Rat (Rental) (2000)
|Year Of Production||2000|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Language Select Then Menu|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Steve Barron|
Universal Pictures Home Video
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.85:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||Unknown||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Rat is an extremely quirky and somewhat bizarre Irish film. The story, humour and everything about this film is very Irish. Now this might lead to a small problem for international viewers, as some of the best jokes are context-based, and funny because you know the culture from which they arise. Despite this, I still think that the film will have wide appeal on several levels and most should enjoy the humour and the story that is told. For myself, I was born in Ireland and several of the scenes nearly had me rolling off my chair with laughter.
Some of the actors may be recognisable by Australian audiences, particularly if you watch many of the English comedies on the ABC. Geoffrey Palmer has a small part as a doctor in the film and has been seen in Australia in the series As Time Goes By.
The basic idea behind the film is that someone can turn into a rat. No explanation is given for how this occurs, it simply does. The characters in the film also do not express surprise that someone can perform this transformation, but accept it and move on to what are the consequences of the transformation, in particular to themselves.
At the start of the film, a voice-over tells us that if we act like a dog, for example by urinating in public, we will turn into a dog. This then becomes the basis of the film. Our main character is behaving like a rat, getting drunk every night and staying out late, and thus becomes a rat. The film studies the reactions of the man's family to the change. The story is complicated by a freelance reporter talking his way into the house on the premise of writing a book of the families experience. While we do examine the motives and morals of the family and neighbours, this is still basically a comedy and does not get bogged down in moral dilemmas. The characters within the story are played extremely well. It is very easy to forget that they are actors playing parts and simply accept them as the characters they play.
The family decide that life with a rat is not for them. In a close vote, they decide to relocate their father rather than killing him. (The mentioned Arga is the kitchen stove, a coal-burning one). They decide on the local maggot factory as the ideal home for a rat - the scene where they deliver him is particularly funny. Not to be outdone, the rat makes the arduous trip home and surprises the family. He then further upsets their plans by turning back into a human. This would destroy their plans of making a fortune from the book so the family tries to hide him until the book can be published. Unlike the trailer, I will not reveal more of the plot as we now move on to some good twists.
What we have here is becoming an unfortunate standard; a single layered disc with just on 90 minutes of content. The transfer is just acceptable, as 90 minutes does not fit onto one layer without some problems. Is the cost of a second layer really that much more?
We are presented with a 1.85:1 transfer that is 16x9 enhanced. I was unable to locate information as to the original format.
The image overall is a little soft. The shadow detail is good and the blacks have little or no noise present.
Full colour saturation is available and is shown by the occasional flashes of solid bright colour. Counter to this is that this is filmed in a working class suburb of Dublin, which is not known for either bright colours or continuous sunlight. Indoor shots and costumes are along the same lines and contribute to the overall feel of the film.
With MPEG artefacts we run into some problems. We get some MPEG blocking, particularly in the background on an ongoing basis, usually on the MPEG frame that is furthest from the last key frame. As you single step through the transfer you can spot the frame involved - a good example is at 12:53. This same effect can be seen on scene changes particularly if they occur away from a key frame. This also leads to some posterization in the character's faces such as at 45:50. To be fair, you have to be watching closely to catch these problems but they do affect the overall impression of sharpness and detail.
Thankfully, the transfer is free from most other artefacts such as aliasing or telecine wobble. The film master used for the transfer is in excellent condition. There is only a very small amount of grain present and it is almost entirely free of any spots or scratches.
The English subtitles are present and easy to read but not particularly accurate. They paraphrase what is actually spoken. While this makes it a little easier to keep up with the film, it does sometimes change the meaning. The daughter answers the door and is reluctant to let in a reporter. The mother enters the scene and the spoken dialogue says something like "I am sorry my daughter kept you waiting outside" while the subtitles simply say "Sorry for keeping you outside".
As mentioned this is a single layered disc, so there is no layer change.
The soundtrack is excellent, particularly for a Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded one.
There is only a single English Dolby Digital 2.0 track. The surround flag has not been set, but this is definitely a surround-encoded track.
Dialogue quality is excellent throughout except for one very small section where the music overwhelms the voices. The accents are not as strong as can be found in some Irish films, such as The Commitments. The last time I watched The Commitments was with a group consisting of both Irish and Australian-born people. The Irish-born were in hysterics while the Aussie-born where asking 'what did they say' on several occasions. This didn't happen with this film.
The audio was in sync throughout the film.
The music was brilliant, with original score music from both Pete Briquette, bassist and backing singer of the Boomtown Rats, and Bob Geldorf. The original score music is complemented by a very interesting and wide range of music such as Doris Day and music from the Exorcist, which adds a great deal to both the mood and comedy of the film.
The mono surrounds were used extremely well both for the music and for ambient effects. While not a Dolby Digital 5.1 track, we sometimes forget that the older surround encoding systems can still do a workman-like job.
The subwoofer gets into the act on a couple of occasions and is well-integrated into the overall sound field
|Surround Channel Use|
We are presented with a static background for the menus accompanied by a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.
This is presented in 2.35:1 and is not 16x9 enhanced. It is also accompanied by a Dolby Digital 2.0 sound track. I would advise not watching the trailer before the film as I think it gives away too much.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
While those that miss the cultural jokes may find the remaining humour a little slapstick, Rat is nonetheless a very good film and well worth a viewing.
The video is of the same quality as most other single layer transfers I have seen.
The audio is an excellent surround-encoded effort.
Hopefully, the extras will be expanded upon when the disc is released to sell-through.
|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 amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre.|
|Speakers||B&W DM305 (mains); CC3 (centre); S100 (surrounds); custom Adire Audio Tempest with Redgum plate amp (subwoofer)|