The Untouchables (1987)
|Year Of Production||1987|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (60:36)||Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Language Select Then Programme|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Brian De Palma|
Paramount Home Entertainment
Charles Martin Smith
Robert De Niro
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
On October 28, 1919, the American Congress enacted the National Prohibition Act - more often known as the Volstead Act. Chicago was already a lawless place with crime gangs, corrupt officials and police. The Volstead act opened up a whole new market for these gangs. Probably the most famous head of these gangs was Al Capone, the man responsible for the St. Valentine's Day Massacre. Due to corruption of the police, fear of reprisals towards witnesses and the fact that Capone was a very smart operator, he was never in any real danger of being charged with his many crimes. Enter an equally famous name on the side of law and order, Eliot Ness. In an attempt to bring Al Capone to justice, Eliot Ness was given the task of finding a group of honest men from within the Prohibition Bureau, apparently a very difficult task due to corruption. He eventually chose nine men. These became the untouchables. This group went on to bring Al Capone to justice, not for his many heinous crimes and murders, but for the act of tax avoidance!
The Untouchables is loosely based on this story. We have Kevin Costner playing Eliot Ness, Robert De Nero playing Al Capone with consummate skill and Sean Connery as one of the band of untouchables, in this film reduced to three. The slant of the story differs somewhat from history. Eliot Ness is depicted as an honest but slightly naive officer from the treasury department sent in to catch Capone. Sean Connery's character, Malone, plays the part of an old, tough beat cop with lots of street sense. Malone becomes the 'father figure' educating Ness on the facts of life in Chicago and how to fight Capone. We follow both sides of the conflict as they battle for supremacy
As a film The Untouchables, is thoroughly enjoyable. The cast play their parts very well and you find yourself drawn into the struggle between good and evil. There is a good balance between the drama and some lighter moments, in particular some very typical Sean Connery humour.
The video transfer is good but not great, which is a shame for such a great film. I found the transfer a little dark overall which exacerbated the slight lack of shadow detail.
We are presented with a 2.35:1 ratio transfer, which appears to be the original ratio, that is 16x9 enhanced.
The transfer is good as far as sharpness goes, with a good level of detail visible. There was no low level noise visible. Unfortunately, shadow detail was somewhat lacking. Most noticeably on indoor and night shots, the shadows become somewhat opaque and lacking in any real detail. The transfer was a little dark overall. An interesting comparison is at 35:33 where our main characters line up for a photograph. To me, it is a little underexposed as compared to 35:38 where they show the photo that has been taken.
The colours were good, although somewhat muted in parts but I believe this was intentional to promote a certain feel for the movie. Certainly full saturation is available as seen in the lush red carpet in the hotel where Capone lives, seen at 19:14. There was no chroma noise evident.
There were no MPEG artefacts in this transfer nor were there any film-to-video artefacts such as aliasing or telecine wobble. There were some film artefacts noted, consisting mostly of white specs. These seem to come in flocks. There would be a period of time with no flecks, then a series of them all together, then another period with none. Examples are at 3:31, 3:44, 14:54, 21:55, 26:06 and so on. I found these a little distracting, but maybe only because I was fascinated by their unusual grouping.
I turned on the English subtitles for a while at the start of the film. They were not the most accurate that I have seen. They often left out words that had been spoken by the character. This was probably to try and keep up with the dialogue and the omission did not drastically change the meaning. They still conveyed the meaning of what was being said.
This is an RSDL disc with the layer change at 60:36. The scene is a tender moment between Mr and Mrs Ness. They lean forward for a kiss and as their lips touch they linger for a moment. This is actually the layer change, and a very clever one at that. If you were not looking for it, you would have missed it completely.
There are four audio tracks on this disc. The default is an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. There is also a French Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, a Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded soundtrack and an Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded soundtrack. I listened to the English track and sampled the others. In particular, I checked the French Dolby Digital 5.1 track and found it to be as bad as the English.
The dialogue quality was good and easy to understand, apart from the distraction of the hiss. The only dialogue problem was a Scotsman trying to portray an Irish cop.
There were no transfer-related audio sync problems. There were a couple of moments where the ADR was out a little but you had to be quick to catch it.
The music score by Ennio Morricone is great. It adds both an atmosphere appropriate for the '20s and helps to bring the story to life, dramatic where needed and tender at the right moments. This is an example of a great match between the music and the story being told, the total becoming greater than the sum.
As previously mentioned, there very little surround presence in this soundtrack.
As also previously mentioned, some great opportunities were missed during this film for the subwoofer to make its presence felt.
|Surround Channel Use|
The only extra is the theatrical trailer.
The first menu presented is a language selection page with English as the default selection. Press Enter and you move onto the movie. The main menu has a static background picture with no audio.
The trailer is presented in 1.85:1 and has a Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track. It is of similar quality to the main feature.
The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;
Now normally the presence of an English Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround track on a disc with Dolby Digital 5.1 would be of no consequence, but in this case there are reports that the 2.0 Pro-Logic track may be superior to the Dolby Digital 5.1 effort. This may be a slight incentive to consider the Region 1 version of this DVD.
If they had not attempted to produce and advertise a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack and simply given me the original soiundtrack, but in good condition, I may not have been as upset. It is not good to promise one thing and deliver something less. Still, The Untouchables is a great film that I enjoy watching. Kevin Costner's Eliot Ness may not be historically accurate, but it is a character he plays well.
The video is acceptable.
The audio is terrible.
One extra is not enough.
|DVD||Skyworth 1050p progressive scan, using RGB output|
|Display||Sony 1252Q CRT Projector, 254cm custom built 1.0 gain screen. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to DVD player. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre.|
|Amplification||Sony STR GA-8ES|
|Speakers||B&W DM305 (mains); CC3 (centre); S100 (surrounds); custom Adire Audio Tempest with Redgum plate amp (subwoofer)|