DVD & Blu-ray Reviews

DVD-Video Reviews, Part 2 of 3


Published on October 1, 2004

Pt. 2 of 3 – October 2004   [Part 1], [Part 3]

Secret Window - Depp In July Langrishe, Go Down Bay of Angels - Moreau
Prince & Me Pola X Carlton Browne - Sellers
the Tenant
Mysterious Object Star Trek original series Star Trek Generations Star Trek V oyatger - 3rd Season

Secret Window - Johnny DeppSecret Window (Widescreen Special Features DVD) (2004)

Starring: Johnny Depp, John Turturro, Maria Bello, Timothy Hutton, Charles S. Dutton
Directed by: David Koepp
Studio: Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment
Video: 2.40:1 widescreen enhanced
Audio: English and French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English, French, plus English closed captions
Extras: Audio commentary by director David Koepp; three featurettes (“From Book to Film”, “A Look Through It” and “Secrets Revealed”); four animated storyboards; four deleted scenes; nine previews
Length: 96 minutes
Rating: ***

Mort Rainey is a successful writer who has spent the last six months in his secluded cabin on the lake. Mort is trying to come to terms with his impending divorce. While Mort is still struggling with why his wife Amy left him for the love of another, he receives a visit from a man named John Shooter. Shooter claims that Mort stole one of his short stories and he now wants Mort to publish the original ending to that story. Mort denies the accusation that he plagiarized the story, thereby causing Shooter to become more violent as the days pass. Secret Window is a good horror/suspense movie. The film moves along at a brisk pace and has an interesting plot twist that should keep most viewers guessing up until the very end. Johnny Depp turns in yet another first-rate performance as he skillfully weaves humor into a dramatic role. Fans of Depp will want to add this DVD to their collection and everyone else should at least consider checking this film out as a rental.

The video quality of this DVD is excellent. Images are clean with fine detail. Blacks are consistently dark throughout. Colors are vibrant and deep with well-saturated hues. Picture defect mastering is perfect with no major flaws or digital compression artifacts. The overall audio quality is very good with the English Dolby Digital 5.1 track serving as the basis for this review. The soundtrack has a nice balance of all of the discrete channels. Dialogue is intelligible and firmly positioned in the center channel. The surround channels are moderately active and employed primarily for ambient sounds and the music score. While only selectively utilized, low frequency bass is always deep and taut. Tactile sound effects are present in about one quarter of the DVD’s chapters and appear as subtle to moderate impacts from the sound effects and music soundtrack.

- Calvin Harding Jr.

In JulyIn July (2000)

Starring: Moritz Bleibtreu, Christiane Paul, Mehmet Kurtulus
Studio: Koch Lorber
Video: 1.85:1 Widescreen Enhanced
Audio: German DD 5.1
Subtitles: English
Extras: Trailer, Interviews (not on screener so not verified)
Length: 96 minutes
Rating: ***1/2

Summer break is about to start and Daniel, a young physics student teacher, has nothing interesting happening in his life. July is a gypsy who sells trinkets close to Daniel’s apartment, and has had her eye on him for a while. She finally gets up the nerve to confront him and insists he goes to a party where he will meet a girl with a sun that matches the ring (a lucky charm) she has sold to him. As luck would have it, as he is about to leave the party, he meets a tourist who has a sun on her shirt. He seizes the moment at what he believes to be his destiny. Just as he is leaving with the girl, Melek, July shows up and we realize she had planned for her to meet him the whole time. Melek and Daniel spend a wonderful night together and he falls in love. She is on her way to Istanbul and Daniel realizes that he must follow his heart. He hits the road and as he is about to enter the highway stops to pick up a hitchhiker—who else should it be, but July!

