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Number 95 - February, 2003

Staff


Now Playing
Divider

Alive Formula 51
Halloween: Resurrection Hellraiser: Hellseeker
The Last Supper Lilo & Stitch
Men In Black 2 Nobody's Baby
The Pool The Shipment
Signs The Son's Room
Stargate Sweet Home Alabama
Undisputed Wishmaster - The Prophecy Fulfilled
One Hour Photo Road to Perdition

Divider

Dimension Films

2002, Color, Rated R

1 Hr 29 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 (16x9 enh)

English Dolby Digital Mono

 

Directed by Rick Rosenthal

 

Starring Busta Ryhmes, Jamie Lee Curtis, Sean Patrick Thomas, Tyra Banks.

 

Release Date: 12/03/2002

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

MPEG Flags

Violence

Yes

Sex

Suggestive

Language

Strong

"Halloween: Resurrection"

Synopsis

Plot Overview

When the Internet boom was still alive and kicking, so was Michael Meyers. In the latest - and probably not the last - film in this long running franchise, Michael goes live on the Internet.

Freddie Harris (Busta Rhymes) creates a contest, and the winners get to spend the night in the old Meyers home live on the web. He and his partners rig up the home so that every room is covered on camera.

The winners are a mix of people with all but one really wanting to be there. Three of them are close friends, with one hoping to be the next superstar, one a master chef, and one, well, not really sure what she wants to do other than not spend the night in the Meyers house.

Little to their surprise, Michael has been living in the house, and he does not much care for them setting up camp. Thanks to the aid of a wireless PDA device, Sara Moyer is able to run from Michael as he stalks her around the house.

Commentary

What is it going to take to kill this guy? Die Michael, die!

The film must have been conceived during the Internet explosion. It does sort of tie in with the latest reality TV craze that is wasting all of the prime time air these days.

The most surprising portion of the film is during the opening, with long time Halloween scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis. I will save that enjoyment for you.

This film also runs fairly short, at just one minute shy of 90 minutes.

If you are a fan of the Halloween franchise, then this film might be worth renting. For most others, you can probably skip over and go on to something more entertaining.

Technical

The transfer is definitely the best part of this film. In fact, it is very good. Most of the film is spent in low light conditions, and the scenes are free of grain and noise. In short, the film has excellent shadow detail.

The soundtrack in this film is a character all on its own. The surrounds are used throughout the film along with several bass riffs. The bass is used to make you feel uneasy before something jumps out and grabs you.

The MPEG encoding, while not terrible by any means, does drop to video for longer amounts of time than normal. You may notice occasional glitches on flag based players and HTPCs.

Error Type

Comments

Chapter Break

Every chapter break had a drop to video.

Video (2-2)

There were 29 drops to video. The drops are longer than normal.

Film (3-3)

There were 24 changes to 3-3 pulldown. They lasted for between 2 and 3 MPEG PICs. (6-9 video fields)

Film (2-2 / 30p)

There were 27 changes to 2-2 pulldown. They lasted for between 2 and 3 MPEG PICs. (4-6 video fields)

To have a better understanding of what the flags above mean, please refer to our "A Beautiful Mind" review.

- Stacey Spears -

Divider

Disney

2002, Color, Rated G

1 Hr 25 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 (16:9 Enh.)

English Dolby Digital 5.1

 

Directed by Dean Deblois

 

Starring the voice talents of Chris Sanders, Daveigh Chase, Tia Carrere, Ving Rhames, and David Ogden Stiers.

 

Release Date: 12/03/2002

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

MPEG Flags

*

Violence

Mild

Sex

No

Language

No

"Lilo & Stitch"

Synopsis

Plot Overview

Stitch is the creation of Dr. Jumba (David Ogden Stiers), who put him here to wreak havoc on the world. He was designed to destroy. Dr. Jumba is arrested and the grand council says that Stitch must go.

When Stitch escapes and makes his way to Earth, he is “found” in a local pet store by Lilo. Lilo is currently being raised by her older sister Nani. Lilo is also constantly getting into trouble, and this causes a problem for Nani as Mr. Bubbles is her case worker and is threatening to take Lilo away if she can’t do a better job.

Dr. Jumba is sent to earth to track down Stitch and bring him back before he causes any more trouble.

Commentary

Stitch is just down right mean! He was designed to destroy everything he comes into contact with. Throughout the film he causes nothing but trouble.

My initial reaction to this film was that it is not for children. I mean who wants to watch a little monster destroy everything out of nastiness? While visiting family for the holidays, I discovered that everyone I knew with kids had bought this film for them, and their kids all loved it.

It seems that the young kids don’t really understand that Stitch is mean. They just find him to be a funny creature that is always getting into trouble. So while I stand by my belief that this film is not really for children, it seems that children do love it.

With that said, it is a pretty big change from previous Disney work. It is an original concept and one I think that is well executed.

The animation style is interesting, and it reminds me of older animation with static backgrounds with characters plopped on top. This is not a dig at the animation but just pointing out the artistic look and feel of the film.

There is very little in the way of extras on this disc. This is unusual because Disney has been packing their DVD animations to the rim lately.

Technical

Most of the recent Disney releases have been direct digital transfers, but this film is not. While it does look excellent overall, there is a bit of noise in saturated colors that is a result of being transferred from film.

Because it is an animation, the entire soundtrack is fabricated. Every last detail has to be created, and Disney has done an excellent job here. The soundtrack is very enveloping. In fact, it may be a bit too aggressive for some of the younger children who scare easily at loud noises. Of course if they are just watching this film on a smaller TV, then that will not be a problem. For us adults with 5.1 systems, this disc does rock!

