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|Category||Science Fiction||Dolby Digital Trailer - City
|Running Time||96:43 Minutes|
Columbia Tristar Home Entertainment
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 448Kb/s)
German (Dolby Digital 5.1, 448Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Others have stated that this television series is
more faithful to the novel upon which the original film was based, but
you'll have to excuse me if I don't see this as necessarily being a good
thing. It's not that Robert Heinlein's work is bad in and of itself
(although I have never really thought much of it, to be honest), but the
film has more to make it a unique piece of creative work. I'd rather watch
a well-orchestrated political satire that is loosely based on a novel of
the same name than a derivative carbon copy which trades upon the reputations
of other creative works and then hides behind a claim of faithfulness.
I'm obviously in a minority here, however, since I have yet to find any
critiques of the series that coincide with my feelings about it. Most of
the critics don't bother to go as deep as dissecting the story in this
series, merely resorting to praising the animation techniques that went
into creating it (which are, to be honest, quite impressive in spite of
The story begins with the insectoid aliens setting up a colony on Pluto, which is a blatant contradiction of the way in which the humans were presented as making the first aggressive act (itself a stab at the media's glossing over of America's clandestine aggression in Iran before the overthrow of the Shah). In any case, we are introduced to Private Isabelle "Dizzy" Flores (Elizabeth Daily), Lieutenant Carmen Ibanez (Tish Hicks), Private Johnny Rico (Rino Romano), and Private Carl Jenkins (Rider Strong) in a sequence of events that also detail hostility on the part of the infantry towards those with psychic abilities. Never mind the fact that, in the film, Carl was whisked away immediately to serve in military intelligence, or the fact that Carmen was never a Lieutenant until the end of the film (well after the time this series is set in). Among the new faces we are introduced to is Private Robert Higgins (Alexander Polinsky), a war correspondent who films most of the action on a portable camera and provides the narration.
Normally, this is where I would list the episodes that are presented on the disc, but the five episodes that make up this story have been blended together in order to present a more film-like feel. While I can appreciate the effort to present the complete story, I would have preferred the option to watch each episode separately, if only to judge how much of an effect the breaks have. In any case, if you are looking for an adjunct to Starship Troopers, then this television series may fit the bill, assuming you're willing to overlook what I call the Paul Verhoeven rule - "if it claims to follow on from a film by him and it isn't rated at least MA, it's not the genuine article".
The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and in spite of the recent vintage of the content, it appears that it was created with this aspect ratio in mind.
The transfer is razor-sharp from start to finish, with one significant exception: the high-speed movements of the insectoids tend to be quite blurry, but watching the programme in frame-by-frame mode leads me to believe that this was a deliberate effect. The image is quite dark most of the time, with excellent shadow detail, and plenty of subtle gradations between the focal points of each shot and the darker edges. There is no low-level noise in the transfer, although some sections of the programme look a little grainy, possibly due to the compositing of the animations during production.
The colours are mostly muted and drab, unlike the vivid saturation of the film, and the darkness of the animations serve to make the colour scheme appear even more dull and lifeless. This is definitely an artistic choice, however, as the occasional splash of bright green insectoid blood and raging red fires were realistically bright and vivid. There were no problems with colour bleeding, oversaturation, undersaturation, or composite artefacts.
MPEG artefacts were not a problem for this transfer, what with the pristine state of the source material and the bitrate usually being over seven megabits a second. Film-to-video artefacts are a little more problematic, however, due to the abundance of sharp fine lines in the image, which shimmer ever-so-slightly whenever the camera is in motion. Standout examples of aliasing can be found at 4:39, 6:23, 8:25, and 25:24, which were quite mild by any standards other than those set in this transfer. In nine out of ten cases, the aliasing was so minor that it could easily go unnoticed by the more casual viewer, but it was frequently present. I have little doubt, however, that this picture would look absolutely perfect on a progressive display. There were no film artefacts found in the transfer.
This disc is RSDL formatted, with the layer change taking place at 63:02. This is just after a vehicle in use by the Roughnecks goes into what appears to be a cave, and it is probably the best place the layer change could have been put. It is very brief and not at all disruptive to the flow of the film.
The dialogue is clear and easy to understand at all times, without any limits being imposed by the actors. This comes as little surprise, given that the actors were chosen only for their voice talents, which are quite obvious in spite of the hammy dialogue they are often called upon to recite. There were no discernible problems with audio sync at any time, either.
The music in this collection of episodes is credited to Wayne Boon and Jim Latham, and basically is a more contemporary version of the militaristic themes that accompanied the film. The score adds to the video game feel of the series, sounding quite a lot like the music that was included in the original Command And Conquer, especially the hilarious Fight, Win, Prevail theme. Comparisons between the score music in this series and that provided by Basil Poledouris for the film are going to be inevitable. In my view, the score provided for this series fits the mood of the story extremely well, but it is nowhere near as exceptional as the score found in the film.
The surround channels were aggressively used to support the sounds of flying insectoids, the growls of ground-based insectoids, winds, the music, and other such ambient sounds. The use of the higher bitrate also helps to create an immersive soundtrack that drew this viewer into the film and kept him locked into the adventures unfolding on the screen. It would have been nice to see what a full-bitrate DTS soundtrack would have done for this programme, because the only complaint I have to make about this soundtrack is that the rears are a little too quiet compared to the fronts.
The subwoofer had a whale of a time supporting the music, gunfire, grenades, and nuclear explosions. Like the surrounds, the subwoofer was aggressively utilized to provide a floor for the soundtrack which also served to draw the viewer into the experience of the film.
The video transfer is excellent, denied reference status only by a minor problem with aliasing.
The audio quality is excellent, providing an excellent demonstration of what a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack should sound like.
The extras are very limited.
|DVD||Toshiba SD-2109, using S-video output|
|Display||Samsung CS-823AMF (80 cm) in 16:9 and 4:3 modes, calibrated using the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.|
|Audio Decoder||Built In (Amplifier)|
|Amplification||Sony STR-DE835, calibrated using the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Yamaha NS-45 Front Speakers, Yamaha NS-90 Rear Speakers, Yamaha NS-C120 Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Active Subwoofer|