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Movie Renter's Guide

Number 88 - July, 2002

Staff


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Amelie Backflash
Behind The Sun Beneath Loch Ness
Bully Chasing Holden
Chat Room Crossroads
Dragonfly Imposter
K-9: P.I. New Best Friend
Piñero Resident Evil
Royal Tenenbaums Tarzan & Jane
Zig Zag

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Buena Vista Home Video

2001, Color, Rated PG-13

1 Hr 32 Min

 

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 (16: En.)

Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1

English Subtitles

 

Directed by Walter Salles

 

Starring José Dumont, Rodrigo Santoro, Ravi Ramos Lacerda, and Flavia Marco Antonio.

 

Release Date: 6/11/02

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

Video

*

Audio

*

Photography

MPEG Flags

Violence

Yes

Sex

Yes

Language

In Subtitles

"Behind the Sun" (Abril Despedaçado)

Synopsis

Behind the Sun is a simple yet powerful story of a young man caught in the midst of a generations-old feud between adjacent landowners in turn-of-the-century Brazil. The lead actor, Tonho (played by José Dumont), must pick between upholding a bloody tradition or following his heart and dishonoring the family. His younger bro, who has no name but is just called "Kid" for the first half of the movie, is figuratively touched by an angel when he has a chance encounter with a beautiful, young, but directionless woman called Clara. She presents him with a fairy tale book about a mermaid and sea creatures in return for directions to the nearby town.

The fairy tale transforms the kid into a playful reverie and he becomes one-kid improvising actor in his imaginary world of illiteracy. This bubbling forth of free energy inspires Tonho to take action. Tonho and the kid, both under the spell of Clara's beauty, transform 180 degrees into rebellious youth. Tonho trundles the kid off for a nocturnal outing to see the circus, in which Clara takes center stage. Next thing we know the kid has a name, Pacu - symbolic of his rebirth, or a bottom-dwelling river fish.

Clara's really, and literally, hot stuff, and the scenes with her blowing fire are not to be missed. Even more surprising than Pacu's rebirth (after all, boys will do anything for babes), is the fact that Clara likes what she sees in Tonho. Sure, Tonho is a major dude, but his acting kinda sucks - he doesn't have much to say and is relatively expressionless, but hey that 6 o'clock shadow does wonders. Clara, on the other hand, seethes with passion and a restless energy that gets under your skin in an all too erotic sort of way - her acting is definitely much more believable.

Anyway, tragedy must ensue, and Tonho has been marked to die for upholding the family honor and murdering the neighboring landowner who killed his older brother, and so on back for the past umpteen generations. One wonders why they aren't all dead already given the silly code of dueling that requires they wait until the blood on the shirt of the slain man turns yellow in the hot sun which is a measly month or so (assuming fair play). The male landowner would need a harem of 9 women each birthing every 9 months just to keep up with the dueling demands . . . .

The consummation of lust between Clara and Tonho is titillating, and Pacu's acting antics are cute and cast with such stark relief from the oppressive, unnatural, and loveless state of their parents labor of the land. It's a beautiful contrast. On the whole this is an altogether refreshing fairy-tale-esque movie, and while the plot is predictive, the movie is far from boring. The historic detail, rich symbolism, and beautiful photography are still mesmerizing not to mention the hunky Tonho and babe-licious Clara. - Patrick Halstead -

Technical Aspects

The  video quality on this disc is first rate. The night time scenes are a bit noisy, but it looks like noise from low light conditions during filming. There does not appear to be any filtering, which results in an extremely sharp image throughout the film. This is a good transfer that goes with a great film.

The MPEG flags changed from film to video 27 times. Every chapter break dropped to video except chapter 10. 22 of the drops lasted for 10 MPEG PICs (20 fields). The remaining 5 drops were short.

- Stacey Spears -

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Criterion Collection

Touchstone Pictures

2001, Color, Rated R

1 Hr 50 Min

 

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 (16: En.)

English Dolby Digital 5.1

English Dolby Digital 2.0

English DTS 2.0

 

Directed by Wes Anderson

 

Starring Gene Hackman, Angelica Huston, Ben Stiller, Gwyneth Paltrow, Luke Wilson, Owen Wilson, Bill Murray, and Danny Glover.

 

Release Date: 7/09/02

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

Video

*

Audio

*

Photography

MPEG Flags

Violence

None

Sex

Gwyneth Paltrow briefly kissing and groping some men and a woman.

Language

"F" & "S" words

"The Royal Tenenbaums"

Synopsis

Plot Overview

A man drives his dysfunctional hyper-performing family to the brink of destruction leaving them to selfishly serve his own needs. Oddly enough, jealousy shows him the error of his ways and he more or less achieves redemption. It’s a ball of tragedy with a melty comic center.

Review

Alec Baldwin beautifully opens the film with his husky voiceover introducing us to the Tenenbaum family and their quirky abilities. The Tenenbaums are a family of geniuses of varying styles (financial, artistic/literary, and athletic) who have been emotionally tortured by their strangely distant upbringing by their father, Royal Tenenbaum [Gene Hackman]. With the prospect of losing his wife Etheline [Angelica Houston] who he hadn’t lived with in 20 years, he feigns illness to get back into his wife’s home bringing the family back together for a last ditch attempt of keep his wife from going off with another man, Henry [Danny Glover]. Royal was the puppet master who is desperately seeking to find the strings again.

Gene Hackman and Danny Glover have an entertaining relationship. Gene is jealous of his wife’s new love and their scenes together are strangely comic in the ways that Royal tries to get under Henry’s skin.

Gwyneth Paltrow is brilliant in this movie. She is the ultimate jaded emotionally controlled woman. She complicates the relationship with Royal and other family members by being an adopted child into this strangest of family dynamics. She is tortured but just below the surface. It’s really a delicate line to tread and she hits the mark.

Ben Stiller as the tightly wound financial genius is another wonderfully realized compulsive character. The lack of a proper childhood, competing with siblings for Royal’s attention, and the tragic loss of his wife has made him one quirky and overprotective parent to his two clone boys. His clone-sons become Royal’s experiment in real connected fatherhood that he never gave his own son (everything from shoplifting to riding a garbage truck to dog fighting).

Luke Wilson is the most tortured of the Tenenbaums. As a young star athlete, he almost reached greatness before collapsing under the pressure of a relationship he could not acknowledge.

For those wanting to keep score, I composed the following table:

Summary of Torture

Gwyneth

adopted, always an outsider

Ben

never met father’s expectations / lost love

Luke

sudden loss of status as father’s favorite/forbidden love

Owen

always a Tenenbaum wannabe

Gene

self-absorbed and selfish

Danny

in love with a woman who is still controlled by another man

Angelica

controlled by her estranged husband

Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson have created such amazingly unique characters. None of these people know how to interact with one another on a human level; it just never seemed to be necessary in the development of their intellect or ability.

Some might find the movie a bit slow, but I felt this pacing added to the emotional desolation of the “family.” If you liked Rushmore, you’ll love this film.

Extras

In keeping with the Criterion Collection tradition, this movie has many extras about art used during the film, cast interviews [the sensitivity they show toward their characters is fascinating], and an interesting documentary with the very detail oriented Wes Anderson.

The Peter Bradley Show is also included which is bizarre in its selection of actors to interview [none of whom had many lines or was involved in any major way with the production]. - Evan Upchurch -

Technical Aspects

The video quality has an oversaturated look, which is the films intent. Many of the whites appear to be crushed. Take a look at Pagoda's shirt at the beginning of chapter 4. You can also see the ship that Luke Wilson returns on almost blends into the background as the detail is gone because of the crushed whites. This is also during chapter 4 at 24 minutes and 52 seconds into the film. There is a minimal amount of edge enhancement.

Wes is my kind of guy, not only is the film 2.40:1, but he makes great use of that framing by filling it all in.

The MPEG flags dropped from film to video 45 times during the movie. There was a drop at every chapter break, which most lasted for 5 MPEG PICs (10 fields). The longest drop was for 75 MPEG PICs (150 fields or nearly 5 seconds.)

- Stacey Spears -

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Dimension Home Video

2001, Color, Rated PG-13

1 Hr 36 Min

 

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (16: En.)

English Dolby Digital 2.0

 

Directed by Chuck Comisky

 

Starring Patrick Bergin, Lysette Anthony, and Brian Wimmer.

 

Release Date: 6/18/02

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

Video

*

Audio

*

Photography

MPEG Flags

Violence

Mild

Sex

None

Language

Mild

"Beneath Loch Ness"

Synopsis

Plot Overview

Gus Egan (Dick Stilwell), a university professor working for a cable nature channel, dies during an underwater earthquake in the loch while trying to prove his theory that the Loch was once a prehistoric breeding ground. Case Howell (Brain Wimmer), a former student of Egan’s, learns of his death and heads to the loch, from a dig in Afghanistan.