Error Type

Comments

Chapter Break

No chapter break had a drop to video.

Video (2-2)

There were 0 drops to video.

Film (3-3)

There were 28 changes to 3-3 pulldown. They lasted for between 2 and 3 MPEG PICs. (6-9 video fields)

Film (2-2 / 30p)

There were 27 changes to 2-2 pulldown. They lasted for between 2 and 3 MPEG PICs. (4-6 video fields)

To have a better understanding of what the flags above mean, please refer to our "A Beautiful Mind" review.

- Stacey Spears -

Divider

Touchstone Pictures

2002, Color, Rated PG-13

1 Hr 46 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (16:9 Enh.)

English Dolby Digital 5.1 EX

 

Directed by M. Night Shyamalan

 

Starring Mel Gibson and Joaquin Phoenix.

 

Release Date: 1/07/2003

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

MPEG Flags

Not Tested

Violence

Yes

Sex

No

Language

Mild

"Signs"

Synopsis

Plot Overview

Without giving too much away, Graham (Mel Gibson) wakes up one morning to the screams of his children. He rushes out to the corn field to discover that someone has plowed down a bunch of his corn.

Graham assumes that this is some prank that has been committed by some local boys. Shortly afterwards, Graham and his family see that this same thing has happened around the world and that when viewed from the sky there are visible patterns in the corn.

More and more events begin to take place that make Graham wonder if this is really a hoax or not.

Commentary

I will warn you now that Signs moves at a very slow pace. It takes its time setting up the events. It feels very much like a Hitchcock film from the opening credits until the very end.

The film focuses very close on Graham, his two kids, and his brother. A lot of time is spent developing the characters and setting us up for the final outcome.

I really liked this film a lot. To put that in perspective, I also like "Unbreakable". If you are looking for a fast paced film or a lot of action, you are going to be disappointed with Signs though.

I highly recommend a purchase of this film if you are a fan of M. Night’s work. If you did not care for Unbreakable, you may want to rent this one first.

There are a lot of extras on the disc. There are several features from long to short. There are also a few deleted scenes included. As usual I recommend you stay away from the deleted scenes until you have finished watching the film.

Technical

The film has a mixture of day and night shots. A lot of the action takes place in dark scenes. These scenes are always free of any noise and grain. The opening shots have a tremendous amount of detail up close. Except for some occasional edge enhancement, I consider this a pretty good transfer.

The soundtrack in this movie could have been a starring character in the film. The movie is actually quiet on the music front and instead relies on ambient noise to create tension. The film is encoded as an EX soundtrack or 6.1. If your processor has the capability, a 6th channel will be extracted from the left and right surrounds. They make good use of that channel in this film.

- Stacey Spears -

Divider

Touchstone Pictures

2002, Color, Rated PG-13

1 Hr 49 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 (16:9 Enh.)

English Dolby Digital 5.1

 

Directed by Andy Tennant

 

Starring Reese Witherspoon, Josh Lucas, Patrick Dempsey, Fred Ward and Candice Bergen.

 

Release Date: 2/04/2003

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

MPEG Flags

Not Tested

Violence

No

Sex

No

Language

Mild

"Sweet Home Alabama"

Synopsis

Plot Overview

Up and coming fashion designer Melanie Carmichael (Reese Witherspoon) has just become engaged with Andrew (Patrick Dempsey) who just so happens to be the son of New York’s mayor.

There is one small little problem, it seems Melanie is already married. Of course not wanting to ruin the relationship with Andrew, she heads off to her home in Alabama to get her husband to sign divorce papers.

Wouldn’t you know that Jake (Josh Lucas) is still in love with Melanie and is why he has not signed the divorce papers, up until now.

So, Melanie wants to marry Andrew, but Melanie is still married to Jake. Jake is still in love with Melanie. Melanie does not realize it yet, but she is still in love with Jake.

Commentary

The only real problem I had with this film was the predictability. You could see the ending coming from a mile away. That is ok though as the ride to the end was fairly entertaining.

Most of the story is spent in Alabama where we slowly learn about Melanie’s wild childhood, a.k.a. “Felony Melanie.” We also learn that this recent fashion success is really trailer trash in disguise. Surprise, surprise!

The film is cute and I don’t consider the time spent watching it a waste. It has moments that will make you chuckle and is well worth the rent. I recommend renting it, rather than a purchase. It is a one-time watch.

I used to be a huge fan of deleted scenes. However, as time goes on I find myself watching them less and less. I did, however, enjoy the deleted scenes on this disc. There is an entire subplot that has been excised from the film. The subplot was removed based on the audience reactions from early test screenings of the film.

Technical

There appears to be a fair amount of edge enhancement. The up close shots look fairly clean and detailed, but the long shots show visible haloing around objects. Some of the night shots appear a bit grainy, but all in all it is a good looking movie.

I was most surprised by the audio soundtrack of this film. Most romantic comedies are focused on the front soundstage of the room, but not this film. The surrounds are fairly active with ambient environmental noise. The dialog is always intelligible. There does not appear to be any audible distortion caused by mic preamp clipping.

- Stacey Spears -

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Miramax Films

2002, Color, Rated R

1 Hr 34 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 (16:9 Enh.)

English Dolby Digital 5.1

 

Directed by Walter Hill

 

Starring Wesley Snipes, Ving Rhames, Peter Falk, Michael Rooker, Jon Seda, and Wes Studi.

