Absence of the Good (1999)

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Released 14-Mar-2000

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Theatrical Trailer-1.78:1, not 16x9, Dolby Digital 2.0
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1999
Running Time 94:27
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By John Flynn
Studio
Distributor

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Stephen Baldwin
Rob Knepper
Shawn Hoff
Allen Garfield
Silas Weir Mitchell
Tyne Daly
Case Brackley-Trans-No Lip
RPI $36.95 Music Richard Marvin


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.0 (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    You know that you are for a long evening of viewing when the disc cover proudly proclaims the star to be one of the (mostly) talentless Baldwin boys - this time Stephen Baldwin, possibly the least talented of the bunch. You know you are in for a long evening of viewing when the disc cover proudly proclaims "a riveting serial killer thriller from the director of Lock-Up" and you are sitting there trying to recall if you have ever heard of Lock-Up - and failing miserably. You know that you are in for a long evening of viewing when you realize that this is a made for television, or even worse, a straight to video effort. At least you know one thing for sure - they did not create any false advertising with the title of the film. This film genuinely has a total absence of anything that is any good at all, apart from the transfer. Read enough? Well the long and short of it is that this is a shocker of a film and nothing on earth should entice you to indulge in viewing it - not even by rental. Quite what on earth has possessed Columbia TriStar to release this effort on DVD is beyond my comprehension - I doubt whether even the most dedicated bean counter could come up with a reasonable explanation for this making it into the release schedule.

    Can I make my view about this film any clearer? The story is poor, the acting is abysmal, the credibility of the characters is non-existent and the cinematography is barely adequate. But don't just take my word for it, listen to my family. After about two minutes of watching this effort, my sister proudly proclaimed that there was no acting on display here and walked off (and she is a real film buff). Having paused the film to go and enjoy my evening meal, it took my mother about fifteen minutes to twig to the fact that the film was paused - there was that little difference in the entertainment value on display.

    What passes for the story is anything but a riveting serial killer thriller. Caleb Barnes (Stephen Baldwin) is a cop with the Salt Lake Police Department, coming to terms with wife Mary (Shawn Huff) who is not handling the accidental killing of their son at school too well. But despite the personal tragedy, he returns to work to help track down a serial killer whose modus operandi is to bash the skulls of his victims in, then proceed to tidy up the scene of the crime. What follows is a fairly boring eighty minutes to the eventual conclusion. How predictable is the story? Well the police shrink (Tyne Daly) on the basis of extremely flimsy evidence deduces the entire life story of the killer in about ten seconds flat. Yeah, right, really credible stuff indeed.

    Well the story is pretty boring, and it is brought to realization by some very ordinary attempts at acting. Okay so we tend to expect that from Stephen Baldwin, so he really cannot disappoint your very low expectations. But this is riddled with some of the cruddiest acting that it has been my misfortune to watch - and that includes anything done by Jean-Claude Van Damme and Keanu Reeves (well okay that is stretching it a little). All I can say is why was Elmo not nominated for an Oscar? He can act better than anyone on offer here. There is no real direction in the directing and at no stage does this come even remotely close to a gripping thriller. In fact, it is so bad that they should have aimed this as a comedy - it would perhaps have come closer to success. Overall this has all the hallmarks of a student film - and a not very good one at that.

    If you choose to indulge in this effort, don't say that I did not warn you!

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Well the film is crud, but in accordance with Dean's theory that the quality of the transfer is inversely proportional to the quality of the film, it ends up with a very good video transfer.

    The transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, which is the exact ratio for this made for television effort. It is 16x9 enhanced.

    Apart from some annoying minor lapses, this is a sharp and well detailed transfer that is actually far too good for a television film. The odd lapses are when the transfer becomes a little soft in definition, but nothing really too bad. The transfer is reasonably clear throughout. Shadow detail is reasonably good throughout, although a couple of times I felt it should have been better. There did not appear to be any problems with low level noise in the transfer.

    This is in general a muted colour palette, but is nonetheless quite a vibrant transfer. On occasions the palette becomes very bright and really vibrant which provides a nice contrast to the generally muted colours.

   There were no apparent MPEG artefacts in the transfer. There were no apparent film-to-video artefacts in the transfer. There were a few film artefacts present but nothing too intrusive and they are barely noticed in the flow of the film.

   This is a very rare beast indeed for Columbia TriStar - there are no subtitle options on the disc.

Audio

   The audio transfer is a pretty good one too.

   There is only the one audio track on the DVD, being a Dolby Digital 5.0 effort in English. The audio track is flagged to my player as a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, but there is definitely no bass channel in use here: if it exists, it is very silent indeed.

   The dialogue was clear and easy to understand throughout.

   There did not appear to be any audio sync problems with the transfer.

   The musical score comes from Richard Marvin, and in keeping with the whole tenet of the film, is completely unmemorable.

   There is not too much blatantly wrong with the soundtrack, apart from the absence of the bass channels, but it really does not reach any great heights at all. Surround channel presence was not especially great, with the rear channels being especially lacking in presence. Still, the film itself does not present too many opportunities for serious surround presence, so it really is not the soundtrack's fault that it is not better than it is.

Extras

    Very little on offer here, and perhaps thankfully so. We do get the Dolby Digital City trailer but this is presented in its Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded version.

Menu

    Plain jane effort that has little to commend it.

Theatrical Trailer

    A rather dull effort, although with enough of the film to get the idea of what it has to offer, and presented at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, not 16x9 enhanced and presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 sound.

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 release appears to be, for all intents and purposes, similar to the Region 1 release, unless the sound is a genuine 5.1 soundtrack on the Region 1 release. Even if it is, this is so bad that it would hardly make a serious bid for your attention so stick with the Region 4 release if you really, really need it.

Summary

    A crud film that is way worse than the 5.7 out of 10 that it currently rates on the Internet Movie Database (albeit from only 19 voters). Avoid this like the plague - there is no way this would be worth considering unless it was priced at a budget price of under $20.

    A very good video transfer.

    A pretty good audio transfer.

    Very basic extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ian Morris (Biological imperfection run amok)
Sunday, March 05, 2000
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-515, using S-Video output
DisplaySony Trinitron Wega (80cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha RXV-795
SpeakersEnergy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL

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