While setting out to try and locate the missing body of his professor, he and his crew stumble upon what might be the biggest discovery of the 20th century. Around the same time as they think they have seen old Nessie herself, a small group of Internet geeks, who are hosting a Loch Ness website, decide to try and cook some footage for their webpage to increase the number of hits. Because the local constable, who is played by Vernon Wells, learns of this stunt, he does not believe Howell or his team.

There is some tension between Howell and the rest of the team, as it appears Howell abandoned them a long time ago to go off on his own. The network representative who is sponsoring this little expedition happens to be none other than Howell’s ex-wife, who is played by Lysette Anthony.

Where do I begin? There are many holes in the film, and there are issues that never really get resolved. The hoax that the website geeks try and pull off is incomplete. We seem them set out to scare a local tour boat, but we never see the attack happen. We merely see the aftermath. Of course their wooden Nessie looks nothing like the real thing, so it is anyone’s guess why it would be mistaken for her.

The visual effects are pretty low quality too. The first time we scene Nessie, she is swimming underwater, and I have seen more polygon data used in current video games. There are a few shots underwater where we see her swim by, and her eye opens. It looks like the same footage is used over and over again.

I am not sure if there was a single Scottish actor in the film. There was also a scene directly out of "Jaws" in which Howell warns the local constable that there is something in the water and he must close off the Loch. Of course he refuses to do so, and you know what happens next.

Technical Aspects

Every time there is an exterior shot overlooking the mountains, you can see the distinct outline that follows, known as edge enhancement. The film was also a bit grainy and soft.

The soundtrack was Dolby Digital 2.0, so I played it back using Pro Logic II decoding. The majority of the soundtrack was center channel based. The only thing that stands out is some audible distortion near the end of the film, during the underwater communications.

When looking at the MPEG flags, we found 22 occurrences when the encoding changed from film to video. All but two drops were for 5 MPEG PICs (10 video fields.) Every chapter stop had a drop. There was also 1 drop for 1 PIC (2 video fields) and 1 drop for 3 PICs. (6 video fields.)

- Stacey Spears -

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Artisan Entertainment

2002, Color, Not Rated

1 Hr 30 Min

 

Aspect Ratio: Full Screen

English Dolby Digital 2.0

 

Directed by Barry Bowles

 

Starring Brian Hooks, Darryl Brunson, Christopher, and Troy Winbush.

 

Release Date: 7/02/02

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

Video

*

Audio

*

Photography

MPEG Flags

Violence

Just bad humor

Sex

Suggestive

Language

"F" & "S" Words

"Chat Room"

Synopsis

Plot Overview

Five high school teammates place a $50 bet before graduation on who will bring the hottest date to their 10 year reunion. The $50 was invested and has turned into $50,000 in the 10 years that have passed.

Max (Brian Hooks), Drew (Darryl Brunson), and Jelly Roll (Christopher Richards) decide to team up and split the winnings by devising a plan to beat J-Ron. (Troy Winbush) The fifth, Crazy Larry, was burned in a smoking accident so he was out of the running.

Enter Afro Chat, the on-line service where the three of them plan to find their hot date to win the bet. Mind you if J-Ron had never showed up outside of Ray Ray’s ribs, they would have forgotten the bet and this film could have been avoided. So the three setup multiple blind dates on their laptop computers. Sure, none of them own a car, but laptops are not a problem.

They all learn from their first attempt that you really should ask for a photo before you decide to hook-up, because we all know how superficial we, men, really are. Well, their first dates don’t go as well as they had hoped, so they decide to try again. Overall their dates were then much better, thanks in part to the photo screening process, but still not perfect. If at first you don’t succeed, try try again. Third time's a charm right? Well, as luck goes, the third time is not a charm for our three heroes’ and they all end up in jail. BTW, how does a crack ho' get Internet access?

While the boys are out searching for their hot date, the homely waitress Wendy (Deya Simone) is all over Max. Of course, Max can’t see that Wendy is very attractive under those huge birth-control glasses in a “She’s the One” kind of way.

There are a set of outtakes on the disc, which actually includes a scene with Ray Ray, the owner of the rib joint where the three spend so much time.

Technical Aspects

The DVD is in the full frame format (P&S). The image is soft with a lot of background noise that may be a result of compression artifacts. The audio is only 2-channel, so I played back with Pro Logic II. The audio was mainly dialog focused.

The MPEG flags on the disc are 100% video. While there is a 3-2 cadence within the film, the flags on the DVD contain none. If you plan to watch in progressive-scan, you will need a DVD player that analyzes the picture cadence and does not rely on the flags to make the progressive image. We were also getting some errors with our flag tool, errors that we have not seen before. We plan to investigate this disc further to find out what is happening.

This is the first disc that we have found that does not store as MPEG frames. It actually stores each field as its own MPEG PIC. This is not very efficient but it is legal.

- Stacey Spears -

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Universal Studios Home Video

2002, Color, Rated PG-13

1 Hr 35 Min

 

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (16: En.)

English Dolby Digital 5.1

English DTS 5.1

 

Directed by Rod Daniel

 

Starring James Belushi, King, Cotter Smith, and Ed O'Neill.

 

Release Date: 7/30/02

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

Video

*

Audio

*

Photography

MPEG Flags

Violence

Mild

Sex

Dog Breeding

Language

Mild

"K-9:P.I."

Synopsis

Plot Overview

Belushi is back in the role of Thomas Dooley with his side kick Jerry Lee (King) for the third installment in the K-9 series. It is Belushi’s last day on the job, so his co-workers throw him a surprise retirement party. He gets plastered, and his buddies dump him in the car to sleep it off. On their way home, they happen to run out of gas near a crime in progress, and what are the odds of that? Thomas and Jerry (or Tom and Jerry for short) attempt to thwart the crime.

As luck would have it, the FBI believes that Thomas was somehow involved with the crime, so they block his pension check and they decide to keep a close eye on him by living outside his house in a van.

In order to pay his bills, he decides to try and stud out Jerry Lee. After a long exhaustive search for another dog to breed with Jerry Lee, he happens to find one with an owner he has an interest in. Thomas uses the money from the breeding to start a P.I. business to pay the bills until he can get his pension checks. Shortly after starting the business, he is approached by someone who is looking for her fiancé.

Jerry Lee starts to act funny, so off to the vet they go. It turns out Jerry is constipated because of something he swallowed. Thomas concocts a sure fire way to help jerry with his bowel movement problems. Jerry swallowed a piece of what was stolen and Thomas knows the crooks will come looking for it.

I never saw the first two K9 films, so I was not sure what to expect. But, I found Belushi to be funny. The film itself was pretty predictable, but I think the kids will have a good time with this one.

Technical Aspects

Overall, the video quality was pretty good. There was minor edge enhancement, but nothing too objectionable. I was pleasantly surprised at the active use of the surrounds, especially during the gunfight scenes.

The MPEG flags dropped from film to video 13 times during the movie. 11 of the times were for 5 MPEG PICs (10 video fields), and 1 time was for 2 MPEG PICs. (4 video fields) There was a pretty major drop to video starting around 50 minutes into the film. It stayed as video until a little over 7 minutes later, when it finally went back to film flags.

- Stacey Spears -

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Columbia Tristar

2002, Color, Rated R

1 Hr 30 Min

 

Aspect Ratio:

-1.78:1 (16: En.)

-Pan & Scan

English Dolby Digital 5.1

 

Directed by Zoe Clark-Williams

 

Starring Mia Kirshner, Meredith Monroe, Dominique Swain, and Taye Diggs.

 

Release Date: 7/16/02

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

Video

*

Audio

*

Photography

MPEG Flags

Violence

Drug Use

Sex

Girl on girl

Language

"F" & "S" Words

"New Best Friend"

Synopsis

Plot Overview

The film opens with deputy sheriff Artie Bonner (Taye Diggs) talking with the school dean about the recent drug overdose of Alicia Glazer (Mia Kirshner). From here on out, the story is told in flashbacks and we start from the beginning.

Alicia is in her senior year and comes from the other side of the tracks. She needs to do well in order to get a scholarship to go on to grad school so she can become a lawyer. She is partnered up with one Hadley Weston, a spoiled rich sorority girl. Alicia needs the help of Hadley in order to graduate, and the problem is that Alicia and Hadley don’t exactly get along.

The rest of the film has Bonner trying to put the pieces together and understand why Alicia overdosed. We get everyone’s side of the story except for Alicia because she is in a coma. Some people remember Alicia as being this nice young woman, while others tell the tale of an avid party girl.

Kirshner did a good job playing the naive Alicia, and this was a role I had not seen her play before. She also did her usual great performance as the more experienced and seductive Alica, after spending lots of time with Hadley and her elite circle of friends.

There is strong sexual and drug abuse in this film, but surprisingly little nudity and only then if you looked real hard for it. While I don’t believe it is at the same guilty pleasure level as "Cruel Intentions", I did enjoy it.

Technical Aspects

The disc contains both a full screen and widescreen version on the single side of a dual layer DVD. While I did find the film to be a little on the soft side, there was noticeable edge enhancement or halos.

This is another dialog driven film with surrounds only being noticeable during the party sequences. When I say the surrounds were noticeable, I do not mean they are distracting.

The MPEG flags changed from film to video around 40 times during the movie. There was one at every chapter break for 5 MPEG PICs (10 video fields), except for two which lasted for 11 MPEG PICs (22 video fields) There were also another 7 drops that lasted for 2 seconds each. (120 video fields)

- Stacey Spears -

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Columbia Tristar

2002, Color, Rated R

1 Hr 41 Min

 

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

English Dolby Digital 5.1

English Dolby Digital 2.0

 

Directed by David Goyer

 

Starring Sam Jones III, John Leguizamo, Wesley Snipes, Natasha Lyonne, and Oliver Platt.

 

Release Date: 7/09/02

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

Video

*

Audio

*

Photography

MPEG Flags

Violence

Child Abuse

Sex

Suggestive

Language

"F" & "S" Words

"Zig Zag"

Synopsis

Plot Overview

When an autistic boy nicknamed Zigzag (Sam Jones III) is tormented by his abusive father (Wesley Snipes), he ends up stealing money from his difficult boss (Oliver Platt) in order to pay his father rent money. Zigzag’s father Fletcher ends up stealing all of the money from him in order to pay off a local loan shark named Cadillac Jones. (Luke Goss)

The only one looking out for Zigzag is his youth program big brother Singer (John Leguizamo). In order to help Zigzag out, Singer turns to Jones for a loan so that they can return the money to Zigzag's boss Toad. When Singer ends up in a hospital due to an illness, Zigzag befriends a prostitute named Jenna (Natasha Lyonne).

Wesley Snipes is very convincing as the abusive father. Not since "New Jack City" has he portrayed someone so evil. Sure he was bad in "Demolition Man", but not like this. Oliver Platt also has a good performance as a racist. He is mean and insulting to everyone, including the police investigating the robbery.

John Leguizamo is supposed to be the big brother, but sometimes he comes off as being very naive. The way he approaches the loan shark makes you think he may need a big brother of his own. I guess he just expects people to be honest. Natasha Lyonne had a fairly small but important role in the film.

Technical Aspects

I was really surprised to learn that the film was not 16:9 enhanced. I don’t recall the last time Columbia Tristar released a DVD this way. I pretty much look to Columbia Tristar to set the standard. Even though it is not 16:9 enhanced, the image quality is good.

There is very little surround use, and the film is mainly dialog driven. I did not hear any audible distortions with the soundtrack.

The MPEG flags changed from film to video 19 times during the movie. 18 of these were on the chapter breaks and the last drop was the last 2 MPEG PICs on the disc. Each of the 18 drops lasted for 5 MPEG PICs (10 video fields.)

- Stacey Spears -

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Lions Gate Films

2001, Color, Rated R

1 Hr 55 Min

 

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

English Dolby Digital 5.1

 

Directed by Larry Clark

 

Starring Brad Renfro, Bijou Phillips, Rachel Miner, Michael Pitt, Kelli Garner, and Leo Fitzpatrick.

 

Release Date: 1/22/02

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

Video

*

Audio

*

Photography

MPEG Flags

Violence

Rape and Murder

Sex

Teen-sex

Language

"F" & "S" Words

"Bully"

Synopsis

Plot Overview

“The Hitman needs a ride.”

Teenagers, drugs, sex, violence, violent sex, and a bully pretty much sum up what you will see in this disturbingly brilliant piece of filmmaking from director Larry Clark based on real life story of high school students who decide to murder a bully.

This is the tormented story of Marty (Brad Renfro) who spent most of his life dealing with a bully. But unlike most bullies, Bobby (Nick Stahl) is Marty’s best friend since childhood, and since that childhood; he has humiliated and abused him.

Marty is actually a talented surfer that everyone seems to like, but he dropped out of high school. Bobby’s father dislikes Marty because of this and tells Bobby he needs to stay away from him. Marty's girlfriend Lisa has very little self esteem and hooks onto Marty after she finds out she is pregnant.

Lisa (Rachel Miner) hates Bobby not only for abusing Marty, but for raping her and her friend Ali (Bijou Phillips). So she suggests to Marty that killing him would solve everyone’s problems. Lisa brings in her cousin Derek (Daniel Franzese) to help, and Ali also enlists the help of her boy friend Donny (Michael Pitt) and girlfriend Heather (Kelli Garner). They also bring in who they believe to be a mafia hitman played by Leo Fitzpatrick.

Bobby is just plain mean. He abuses Marty in front of everyone all the time. He hauls off and hits Marty in the face while Marty is driving down the road. Bobby appears to be more interested in guys than girls, but that does not stop him from hitting and raping both Lisa and Ali. Bobby also verbally abuses anyone he meets.

I can tell you that my high school years were nothing like this, but the film feels real. When Bobby is hitting Marty, it looks and feels real. Some of the violence in the film is difficult to watch, especially the murder scene. It is a strong emotional scene as some of the kids actually crack under the pressure.

The sex scenes are fairly graphic and while they are acting, it feels more realistic than an adult film, if that makes any sense at all. There is also strong drug abuse portrayed in this film.

On one level there are many people who might not be able to handle the graphic nature of this film, but if you are a film lover and want to see great filmmaking, this is one worth watching. I saw the theatrical version of the film, which received an R rating. There is supposed to be a directors cut of the film, but I can’t image what Larry left out.

There is a complete set of interviews with Larry Clark and the entire cast. All too often when you watch making of features and cast interviews on DVD, people have nothing but nice things to say about each other. I about fell out of my chair when I first heard Bijou talk about how she landed her role in this film. From there on each cast member told of a similar experience. It was funny and refreshing to hear answers like that.

The disc also includes a photo of each real person that the actors were portraying.

Technical Aspects

I found the overall image quality a little on the soft side. The film itself has a gritty look that is actually intentional. I did not see any excessive use of edge enhancement and overall found it to be a good transfer being an independent film. This is another dialog driven film. There were a few scenes were the dialog was a bit muffled.

E 00:48:00 | C 00:48:00
Pic: 08 P:F:P-T
Pic: 09 B:F:PRT
Pic: 10 B:F:P-B
Pic: 11 P:F:PRB
Pic: 00 B:F:P-T
Pic: 01 B:F:PRT
Pic: 02 I:F:P-B
Pic: 03 B:F:PRB
Pic: 04 B:F:P-T
Pic: 05 P:F:PRT
Pic: 06 B:F:P-B
Pic: 07 B:F:PRB
Pic: 08 P:F:--T
Pic: 09 B:F:--T
Pic: 10 B:F:--T
Pic: 11 P:F:PRT
Pic: 00 B:F:PRB
Pic: 01 B:F:PRT
Pic: 02 I:F:PRB
Pic: 03 B:F:PRT
Pic: 04 B:F:PRB
Pic: 05 P:F:PRT
Pic: 06 B:F:PRB

E 00:49:00 | C 00:49:00

There are numerous MPEG errors on this disc. The first 9 seconds of the disc are encoded as video instead of film, and then when it switches back to film, we get half a second of 3-3 pulldown instead of 3-2 pulldown. This is all taking place during the Lions Gate logo, so it is not a big deal. There are several times during the film where it switches from a 3-2 to a 3-3 cadence. On average the 3-3 would last for up to 3 seconds. Many of these happened just after a drop to video. With the exception of chapters 6, 8, 21, and 23, all chapter breaks dropped to video. The amount of MPEG PICs on those dropped bounced between 6, 11, and 16 MPEG PICs. I have include an example of where you can see the drop to video (in red) and the 3-3 cadence (in blue.)

- Stacey Spears -

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Trimark Home Video

2001, Color, Rated R

1 Hr 41 Min

 

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

English Dolby Digital 5.1

 

Directed by Malcolm Clarke II

 

Starring D.J. Qualls, Rachel Blanchard, and Sean Kanan.

 

Release Date: 7/16/02

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

Video

*

Audio

*

Photography

MPEG Flags

Violence

Yes

Sex

Suggestive

Language

"F" & "S" Words

"Chasing Holden"

Synopsis

Plot Overview

Our story begins with Neil Lawrence (D.J. Qualls) returning home from a mental institution after a long term visit do to a tragic event that took place a couple of years prior. Shortly after arriving home, Neil says hello to dad and is then whisked off to a boarding school where he must make up for the years lost. Oh, did I mention that Neil’s father is the governor of New York?

Shortly after arriving at school and dealing with a minor bully issue, Neil meets T.J. (Rachel Blanchard) and immediately falls for her. Being forced to choose an elective, Neil remembers T.J. mentioning drama class, so Neil decides that is the path to choose. After arriving in drama class, Neil partners up with T.J. for a class assignment and then the pair is chosen to do a quick improv on stage in front of the class on flirtation. Things go well for them, but what the class does not realize is that they were not really acting on stage.

Meanwhile, Neil’s class is given a writing assignment. They are to write a conclusion to the J.D. Salinger novel, “Catcher in the Rye.” This just so happens to be the book that Neil read over and over again while inside the institution. In fact, Neil had written Mr. Salinger several times but never received a response. Neil once more tries to write his hero in hopes for helping him to complete the assignment.

After Neil learns that his father is unable to spend Christmas with him, Neil decides to run away from school and head out looking for Salinger himself. He asks T.J. to join him on this adventure. Mind you, she has no idea who his father is. She has had a long time dream of seeing the city, so the two hit the road and start hitchhiking.

Neil really is obsessed with Salinger, and it begins to get on T.J.’s nerves, so she has to remind him that he is not Holden Caulfield. In fact, his obsession puts a serious strain on their relationship.

This is a more serious role for D.J. Qualls. His break-out role was in "Road Trip"; in fact Rachel was also in that movie. The other recent film with D.J. was "The New Guy". Both of these films were comedies, so seeing D.J. in a more serious role was an adventure all on its own. It is good to see him branching out so that he is not stereotyped as the goofy guy. Personally I thought Rachel was the best part of this film, as she fell right into character as free spirited T.J.

I enjoyed this film a lot, but I must warn you that it is depressing.

Technical Aspects

I found the picture quality to be quite good for an independent film. Very little edge enhancement but overall a little on the soft side. This is another dialog driven film.

E 37:07:00 | C 02:30:12
Pic: 02 B:F:PRT
Pic: 03 P:F:--B
Pic: 04 B:F:PRB
Pic: 05 B:F:--T
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Pic: 11 P:F:--B
Pic: 00 I:F:PRB
Pic: 01 B:F:--T
E 37:08:00 | C 02:31:12

Chasing Holden has an MPEG encoding error I have not seen in awhile. It has the alternating progressive_frame flag that such films as "Titanic" and "Austin Powers" have. This is a common error that happens with a specific Minerva MPEG encoder. In the example above, you see that in one PIC, the P is there but not in the next. It alternates like this for the entire film.

- Stacey Spears -

Divider

Universal Studios Home Video

2002, Color, Rated PG-13

1 Hr 45 Min

 

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

English Dolby Digital 5.1

English DTS 5.1

 

Directed by Tom Shadyac

 

Starring Kevin Costner, Joe Morton, Ron Rifkin, Linda Hunt, Kathy Bates, and Susanna Thompson.

 

Release Date: 7/30/02

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Photography

MPEG Flags

Violence

No

Sex

No

Language

Minor

"Dragonfly"

Synopsis

Plot Overview

Joe Darrow (Kevin Costner) and his wife Emily (Susanna Thompson) are both successful doctors, but when a tragic bus accident in Venezuela takes the life of Emily, Joe’s life spirals out of control. This directly affects his work at the hospital. In one scene early on, we see Joe pass a suicide patient off to another doctor because he only wants to help people who are interested in living.

Since the accident, Joe has stopped living his own life and spends every waking minute at the hospital. When strange events start to occur, Joe is not sure if it is the exhaustion from overworking or Emily trying to contact him from beyond. He becomes obsessed with near-death experiences after he believes Emily is trying to communicate with him through her former oncology patients.

This obsession has his friends and family worried. He is forced to take a break from the hospital so that he can grieve. As time goes by, these strange events happen more frequently and with more intensity. Emily was into Dragonflies and even had a birthmark that resembled the insect. Joe begins to see these bugs everywhere.

I did not feel any emotion over Emily’s death because we never really got a chance to know who she was. There are a couple of flashback sequences, but not enough for any real character development. There are also just a couple of scenes with Joe’s family and college friends, but again, we don’t get to know any of them so they don’t really go anywhere. Surprisingly, the only person we really get to know anything about is Joe’s neighbor Miriam (Kathy Bates), but she is underused and just goes along with Joe. There is also a brief encounter with Sister Madeline (Linda Hunt) on afterlife, but it is really another dead end in the story.

I did like the way the film comes together at the finale, but I felt it took the long road to get there with a bunch of unnecessary stops.

There are several deleted scenes and I recommend you avoid them until after you have seen the film. A couple of the deleted scenes were foreshadowing what’s to come and could be considered spoilers. Many of the other deleted scenes are also in the trailer.

Technical Aspects

The video quality is very good. There is minor edge enhancement, but not distracting at all. The film is mainly dialog driven with well implemented surround ambience that adds to the eeriness of the film.

There were 15 times during the film that the MPEG flags changed from film to video. 10 of those were for 5 MPEG PICs (10 video fields.) There was one drop that lasted for 33 MPEG PICs (66 video fields) and on that lasted for 180 MPEG PICs (360 Video fields or 6 seconds.) This last drop was at the very end of the film, so it happened during the last 6 seconds of the credits, which is not really a big deal. There were no drops at all during chapter breaks, which is a good sign.

- Stacey Spears -

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Miramax Home Entertainment

2001, Color, Rated R

1 Hr 34 Min

 

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

English Dolby Digital 5.1

 

Directed by Leon Ichaso

 

Starring Benjamin Bratt, Rita Moreno, Giancarlo Esposito, and Talisa Soto.

 

Release Date: 7/16/02

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Photography

MPEG Flags

Violence

Drug Use

Sex

Suggestive

Language

"F" & "S" Words

"Piñero"

Synopsis

Plot Overview

“Are you alone? No, I am with myself.”

Benjamin Bratt gives an amazing performance as Miguel Piñero, a famous Latino poet, playwright, actor, drug addict, and ex-con in the film "Piñero".

Piñero was the oldest sibling in his family and was also sexually abused as a child by his father. He turned to writing while serving time in prison for petty theft and drug dealing. He wrote the Tony Award winning play entitled "Short Eyes", which was later turned into a film.

On opening night of "Short Eyes", instead of being onstage to introduce the play, like he was expected, we see Piñero on the streets getting high and robbing a couple of women of their fur coats. In fact, Piñero is pretty much getting high throughout the movie. He believes he is most creative under these conditions.

During the story, we are introduced to people who had an impact on his life. Once we see a new character, the film does a flashback on how they became friends, and then we are back to the current time. Several of Piñero’s poems are read by Bratt throughout the film. While it only brushed on it in the film, Piñero also wrote an early Miami Vice episode “Smugglers Blue’s”, and he also starred in a couple more episodes, along with roles in other films like "Fort Apache the Bronx" and "Short Eyes".

The film is very stylistic. It contains many fast cuts and pans like a music video, and it is always alternating between color and black & white footage. While there is not a lot of physical violence in the film, there is strong drug use and language.

It is sometimes difficult to tell exactly where we are in time, as the film jumps around a lot. We are given the year a couple of times through captions, but the rest is just a guess. If you know the story if his life, you might better follow the film.

There is a small making of feature and the theatrical trailer on the DVD. I want to note that the DVD does not start off on the main menu. You must actually select main menu before you can get to the film.

Technical Aspects

There is a mixture of good and bad footage. Some of the scenes are very clean and free from any type of edge enhancement, while other scenes contain pretty severe edge enhancement. Some of this enhancement may be intentional, but it is difficult to know for sure.

There are 30 times during the film where the MPEG flags change from film to video. Each occurrence lasts for 5 MPEG PICs (10 video fields). There is one of these on every chapter break.

- Stacey Spears -

Divider

Disney

2002, Color, Rated G

1 Hr 10 Min

 

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

English Dolby Digital 5.1

 

Directed by

"Tarzan & Jane" - Steve Loter

"British Invasion" - Don Mackinnon

"Volcanic Diamond Mine", "Flying Ace" - Victor Cook

 

Featuring the voice talents of Michael T. Weiss, Olivia D'Abo, Jeff Bennett, Jim Cummings, and April Winchell.

 

Release Date: 7/23/02

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Photography

MPEG Flags

Violence

Minor

Sex

No

Language

No

"Tarzan & Jane"

Synopsis

Plot Overview

Tarzan, Jane, Terk, Tantor, and the professor are back in a brand new Disney adventure. It is the official one year anniversary after Tarzan and Jane tied the knot. This new DVD takes place after the TV series, which followed the film. The film begins with Tarzan and Jane playing a friendly game of treetop tag. Just after that, Tarzan wants to head off to the waterfall for some more fun, but Jane wants to stay behind so that she can plan a surprise anniversary party for Tarzan with the help of Tantor and Terk.

As Jane begins to plan out the surprise party, she is reminded of the time when three of her finishing school friends came to visit. Next Jane decides that giving Tarzan a gift might be the best approach, but then she is reminded of another story on what happened when Tarzan wanted to get Jane one of these strange British-customs gift. And finally, Jane guesses that simply dancing under the moonlight would be a romantic way to spend their anniversary, but she is once again reminded of the last time she and Tarzan danced. It seems that every civilized custom she is accustomed to has caused problems for her and Tarzan one way or another over the past year.

A couple of the stories involve a pair of black panthers who are out to have the gang for lunch. They, along with an old neighbor of Jane and a pair of diamond thieves, make up the antagonists in this latest tale.

The animation on this latest DVD is not at the same level as the original film. It is, however, on par with previous direct-to-video releases like "Cinderella 2" and "Lady and the Tramp 2". They did a good job matching up the voices on this new DVD with the stars of the original film.

I felt the biggest thing missing from this film was music. While it does have the original “Two Worlds” song from Phil Collins and the new “The Song of Life” sung by Mandy Moore, it does not have the musical feel that has made so many previous Disney films a hit. The original Tarzan was not an all out musical, but it did have a fair number of catchy songs.

This will be another sure fire hit among the kids. What did parents do before there was TV and Disney cartoons?

Technical Aspects

As most animations go, this DVD looks great. Colors are vibrant and not over-saturated. The image is free of noise. The audio is quite good.

The MPEG encoding on this disc is very good. There are no drops to video at any chapter break. I counted around 13 total drops to video. A few of the drops were not to video but to progressive 2-2 instead of 3-2. The longest drop to video during the film was for 34 MPEG PICs (68 video fields.) and there was only one.

- Stacey Spears -

Divider

Paramount Pictures

2002, Color, Rated PG-13

1 Hr 33 Min

 

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

English Dolby Digital 5.1

 

Directed by Tamra Davis

 

Starring Britney Spears, Anson Mount, Zoe Saldana, Taryn Manning, and Dan Aykroyd.

 

Release Date: 7/23/02

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Photography

MPEG Flags

Violence

Minor

Sex

Suggestive

Language

Minor

"Crossroads"

Synopsis

Plot Overview

Three young girls make a pact to be best friends forever. They decide to bury a box full of memories and make plans to dig it back up at midnight on the night of their high school graduation. Eight years later, at their graduation, not only are they no longer best friends, but none of them are even talking to each other as they have gone their own ways over the years.

Lucy (Britney Spears) has gone on to become the class valedictorian, while Kit (Zoe Saldana) has become the popular girl in school, and Mimi (Taryn Manning) is the local trailer park trash.

Lucy is the only character that we really get a lot of family information on. Her father, played by Dan Aykroyd, has raised her all by himself. He has sacrificed a lot because he wants her to go on to be a doctor. Lucy wants to know more about her mother (Kim Cattrall) who left them when she was a baby, but her father refuses to talk about it.

While they are not the best of friends, the three manage to make it at midnight to dig-up the box. Mimi informs the other girls that she is heading off to LA to try out for a singing carrier and asks the others to join. Kit’s fiancé is at UCLA, so she opts in. Lucy has agreed to go but plans to depart ways in Arizona, where her mother is now living.

They three girls tag along with Ben (Anson Mount) for a ride across country to LA. Ben happens to be a musician, but the girls have been told he just got out of prison for murder so they are a bit scared of him.

Along the way, they run into car trouble in New Orleans and must find a way to pay for the repairs. Mimi convinces them to compete in a singing contest. They sing a modern remake of the Joan Jett’s song, “I love Rock’n’ Roll.” They manage to get enough cash and make their way to LA.

I thought the pace was rather slow throughout the film. There was this conflict between the three girls, but we never really know why. The conflict dissolves rather quickly as they bond along the way. The film has a nice soundtrack, and the singing sequences were well done. I thought Britney did a good job, and she had a nice on-screen presence. And in case you are wondering, I don’t believe there is a relation other than the same last name we share. Though, rumor has it, I hear that her fans keep asking her what the best progressive scan DVD player is, for under $300.

There are two music videos and a series of deleted scenes / bloopers on the disc. The director Tamra Davis introduces each scene and explains why there were cut. There is also a short introduction by Britney and a making of feature.

Technical Aspects

The picture quality is very good. There are no noticeable video artifacts when played back in progressive scan on my Sage based DVD player. The audio is on par with the video.

There are 150 times during this film that the MPEG flags change from film to video. Unlike previous discs that normally drop for 5 MPEG PICs (10 video fields), the drops to video on this disc usually lasted for around 60 MPEG PICs (120 video fields). These drops happened throughout the film up until the 77 minute mark, and then there were no more. Amazingly enough, none of the drops occurred on a chapter break. If you are going to watch this film on a progressive scan player, you had better have a Silicon Image or Sage based player.

- Stacey Spears -

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Buena Vista Home Video

2001, Color, Rated R

1 Hr 59 Min

 

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

French Dolby Digital 5.1

 

Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet

 

Starring Audrey Tautou, Mathieu Kassovitz, Rufus, Lorella Cravotta, and Dominique Pinon.

 

Release Date: 7/16/02

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Photography

MPEG Flags

Violence

Minor

Sex

Suggestive

Language

See Review

"Amelie"

Synopsis

Plot Overview

In a film dripping with pathos and humor, an emotionally isolated young woman discovers her gift to deliver happiness to ordinary people, but the question is whether she will ever be able to connect with others and find happiness herself.

Review

Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s beautiful film is a well-crafted jigsaw puzzle around the life of the playfully clever, innocent yet isolated Amélie (played to perfection by Audrey Tautou). She is spirited, and her eyes are so deep and soulful. It is hard to imagine that Emily Watson was, at one time, the front runner for this role. Ms. Watson would have had to learn how to speak French (which it turns out is a whole different language…it’s like they have a different word for everything; see Martin, Steve 1977).

The movie begins with an avalanche of individual vignettes of personal observations, likes and dislikes. In the span of five minutes you have learned about Amélie, her family, and neighbors in a humorous (with a dab of tragedy) way that reveals volumes about their characters.

There are many funny situations, but I will only describe one to preserve your surprise when you watch this heartwarming film. She gets a camera as a child, and while taking some pictures of some unique clouds, an auto accident happens in front of her. A mean neighbor convinces her that cameras actually cause accidents, sending her into a paroxysm of guilt. Once she realizes that he has misdirected her, she exacts her revenge by sitting atop his apartment building detaching his television cable at key moments of a soccer match. Even at a young age, she understands what makes others happy, and in this case, uses that knowledge against her mean-spirited neighbor.

I think this is kind of like a “foreign” film with training wheels. Whereas most French films would leave you to “connect the dots” on your own, this film carefully stops to explain what is happening (courtesy of the Glassman and Amélie’s television). If you find yourself getting a little lost with the strangeness on-screen, wait a bit and some device will be used to catch you up.

This is a great film. The characters are unique, and the story constantly surprises you. You should also watch Jeunet’s other wonderfully envisioned "Delicatessen" and "City of Lost Children".

Special features

This film has a second disc to contain its prodigious collection of extras. These include:

  • Jean-Pierre Jeunet (the director) commentary in English and French.

  • Three thoughtful and interesting discussions with Jeunet (with a few key members) about the film’s use of color and idealized Parisian location. His preparation and control are substantial and exhaustive. Not much fun for his cinematographer, but his vision was complete.

  • Screen tests of major players (especially Audrey Tautou breathtakingly cute test).

Language: Eh, it’s all in French. The most risqué part is a phone call to a porn shop that has a rather vulgar reference to some female unmentionables.

Sex: The sex act is mostly implied with sound and objects shaking in neighboring rooms. There is some brief topless nudity.

- Evan Upchurch -

Technical Aspects

The image quality is very good. It is a bit hard to judge, because of the special treatment that has taken place. The entire film was digitized, color corrected / altered, and then converted back to film. This is a similar process to what was was done for "O' Brother, where art thou?" It allowed Jeunet to achieve a look not possible with filters. This made the film very surreal and pleasing to the eyes.

The audio soundtrack is every bit as good as the video. One often thinks that a foreign film will contain a soundtrack that is somehow lower in quality than the big budget films. Not so, this film has a very dynamic soundtrack. They used the surrounds to create a lively and enveloping environment.

Starting with this review, we have improved our ability to decipher the MPEG flags. In the past reviews, we have only discussed drops to video. From here on out, we are also looking for all 3-3 errors and progressive 2-2 errors. (before we have looked only for interlaced 2-2 errors.)

Error Type

Comments

Chapter Break

Every chapter break had a drop to video.