 

Release Date: 11/26/2002

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

MPEG Flags

*

Violence

Yes

Sex

Suggestive

Language

Strong

"Undisputed"

Synopsis

Plot Overview

When the heavyweight champion of the world, Iceman Chambers (Ving Rhames), is accused of rape, he is sentenced to serve a prison sentence.

A long time a go, in a galaxy far, far away, an up and coming boxing champion Monroe Hutchens (Wesley Snipes) is convicted of killing a man, so he is sentence to life in prison.

Monroe is currently the prison boxing champion and well respected. When the Iceman shows up, the first thing he does is antagonize Monroe. Because of this, Monroe is put into solitary so that a fight won’t ensue.

One of the “godfathers” in the prison happens to be a boxing fanatic and sets up a match between Monroe and the Iceman. When the warden tries to stop the fight, he is sent on vacation.

Commentary

This film sure does play a lot like a mini Mike Tyson story with the whole heavyweight / rape storyline. There are a few scenes where we see the victim being interviewed and we also see his response. We never really know what happened.

Monroe came across as being the good guy in this film, but it is hard to feel for him knowing now matter how the film ends, he will still be in prison. They really want us to dislike Iceman as he comes off arrogant throughout the film.

I thought both actors played their roles well for what they had to work with. The fight scenes were well executed, but does the mob really have that much control over the prison?

Technical

The transfer is just ok. There is visible noise in the dark scenes, and there is not a lot of shadow detail present. There is also not a lot of detail in some of the close-ups, and the long shots look overly soft.

Other than the crowd noises from the fight scenes, the sound track is pretty flat. Having said that, the dialog is always intelligible, and no audible distortion was present, even during the thick of the fights with the crowd screaming.

The flags are about average. There is the usual drop to video with every chapter break. There are more 2-2 sequences than normal, but not too much.

Error Type

Comments

Chapter Break

Every chapter break had a drop to video.

Video (2-2)

There were 22 drops to video.

Film (3-3)

There were 25 changes to 3-3 pulldown. They lasted for between 2 and 3 MPEG PICs. (6-9 video fields)

Film (2-2 / 30p)

There were 46 changes to 2-2 pulldown. They lasted for between 2 and 3 MPEG PICs. (4-6 video fields)

To have a better understanding of what the flags above mean, please refer to our "A Beautiful Mind" review.

- Stacey Spears -

Divider

Touchstone

1993, Color, Rated R

2 Hr 7 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (16:9 Enh.)

English Dolby Digital 5.1

 

Directed by Frank Marshall

 

Starring Ethan Hawk, John Haymes Newton, John Malkovich, Kevin Breznahan, Sam Behrens, and Vincent Spano.

 

Release Date: 10/08/2002

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

MPEG Flags

*

Violence

Yes

Sex

No

Language

Strong

"Alive"

Synopsis

Plot Overview

“Alive” covers the miraculous tale of a large group of athletes – rugby players and friends – surviving months in the Andes mountains after their plane goes down. The October, 1972 event gained wide awareness with the 1993 theatrical release of this movie, spawning a rash of survival movies and parodies. While the worst part is unavoidably the cannibalism, director Frank Marshall polishes the story for the mainstream by playing heavily on themes of conflict, spirit, and resolve.

Commentary

The pace of “Alive” resembles a roller coaster ride, starting up with a strong, mood-setting monologue by a crash survivor, played by John Malkovich. Shortly after a brief “we’re-having-too-much-fun” horse around, the highly convincing and impressive plane crash rockets past, possessing the momentum for much of the movie. From there, the passengers continually decline while their hopes continue to peak and plummet. That is, until Nando (Ethan Hawke) and Antonio (Vincent Spano) lead the group to the satisfying foregone conclusion.

Alive is not only a solid and uplifting survival movie, which succeeds in being powerful even 10 over-stimulated society years after its original release. Much of its lasting success is due to it being a true story, and this enhances your ability to live vicariously through the characters. I did find that I wanted to learn more about the survivor’s personalities and lives than what was provided during the movie. This need was substantially filled in the DVD’s extras, which includes the 1992 BBC documentary “Alive: 20 Years Later” and a hauntingly familiar field trip “Return to the Andes”. The documentary contains interviews with a few of the survivors, who detail their life before, during, and after the ordeal. “Return to the Andes” is a great clip to watch after spending the movie in the “what-if-it-was-me” mindset, and one can only imagine the sudden rush of emotion when returning to such a location.

Technical

The video transfer was more than acceptable for the documentary styled survival movie. There were some grainy dark scenes and some noise here and there, but it won’t distract from the story. The sound was acceptable, with the only interesting surround content coming on the crash scene.

There are a large number of drops to video on this disc, but there is no drop on the chapter breaks.

Error Type

Comments

Chapter Break

No chapter break had a drop to video.

Video (2-2)

There were 106 drops to video.

Film (3-3)

There were 41 changes to 3-3 pulldown. They lasted for between 2 and 3 MPEG PICs. (6-9 video fields)

Film (2-2 / 30p)

There were 137 changes to 2-2 pulldown. They lasted for between 2 and 3 MPEG PICs. (4-6 video fields)

To have a better understanding of what the flags above mean, please refer to our "A Beautiful Mind" review.

- Ya-Bing Chu -

Divider

Columbia Tristar

2002, Color, Rated R

1 Hr 33 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 (16:9 Enh.)

English Dolby Digital 5.1

 

Directed by Ronny Yu

 

Starring Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Carlyle, Meat Loaf, Emily Mortimer, and Sean Pertwee.

