Shining Through (1992)

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Released 3-Oct-2001

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Main Menu Audio
Featurette
Interviews-Cast & Crew
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1992
Running Time 127:08
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (59:51) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By David Seltzer
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Melanie Griffith
Michael Douglas
Case ?
RPI $36.95 Music Michael Kamen


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles Czech
Danish
English for the Hearing Impaired
Finnish
Hebrew
Hungarian
Icelandic
Norwegian
Polish
Portuguese
Swedish
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

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

Plot Synopsis

    I am in a real quandary as to what to say about this film. One half of me really liked it, and the other half is still having a laugh. I will get the problems out of the way first. The storyline really needs a reality check. To propose that a top spy who enters Germany on many secret missions cannot speak German is ridiculous. Even with a bandage around his neck, simulating a throat injury, to relieve him from the need to speak, he still needs to understand what others are saying to him. They then go one step further and send his secretary behind enemy lines At least she speaks German, but she has no other training! If you can get past this and some of the silliest lines ever written for a war drama, then we can have some fun.

    Michael Douglas plays Ed Leland, a dour and very dedicated spy. This character is scared of commitment and does not like to show emotion and I think Douglas plays this part well. Next up is Melanie Griffith playing Linda Voss, a strong-willed young secretary that talks Leland into letting her become a spy. I will probably be shot at dawn for being very politically incorrect, but her little girl demeanour and voice make you want to stand up and protect her from the bad guys. This makes the part work, at least for the gentlemen watching. Liam Neeson does an interesting job playing one of the main antagonists, Franz-Otto Dietrich and tries manfully to put on a German accent which works most of the time. Joely Richardson as Margrete Von Eberstein has fun with her part and we also have John Gielgud playing the part of Konrad Friedrichs/Sunflower. Unfortunately, this great actor has been completely wasted. He has a minor part and only appears on screen a few times.

    The storyline harks back to the good old days of simple good guys/bad guys. It is very clear who are the good guys in this film and you can get in and hate the bad guys from the start. There is a very simple appeal to these types of stories that makes this film an enjoyable two hours. The story also rates highly on my 'happy ending' meter, pegging the needle on a full score of 10.

    We join the story just before America enters World War Two. A young half-Jewish, half-Irish woman, Linda Vossis is looking for a job. Through a simple plot device, she ends up working for an undercover spy operating out of a law firm. Linda soon works out that her new boss, Ed Leland, is a spy. She does this because she has seen every spy film ever made and is therefore an expert on such matters. This discovery is not made too hard for her, as he dictates all his letters in code. They fall in love and are in bed together when the announcement of the attack on Pearl Harbor is made. Ed now comes out of hiding and into uniform and is moved to spy headquarters. He takes Linda with him, but they are soon separated as he goes undercover behind enemy lines. Before leaving, he tries to break up with her as he does not think they should have to worry about each other during the war. Of course, this goes down like a lead balloon.

    After he returns from one of his missions, they meet up and start working together again. A top level spy in Germany has been discovered and is dead and they need to find a replacement quickly as he had a lead on a new type of bomb, one that can fly by itself. This, of course, refers to the development of the V1 rocket. Linda talks Ed into allowing her to become a spy and to try and retrieve the information needed. Her initial mission is to be a cook for the German officer that had information on the factory in question. Her contact in Germany is Konrad Friedrichs/Sunflower, a top spy in Germany who quickly hands her over to Margrete Von Eberstein to help her make contact with the underground. Margrete and Linda soon become close friends. The big night where she has her debut as a cook turns into a disaster, although through this she ends up as the au-pair for another German officer, Franz-Otto Dietrich who is even higher up than the original target. Due to this change in venue, Linda has now lost all contact with the allies and is on her own. The story has two parts at this point; the search for the critical information and Linda's own agenda: to find her Jewish relatives that are still hiding in Berlin. The story works towards a climax as Linda finds and photographs the information she is after. Unfortunately, she is also revealed as a spy and is now on the run. Enter the shining hero, Ed, now willing to profess his true love, who tries to locate our heroine and ... now that would spoil the ending so I will stop there.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video transfer is a little disappointing. There is a fair amount of grain present and this has led to some problems.

