|Category||Thriller||Theatrical Trailer(s)||Yes, 1 - 1.33:1, non-16x9, Dolby Digital 2.0|
|Year Released||1992||Commentary Tracks||None|
(not 100 minutes as per packaging)
Fox Home Entertainment
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||MPEG||None|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1||Dolby Digital||2.0|
||Soundtrack Languages||English (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192 Kb/s)|
|Theatrical Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||
English for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or
|Yes, in credits|
Mind you, the basic premise of the film is not bad at all. Unfortunately, the execution is not the best. Michael Carr (Kurt Russell) and his wife Karen (Madeleine Stowe) are subjected to a break-in at their home, during which Karen is threatened by the intruder. After the intruder leaves, the police attend the scene in the form of Roy Cole (Roger E. Mosley) and his slightly psychotic partner, Pete Davis (Ray Liotta). Davis becomes a little obsessive about Karen and starts becoming a little more common in her life than Michael would like. It starts out as simple assistance with the installation of a new security system in her home, but gets progressively worse. Becoming completely obsessed with Karen, Davis walks in on Michael and Karen in the act of intercourse, and starts to ruin Michael's business life as the obsession grows. After Michael lays a formal complaint against Davis, things get even worse, especially for Cole after he threatens Davis with exposure if Davis does not seek professional help. This eventually leads to the planting of cocaine in Michael's house which is discovered during a search conducted by the police as a result of an anonymous tip-off. It ultimately leads to the inevitable climatic clash between Michael and Davis.
And it does end up being as dreary as the synopsis starts to sound. It would probably have helped if there was some excitement generated somewhere in the script, but this just keeps on chugging along like a monotone conversation. And the inevitable conclusion of that monotone conversation is really dull drudgery. About the only thing to enlighten the drudgery is the somewhat gratuitous nude scene involving Madeleine Stowe. Kurt Russell has never really demonstrated to me any great scope as an actor and this certainly is not a start of a breakaway from that mold. This performance lacks any sort of emotional input and ultimately lacks any sort of credibility at all. Madeleine Stowe is almost the exact duplicate as the wife and fails to rise to any sort of emotional level that I find believable. Ray Liotta is actually quite decent as the obsessive psychotic cop, but his performance alone is not enough to pull this film out of the mire. Combined with the rather poor story and the rather unemotional acting performances is some rather lacklustre direction from Jonathan Kaplan.
In some respects this makes Speed 2: Cruise Control look like a great film, simply because that film has some action in it. This effort lacks anything in the way of real action and the acting and story are of insufficient standard to make this work as a thriller. It was a poor film on VHS and it is an even worse film on DVD, as it is exposed in all its digital underwear as completely lacking any substance whatsoever.
The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and it is 16x9 enhanced.
After a couple of very fine transfers from Fox Home Entertainment, this is a significant let down that, coupled with the above problem and packaging inaccuracies, does not bode well for the ongoing reputation of their releases. This is not a great transfer, being quite diffuse and lacking a lot in the way of definition, as well as being a little darker than perhaps it should be. At times it was a little difficult to watch the film as it was too diffuse, resulting in quite a flat, distinctly two dimensional feel to the film. Shadow detail was reasonable, but really for a film of this vintage should have been a little better I feel. It is not an especially clear transfer although, mercifully, it is not a grainy transfer either. There does not appear to be any low level noise problems with the transfer.
Matching the rather diffuse transfer is a rather muted palette of colours that is so lacking in any sort of vibrancy that it just compounds the overall diffuse image far too much. The result is a reasonably unnatural feel to the film, and really this needed a little more saturation in the colours to make the image more distinctive. There certainly is no problem at all with oversaturation of colour. Overall, I would have to say that this was a far more disappointing looking transfer than I was expecting for a film of this age.
There did not appear to be any significant MPEG problems in the transfer. Film-to-video artefacts comprised some reasonably minor aliasing inconsistently throughout the film. Once again, film artefacts were barely noted during the film, with little in the way of dirt blemishing what is a quite clean transfer for a film of this age.
This is an RSDL formatted disc with the layer change coming at 59:04. This is a decent layer change, just noticeable but not really disruptive to the film at all. Given that this is an RSDL format disc, which should have afforded plenty of space for compression of the data, I would have expected a far better transfer to result.
Note that the packaging refers to a Hebrew subtitle option, but this is not present on the disc.
Dialogue was always clear and easy to understand.
There were no audio sync problems with this disc.
The score by James Horner is not a patch on his effort for that film and in general sounds as dull as the film looks. I suppose that we should be grateful for the consistency involved.
This is not the best surround encoded soundtrack that I have heard, and lacks in general any sort of detail out of the rear surround channel in particular. I suppose that this suits the film somewhat, as there are significant amounts of dialogue involved, but really in the nightclub scene for instance, I would have expected some background noise at least in the rear channel, but there was none. The resultant soundscape is a little flat and dull, just to keep the consistency flowing. Obviously you can toss away the subwoofer for this effort.
A quite mediocre video transfer, with a serious flaw for those with televisions with little or no overscan.
A quite flat audio transfer.
The extras are not worth worrying about.
And is it really asking too much for the packaging to be at least accurate in detail, and that the detail be reasonably sized so that it is at least legible, without having to resort to a magnifying glass?
© Ian Morris
6th February 2000
|DVD||Pioneer DV-515; S-video output|
|Display||Sony Trinitron Wega 84cm. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in|
|Amplification||Yamaha RXV-795. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL|