Blast From The Past … Genesis of a Calibrator … Part 4

ARMITAGE III: Polymatrix:                           Pioneer

A144

7.5

1.66

5.1

Trailer

DVD-5

Category: Science Fiction / Action / OAV / Adult

I suppose that I will get this DVD from Pioneer at some point in the future.  The film is matted and includes an AC-3 audio track.  There is no full frame version available on the disc nor is there a Japanese language version.  I ordered this one from Ken Cranes with a lot of other titles.  It uses the same Polygram slip box made of solid clear plastic.  The film should look and sound good.  I am not certain if there are that many extras with this title.  The matte may also be closer to 1.85 as presented on the Sci-Fi Channel in August.  The packaging says 1.85 and I was mistaken about the packaging.  It looked like the Polygram design, but it turns out that they are only jewel cases which is okay.  Not too different from the old days with the CD’s and the cardboard packaging.  The film is not presented in the anamorphic format, but the AC-3 is lively.  Whatever happened to the B5 guy rewriting the music for this film.  I guess he wrote it for the Tenchi film and not this one.  Interesting, in some scenes, the widescreen version presents more to the sides and in other scenes, the full frame version presents more information to the sides as well as the top and bottom.  Kiefer Sutherland does an interesting take on the Ross Syllubus character voice.  It is laid back, but it really isn’t too different from the original rendition.  Given how Ross as a character is drawn, you would kind of expect a low key delivery which is precisely whay you get.  Naomi Armitage is drawn more like a free spirit so you expect her voice to be more lively.  Ross is supposed to represent the human who behaves more like a robot very the robot being more human than he is.

ARMY OF DARKNESS                                    MCA

A150

7.0

1.66

DPL

LDCA

A151

7.5

1.66 16×9; 1.33

5.1

Extras

RSDL

Category: Comedy / Fantasy / Documentary

The film is more aptly titled “Bruce Campbell VS. The Army Of Darkness” as is indicated at the beginning of the film.  This one is actually also called “Evil Dead 3” as it is the follow up to the previous gore fests.  There is very little gore in this film as the director / creators have taken their hero on a tangent.  The visual quality is pristine with no detectable traces of color noise anywhere.  The picture is on a par with “Batman Returns” in terms of quality.  I’m really back tracking here, but the visuals do not match the Batman film.  There is more grain than I had originally noticed hence the downgrade to 7.0.  The surround track is hard to describe because it is the most active one that I have heard in a long time and it is great fun.  The film appears to parody itself and it is very funny to watch.  I found myself laughing so hard that the pseudo gore didn’t have any negative effect on the viewing.  The hero’s dialogue is written as if taken from an audience’s point of view.  There are so many one liners in this film.  This was totally unexpected.  Bridget Fonda has a role in this film, but no dialogue at all.  She appears in about 30 second of the film.  The Ash character actually gets sucked into the vortex at the end of the second film and he lands in the desert … but where … the end.  The Japanese release of the film is with the “Evil Dead 3” title.  It is apparently about 15 minutes longer and has a much darker tone.  Ash gets sucked into some Mad Max world at the end of this one.  This one wasn’t even in the theatre long enough for me to see it.  The Bruce Campbell character in Hercules is exactly the same as the Ash character.  In fact, the dialog was strikingly similar with his trademark … “Give me some sugar, baby.”  I nearly fell off my chair laughing when he said that.  It would seem that the DVD version of the film is actually even shorter than this version.  It definitely means that I will not be getting that version at all.  The director’s cut special edition is now available, but its limited availability meant that only the standard edition made its way to Canada.  This version is the theatrical version with an all new soundtrack and an all new 16:9 transfer.  The 1.66:1 aspect ratio means that some black bars will be visible on the sides.  The disc also includes trailers, a documentary and the original ending.

THE ARRIVAL                                               Artisan

A155

7.5

1.85; 1.33

5.1

Trailer

Two Sided

Category: Science Fiction / Comedy / Fantasy

This one is on DVD and it came from A & B Sound for only $25 plus tax.  Amazingly similar pricing to the U.S. and much better than Laser Movie’s high pricing.  The film is in both formats, but it does not have an enhanced 16:9 mode like the Warner releases.  It still zooms very good on the Pro Scan retaining its image integrity.  Image is very good and the audio sounds slightly more dimensional than Jumanji given the DPL limitations in the DVD format.  The disc came out of the box with what looked like a scratch on the widescreen version, but upon cleaning, most of the material came off.  The player skipped at chapter 29 and bounced back to that when I scanned past it.  Playback through the section had no problems though.  The film turned out to be slightly less predictable than I thought it would be so that was refreshing.  The fear that the girl friend would turn out to be the enemy fortunately did not come to pass.  The creators used this fear in the viewers to their advantage as she is a red herring there to mislead us.  The film had a very nice sense of paranoia to it.  The aliens look slightly silly and the fact that they do not wear clothing is even more curious.  (Too advanced for clothing you see.)  The creatures are pure CGI.  Charlie Sheen gets a lot of dialog that is delivered similar to his other characters in other films which is actually a good thing.  He is not too far from his character in Terminal Velocity.  Charlie Sheen actually ends up playing himself … that of a troubled young man.  Image quality of this disc is very grainy making the presentation somewhat irritating.  Some of the white backgrounds oversaturate the rest of the image.  (Here is a case where some Laserdiscs actually look better.)  The first run with the AC-3 track was wonderful.  The discrete sound format is used very convincingly in this film.  The elevator scene is particularly effective as it literally turns heads.  There is a special edition Laserdisc with commentary that is available.  A group viewing with Jeff and Vera (a strange visitor from another planet … Hong Kong) really sold the AC-3 sound system.  You could see Vera twitch and jump thanks to the enhanced image and sound.  The suspense was a little too much for her.  We smiled.

AS GOOD AS IT GETS                                    Columbia / Tri-Star

A160

8.0

1.85 16×9; 1.33

5.1

Extras

Two Sided

Category: Comedy / Documentary

I picked this one up at A & B Sound in Edmonton along with many other titles.  While this one is AC-3, it is essentially a film of just talking heads so the sound production is not that special.  The film is very funny and the audio commentary is lively given the presence of all the main actors.  Proof positive that Jack Nicholson no longer plays characters in films, but rather himself or variations there of.  There is also a trailer on this disc, but not much more.  Image quality is top notch and typical for Columbia releases.  Look closely at the 16:9 frame and you can barely see the 1.85 masking.  Something about Skeet Ulrich and his image on top of a wall in Satan’s bedroom.

Michael Chen

Michael Chen is the only THX Video Systems Instructor in Canada, and beyond these borders, is one of just two THX Video Instructors in the entire world.  He has actively consulted with Spectracal and ChromaPure and has created numerous education videos on the calibration process with still more to come.  His Video Calibration Training Series has quickly become the most comprehensive and simple to understand learning tool on the market today.  He has also taught classes for both the ISF and Spectracal as well and is now spearheading his all new TLVEXP calibration training program. Let Michael teach you Video Calibration and add that additional income stream to your installation and integration business

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