 

Release Date: 2/04/2003

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

MPEG Flags

*

Violence

Yes

Sex

Suggestive

Language

Strong

"Formula 51"

Synopsis

Plot Overview

POS51 is a hot new wonder drug by master chemist Elmo McElroy (Samuel L. Jackson). The new drug is supposed to be 51 times greater than anything on the market (they don't say whether it is a stimulant like amphetamine, or a depressant like heroin) and has sparked a lot of interest. Elmo decides to double cross his boss, the Lizard. He blows up the lab, with the Lizard inside and then heads overseas to England.

What he does not realize is that his attempt to kill the Lizard failed. The Lizard sends his hit woman Dakota after Elmo to retrieve POS51.

Elmo hooks up with Felix DeSouza after arriving in London to make the sale. When the drug deal goes wrong, the two spend the rest of the story trying to stay alive.

Commentary

It starts with a younger Elmo, who has just graduated from pharmacy school, being pulled over while under the influence of pot. The drug bust costs him his license to practice, so he goes underground. Thirty years later, Elmo has created Formula 51.

While the story is filled with plot holes, it does entertain. Don’t take the movie too seriously and you will be ok. There are some pretty good action sequences and Jackson is always great at delivering his lines, well, with the exception of the dialog in Star Wars.

The film feels a bit like a music video.

This is easy to recommend as a rental on a Friday or Saturday night, but not Tuesday. My expectations were fairly low, based on other reviews I had read, but I was pleasantly surprised, once I got past that really lame opening that is.

Technical

This is one good looking disc. With the exception of some recent titles, Columbia is fairly consistent in delivering quality transfers. The exterior shots are clean and detailed, as are the interior shots. The colors are clean and free of any chroma noise.

The disc contains both a widescreen and Pan & Scan version of the film. Each film is contained within a single layer. Because of this, they have applied a horizontal filter on the film prior to encoding, which results in a slight softening of the image.

The soundtrack is pretty active. There is an MTV style score to go a long with the fast edits. The dialog always remains intelligible, and there was no audible distortion.

There is a long drop to video at chapter 20. Every chapter break also has as drop to video.

Error Type

Comments

Chapter Break

Every chapter break had a drop to video.

Video (2-2)

There were 17 drops to video. There was a long drop to video during chapter 20. It lasted 55,420 MPEG PICs. (110840 video fields)

Film (3-3)

There were 16 changes to 3-3 pulldown. They lasted for between 2 and 3 MPEG PICs. (6-9 video fields)

Film (2-2 / 30p)

There were 23 changes to 2-2 pulldown. They lasted for between 2 and 3 MPEG PICs. (4-6 video fields)

To have a better understanding of what the flags above mean, please refer to our "A Beautiful Mind" review.

- Stacey Spears -

Divider

Buena Vista
2002, Color, Rated R
89 minutes

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1  (16:9 Enh.)
Dolby Digital 5.1

Directed by Rick Bota

Starring Ashley Laurence, Dean Winters, Doug Bradley, Ken Camroux, Trevor White, and William S. Taylor

Release Date: 10/22/2002

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

MPEG Flags

*

Violence

Yes

Sex

No

Language

No

"Hellraiser: Hellseeker"

Synopsis

Plot Overview

Trevor survives a horrible car crash in which his wife dies. However, for some reason he is suspected of murdering her. As he begins to have blackouts and disturbing hallucinations, reality becomes more difficult for Trevor to discern. Is he responsible for her death? Who are the disfigured characters in his dreams?

Commentary

Not my standard fare, these franchise supernatural horror films are generally not on my my list to watch, especially on Valentine's day.

This film is the 6th in the Hellraiser series. The plot description on the box has nothing to do with the actual movie. The story would have been better served on the small screen as an extended "Outer Limits" or "Tales From the Crypt". However, the dead end tales from the crypt know enough to stop breathing and swallowing when they are supposed to be dead.

I would certainly not suggest this film for anyone but a fan of the franchise or genre.

Extras

My real question is why did the producers bother with a lot of extras for this DVD, while the "Aliens Special Edition" had virtually none (sob)? They include a story commentary with the director, alternate scenes with directory commentary, and a visual effects walkthrough.

Technical

The cinematography was well executed and certainly a high point of the file. The transfer was reasonably well done, with only minor edge enhancement. The sound was adequate.

While there are a bunch of drops to video, none of them are caused by a chapter break. The drops to video are relatively short.

Error Type

Comments

Chapter Break

No chapter break had a drop to video.

Video (2-2)

There were 57 drops to video.

Film (3-3)

There were 22 changes to 3-3 pulldown. They lasted for between 2 and 3 MPEG PICs. (6-9 video fields)

Film (2-2 / 30p)

There were 75 changes to 2-2 pulldown. They lasted for between 2 and 3 MPEG PICs. (4-6 video fields)

To have a better understanding of what the flags above mean, please refer to our "A Beautiful Mind" review.

- J. Irving -

Divider

Columbia Tristar

1995, Color, Rated R

1 Hr 34 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (16:9 Enh.)

English Dolby Surround

 

Directed by Stacy Title

 

Starring Cameron Diaz, Ron Eldard, Annabeth Gish, Jonathan Penner, Courtney B. Vance, and Bill Paxton.

 

Release Date: 1/07/2003

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

MPEG Flags

*

Violence

Yes

Sex

Suggestive

Language

Strong

"The Last Supper"

Synopsis

Plot Overview

Each Sunday a small group of grad students get together to discuss social issues. They each take turns bringing a guest to dinner. It seems this Sunday, Pete (Ron Eldard) invites Zachary (Bill Paxton), a backwoods trucker who gives him a lift after having car trouble.

When Zachary threatens Marc, Pete comes to his rescue, and this changes their lives forever. No longer do the five students simply sit around and talk about change, they actually take the initiative for the first time by trying to make the world a better place.

Commentary

I have been waiting a long time for this film to be released on DVD. I have watched the original laserdisc many times over the last few years.

The film is a very dark comedy. It has an amazing main cast, and the characters that come over for dinner are great. They have a surprisingly great set of supporting characters for such a low budget film.

The dialog is clever, and the social issues they cover are just so incorrect, I love it!

Technical

The image quality is a good improvement over the previously released laserdisc. The image does not have any of the chroma noise that is so evident on the LD.

There is virtually no edge enhancement at all. The colors are also deeply saturated, and there is good shadow detail.

The soundtrack is not a 5.1 mix like most current releases. It does contain a Dolby Surround (Lt/Rt) mix. The dialog is always intelligible, and there was no audible distortion.

The encoding is like most from CTHV, every chapter break has a drop to video.

Error Type

Comments

Chapter Break

Every chapter break had a drop to video.

Video (2-2)

There were 33 drops to video.

Film (3-3)

There were 33 changes to 3-3 pulldown. They lasted for between 2 and 3 MPEG PICs. (6-9 video fields)

Film (2-2 / 30p)

There were 48 changes to 2-2 pulldown. They lasted for between 2 and 3 MPEG PICs. (4-6 video fields)

To have a better understanding of what the flags above mean, please refer to our "A Beautiful Mind" review.

- Stacey Spears -

Divider

Columbia Tristar

2002, Color, Rated PG-13

1 Hr 28 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (16:9 Enh.)

English Dolby Digital 5.1

 

Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld

 

Starring Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Lara Flynn Boyle, Rosario Dawson, Johnny Knoxville, and Rip Torn.

 

Release Date: 11/26/2002

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

MPEG Flags

*

Violence

Yes

Sex

No

Language

Mild

"Men In Black II"

Synopsis

Plot Overview

When the world is in danger of being destroyed, again, Agent J and the Men in Black must enlist the help of former Agent K because he is the only one who possesses the knowledge to save the planet.

The problem is that they neurolyzed Agent K in the first film, so he no longer has memories of being an MIB agent.

Commentary

I am torn on this film. While I enjoy the humor of Will Smith, and I like the creatures and jokes, the film feels like a recycle of the first. Even though II is very short in running time, it actually feels a bit longer. But, there are some clever new jokes, although they come and go quickly.

Extras

The second disc does contain a good deal of extras. There is an alternate ending to the film. There is a blooper reel. There are several little features that cover the creatures and what it took to create them, sound design, make-up effects, and the storyline.

You get the all important Will Smith music video and some multi-angle deconstructions.

Technical

Overall, the image quality is very good. There is a good deal of shadow detail, and the blacks of the MIB uniforms are noise free. A good portion of the film takes place at night, and the images remain noise free even so.

There is only a small amount of visible edge enhancement. The picture is a bit soft, like most CTHV DVDs.

The good news is that CTHV has released a widescreen and P&S on two different DVDs, so the disc space is put to good use. All of the extras are packed onto the second disc.

The audio sound track is excellent. The surrounds are put to good use, and the music is very dynamic. Even during the thick of it, the dialog always remains intelligible.

The encoding is about the same as other CTHV discs. Every chapter break has a drop to video.

Error Type

Comments

Chapter Break

Every chapter break had a drop to video.

Video (2-2)

There were 57 drops to video.

Film (3-3)

There were 24 changes to 3-3 pulldown. They lasted for between 2 and 3 MPEG PICs. (6-9 video fields)

Film (2-2 / 30p)

There were 39 changes to 2-2 pulldown. They lasted for between 2 and 3 MPEG PICs. (4-6 video fields)

To have a better understanding of what the flags above mean, please refer to our "A Beautiful Mind" review.

- Stacey Spears -

Divider

Artisan Entertainment
2001, Color, Rated R
113 Minutes

Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 (Full Screen)
English Dolby Digital 2.0

Directed by David Seltzery

Starring Skeet Ulrich, Gary Oldman, Radha Mitchell, and Mary Steenburgen

Release Date: 12/31/02

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

MPEG Flags

*

Violence

Yes

Sex

No

Language

Strong

"Nobody's Baby"

Synopsis

Plot Overview

When two ex-cons find an orphaned baby, they are anxious about their new responsibility conflicting with their lifestyles. In trying to find the answers, they end up doing something they've have never done before . . . the right thing.

Commentary

At first glance, this film appears to be a spin on one of my favorite films "Raising Arizona" with a touch of "Happy, Texas" thrown in for good measure. That isn't really a bad thing. Although this movie is certainly not as good as Raising Arizona, it was a nice evening's diversion. The cast is certainly solid, and Gary Oldman gave a very good performance as bumbling redneck father figure to Skeet Ulrich's protagonist.

The story had some good comedic moments as well as some thought provoking things to say. I felt satisfied from the experience.

Extras

There is a Trailer, but that's it.

Technical

The quality of the digital transfer was really quite bad. Edge enhancement was clearly noticeable. There was also a lot of noise and pixilation with color transitions.

The audio is just slightly better than the video.