The long, difficult journey together (and apart) gives Daniel time to discover his true feelings, and for July to find out if Daniel is everything she thought he was. This movie was surprisingly good. It is a romantic road trip film that may not be entirely original (as it reminded me a bit of Forces of Nature with Sandra Bullock, but better.) Some of the film is predictable, but those moments are still enjoyable, and the viewer wants the two main characters to be together in the end. Like Amelie, I was able to watch the film a couple of weeks after the first viewing and enjoy as much, if not more, than the first. In July is a cute film that would be great viewing with a significant other or even by oneself.

-Brian Bloom

Langrishe, Go DownLangrishe, Go Down (1978)

Starring: Jeremy Irons, Judi Dench, Annette Crosbie, Harold Pinter, Margaret Whiting
Studio: Image Entertainment
Video: 1.33:1
Audio: Mono
Extras: None
Length: 112 minutes
Rating: ***+

The story of Imogen Langrishe takes place in 1930s Dublin. While Imogen and her sister were once of English noble class, they now live on a plantation and slowly waste away. They have to sell the trees for money and their lives languish. Imogen meets a boarder on the property (who lives in the cottage), a German scholar, who quickly gains her interest and she his. It isn’t long before their lust develops and she throws off any pretenses of maintaining a traditional, lady-like, prim and proper persona. First, she allows him to get her drunk and paw at her breasts, while later; she becomes the tigress putting whipped cream on herself and attacks him. Her feelings of affection are not matched by his. It is hard to know how deep his feelings are due to his purposeful attempts to distance himself and act aloof. What was once intense, passionate, playful, and fresh, has turned to distaste, boredom, cruelty, and disinterest. She can no longer tolerate their involvement and serves him with an ultimatum.

The video on this disc is grainy, overly contrasty, and has the look of an older VHS videotape. The sound is sometimes hard to make out, and the accents need some concentration to understand at times. The film is written by playwright Harold Pinter and has a slow, even pace that suits the characters and the story. Much like a stage play, the acting is what helps to make this movie stand out from the rest. It is awing to watch the two female leads exchange lines—their mannerisms, the way they hold themselves, the pauses in between words, and everything else seems about as perfect as can be. The subject matter and flow of the film may not be to everyone’s liking, but those who prefer a slower, more ethereal experience set in another era, and have the patience to examine the smaller things that make the film special, will be rewarded.

-Brian Bloom

Bay of AngelsBay of Angels (1963)

Starring: Jeanne Moreau, Claude Mann
Studio: Wellspring
Video: B&W, 1.66:1 widescreen enhanced
Audio: DD 5.1, DD Stereo–French Mono with English subtitles
Extras: Filmographies, Trailer, Excerpt from L’Universe de Jacques Demy
Length: 79 minutes
Rating: ****

Jean, a bank employee, lives his life straight and doesn’t take big risks. A friend, who is a serious gambler, convinces him to accompany him to the casino. Almost instantly Jean is drawn into the excitement. He appears to have a sixth sense where he can almost predict the outcome of the game. He decides to abandon his dull life and take his winnings with him on a vacation. The call to gamble is strong and he is at the casino in no time. There he meets a compulsive gambler, Jackie, who hypnotizes him. His desire for her and their connection to each other is strong–they both share a common addiction, the roulette table. Their needs are different and it is painful for Jean as he comes to this discovery. Jean has grown to love Jackie, but Jackie is not one to be tied down and thinks of Jean only as a lucky charm. Jackie must decide which is stronger—her desire to spend time at the table, or to be with Jean.

As the film progresses we sense how Jean begins to be unseeded from his conventionality and drifts towards insecurity. He is cast out from his family when his father discovers his habit, so is adrift in the south of France with nothing more than the clothes on his back. His attraction (early on) for Jackie is clearly his downfall. Although he is addicted to the game, he wins, and the viewer gets the feeling he can walk away with money in his pocket. She, however, is a sinkhole, and will sell everything she owns in order to risk that one chance for a large win—only to throw it away time and time again. For her, it is not the gambling per se, it is the feeling she gets risking everything and a feeling that for her, is stronger than anything else she has ever experienced. The viewer wants her to succumb to Jean’s will and remove herself from the uncertainty of her existence, but she resists. The film has a way of making you forget where you are, of twisting your sympathies, and putting you off balance—wild and out of control much like Last Tango in Paris. For me, it is these qualities that make it largely successful.

-Brian Bloom

The Prince and MeThe Prince & Me (Special Collector’s Edition)(2004)

Starring: Julia Stiles, Luke Mably, Ben Miller, James Fox, Miranda Richardson
Directed by: Martha Coolidge
Studio: Paramount Home Entertainment
Video: 1.85:1 Widescreen enhanced
Audio: English DD 5.1, English DD 2.0, French DD 5.1
Subtitles and Captions: English, Spanish and English Closed Captions
Extras: Commentary by Director Martha Coolidge, three featurettes (“The Lawnmower Race of The Prince & Me”, “The Look of The Prince & Me” and “Inside the Fairy Tale: The Prince & Me”), eight extended/deleted scenes, gag reel, theatrical trailer, previews
Length: 110 minutes
Rating: ***

Edvard is the Prince of Denmark who spends a great deal of time in the tabloid headlines due to his playboy lifestyle. Looking for some fun with American college girls, Edvard flippantly decides to enroll at the University of Wisconsin. He decides to keep his identity a secret and begins going by the name of “Eddie”. Soon after arriving on campus, Eddie crosses paths with Paige, a no-nonsense student who has her sights firmly set on becoming a doctor. Although the two do not immediately hit it off, they eventually fall in love with one another over the course of the semester. However, when Paige discovers Eddie’s true identity, she is hurt and tells him that they can’t be together. Paige then reconsiders her decision but when she goes to find Eddie, Paige learns that he has already returned to Denmark. Paige must then choose to follow her dreams and go to medical school or follow her heart and go find Eddie in Denmark. I found this to be an enjoyable picture despite the fact that the storyline is just another take on the classic Cinderella story. The actors have nice on-screen chemistry and there are a couple of laughs mixed into the script. Recommended.

The overall video quality of this DVD is very good. Images are clean with fine detail. Colors are accurate and bright with saturated hues. Picture defect mastering is perfect with no major flaws or compression artifacts. The overall audio quality is good with the English Dolby Digital 5.1 track serving as the basis for this review. The soundtrack mix predominantly favors the forward soundstage. Dialogue is natural sounding and firmly anchored in the center channel. The surround channels are minimally used for both sound effects and the music score. The low frequency channel is tight and punchy. Tactile sound effects are present in about one quarter of the DVD’s chapters and appear as subtle impacts.

Reference equipment used for this review: [Video projector- Studio Experience Cinema 17SF; Projection screen- Vutec 103” SilverStar; DVD player- V, Inc. Bravo D1; A/V Receiver- Sherwood Newcastle R-963T; Speakers- BIC DV62si mains, DV62CLRs center, Adatto DV52si rears, D1210R subwoofer; Tactile Transducers- Clark Synthesis Gold; Video Switcher- Key Digital SW4x1; Cables/Wires- www.bettercables.com ]

- Calvin Harding Jr.

The TenantThe Tenant (1976)

Starring: Roman Polanski, Isabelle Adjani, Melvyn Douglas, Jo Van Fleet, Bernard Fresson, Shelley Winters
Studio: Paramount
Video: 1.85:1 Widescreen Enhanced
Audio: English Mono, French Mono
Extras: Theatrical trailer
Length: 125 minutes
Rating: ***

Mr. Trelkovsky is in need of a new apartment and got a tip that one is being offered in a fairly nice building. It turns out that the old tenant jumped out of the window and is on her death bed at the hospital of which the concierge is more than happy to point out. It’s a bit of money to get in, but it seems like a nice place, or so he thinks. Strange things start to occur: the neighborhood coffee shop keeper starts to serve him the same drink and cigarettes as the dead woman, trash he dropped in the hallway disappears, he sees strange people in the bathroom (that is across the way from his apartment), and soon he begins to meet the even stranger people in the building—a woman who tries to strangle him! Events get weirder and weirder and the new tenant seems to be at blame for all the trouble that has occurred. All of a sudden Trelkovsky is dressing like the dead woman, putting on makeup, and doesn’t remember what has happened. Things begin to deteriorate and his mental condition is brought into question.

Polanski should remain behind the camera where he is best. It wasn’t that his performance was bad, though just a bit stiff. What starts off as a rather intriguing film with moments of intentional unease, soon falls into an unfortunate pit of dreary, scary fantastical visions for the character and the viewer. Although the film is dubbed a psychological thriller, it soon becomes more of a horror movie. My guess is that most people who are regular horror watchers will not be impressed, while those who are initially pleased by the element of drama and style of the film will be turned off. The camerawork is excellent and there are times when the viewer will be on the edge of his seat, but it doesn’t make up for the somewhat cheesy turn of event two-thirds of the way through the film.

-Brian Bloom

Pola XPola X (1999)
Starring: Guillaume Depardieu, Katerina Golubeva, Catherine Deneuve
Studio: Fox Lorber Films
Video: 1.66:1 Widescreen
Audio: DD 5.1 French, DD Stereo French, with English subtitles
Extras: Audio Commentary, Filmographies, Trailer, Outtakes (Recording the score, Motorcycle footage with Deneuve), Production credits
Length: 134 minutes
Rating: *** 1/2

Pola X is based on the Melville novel Pierre: or the Ambiguities. A young, well-to-do, successful author has much going for him in love and life, but a dream that involves a woman has him preoccupied. At a luncheon with a friend a strange woman appears to be spying on them, but he is unsuccessful at catching her when she runs. Later, when he finds her unexpectedly, she tells him a truth that he cannot believe. His world is turned upside down and the passion for his lover and his security in his old life are cast away in an instant. He is obsessed with the new girl and vows to go off with her to be with her in every way. He is ostracized from his former associates and falls into a pit of depravity—experiencing things he never knew—firsthand. No longer is he a beacon of light and goodness, he becomes a pit that those around him fall into and can never recover from. He has destroyed those who he loved, and will eventually destroy himself.

Even from early on in the film, the tone changes abruptly and the viewer is keenly aware of the tragic nature of the tale. From the viewpoint of a traditional American film, there are things that will disturb—the casual, almost too affectionate relationship the main character has with his sister (mother?) that foreshadows the incestuous relationship he will soon have later in the film. There are brief clips with nudity throughout the film, but there is a provocative, highly erotic sex scene that would be NC-17 if this film were rated. The director does an admirable job of displaying the characters for who they are, and at times it is if the viewer is caught up in the fantasy. But all it takes is a dramatic accident, a bit of violence, or the quick change of scene to pull the viewer out of one dream and into the harsh reality of another.

By the time the main characters find lodging at the terrorist/revolutionary camp, the viewer has no expectation of escape and they are correct in that assertion. All attempts at redemption are unsuccessful and Pierre’s body and inner spirit are crushed by forces that he no longer controls. The audio commentary was a worthwhile listen, and to some, may offer the extra bit of information that will enrich the experience of the film. I’m not sure if it was the discouraging completion of the story, or the fact that I felt there should be “more” to it that prevented me from liking the movie more. Others have had more positive feelings towards it, but you will have to decide for yourself. Thinking back, I am reminded of Last Tango in Paris, but a direct comparison would be unfair to this film. It stands on its own and will be appreciated by some more than others.

