Loch Ness (1995)

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Released 15-Oct-2001

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Family Main Menu Audio
Notes-A Brief History Of The Mystery
Production Notes
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1995
Running Time 96:25
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By John Henderson
Studio
Distributor

Magna Home Entertainment
Starring Ted Danson
Joely Richardson
Ian Holm
Case Click
RPI $29.95 Music Trevor Jones


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Screen, not known whether Pan & Scan or Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

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

Plot Synopsis

    I am going to take an each way bet on this film. Yes, it is a pretty formulaic story. Some outsider comes to town, usually to do something the townspeople won't like. There is a member of the opposite sex that is widowed and has a really cute kid. The outsider becomes involved with the widower, usually through the machinations of the child. The outsider then breaks the trust of the people somehow, but always, redeems himself for a really happy ending.

    That being said, I really like this type of film and this is a particularly well-done one as well. After a long hard day at work at the end of a long week, I don't want to think, be shocked or stretch my boundaries, I want to be cheered up, to feel happy and have my faith in human nature restored. There are two types of film that do this for me; the mindless but entertaining films like ID4 and the other more emotional type such as Loch Ness.

    The writer mentions that it took over ten years to get a studio to agree to make the film as he wrote it, because they all wanted to turn it into Jurassic Park with scuba. He held out, and eventually the story was made as he intended, but someone still managed to find a quote from the Sydney Morning Herald to put on the cover: "Local Hero meets Jurassic Park", still trying to milk the film as a monster action film. It is not that kind of film!

    This film brings together some great actors. Ted Danson gives a surprisingly strong performance as Jonathon Dempsey, a scientist that destroyed his professional reputation searching for the Yeti and is now a somewhat bitter cynic. Joely Richardson plays the role of the widower. Her character is a strong Scottish woman who runs the local pub and hotel. I think she does a fantastic job and if I were in Dempsey's place, I would have no trouble settling in this beautiful little town on the banks of the Loch with her character. Ian Holm is a very dour Scott who is the local warden of the Loch. While he does not have a big part, he plays it perfectly. And last but certainly not least, the filmmakers searched Scotland for someone to play the daughter. The lovely little red-headed lass with the broad Scottish accent and the 'second sight' fits the part perfectly. She really is too cute for words, but thankfully they do not descend into total sentimentality.

    The story. We are, of course, searching for the elusive Loch Ness monster. Dr Dempsey initially arrives to prove to one and all that there is no such thing. This does not endear him to the local townspeople as they rely on the tourist trade. He does end up staying at the local pub where he meets the beautiful landlord. Despite the efforts of the townspeople he does complete his survey that should prove that the monster does not exist. Our story does not end here, as something happens that turns Dr Dempsey from a cynic to a believer, and he must make a critical decision that will affect both his own future and that of the town. The story really revolves around the people involved and not the monster. We follow Dr Dempsey and the characters around him through an emotional journey, a crisis and then the resolution.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Unfortunately we are presented with a 1.33:1 transfer. It teases you at the start by playing the credits at 2.35:1 but then moves to full screen as the action starts. It would appear that this film was originally filmed in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1. Cutting this to 1.33:1 is a crime - the wondrous scenery alone deserves better.

    The image on screen is very soft. Both the foreground and the background really lack fine detail. The shadow detail is good and there is a small amount of low-level noise present.

    The colours are somewhat muted, as is the lighting. This is probably intentional to give the feel of a cold little Scottish town and surrounds. There is no chroma noise or colour bleeding present.

    This film has been fairly heavily compressed, though it has been saved the worst of the MPEG artefacts that could have been present by the softness of the image. The majority of the visible artefacts are in the background. This has lead to some shimmering such as at the top of the scales in the shop at 30:00. There is also blocking visible in the background at 29:29 which is also a long shot that shows the lack of detail. The transfer is otherwise free of aliasing and the film master used is in very good condition. There are hardly any specks or scratches. There is grain present but the lack of sharpness really hides this to a great extent.

    There are no subtitles on this disc.

    This is a single layer disc and as such there is no layer change.

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

Audio

     There is a single English Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack on this disc. While the surround bit has not been set, I listened to the movie with Pro-logic decoding turned on and this worked quite well.

    There is a single dropout on the audio track. At 84:54 there is a tiny break in the sound. It is very short but will be noticed.

    Dialogue quality is excellent throughout and the audio sync is also good.

     The music was an integral part of my enjoyment of this film. It all has a Scottish theme, Sky Boat Song being clearly heard at one point as an example. The music ranges from a single instrument, through a small Celtic group to full orchestral. It really adds to the atmosphere of the film and to the emotional impact.

    The surrounds, while mono, are used for both ambience and to expand the musical soundstage where appropriate. They are typical of this type of film but would be missed if not there.

    There was little for the subwoofer to do.

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

Extras

   

Menu

    The menu is a static picture with Dolby Digital 2.0 accompaniment. It is presented at 1.33:1.

A Brief History of the Mystery

    25 pages of text that tell you a little of the history of the legend of the Loch Ness Monster. This is actually quite interesting reading.

Production Notes

    A further 26 pages of text outlining the evolution of the film and a little about the location and other related topics. Again quite interesting for what it is.

Biographies: Cast and Crew

    The usual cast and crew bios. Static text pages with no soundtrack.

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.

Summary

    I find this type of film really appealing. It is escapism to a slightly simpler world where there is always a happy ending. Nobody is murdered, blown up or otherwise reduced to their component atoms, leaving us with a gentle story that the whole family should be able to enjoy.

    The video is quite disappointing.

    The audio is good.

    The extras need expanding. There are a thousand documentaries on the Loch Ness Monster - surely it would not have been difficult to find one, though of course this would have meant a second layer, which would not have hurt the transfer either.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Terry McCracken (read my bio)
Sunday, December 23, 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)

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
The R2 is in widescreen and R4 encoded - Frank