The entire disc is encoded as video. If you want to watch this disc on a progressive scan player, it had better be a cadence reading player.

Error Type

Comments

Chapter Break

N/A.

Video (2-2)

The disc is encoded as video.

Film (3-3)

N/A

Film (2-2 / 30p)

N/A

To have a better understanding of what the flags above mean, please refer to our "A Beautiful Mind" review.

- J. Irving -

Divider

Artisan Entertainment
2001, Color, Rated R
92 minutes

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (16:9 Enh.)
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English Dolby Digital 2.0

Directed by Boris von Sychowski

Starring Kristen Miller, Elena Uhlig, Thorsten Grasshoff, John Hopkins, Isla Fisher, Jason Liggett , Jonah Lotan, Cordelia Bugeja, and James McAvoy

Release Date: 09/24/2002

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

MPEG Flags

*

Violence

Yes

Sex

Yes

Language

Strong

"The Pool"

Synopsis

Plot Overview

Thirteen friends from the International High School in Prague intend to have the party of their lives before they graduate and never see each other again. They decide to break into Prague's biggest swimming pool to have the party. Unfortunately, people start to die and it soon becomes apparent it is one of them doing the killing.

Commentary

Just one look at the DVD case and the title will give you a general idea of what to expect from this film. There are no significant North American actors in this piece Actually there are no actors in the piece at all. The script is really bad, the premise is old, and there is little or no suspense in the film. They shot it in Prague to save even more money.

The villain suffers from one of the worst cases of what I refer to as "black ninja of death" syndrome. He is omniscient, indestructible (until the end), has the ability to vanish, change clothing in an instant, crawl behind inaccessible walls, and strike his prey with a complete inability to think. Ultimately, we are given no good reason for him to be the murderer, other than something about not fitting in.

The dialog is poorly dubbed by people who appear not to have a good grasp of the English language. The voices do not always appear to match the actor's stature, and sync is noticeably off.

Extras

The extras are of the standard "cast bios" and "trailer" variety, not that we'd want to know much more about this film.

Technical

The transfer is clean, probably due to the fact that there were very few viewings or duplication of the master. The audio was clear without any noticeable distortion, which is unfortunate because the musical score really stinks, and we get to enjoy it in digital clarity. Visually, the cinematography is reminiscent of BBC productions.

There are only 5 drops to video, but they are all rather long. You really need a cadence based player if you want to watch this in progressive scan.

Error Type

Comments

Chapter Break

The long drops to video went through most of the chapter breaks..

Video (2-2)

There were 5 drops to video. While there were only 5 drops, each drop lasted a very long time. The average drop lasted 27905 MPEG PICs.

Film (3-3)

There were 0 changes to 3-3 pulldown. They lasted for between 2 and 3 MPEG PICs. (6-9 video fields)

Film (2-2 / 30p)

There were 4 changes to 2-2 pulldown. They lasted for between 2 and 3 MPEG PICs. (4-6 video fields)

To have a better understanding of what the flags above mean, please refer to our "A Beautiful Mind" review.

- J. Irving -

Divider

Artisan Entertainment

2001, Color, Rated R

1 Hr. 30 Min

 

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

English Dolby Digital Surround

Spanish Subtitles

 

Directed by Alex Wright

 

Starring Elizabeth Berkley, Joseph Cortese, Matthew Modine, Nicholas Turturro, Paul Rodriguez, and Robert Loggia

 

Release Date: 10/22/2002

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

MPEG Flags

*

Violence

Yes

Sex

Yes

Language

Strong

"The Shipment"

Synopsis

Plot Overview

From the Back Cover: Crazy Jose (Paul Rodriguez, "Rat Race") has just smuggled a multimillion-dollar shipment of Mexican Viagra into the U.S. The problem is that it was stolen from the Mob. Now, New York wise guy Eddie Colucci (Nicholas Turturro, "NYPD Blue") is taking his "family" to cattle country to get the shipment back. Out of the city, these mobsters go out of their minds. They are surrounded by dim-witted farmhands, gun-toting good old boys, and Eddie's wife, Candy (Elizabeth Berkley, "Showgirls"), who can't seem to keep her hands off the Sheriff (Matthew Modine, "Any Given Sunday"). It's Cowboys vs. Tough Guys as they shoot off their mouths and shoot up the town.

Commentary

When I see Mathew Modine, Paul Rodriguez, and Elizabeth Berkley as top billing for a film, I am reassured that Academy Awards are safe, but there is potential there somewhere, sparse as it may be. Well, I'm sorry to report that none of that potential was realized.

This movie was little better than a Dukes of Hazard / Police Academy cross-over reunion. Cows, manure, and Viagra are always funny, right? Berkley gives a performance that brings to mind Cindy Crawford in "Fair Game". Add the soundtrack being borrowed from "Cannonball Run", and we have 120 minutes where I would rather be plucking nose hairs.

Extras

A trailer. That's it. Mercifully.

Technical

Although the transfer to DVD did not include edge enhancement, and is clear, there is what appears to be a complete lack of anti-aliasing.

The audio is flat sounding. It is a Dolby Surround (Lt/Rt) mix vs. a 5.1 discrete mix.

The entire disc is encoded as video.

Error Type

Comments

Chapter Break

N/A

Video (2-2)

The disc is encoded as video.

Film (3-3)

N/A

Film (2-2 / 30p)

N/A

To have a better understanding of what the flags above mean, please refer to our "A Beautiful Mind" review.

