|Category||Sci-Fi/Horror||Main Menu Audio
Audio Commentary - John Bruno (Director), Marshall Bell (Actor), Sherman Augustus (Actor) & Joel McNeely (Composer)
Theatrical Trailer (1.85:1, 4x3, Dolby Digital 2.0)
Featurette - Virus: Ghost In A Machine (17:17)
Featurette - Untitled (6:20)
Deleted Scenes (3) (4:52)
Cast & Crew Biographies
|Running Time||95:15 Minutes
(Not "2 hours 6 minutes" as per packaging)
Magna Pacific Pty Ltd.
|Starring||Jamie Lee Curtis
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Pan & Scan||English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 448
English Audio Commentary (Dolby Digital 2.0, 224 Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||
|Subtitles||None||Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Based on the Dark Horse comic book of the same name, Virus begins with a Russian space station and a relay vessel in the sea that are both hit by a cloud of strange alien gas.
We then fast-forward a week to see a salvage vessel, captained by a man named Everton (Donald Sutherland) crossing the path of the derelict ship on which the alien form is lying dormant. With him are Kit Foster (Jamie Lee Curtis), Steve Baker (William Baldwin), J.W. Woods, Junior (Marshall Bell), Richie (Sherman Augustus), and Hiko (Cliff Curtis). A series of accidents and implausible events lead to the crew being stranded aboard the Russian relay vessel, where they come across its last surviving crew member, a woman named Nadia (Joanna Pacula). Eventually, they learn that the ship has been infected with a sentient version of a computer virus that was beamed from outer space, and likes to manifest itself in various forms of mechanical equipment. From there on, it is simply a case of waiting to see which hapless crewman will be disposed of in which manner, much like your average B-grade slasher film. I can understand that Jamie Lee Curtis got her start on a slasher film, albeit one of the greatest that has ever been made, but her going back after appearing in action blockbusters such as True Lies is a little perplexing.
According to the reports that I have read, Virus cost somewhere in the neighbourhood of seventy-five million dollars to make. Very little of that budget can be seen on the screen, save for some rather grisly special effects and some well-realised animatics. I cannot help but feel that a better script would have helped this film's entertainment value, but if you're looking for a no-brainer film to kill ninety minutes with, Virus is worth a look.
The transfer is very sharp, with an abundance of detail apparent in the foreground at all times. The foreground haze I was looking out for wasn't apparent at any time, and the backgrounds are mostly quite well-detailed. The shadow detail is rather disappointing, with much of the film being reduced to gradations between dark, darker, and darkest with little steps of detail within or in between. Given that much of this film takes place in dark locations such as the belly of a sea-borne vessel in the middle of a stormy night, the lack of shadow detail is more detrimental to the transfer than would otherwise be the case. Still, most of the important parts of each shot can be made out with a little effort, so this is acceptable. There was no low-level noise in the transfer, and grain is not a major issue, either.
The colour saturation of the film can be described as dull, with all of the colour spectrum being subdued and devoid of life. This can be blamed on the lack of shadow detail as well as the intentions of the filmmakers. This lack of colour suits the overall style of the film quite well, but one must not approach this film expecting an abundance of bright, vivid shades.
MPEG artefacts were not a problem in this transfer, and this is helped to a certain degree by the dark, subdued look of the film. There did not seem to be any problems with panning shots or macro-blocking, which was a pleasant surprise. Film-to-video artefacts consisted of some interference on a computer monitor at 59:27, but there was little aliasing or telecine wobble to be overly worried about. The most troubling instance of aliasing can be seen in a wire door at 61:26, but this goes by so quickly that most people will not really notice. Film artefacts were not a real problem with the transfer, either, which looks like it was taken from a very clean interpositive.
This disc is presented in the RSDL format, with the layer change taking place at 87:11. This is during a natural fade to black, but it is still quite noticeable due to the interruption to the music. There are far worse places where the layer change could have been placed.
The audio transfer is presented with two soundtracks: the original English dialogue in Dolby Digital 5.1, and a Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo commentary track which I will elaborate on further in a moment. Some will lament the lack of any foreign dubs, but I doubt this film's plot will seem any better with the dialogue rendered in a language one doesn't understand. The dialogue is clear and easy to understand at all times, even when a deliberate distortion effect was added to simulate the voice of the alien intelligence. There were no apparent problems with audio sync, although I didn't perform any serious testing to make certain. Some hiss can be heard in the background during the first twenty minutes of the film, but this settles down and becomes a non-issue once the action gets underway.
The score music in this film is credited to Joel McNeely, and it seems appropriate for the film in that it leaves very little impression upon me. Most of the score music has a certain Indiana Jones adventure sort of mood to it, with wild and energetic themes being the order of the day in moments when a slower, more sombre tone would have been more appropriate. The converse applies to several sequences in which the film should have been accompanied by a more exciting or uplifting theme, so it all works out evenly in the end.
The surround channels were used aggressively to support the abundant special effects and music, with most of the channels contributing as much as they can to the overall sound field. The only disappointing aspect is that there were little split surround effects or directional sound effects, and discrete placement wasn't exactly the order of the day, either. Still, the soundtrack justifies the encoding with all six available channels, which is as much as you can really ask for without seeming too picky.
The subwoofer had a whale of a time supporting every aspect of the soundtrack, with the music, special effects, and explosions all being supported by some consistent use of the low frequency channel. Overall, this is one of the better Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks I have heard on a film of this variety.
The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;
The video quality is good, even if about half the picture is missing.
The audio quality is good, with only a slight hiss early in the film posing any real problem.
The extras are comprehensive.
|DVD||Toshiba SD-2109, using S-video output|
|Display||Samsung CS-823AMF (80 cm), 16:9 mode/4:3 mode, using composite and S-video inputs, 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, Philips PH931SSS Rear Speakers, Philips FB206WC Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Active Subwoofer|