|Year Released||1994||Commentary Tracks||None|
|Running Time||120:28 minutes||Other Extras||None|
Warner Home Video
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||MPEG||None|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1||Dolby Digital||2.0|
||Soundtrack Languages||English (Dolby Digital 2.0 ,
French (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192Kb/s)
Italian (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192Kb/s)
|Theatrical Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||
English for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||Yes|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Well, actually I am not, but it would merely be repeating points raised in my review of Three Men And A Little Lady.
Sorry, but that really is the entire plot here. Nothing really complicated and as I suggested, just a tad on the over-sanitized side to be totally believable. Nonetheless, every one involved tries to do the best with a sanitized script that in the end could have been helped by removing some of the slightly unnecessary, irrelevant exposition of back characters and irrelevant story bits that really lead nowhere and do not enhance the main thrust of the film. The main problem, though, is that this really required some punch from the lead actors and to be blunt, Meg Ryan is not all that convincing as the alcoholic wife. The unfortunate problem for Ms Ryan is the fact that she is so often typecast as a romantic comedy lead, for the very simple reason that she does it so damn well. Take her out of that area and force her to actually act and she tends to lose her way a little, despite her best endeavours. This sort of role really requires a much more gritty performance to really make it believable and the film fails a little because of this obvious point. The less said about Andy Garcia, the better in my view: he is an actor whose work has never really inspired me much and this is not one of his finer moments - although to be fair it is better than average for him. Now had this role been played, for instance, by Nicolas Cage, then the film would have been all the better for it as again the role needed someone with a bit more presence and ability than Andy Garcia can bring to a role. The whole film also suffers a little from the rather languid approach of Luis Mandoki which does not in my view suit the subject matter of the film all that well.
Whilst I would certainly not condemn this as utter rubbish, it is a little too sanitized for my taste, which would probably become far too obvious on repeated viewings (which it will not get). This film really needed to be a lot tauter in its composition and it is a definite bad sign when I am sitting checking the time left to run reading every five minutes or so. Many will probably disagree with me here, but a shorter, punchier film would have been much better received in general and would undoubtedly have had more impact that this leisurely stroll.
The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and it is 16x9 enhanced. However, that is about where the good things about the transfer end.
This is yet another effort that displays a rather flattish look with a serious lack of depth to the transfer. Definition is quite marginal at times and when coupled with some of the colour choices, it became quite difficult to distinguish foreground from background. Whilst better than Nothing To Lose in this regard, it is still a very worrying trend for Buena Vista releases. Whilst I would hardly call their efforts to be in general stellar from a transfer point of view, this recent series of flattish, poorly defined transfers would certainly seem to indicate some serious problems in the way that Buena Vista is approaching DVD transfers. There were numerous hints at graininess in the transfer, although nothing eventually broke out that was too distractingly grainy, and again there was a disturbing lack of real clarity to the transfer. Shadow detail was at times very average, which is quite a problem since many pivotal scenes in the film involve poor light conditions. Thankfully, there did not appear to be any problems with low level noise in the transfer.
I knew I was in for a bad time when the opening sequences showed a much less vibrant colourscape of the cable car terminal near Fishermen's Wharf in San Francisco than I have ever seen in real life (which is difficult to believe since I have generally been there in winter). It got worse when we got to the trees in the street outside the Green's house. Now there is a bit of irony for you - surname of Green yet the trees were more like a dirty grey tinged with what may have been some green. Yes, this is another rather interesting palette of colours. Why interesting? Well, for the simple reason that this is also a quite inconsistent transfer as far as colours go. At times there is a distinct yellow tinge to the film, which I am presuming is intended and results in quite a rich tone, most notably in the skin colours. At other times, though, there is a distinct lack of saturation in the colours and once again this is most noticeable in the very pale skin tones. Overall, this was not full of bright vibrant colours and whilst to some extent it suited the story pretty well, it did make watching the film a bit of a disappointment. There is no hint of oversaturation in the transfer at all, although the yellow tinge does get just a little too close on a couple of occasions, and there was no evidence of colour bleeding.
There are no apparent MPEG artefacts in the transfer. Apart from relatively minor shimmering that most would probably not notice, there did not appear to be any significant film-to-video artefacts in the transfer. I was a little disturbed by the quantity of film artefacts at times and they did in a couple of instances get just a little too distracting. However, this was not a consistent problem with the transfer.
This is an RSDL formatted disc with the layer change coming at 74:58. Whilst some would probably have no objections to the layer change resulting in a rather noticeably extended kiss between the leads, I felt it just a tad too noticeable and disruptive and would have thought that a better placement could have been located.
It would not take much prompting from me to make it clear that this is a seriously dialogue-driven soundtrack, and therefore absolute clarity in the soundtrack is essential to aid in the understanding of what is being said. Well it is clear, but unfortunately transferred at a rather low level that seemed to have me upping the volume at a regular interval. I would recommend that you add about 5% onto your normal listening levels in order to make much sense out of this soundtrack.
There did not appear to be any audio sync issues with the transfer.
The original music score is from Zbigniew Preisner and a decent enough effort it is too, although it does play on the old schmaltzy strings a little too much at times. Still, any soundtrack that includes a song from R.E.M. is going to rate very highly in my book! And, of course, we have the very famous song that is the theme song for the film.
Since this is a dialogue-driven film, we obviously should not expect too much from the soundtrack - and so in this regard we are not disappointed as we certainly do not get a lot from the soundtrack at all. Indeed, despite what PowerDVD might suggest, I would doubt that there is much at all going on in the surround channels - certainly nothing to worry about in the rear channels anyway. You can of course forget the bass channel here. Overall, this is really one of the most boring soundtracks that I have ever listened to outside of a silent film. The dialogue seems to be at a very monotonous level and just seems to drag on and on. The sound is very front and central to my ears and even when some (shock) dynamic action does occur in the soundtrack, it comes across as really flat in the soundscape. It is free of any inherent distortion but I would suggest that this really has been through limited remastering for this release. Acceptably boring? Probably describes it quite well.
Sorry, just trying to lighten the mood a little.
We have the usual bog standard effort from Buena Vista Home Entertainment on this DVD - which of course means (all together now) ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. Nix. Nada. Diddly squat. Doughnut hole. Politician's IQ. Australia's real budget surplus.
An ordinary video transfer.
An ordinary audio transfer.
An obligatorily absent extras package.
© Ian Morris (have a
laugh, check out the bio)
18th June 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|