- J. Irving -

Divider

Miramax Films

2002, Color, Rated R

1 Hr 40 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (16:9 Enh.)

French Dolby Digital Surround
Italian Dolby Digital Surround

 

Directed by Nanni Moretti

 

Starring Nanni Moretti, Laura Morante, Jasmine Trinca.

 

Release Date: 10/08/2002

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

MPEG Flags

*

Violence

No

Sex

Harmless

Language

Mild

"The Son's Room"

Synopsis

Plot Overview

Writer and director Nanni Moretti is also the movie’s main character Giovanni, a psychiatrist dad who must deal with more than just his patient’s problems.

Commentary

The film starts on a positive note, namely the everyday details of Giovanni’s normal, loving family. There are only some minor issues with the wife Paola (Laura Morante) and the high school-aged Andrea (Giuseppe Sanfelice) and Irene (Jasmine Trinca), but these only serve to endear the family as a realistic and desirable set of neighbors.

Soon enough, harmless choices lead to Andrea going on a diving trip with friends that ends in a fatal accident, refocusing the whole family on what’s gone and what’s left. A love letter from a summer camp acquaintance of Andrea’s provides an interesting transition and finale to the family’s grieving. The acquaintance, Arianna (Sofia Vigliar), is unexpectedly and almost unrealistically mature – perhaps that’s why her parents have allowed her to travel with her new boyfriend to a stranger’s home in a foreign country. Regardless, the encounter provides heartwarming kindness and needed closure to Giovanni’s self-doubt and soul searching.

The beauty of this film is in its illustrative portrait of one family’s life and times – it’s realistic, it’s touching, and it’s pleasing. It doesn’t have a big climax or many unusual plot twists, but “The Son’s Room” is a great experience without needing anything extraordinary. This top award winner at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival is a fine choice for a serious or thoughtful movie rental night.

Technical

Overall, the image quality is quite good considering the budget. Some of the night scenes show a bit of noise, but we suspect it is a result of not having any horizontal filter to remove detail.

The film is mainly dialog driven, and it is always intelligible. There was no evidence of mic preamp clipping.

There were very few drops to video, and only 4 of them were caused by chapter breaks. All in all, it is good encoding.

Error Type

Comments

Chapter Break

4 of the chapter break had a drop to video.

Video (2-2)

There were 10 drops to video.

Film (3-3)

There were 23 changes to 3-3 pulldown. They lasted for between 2 and 3 MPEG PICs. (6-9 video fields)

Film (2-2 / 30p)

There were 41 changes to 2-2 pulldown. They lasted for between 2 and 3 MPEG PICs. (4-6 video fields)

To have a better understanding of what the flags above mean, please refer to our "A Beautiful Mind" review.

- Y-Bing Chu -

Divider

Artisan Home Entertainment

1994, Color, Rated PG-13

1 Hr 59 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 (16:9 Enh.)

English Dolby Digital 5.1 Ex

 

Directed by Roland Emmerich

 

Starring Kurt Russell, James Spader, and Jaye Davidson.

 

Release Date: 2/18/2003

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

MPEG Flags

*

Violence

Yes

Sex

Suggestive

Language

Strong

"Stargate"

Synopsis

Plot Overview

An ancient artifact is discovered during an archeological expedition in the 1920s. It is not until present day that the military, with the help of Daniel Jackson, is able to unlock the secrets and activate the Stargate.

Led by the Air Force, a small team sets out on a journey through the Stargate. Their mission is pretty simple: see what is located on the other side and then return (in one piece) and report their findings.

The problem is when they arrive, they are missing the address to dial home (now where did I put that MCI card?)

Commentary

Stargate started off on a very high note, but began its trip south near the final third of the film. Even with the cheesy “text book” finale, it is very entertaining film.

I have become used to the TV series that is now in its 7th season. It was a little unusual to see Kurt Russell playing Colonial Jack O’Neil again. I had also forgotten what a jerk his character was in the beginning.

The only other main character the TV show retains from the movie is Dr. Daniel Jackson who was played by James Spader. The actor cast for the TV series did a good job in replacing Spader.

Extras

I was surprised by how little there was on the disc in terms of extras. On disc 1 is a 12-minute feature about the possibility of visitors from other planets and the evidence that exists. The second disc has a couple of trailers and a 25-minute making-of feature.

Technical

Artisan has a done a first rate job with this latest edition of Stargate. Previous versions were unimpressive, as they were not anamorphic and were plagued with serious edge enhancement artifacts. This is without a doubt the best the film has ever looked.

There are two versions of the film on DVD. The director's cut is located on disc 1, and the theatrical version is located on disc 2. I chose to watch the director's cut. While the transfer is really good, the film element used has a few artifacts on it, most of which appear to be part of the added footage. At one point there is a big purple blob that pops up for about 30 frames. The majority were isolated to one added scene.

There is a great deal of image detail, with just minor edge enhancement. It looks really, really good.

The soundtrack is almost as good as the video. The surrounds are used to provide an enveloping atmosphere. While the travel through the Stargate is not involving as some of the scenes from the latest Star Wars films, it is still thrilling.

If you are a fan of this film at all, here is a great transfer.

I have included the encoding numbers for both the director's cut (DC) and the theatrical release (T). The director's cut actually has less encoding errors. None of the errors occur on a chapter break, which is a good sign.

Error Type

Comments

Chapter Break

No chapter break had a drop to video.

Video (2-2)

There were 90 (DC) and 118 (T) drops to video.