    We are presented with a 16x9 enhanced transfer in an aspect ratio of 2.40:1. According to the IMDB, the original aspect ratio of this movie is 2.35:1.

    Sharpness is a little lacking, I think through the effect of the grain present in the original source material and the macroblocking this has caused. The shadow detail is acceptable with only the darkest scenes missing a little detail. There is low level noise triggered by the grain through most dark scenes. Overall, the film is a little on the dark side but I think this was intentional along with the muted colours to give a certain feel to the film.

    As mentioned, the colours are a little muted though there are no problems with the rendering. There is no chroma noise or colour bleed. The skin tones have been quite badly affected by the grain, leading to many cases of posterization in the faces of the actors.

    Posterization can been seen in many scenes, particularly where the light levels are low. Examples include at 11:42, 61:56 and 62:01. We also have some macro blocking in evidence, even though this is a dual layered disc. The amount of grain in the source material has given the MPEG encoder a hard time, although to be fair you need to look closely for macro-blocking to see it, such as in the background at 104:33.

    There is also evidence of aliasing with an example being the American flag in the background at 10:33 - it is very clear as the white portions of the flag show up against the dark background. There are a number of spots and flecks spread throughout the transfer, with only the white ones being annoying through some of the darker scenes.

    I won't list the 11 subtitle tracks again. They are listed at the top of this review. They are placed over the bottom of the image and are clear and easy to read. They are also accurate to what is being said.

    This is an RSDL-formatted disc with the layer change at 59:51. We are treated to a pause during a close-up of a German officer that has just bitten into something less than pleasant - slightly distracting.

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

Audio

    I thought that this soundtrack worked very well for the film. The only soundtrack present on the DVD is an English Dolby Digital 5.1 track.

    The dialogue was as clear as the diction of the particular actor. There were a couple of scenes where you had to listen carefully, but nothing was too hard to understand. The audio was in sync throughout the film

    I thought that the music worked extremely well for this soundtrack. We have a combination of music from the time period involved that helps set the scene as well as original music from Michael Kamen (X Men, Mr. Holland's Opus, Lethal Weapon, Highlander and many more) that really helps build the mood of the scene, in particular the tension during the action in Germany.

    The surrounds are used very well for film of this age. They expand the sound stage of the music, are used for good ambient surround and have some discrete effects as well. While they don't scream surround at you, they do help to draw you into the film.

    The subwoofer supported the soundtrack quite well, with the LFE actually in use throughout the film even for the bass track of the music. We do not have any of the modern 'noise' effects that seem to proliferate these days and the level is not that high, but it is present and is surprisingly tight and hard-hitting.

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

Extras

   

Menu

    The menu has a static picture in the background and is accompanied by a Dolby Digital 2.0 musical soundtrack. The menus are all presented at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and are 16x9 enhanced.

Featurette

    Basically an extended trailer running for 4:10 with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. This is presented in 1.33:1.

Cast and Crew Interview

    A series of very short interviews with:

    They are all presented in 1.33:1 and have Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtracks.

Theatrical Trailer

    Again presented in 1.33:1 and accompanied by a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. There is a scene in the trailer that is not in the film involving a radio conversation between two characters. I think it was probably dropped to highlight the isolation of the characters in Germany.

R4 vs R1

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

    There does not appear to be a Region 1 version of this disc available.

Summary

    There will be a wide variety of opinions about this film, which just about cleaned up at the 1993 Razzie awards. I think this is a little unfair, but I can see their point - the storyline is very hard to swallow, although like many things in life there are those who will like this film for their own reasons and I include myself in their number.

    The video could have been better, though thankfully they did not try to squeeze this film onto a single layer - now that would have been a disaster.

    The audio does a good workman-like job.

    The extras are disappointing. 

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Terry McCracken (read my bio)
Wednesday, October 17, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDSkyworth 1050p progressive scan, using RGB output
DisplaySony 1252Q CRT Projector, 254cm custom built 1.0 gain screen. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre.
AmplificationSony STR-DB1070
SpeakersB&W DM305 (mains); CC3 (centre); S100 (surrounds); custom Adire Audio Tempest with Redgum plate amp (subwoofer)

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