Video (2-2)

There were 32 drops to video. The majority were for 5 MPEG PICs. (10 video fields) The longest drop was for 6 MPEG PICs.

Film (3-3)

There were 30 changes to 3-3 pulldown. They lasted for 2 MPEG PICs (6 video fields)

Film (2-2 / 30p)

There were 38 changes to 2-2 pulldown. They lasted for 2 MPEG PICs (4 video fields)

Below are samples of the errors marked in red.

Video (2-2)

Film (3-3)

Film (2-2 / 30p)

E 00:10:02 | C 00:10:02
Pic: 01 B:F:P-T
Pic: 02 I:F:PRT
Pic: 03 B:F:P-B
Pic: 04 B:F:PRB
Pic: 05 P:F:P-T
Pic: 06 B:F:PRT
Pic: 07 B:F:P-B
Pic: 08 P:F:PRB
Pic: 09 B:F:P-T
Pic: 10 B:F:PRT
Pic: 11 P:F:P-B
Pic: 00 B:F:PRB
Pic: 01 B:F:P-T
Pic: 02 I:F:PRT
Pic: 03 B:F:P-B
Pic: 04 B:F:--B
Pic: 05 P:F:--B
Pic: 06 B:F:--B

Pic: 07 B:F:PRB
Pic: 08 P:F:P-T
Pic: 09 B:F:--T
Pic: 10 B:F:PRT
Pic: 11 P:F:P-B
Pic: 00 B:F:PRB
E 00:11:00 | C 00:11:00

E 00:41:02 | C 00:41:02
Pic: 03 B:F:P-T
Pic: 04 B:F:PRT
Pic: 05 P:F:P-B
Pic: 06 B:F:PRB
Pic: 07 B:F:P-T
Pic: 08 P:F:PRT
Pic: 09 B:F:P-B
Pic: 10 B:F:PRB
Pic: 11 P:F:P-T
Pic: 00 B:F:PRT
Pic: 01 B:F:P-B
Pic: 02 I:F:PRB
Pic: 03 B:F:P-T
Pic: 04 B:F:PRT
Pic: 05 P:F:P-B
Pic: 06 B:F:PRB
Pic: 07 B:F:P-T
Pic: 08 P:F:PRT
Pic: 10 B:F:PRB

Pic: 11 P:F:P-T
Pic: 00 B:F:PRT
Pic: 01 B:F:P-B
Pic: 02 I:F:PRB
E 00:42:00 | C 00:42:00

E 01:50:00 | C 01:50:00
Pic: 03 B:F:P-T
Pic: 04 B:F:PRT
Pic: 05 P:F:P-B
Pic: 06 B:F:PRB
Pic: 07 B:F:P-T
Pic: 08 P:F:PRT
Pic: 09 B:F:P-B
Pic: 11 P:F:P-T

Pic: 00 B:F:PRT
Pic: 01 B:F:P-B
Pic: 02 I:F:PRB
Pic: 03 B:F:P-T
Pic: 04 B:F:PRT
Pic: 05 P:F:P-B
Pic: 06 B:F:PRB
Pic: 07 B:F:P-T
Pic: 08 P:F:PRT
Pic: 09 B:F:P-B
Pic: 10 B:F:PRB
Pic: 11 P:F:P-T
Pic: 00 B:F:PRT
Pic: 01 B:F:P-B
Pic: 02 I:F:PRB
Pic: 03 B:F:P-T
Pic: 04 B:F:PRT
E 01:51:02 | C 01:51:02

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 R

1 Hr 41 Min

 

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

English Dolby Digital 5.1

French Dolby Digital 5.1

 

Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson

 

Starring Milla Jovovich, Michelle Rodriguez, Eric Mabius, and James Purefoy.

 

Release Date: 7/30/02

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Photography

MPEG Flags

Violence

Lots of Carnage

Sex

Brief Nudity

Language

Yes

"Resident Evil"

Synopsis

Plot Overview

This is yet another attempt made by the movie studios to bring a popular video game to life on the big screen. Box office sales would indicate another failed attempt, but is this big budget film really that bad?

Review

I can recall the first time I played Resident Evil (RE) back on the Playstation. I thought to myself as I watched the nearly 4 minute full-motion video intro, “This would make a cool film.” Several years later, RE has finally made it to the theaters.

The film opens with a virus being stolen and one of the containers being tossed into the lab, which breaks on the floor and causes the virus to spread. This is all done with music in the background that reminds me of a John Carpenter film. The Red Queen, which is the AI that runs this underground lab known as the hive, begins to initiate lockdown protocols to maintain the virus. Moment later we are taken to a shower where a naked Alice (Milla Jovovich) lies on the shower floor covered only in a shower curtain. She awakens confused. While there is no dialog at this point, it is pretty clear from her actions she does not know where or who she is.

After throwing on a red dress / miniskirt and a pair of black boots, she proceeds to check out her surroundings, which happens to be some sort of mansion. Moments later, she is grabbed from behind and then several people coming crashing through the windows dressed all in black and wearing protective masks. (Often incorrectly called gas masks).

The assault team take Alice and Matt (Eric Mabius), the guy who grabbed Alice seconds prior to the assault, and proceeds to secure the mansion. Here we are introduced to a few more characters like Rain (Michelle Campos). The team then ascends intro a secret passage and onto a train. They head deep underground into the Hive, which resides just below Raccoon City.

Alice demands to know what is going on. We are quickly brought up to speed, and the Hive and Raccoon City are explained. Alice is also informed she is part of the security team that monitors the mansion, which happens to be an alternate entrance into the hive.

The team must make their way to the Red Queen control room and reboot her. Looks like even advanced computers need a reboot now and then. It is a good thing Windows does not have a means to protect itself from being rebooted like the Red Queen does. Little did they know that the reboot unlocked all of the doors in the facility, and those who perished while the Queen tried to maintain the virus are brought back to life as zombies. The remaining members of the team must now work against time and zombies, to make their way back to the mansion.

Throughout the film, Alice becomes more skillful, or her skills are coming back to her, as we see her kick some serious butt!

I will be honest; I had very low expectations of this film based on my previous experience with other video game-based films like "Mario Brothers" and "Tomb Raider". I have a feeling that others have felt the same way, and it probably explains the poor box office results.

However, I think this film is going to do much better on video. The story is entertaining, the special effects are first rate, and the sets are very realistic. This goes to show that the digital sets used on films like "Star Wars" don’t hold a candle to the real deal. The location scout deserves big brownie points for finding the train station. I don’t think I have enjoyed a sci-fi flick this much since "Aliens". This film truly is a guilty pleasure!

The sets are very confined. We went through a train station, the lab, a wet sewer system, and the mansion. The majority of the film takes place in the underground facility. The computer map of the facility makes it feel vast in size. There was one aspect of the film I did not like, and that was the creature called the Licker. I thought the film would have been much better without it. There was one booby trap in the film that reminded me of the film "Cube". I thought it was a very cool effect.

Keep in mind this is a sci-fi film that involves the T-virus, zombies, an assault team, and an evil corporation, so don't expect a work of art like "Amelie", just a great ride. A sequel to the film appears to be in the works, and it is rumored to introduce the character Jill from the computer game. If you are a fan of sci-fi at all, I highly recommend this DVD.

Extras

There are a fair amount of extras included on this disc. From the main menu, there are the special extras and the trailers. The trailers include current DVDs "Resident Evil" and "Final Fantasy". It also includes upcoming films "xXx", "Men in Black II", "Spiderman", and "Formula 51". (“The 51st State”)

Under the special sections, you can turn on the film commentary with several cast members or watch some featurettes. There are five featurettes in total, and they include the making of, scoring the music, costumes, sets, and zombie make-up.

The making-of is the longest featurette on the disc, which comes in around 29 minutes. We get to hear from the director, several producers, and cast members on what it took to make this film happen. There is also a quick blurb from Capcom. You ever notice how no one has anything bad to say about the rest of the staff in a film? They also all believe that what they are doing is the greatest thing of all time.

The "Making Of" did answer one question that I had. I had wondered how the dogs were made up with the zombie look. Was it CG? Where the dogs really covered in the goop? If so, how did you get them to do that? If you are wondering the same thing, you will have to watch the making of for that answer. Milla even commented that you should watch the film just to see her in a red dress / miniskirt and gun.

The next featurette was on scoring the film. My very first thoughts when the film started was “wow, this sounds just like something from a John Carpenter film.” The first words out of the directors mouth was he wanted it to sound like early John Carpenter films. I think he succeeded. We get to hear from both music composer Marco Beltrami and Marilyn Manson on how the film's soundtrack was created. I don’t consider myself a fan of Manson or his style of music, but I think it worked well in the movie. I can’t imagine the film soundtrack any other way. This is the second longest featurette on the DVD, lasting nearly 10 minutes. In fact, as each featurette played, they became shorter and shorter.