Film (3-3)

There were 33 (DC) and 33 (T) changes to 3-3 pulldown. They lasted for between 2 and 3 MPEG PICs. (6-9 video fields)

Film (2-2 / 30p)

There were 145 (DC) and 174 (T) changes to 2-2 pulldown. They lasted for between 2 and 3 MPEG PICs. (4-6 video fields)

To have a better understanding of what the flags above mean, please refer to our "A Beautiful Mind" review.

- Stacey Spears -

Divider

Artisan Entertainment
2002, Color, Rated R
1 Hr 32 min

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 16x9 enh
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround

Directed by Chris Angel

Starring Jason Thompson, John Benjamin Martin, John Novak, Michael Trucco, Tara Spencer Nairn, and Victor Webster

Release Date: 10/22/2002

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

MPEG Flags

*

Violence

Yes

Sex

Yes

Language

Strong

"Wishmaster - The Prophecy Fulfilled"

Synopsis

Plot Overview

Lisa unwittingly unleashes an evil genie. If she makes three wishes, the rest of the evil Djin from his dimension are unleashed upon the earth. Will she make the final wish?

Commentary

This being the 4th installment of what I feel is a less than stellar series, I thought I might be in for a painful viewing. With costumes and special effects easily rivaled by the original Star Trek, and far far less compelling, Wishmaster met my expectations. Slimy latex monsters that are shot in open daylight (apparently night shots would have cost too much) don't inspire fear from moviegoers these days.

Basically the whole experience in watching this film appears to be waiting for someone to wish for something from the bad guy, who then twists the wish around to their detriment, usually in some gruesome, yet remarkably fake looking, way. I think the appeal in the original was that the Wishmaster would do some sort of clever twist on people's wishes. Now, viewers wish for the bad guy to "put up a better fight" or wish for "hot needles in their eyes" and such. Doesn't leave much room for one liners. Basically don't even bother with this movie.

Extras

There is a nice assortment of extras for such a bad movie, which include:

Commentary by director Chris Angel and select cast members, Theatrical trailer(s), The Djinn's Guide to Dating: A question and Answer Session, "Wishmasterpiece Theatre: An Inside Look at the Film", Storyboard Gallery.

Technical

The digital transfer was of standard quality, not great but nothing terribly noticeable. Audio was pretty standard as well, although, there really wasn't much worthy of listening to except maybe for the stupid deep voice modulation done on virtually every character. Must have had a bad cold virus kicking around the set.

This is another recent title that has been encoded with an old C-Cube based encoder.

Error Type

Comments

Chapter Break

Every chapter break had a drop to video.

Video (2-2)

The disc is encoded with the Alt. Progressive_Frame flag.

Film (3-3)

N/A

Film (2-2 / 30p)

N/A

To have a better understanding of what the flags above mean, please refer to our "A Beautiful Mind" review.

- J. Irving -

Divider

20th Century Fox
2002, Color, Rated R
1 Hr 36 min

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 16x9 enh
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround

Directed by Mark Romanek

Starring Robin Williams, Connie Nielsen, Michael Vartan, Gary Cole, and Eriq La Salle

Release Date: 2/18/2003

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

MPEG Flags

Not Tested

Violence

Yes

Sex

Yes

Language

Strong

"One Hour Photo"

Synopsis

Plot Overview

Sy Parrish (Williams) manages the One Hour Photo Center at SaveMart. He has been processing the photos for the Yorkin family since their first child was born. Unbeknown to the Yorkins, Sy has also made copies of all their photos for himself, which he pastes on his living room wall at home. He is a lonely man, and fantasizes being part of their family. When an unexpected event ruins Sy's dream of the perfect family, he becomes violent.

Commentary

Although Sy is pretty quiet and unassuming for most of the picture, the music keeps the mood scary throughout the entire film.

Robin Williams' claim to fame has been as a comedian. Over the past few years though, he has moved into drama, and his role here as a psychopath establishes him as a serious artist. He would have been perfect in the original "Psycho", perhaps even more chilling than Anthony Perkins. It will be interesting to see if he becomes typecast as either slightly strange ("Mrs. Doubtfire") or as full blown nut cases such as in "One Hour Photo" and "Insominia".

Extras

There is a Writer/Director Commentary, Anatomy of a Scene, Making Of, Charlie Rose Show interview, and Trailer.

- John E. Johnson, Jr. -

 

Divider

DreamWorks/20th Century Fox
2002, Color, Rated R
1 Hr 57 min

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 16x9 enh
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround

Directed by Sam Mendes

Starring Tom Hanks, Paul Newman, Jude Law, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Stanley Tucci, and Daniel Craig

Release Date: 2/26/2003

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

MPEG Flags

Not Tested

Violence

Yes

Sex

No

Language

Strong

"Road to Perdition"

Synopsis

Plot Overview

In the 1930s, Irish gangster John Rooney (Newman) has Michael Sullivan (Hanks) to settle all arguments with a Tommy Gun. When Michael's son Michael, Jr. (Tyler Hoechlin) tags along on a job, and witnesses the results, Rooney is worried about whether or not the little boy will ever talk about what he has seen. The tragic outcome to this problem sends Michael on the run, with photographer-hit-man Maguire (Law) chasing him.

Commentary

Although a bit ponderous and slow at times, Perdition is a well done and very artistic study of how violence, money, and power are never out of sight of one another.

Extras

There is a Writer/Director Commentary, Deleted Scenes, Making Of, Production Notes, and Photo Gallery.

- John E. Johnson, Jr. -

 

 

 

 

 

 

Divider

 

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