-Brian Bloom

Carlton-Browne - SellersCarlton-Browne of the F.O. (1958)

Starring: Terry-Thomas, Peter Sellers, Luciana Paluzzi
Studio: Anchor Bay
Video: B&W, 1.66:1 Widescreen Enhanced
Audio: Mono
Extras: Peter Sellers Biography
Length: 90 minutes
Rating: ***, **** (for British comedy lovers)

Gaillardia is a long forgotten British Colony that was discovered when a ship ran into it. The smallish island’s inhabitants were in a constant state of civil war, so Britain finally abandoned it completely. No one made the English ambassador who lived on the island aware of this fact. So, when a letter arrives from him years after the colony had been long since abandoned, it’s needless to say that a few government officials are quite upset. The Foreign Office is put in charge of the situation and can’t bungle it any more thoroughly. The King, who is watching a strange musical performance, is blown up! His son lives in England, but promptly flies home to take control of his kingdom. There, he meets Prime Minister Amphibulos (Peter Sellers), who has his own idea of who should be in charge, and the new King’s uncle believes it should be given to him instead. Meanwhile, the Russians take an interest in the island and there is a power struggle between them and the English to see who will claim the country.

Wit, sarcastic humor, and classic slapstick are present in spades in this British satire. The movie starts off a bit slow, but gets funnier as it goes. If you are a fan of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, this film will offer a look at where much of this brand of humor began. The characters are drawn well, but all contain stereotypical embellishments in their own way. The dialogue flies by quickly, so for those not used to English accents, you may have to strain to understand some content. It’s hard to take your eyes off of Luciana Paluzzi, who plays the love interest of the soon-to-be king. She adds a nice bit of femininity to what is an otherwise almost entirely male cast. Although this movie is part of the Peter Sellers collection, in fact it is the irrepressible Terry-Thomas who is the primary character and has most of the screen time. For some, this film’s style and humor will be a bit dated, but those who can’t get enough of the Brits will have a bully time of it.

-Brian Bloom

Mysterious Object at NoonMysterious Object At Noon (2000)
Starring: Somsri Pinyopol, Kannikar Narong, Chakree Duangklao, To Hanudomlap
Studio: Plexifilm
Video: 1.85:1 Widescreen, B&W
Audio: Thai with English subtitles
Extras: Interview with director Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Length: 85 minutes
Rating: **1/2, **** (considering an experimental film context)

Usually, I prefer to watch a film without any knowledge of what it is about or without any feedback from other sources—friends, reviewers, newspapers, etc. However, in this case, I would recommend seeing the interview with the director on this DVD before actually watching the film. He’s an interesting fellow, and although he is from Thailand, his early influences were from early American disaster films. Later, he discovered European cinema and a wide range of other film. He studied architecture, but eventually his taste shifted towards experimental film at which time he attended the Art Institute of Chicago. He was heavily influenced by a surrealist exhibit at the college, and that served as inspiration for the film. The technique is known as Exquisite Corpse and involves: “a variety of writers [who] would contribute to a story one sentence at a time, without knowing much about what the previous sentences contained.” The film was 3 years in the making and an effort was made to find rural subjects who could tell the stories that were edited together in the movie. Weerasethakul doesn’t consider himself a director, but a story editor who conceived the project.

The film clearly looks like an independent movie (grainy 16mm film), but the level of technique and style is high. Time is taken to get to know the storyteller a bit as well as extrapolate on the lives of what consists of mostly working-class folk. The first character tells the story of how her parents sold her to her uncle and is overcome with emotion. When asked to tell another story, fiction or real, she hesitates. Then the stories begin—a disabled boy and a teacher who comes to his home to instruct him. As the storyteller narrates, we see the story depicted on the screen. These sequences were shot with amateur actors and intercut into the documentary footage. The boy’s teacher wears a protective necklace that might be giving her a rash. When she steps out of the room and is gone for too long the boy becomes concerned. He finds her on the floor and a strange object rolls out from under her skirt as he tries to revive her. Another woman picks up from this point and continues with the story adding her own little twists and turns. The story gets stranger and stranger as more people add to it. The film itself takes a bit of twist about an hour into it as the project appears to start to wear on the director. See the sequence on the train that starts a little before an hour in and finishes after the two deaf girls sign their portion of the story. The last 15 minutes or so are a complete break from the rest of the film—there is footage of children playing and unrelated scenic shots. Don’t expect to see anything that resembles a traditional film in “Mysterious Object At Noon,” but if you are in the mood for something unconventional and experimental, then you might just enjoy it.

-Brian Bloom

Original series Star TrekStar Trek: The Original Series– The Complete First Season (1966-1967)

Starring: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, George Takei, Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols
Studio: Paramount Home Entertainment
Video: 4:3 fullscreen
Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1, English Dolby 2.0 Surround
Subtitles: English Closed Captions
Extras: Five featurettes (“The Birth of a Timeless Legacy”, “Life Beyond Trek: William Shatner”, “To Boldly Go…”, “Reflections on Spock”, and “Sci-Fi Visionaries”), text commentary on 4 episodes, original preview trailers, photo log, Red Shirt Logs (hidden files)
Length: 1,461 minutes
Rating: ****

The television series that started the entire Star Trek phenomenon, Star Trek: The Original Series follows the adventures of the crew of the starship U.S.S. Enterprise as they embark on a mission to explore outer space. Commanded by Captain James T. Kirk, the crew of the Enterprise includes Vulcan first officer Lt. Commander Spock, feisty medical doctor “Bones” McCoy, creative engineer “Scotty” Scott, and officers Chekov, Sulu, and Uhura. During their travels, the Enterprise encounters everything from time paradoxes to alien species such as Klingons and Romulans. Highlights from the first season include: “The Menagerie Parts I & II” where Spock commandeers the Enterprise to help a former captain; “Space Seed” in which Enterprise first encounters Khan, the genetically-selected superman; and “The Enemy Within” where a transporter malfunction splits Kirk into two distinct personalities. The entire twenty-nine episodes from the 1966-1967 season plus the special features are spread out over eight discs. (Disc One: The Man Trap, Charlie X, Where No Man Has Gone Before, The Naked Time. Disc Two: The Enemy Within, Mudd’s Women, What Are Little Girls Made Of?, Miri. Disc Three: Dagger Of The Mind, The Corbomite Maneuver, The Menagerie Part I, The Menagerie Part II. Disc Four: The Conscience Of The King, Balance Of Terror, Shore Leave, The Galileo Seven. Disc Five: The Squire Of Gothos, Arena, Tomorrow Is Yesterday, Court Martial. Disc Six: The Return Of The Archons, Space Seed, A Taste Of Armageddon, This Side Of Paradise. Disc Seven: The Devil In The Dark, Errand Of Mercy, The Alternative Factor, The City On The Edge Of Forever. Disc Eight: Operation: Annihilation, Special Features).

Without a doubt, this is the best that Star Trek’s original series has ever looked. Images are clean with fine detail. Colors are bright and striking with well-saturated hues. Black levels are consistently dark throughout. Picture defect mastering is solid with no major flaws. The overall audio quality is very good with the English Dolby Digital 5.1 track serving as the basis for this review. The soundtrack mix favors the forward channels. Dialogue is intelligible and properly positioned in the center channel. While surround channel activity is limited, it is used for both ambient effects and the music score. The LFE channel is mostly mellow. The quality and quantity of tactile sound effects vary amongst episodes, but they rarely exceed anything greater than a subtle impact.

- Calvin Harding Jr.

StarTrek Generations DVDStar Trek Generations (Special Collector’s Edition) (1994)

Starring: Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner, Levar Burton, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden, Marina Sirtis, Malcolm McDowell, James Doohan, Walter Koenig, William Shatner
Directed by: David Carson
Studio: Paramount Home Entertainment
Video: 2.35:1 widescreen enhanced
Audio: English DTS, DD 5.1, English DD 2.0, French DD 2.0 Surround
Subtitles: English and English Closed Captions
Extras: Audio Commentary by Brannon Braga and Ron Moore, Text Commentary by Michael and Denise Okuda, “The Star Trek Universe” (4 featurettes), “Production” (3 featurettes), “Visual Effects” (2 featurettes), “Scene Deconstruction” (3 featurettes), 4 deleted scenes, production gallery, storyboards
Length: 117 minutes
Rating: ****

