Always (1989)

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Released 9-May-2001

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Production Notes-(10 pages)
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Theatrical Trailer-2
Web Links
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1989
Running Time 117:23
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (69:01) Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Steven Spielberg
Studio
Distributor

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Richard Dreyfuss
Holly Hunter
John Goodman
Brad Johnson
Audrey Hepburn
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $36.95 Music John Williams


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 4.1 L-C-R-S-Sub (448Kb/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 1.75:1
16x9 Enhancement
Not 16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 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 No

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

Plot Synopsis

    I feel the plot synopsis in the Production Notes section of this DVD gives us a fine description of what this movie is about, so I'm going to use it, instead of waffling on myself.

    "Always is both a love story and an adventure that touches the emotions of the heart and the impact of the spirit, set against the background of the men and women who fight forest fires from the air and from the ground.

    Pete (Richard Dreyfuss) is the greatest flier of them all, a master of the sky who seems to know no fear. The only thing he can never do, to the sorrow of Dorinda (Holly Hunter), the woman he loves, is to stop flying. It is as much a part of him as breathing. Dorinda is fearful every moment he is in the air, and her fears are sadly realized when, in the course of saving their best friend Al (John Goodman) in a daring mid-air rescue, Pete loses his life. However, Pete's mission, and Dorinda and Pete's love for each other, is far from over. Somewhere on the way to heaven, Pete meets Hap (Audrey Hepburn), who explains that he must go back to pass on all he knows to another pilot, Ted (Brad Johnson). He becomes Ted's guardian angel and inspires Ted to become as great a flier as he was. But Pete also discovers the true purpose of his mission - he must return to Dorinda one more time and show her the way to go on without him, thus earning his own place in heaven."

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Always has received a very good transfer all-in-all, but what I really want to know is where is the 16x9 enhancement?. Apart from the lack of 16x9 enhancement, the source material accounts for most of the minor shortcomings in this transfer.

    The transfer is presented in a (measured) aspect ratio of 1.76:1 and is not 16x9 enhanced.

    The picture sharpness is very good, with plenty of fine detail present. The picture detail would have been really impressive if a proper 16x9-enhanced transfer had been created, but alas it's not, so this will just have to do. No low-level noise or edge enhancement was noticed.

    There is some reasonably minor grain present for much of the film which becomes more regular and more noticeable during the second half of the film. Most of the time the grain is limited to just the background, but it does spill over into the foreground for lengthy periods in the latter part of the film, which in turn disrupts the picture detail a little.

    Colour is very good, but it is a little inconsistent. Quite a few scenes look either slightly over- or under-done, but this is hardly a transfer-induced problem.

    Apart from one strange effect at 75:50 that may or may not be an MPEG artefact, this disc is free from MPEG artefacts as far as I could tell. Aliasing and moiré artefacts are rare and always minor when they do occur. I only noticed eight occurrences for the entire film, at 6:13, 6:18, 25:22, 69:49, 75:25, 76:13, 83:39 - 83:48 and 107:30. The addition of 16x9 enhancement would have definitely improved this area further. The opening and closing credits have a slight shake about them, but the movie itself appears to be steady.

    There is a healthy sprinkling of small film artefacts, with the odd big hair or scratch present too, but overall they aren't really disruptive as they are usually just one-offs. A couple of the more noticeable film artefacts can be found at 41:17, 48:03, 65:50, 68:21 and 84:17.

    This disc is an RSDL disc, with the layer change occurring during Chapter 11, at 69:01. This is a great layer change that does not disrupt the flow of the movie at all. It almost went by unnoticed.

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

Audio

    There are five audio tracks on this DVD; an English 448Kb/s Dolby Digital 4.1 soundtrack (L-C-R-S-Sub) and French, German, Italian and Spanish 192Kb/s Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded soundtracks. I listened to the default English soundtrack.

    The dialogue was well-integrated, clear and very easy to understand throughout the entire film. No audio sync problems were noticed.

    The musical score is by John Williams.

    The surround channel use is very good, with plenty of ambient sound effects which range from subtle to totally enveloping.  The front soundstage imagery is great - the precise sound placement really helps open up the soundfield, and consequently you can become immersed in the movie for long periods of time. Before everyone gets too excited about the soundtrack, let me just say that this is no Gladiator soundtrack, but for what it is, it is very good.

    The subwoofer is frequently used to subtly add bass to many scenes, and is well-utilized during the dramatic sequences.

    Packaging Error: The packaging shows the English soundtrack as having a channel configuration of L-R-SL-SR-Sub, but it is actually configured as L-C-R-S-Sub.

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

Extras

    The extras are limited, consisting of Production Notes, Cast & Crew filmographies/biographies plus two trailers.

Menu

    The menus are presented in the 16x9 enhanced aspect ratio of 1.78:1. The Main Menu selections are; Chapter Selection (18 with index), Bonus Material, Language Selection and Play.

Production Notes (10 pages)

    Ten pages of text consisting of a plot synopsis and production details.

Cast & Filmmakers

    This section contains Biographies & Filmographies for Holly Hunter, Richard Dreyfuss, John Goodman, Audrey Hepburn and the Director Steven Spielberg.

Theatrical Trailer 1 (1:43 minutes)

    This trailer is of reasonable quality, presented in the non-16x9-enhanced aspect ratio of 1.80:1, with a Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded soundtrack.

Theatrical Trailer 2 (2:22 minutes)

    This trailer is also of reasonable quality, presented in the non-16x9-enhanced aspect ratio of 1.78:1, with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.

Web Link

    A web link to http://www.universalstudios.com/home.

R4 vs R1

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

    Since the R4 and R1 contents are basically identical, the R4 version becomes an easy choice because of PAL's higher picture resolution and lack of 3:2 pull-down artefacts.

Summary

    Always is yet another brilliant Steven Spielberg movie.

    All-in-all the picture quality is very good, despite the lack of 16x9 enhancement.

    The audio quality is great.

    The extras are limited.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Paul Williams (read Paul's biography)
Thursday, June 28, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDSony DVP-725, using Component output
DisplaySony Projector VPH-G70 (No Line Doubler), Technics Da-Lite matt screen with gain of 1.0 (229cm). This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-DS989
SpeakersFronts: Energy RVS-1 (3), Rears: Energy RVSS-1 (2), Subwoofer: Energy EPS-150 (1)

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