The last three featurettes were all pretty very short. The Zombie make-up feature was the shortest and really just involved showing off a few zombies with their slime on. I thought they all looked very good, and you never seem them up this close during the movie . . .well, at least not at a slow enough pace where you can appreciate all of the work involved.

There was also a set design and costumes feature. Here we get to see a bit more on how the Licker was created and the sets used in the film. Digital sets simply cannot touch real sets when it comes to atmosphere in a film, sorry Lucas!

Last but not least is a small collection of filmographies with several key members. I looked forward to these as it gives you a glimpse of what they are currently working on.

Technical Aspects

The image quality is excellent. The image remains constant from the brightly lit lab to the dark corridors of the sewer system. I found nary a hint of edge enhancement. The opening scene and DVD menus contain a lot of sharp red that I am sure will become great test patterns for the chroma bug. It is a good thing Columbia decided not to include the bandwidth hog DTS soundtrack because it allowed them more space for the video.

The soundtrack consists of music from Marilyn Manson, and it really adds to the creepy atmosphere. It really does sound like an old John Carpenter film. The music helps to control the mood of the film. I found my heartbeat keeping pace with the soundtrack. This soundtrack shows just how immersive DD can be and why DTS is nothing more than a waste of valuable space. The LFE is in full swing with this film and the surrounds are aggressively used. They never distract you from the film and are there only as supporting characters that bring the set alive.

Error Type

Comments

Chapter Break

Every chapter break had a drop to video.

Video (2-2)

There were 35 drops to video. The majority were for 5 MPEG PICs. (10 video fields) The longest drop was for 6 MPEG PICs.

Film (3-3)

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

Film (2-2 / 30p)

There were 34 changes to 2-2 pulldown. They lasted for 2 MPEG PICs (4 video fields)

Below are samples of the errors marked in red with the chapter break in blue.

Video (2-2)

Film (3-3)

Film (2-2 / 30p)

E 08:22:00 | C 07:06:36
Pic: 07 P:F:--T
Starting Chapter 3.
Pic: 00 I:F:--T
Pic: 01 P:F:--T
Pic: 02 B:F:--T
Pic: 03 B:F:--T

Pic: 04 P:F:PRT
Pic: 00 B:F:P-B
Pic: 01 B:F:PRB
Pic: 02 I:F:P-T
Pic: 03 B:F:PRT
Pic: 04 B:F:P-B
Pic: 05 P:F:PRB
Pic: 06 B:F:P-T
Pic: 07 B:F:PRT
Pic: 08 P:F:P-B
Pic: 09 B:F:PRB
Pic: 10 B:F:P-T
Pic: 11 P:F:PRT
Pic: 00 B:F:P-B
Pic: 01 B:F:PRB
Pic: 02 I:F:P-T
Pic: 03 B:F:PRT
Pic: 04 B:F:P-B
Pic: 05 P:F:PRB
Pic: 06 B:F:P-T
E 08:23:00 | C 00:00:58

E 01:07:00 | C 01:07:00
Pic: 02 I:F:P-T
Pic: 03 B:F:PRT
Pic: 04 B:F:P-B
Pic: 05 P:F:PRB
Pic: 06 B:F:P-T
Pic: 07 B:F:PRT
Pic: 09 B:F:PRB

Pic: 10 B:F:P-T
Pic: 11 P:F:PRT
Pic: 00 B:F:P-B
Pic: 01 B:F:PRB
Pic: 02 I:F:P-T
Pic: 03 B:F:PRT
Pic: 04 B:F:P-B
Pic: 05 P:F:PRB
Pic: 06 B:F:P-T
Pic: 07 B:F:PRT
Pic: 08 P:F:P-B
Pic: 09 B:F:PRB
Pic: 10 B:F:P-T
Pic: 11 P:F:PRT
Pic: 00 B:F:P-B
Pic: 01 B:F:PRB
Pic: 02 I:F:P-T
E 01:08:00 | C 01:08:00

E 03:04:01 | C 01:48:37
Pic: 04 B:F:P-B
Pic: 05 P:F:PRB
Pic: 06 B:F:P-T
Pic: 07 B:F:PRT
Pic: 08 P:F:P-B
Pic: 09 B:F:PRB
Pic: 10 B:F:P-T
Pic: 11 P:F:PRT
Pic: 00 B:F:P-B
Pic: 01 B:F:PRB
Pic: 02 I:F:P-T
Pic: 03 B:F:PRT
Pic: 04 B:F:P-B
Pic: 05 P:F:PRB
Pic: 06 B:F:P-T
Pic: 08 P:F:P-B

Pic: 09 B:F:PRB
Pic: 10 B:F:P-T
Pic: 11 P:F:PRT
Pic: 00 B:F:P-B
Pic: 01 B:F:PRB
Pic: 02 I:F:P-T
Pic: 03 B:F:PRT
Pic: 04 B:F:P-B
E 03:05:00 | C 01:49:36

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

- Stacey Spears -

Divider

Dimension Films

2001, Color, Rated R

1 Hr 30 Min

 

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

English Dolby Surround 2.0

 

Directed by Phil Jones

 

Starring Jennifer Esposito, Robert Patrick, and Melissa Joan Hart.

 

Release Date: 7/16/02

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Photography

MPEG Flags

Violence

Gangster Style

Sex

None

Language

"F" & "S" Words

"Backflash"

Synopsis

Review

Just released from prison, Harley (Jennifer Esposito), heads back home to recover two million dollars that she and her boyfriend had managed to steal from the mob over a period of time.

The film actually opens with Ray (Robert Patrick) lying on the floor of a hotel room. He is awakened by the sound of an alarm clock. He cleans the blood off his face and then we seem him at a video store that he owns. Ray decides to take a vacation and he leaves his employee Pez in charge.

Upon arriving back home, the first person Harley talks to is C.J. (Melissa Joan Hart), an ex prostitute, who is now stuffing dead corpses with money to transport to Vegas. Harley stops by to pick up a gun before she continues on her way.

As Harley is hitching hiking again, Ray drives by and picks her up. Since Ray is on vacation, he seems to be willing to go where Harley wants. Maybe he is intrigued by her wild side as Ray does appear to be much more conservative and possibly naive.

In the mean time, the mob boss that Hailey and her boyfriend stole from knows she is out of prison and wants that money back. He hires a professional to follow them, hoping she will lead them straight to the money.

As Ray earns Harley's trust, she lets him in on how the money was stolen and where it is now. She needs Ray’s help to recover the money because it is stored at the bank in a safety deposit box, and it requires two people to get it out. She makes promises of splitting the two million 50/50 and even implies running off together.

With the mob on their trail, they must move quickly to get the money so that they can make their escape.

The film tries to be more clever than it is. Flashbacks are used after events happen to help you understand just why it went down. I had a hard time seeing Melissa Joan Hart playing the “from-the-streets” tough girl. Perhaps it is because I am used to her being so innocent. She probably does more cussing the in the movie than anyone else, and she has such a small role.

It is always the little things that are hard to believe. Here you have an attractive woman who happens to be hitching across a barren highway in Arizona, and several cars drive by before anyone stops to pick her up. I understand the concept suspension of disbelief, but please!

Extras

There are several trailers on the DVD for current and upcoming DVDs, and even a theatrical release. The theatrical trailer is for the film "Zu Warriors (Legend of Zu)", which is a martial arts fantasy film from Hong Kong.

There are a number of deleted scenes, and you have the option of watching with or without commentary. There is also a commentary track for the film. The deleted scenes are more like outtakes.

Technical Aspects

The image quality is ok, but there appears to be MPEG noise in some of the background shots. There was no noticeable edge enhancement to distract. The image was a little on the soft side. Because it is a Dolby Surround 2-channel mix, I used Pro Logic II to decode the soundtrack. PL II did a nice job, but the film was mainly dialog driven.

This is another encoding that has the progressive_frame flag toggling on/off with each frame. This is similar to "Austin Powers", "Titanic", and "Terminator". I suspect a Minerva encoder was used, as it is known to have this encoding bug.

Error Type

Comments

Chapter Break

None as the progressive_frame flag toggled on and off during the entire film.

Video (2-2)

There were 64,766 drops to video. I only listed the total number of drops for dramatic effect. They toggle the progressive flag on and off during the entire film.

Film (3-3)

There was 1 changes to 3-3 pulldown. It lasted for 2 MPEG PICs (6 video fields)

Film (2-2 / 30p)

There were 0 changes to 2-2 pulldown.

Below are samples of the errors marked in red.

