate and make this look like a second-rate VHS transfer. Shadow detail is also a big problem. With a reasonable amount of the film occurring in darkness (at least I think it was supposed to be dark), character's faces had a habit of disappearing at times. I actually forgot to look for low level noise (I was having much more fun with the other stuff!). There is plenty of grain present, though it is only noticeable on the backgrounds and doesn't distract from the picture overall (the other problems overshadow it anyway).

    There were no apparent MPEG artefacts. There was a huge moiré effect on the zoomed-in TV screen at 4:50.

    Aliasing is rife. I normally jot down the more severe cases and note the times they occur. I gave up at the eleven minute mark when I had no fewer than ten examples. Without boring you too much, aliasing occurs on almost every venetian blind in every office/house (there are lots of them - they were popular in the 80s), on almost everything that Robert Redford wears (striped shirts and plaid jackets do not go together well - especially when they are shimmering as if he is plugged into a power point), the odd car grille, edges of desks, edges of  benches in the courtroom...you get the idea. Film artefacts were also in plague proportions. The usual mix of white blobs, scratches, what looked like an object on the lens of the camera at 49:13 and a very strange white glow on the bottom of the frame at 54:22-54:34 contributed to the mirth.

    Colours aren't too bad. A lot of browns, beiges, tans, off-whites, and more browns (the usual 80s palette) dominate, so there is little chance for colour bleeding or oversaturation. Skins tones look natural (if Robert Redford's skin could ever be called natural). The flamboyant artwork is nicely rendered with a myriad of colours present. So too are the supposedly real Picassos and other priceless works of art used in the film.

    Numerous subtitle tracks are on offer. The English were the only ones I viewed and they appeared to have no problems.

    This is an RSDL formatted disc with the layer change occurring at 58:15. Daryl Hannah's character has just knocked on Robert Redford's door and he pauses noticeably before letting her in. Not the best placement, but it is not overly disruptive.

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

Audio

    Essentially a monaural track, all of the dialogue and most of the additional sounds come through the centre speaker, with little left/right separation. The most notable use of left/right separation is during the very strange dance sequence performed by Daryl Hannah's character.

    There are five Dolby Digital 2.0 tracks present, with the surround-encoding flag embedded. These are German, French, Italian, Spanish, and of course English. I listened to the English track and verified the presence of the others.

    Dialogue is usually crisp and clear and dominates through the centre channel. There are no apparent audio sync problems.

    The musical score is by Elmer Bernstein (who has worked with director Ivan Reitman on several of his films), and it is probably the highlight of the movie. Upbeat and funky, it captures the bantering relationship between Logan and Kelly and the quirkiness of the New York art scene quite nicely. It does become a little monotonous towards the end. The song Love Touch by Rod Stewart is the "Hit Single" that is proudly trumpeted on the cover slick. This song (I don't remember it being a hit!) is featured during the end credits.

    There is no surround channel use. Likewise for the subwoofer.

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

Extras

    There aren't any!

R4 vs R1

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

    The R4 disc missed out on;     The R1 disc misses out on;     A clear win for the local product here.

Summary

    Legal Eagles has been called a flop and a dud by several critics. I would heartily agree with this summary. If the quality of the DVD presentation is reflected in the quality of the movie, then this title got exactly the treatment it deserved. A very ordinary video presentation, average sound, not a single extra, and a fairly uninspiring plot do not provide the ingredients for a must-own DVD.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Darren Walters (It's . . . just the vibe . . . of my bio)
Tuesday, June 19, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 1200, using S-Video output
DisplayLoewe Calida (84cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationHarmon/Kardon AVR7000.
SpeakersFront - B&W 602S2, Centre - B&W CC6S2, Rear - B&W 601S2, Sub - Energy E:xl S10

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