Video (2-2)

Film (3-3)

E 00:01:00 | C 00:01:00
Pic: 00 B:F:--T
Pic: 01 B:F:PRT
Pic: 02 I:F:--B
Pic: 03 B:F:PRB
Pic: 04 B:F:--T
Pic: 05 P:F:PRT
Pic: 06 B:F:--B
Pic: 07 B:F:PRB
Pic: 08 P:F:--T
Pic: 09 B:F:PRT
Pic: 10 B:F:--B
Pic: 11 P:F:PRB
Pic: 00 B:F:--T
Pic: 01 B:F:PRT
Pic: 02 I:F:--B
Pic: 03 B:F:PRB
Pic: 04 B:F:--T
Pic: 05 P:F:PRT
Pic: 06 B:F:--B
Pic: 07 B:F:PRB
Pic: 08 P:F:--T
Pic: 09 B:F:PRT
Pic: 10 B:F:--B
Pic: 11 P:F:PRB
E 00:02:00 | C 00:02:00

Pic: 00 B:F:--T
Pic: 01 B:F:--T
Pic: 02 I:F:PRT
Pic: 03 B:F:PRB

Pic: 04 B:F:--T
Pic: 05 P:F:PRT
Pic: 06 B:F:--B
Pic: 07 B:F:PRB
Pic: 08 P:F:--T
Pic: 09 B:F:PRT
Pic: 10 B:F:--B
Pic: 11 P:F:PRB
Pic: 00 B:F:--T
Pic: 01 B:F:PRT
Pic: 02 I:F:--B
Pic: 03 B:F:PRB
Pic: 04 B:F:--T
Pic: 05 P:F:PRT
Pic: 06 B:F:--B
Pic: 07 B:F:PRB
Pic: 08 P:F:--T
Pic: 09 B:F:PRT
Pic: 10 B:F:--B
Pic: 11 P:F:PRB
E 00:01:00 | C 00:01:00

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

- Stacey Spears -

Divider

Dimension Films

2001, Color, Rated R (Original was PG-13)

1 Hr 42 Min

 

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

English Dolby Digital 5.1

 

Directed by Gary Fleder

 

Starring Gary Sinise, Madeleine Stowe, Vincent D’Onofrio, and Mekhi Phifer.

 

Release Date: 7/9/02

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Photography

MPEG Flags

Violence

Lots of gunplay

Sex

Yes

Language

Yes

"Imposter"

Synopsis

Plot Overview

Another clever Philip K. Dick short story is clumsily adapted for the big screen, showing a dystopian future with interplanetary relations issues. A man must defend his identity to a government agency bent on proving he’s not who he says he is.

Review

This movie starts out bad. The opening credits appear over the writhing bodies of Spence Olham (Gary Sinese) and Maya Olham (Madeleine Stowe). I suppose that they wanted to start the film showing that the two are desperately in love, but it is really gratuitous. The movie continues with Spence showing how futuristic the world is by using a voice command audio system in his bathroom. Maybe it’s a nit, but he wants to change the music to something more upbeat and he says something to the effect of, “No…change it to Hooker, John Lee". OK the world is futuristic, but the voice recognition can’t process names in their traditional order? Levitating bug-like mass transit has been achieved, but speech recognition is still crude. These two issues started a level of annoyance that only increased with the progression of the film. These are the only plot points I’ll give away (other than my spoilers and gripes at the end of the review).

This movie was made for people who have trouble telling if people are feeling angry, passionate, frightened, etc. The film makers have taken good actors and pushed them to go beyond reasonable emotional levels. Vincent D'Onofrio is the government agent working on preventing the invasion of impostor aliens and joins the rest of the cast in overacting his part. This is a shame, because he is such a master of subtlety in his "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" role.

The film was shot in a way that would be much more comfortable to watch on television. To increase the tension of the movie, there are many handheld camera shots jerking the image around. I have a large screen in my theater room (but of course nowhere near as big as the smallest megaplex screen). The motion was so unsettling, that I felt the beginnings of motion sickness.

“Starship Troopers” was a much better film than this and had a more engaging approach towards interplanetary conflict. It showed the jingoistic fervor of a world that had actually instigated the problems with the “aggressor” race species (oddly enough it was an invasive colonization by Mormon settlers on another alien species’ planet). I don’t think that most people recognized the beauty of that film’s commentary on propaganda and fascism. Watch "Starship Troopers" again, and you’ll be more entertained than watching this derivative fluff.

This film seems like it was made for TV, and somebody decided at the last minute to give it a go on the big screen. It should have stayed on the small screen and been relegated to late night viewing.

Extras

The disc has interviews with the cast and makers of the film. The disc also includes the original short story, which is the beginning and ending of the film merged together.

Spoilers and Gripes

If Gary’s character wasn’t aware that he was an alien imposter, why did he run to embrace the alien version of his wife and not the real one?

Vincent saw the body PET scan of Gary and was completely sure that he wasn’t an alien even though during the rest of the film he said that any explosives don’t coalesce until an hour before detonation.

- Evan Upchurch -

Technical Aspects

The image quality is very good. There is a grainy look, but this is intentional, and it is how it looked when I saw it in the theater. The audio is even better as they make full use of the surrounds to immerse you in a 3D sound field. There is extensive use of the subwoofer too.

Overall, the quality of the flags is not bad. It seems to fall on what I would consider average encoding errors.

Error Type

Comments

Chapter Break

Every chapter break had a drop to video.

Video (2-2)

There were 20 drops to video. The majority were for 5 MPEG PICs. (10 video fields) The longest drop was for 79 MPEG PICs and this happened at the very start.

Film (3-3)

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

Film (2-2 / 30p)

There were 32 changes to 2-2 pulldown. They lasted for 2 MPEG PICs (4 video fields)

Below are samples of the errors marked in red with the chapter break in blue.

Video (2-2)

Film (3-3)

Film (2-2 / 30p)

Starting Chapter 4.
Pic: 00 I:F:--T
E 21:48:01 | C 00:00:02
Pic: 01 B:F:--T
Pic: 02 P:F:--T
Pic: 03 B:F:--T
Pic: 04 P:F:--T

Pic: 05 B:F:PRT
Pic: 06 B:F:P-B
Pic: 07 P:F:PRB
Pic: 00 B:F:P-T
Pic: 01 B:F:PRT
Pic: 02 I:F:P-B
Pic: 03 B:F:PRB
Pic: 04 B:F:P-T
Pic: 05 P:F:PRT
Pic: 06 B:F:P-B
Pic: 07 B:F:PRB
Pic: 08 P:F:P-T
Pic: 09 B:F:PRT
Pic: 10 B:F:P-B
Pic: 11 P:F:PRB
Pic: 00 B:F:P-T
Pic: 01 B:F:PRT
Pic: 02 I:F:P-B
Pic: 03 B:F:PRB
Pic: 04 B:F:P-T
Pic: 05 P:F:PRT
E 21:49:02 | C 00:01:03

E 03:34:02 | C 03:34:02
Pic: 06 B:F:P-B
Pic: 07 B:F:PRB
Pic: 09 B:F:PRT

Pic: 10 B:F:P-B
Pic: 11 P:F:PRB
Pic: 00 B:F:P-T
Pic: 01 B:F:PRT
Pic: 02 I:F:P-B
Pic: 03 B:F:PRB
Pic: 04 B:F:P-T
Pic: 05 P:F:PRT
Pic: 06 B:F:P-B
Pic: 07 B:F:PRB
Pic: 08 P:F:P-T
Pic: 09 B:F:PRT
Pic: 10 B:F:P-B
Pic: 11 P:F:PRB
Pic: 00 B:F:P-T
Pic: 01 B:F:PRT
Pic: 02 I:F:P-B
Pic: 03 B:F:PRB
Pic: 04 B:F:P-T
Pic: 05 P:F:PRT
E 03:35:00 | C 03:35:00

E 02:48:00 | C 02:48:00
Pic: 04 B:F:P-T
Pic: 05 P:F:PRT
Pic: 06 B:F:P-B
Pic: 07 B:F:PRB
Pic: 08 P:F:P-T
Pic: 10 B:F:P-B

Pic: 11 P:F:PRB
Pic: 00 B:F:P-T
Pic: 01 B:F:PRT
Pic: 02 I:F:P-B
Pic: 03 B:F:PRB
Pic: 04 B:F:P-T
Pic: 05 P:F:PRT
Pic: 06 B:F:P-B
Pic: 07 B:F:PRB
Pic: 08 P:F:P-T
Pic: 09 B:F:PRT
Pic: 10 B:F:P-B
Pic: 11 P:F:PRB
Pic: 00 B:F:P-T
Pic: 01 B:F:PRT
Pic: 02 I:F:P-B
Pic: 03 B:F:PRB
Pic: 04 B:F:P-T
Pic: 05 P:F:PRT
E 02:49:02 | C 02:49:02

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

- Stacey Spears -

Divider

© Copyright 2002 Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity
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