During a ceremonial trip aboard the Enterprise-B, Captain Kirk is swept into space by a mysterious energy ribbon called the Nexus and is presumed dead. Seven decades later, the crew of the Enterprise-D, under the command of Captain Picard, rescues a scientist named Soran. Soran secretly desires to get into the Nexus and has formulated a destructive plan in order to accomplish this. Picard will need the help of his Next Generation crew, plus some from a legendary Starfleet captain, to prevent Soran from destroying millions of lives. Star Trek Generations is my favorite entry of all of the Star Trek movie voyages. It has a creative storyline that unites the two most popular captains in the franchise, plus Brent Spiner as Data injects some welcome comic relief. Highly recommended.

The video quality of this DVD is excellent. Images are sharp with nice detail. Black levels are consistently deep throughout. Colors are vibrant and dark with fully saturated hues. Picture defect mastering is solid with no major flaws or digital artifacts. The overall audio quality is also excellent with the English DTS 5.1 track serving as the basis for this review. The soundtrack mix does a great job of incorporating all of the discrete channels. Dialogue is intelligible and firmly anchored in the center channel. The surround channels are aggressively utilized for both music and ambient sounds, and include multiple split rear effects. The low frequency effects channel is very active and puts forth explosive, rumbling bass. Present in about one-third of the DVD’s chapters, tactile effects are in the form of light to heavy impacts and they originate from the sound effects and the music score.

Star Trek Voyager 3rd seasonStar Trek: Voyager– The Complete Third Season (1996-1997)

Starring: Kate Mulgrew, Ethan Phillips, Robert Picardo, Garrett Wang, Jennifer Lien, Tim Russ, Robert Beltran, Roxann Dawson, Robert Duncan McNeill
Studio: Paramount Home Entertainment
Video: 4:3 fullscreen
Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1, English Dolby 2.0 Surround
Subtitles: English Closed Captions
Extras: Seven featurettes (“Braving the Unknown: Season Three”, “Voyager Time Capsule: Neelix”, “Voyager Time Capsule: Kes”, “Flashback to ‘Flashback’”, “Red Alert! Amazing Visual Effects”, “Lost Transmissions from the Delta Quadrant” and “Real Science with Andre Bormanis”), photo gallery, Borg Invasion 4D promo
Length: 1,186 minutes
Rating: ****

The U.S.S. Voyager is an elite Federation starship commanded by Captain Kathryn Janeway. In a freak occurrence, Voyager is transported by an alien space probe to the Delta Quadrant. This particular quadrant is located some 70,000 light-years from Federation space. Janeway is thereafter faced with the daunting mission of trying to guide her ship and crew back home. Along their journey, the crew of Voyager encounters new alien species as well as having many memorable adventures. Highlights from the third season include: “Flashback” where Tuvok experiences a repressed memory tied to his time aboard Captain Sulu’s U.S.S. Excelsior; “Future’s End, Parts I and II” in which Voyager gets pulled into a time rift that sends it back to 20th century Los Angeles; and “Scorpion, Part I” where Janeway and her crew encounter Species 8472, an enemy even more deadly than the Borg. The entire twenty-six episodes from the 1996-1997 season plus the special features are spread out over seven discs. (Disc One: Basics Part II, Flashback, The Chute, The Swarm. Disc Two: False Profits, Remember, Sacred Ground, Future’s End Part I. Disc Three: Future’s End Part II, Warlord, The Q and the Grey, Macrocosm. Disc Four: Fair Trade, Alter Ego, Coda, Blood Fever. Disc Five: Unity, Darkling, Rise, Favorite Son. Disc Six: Before and After, Real Life, Distant Origin, Displaced. Disc Seven: Worst Case Scenario, Scorpion Part I, Special Features).

Season Three’s video quality is very good. Images are crisp with nice detail. Colors are vivid and rich with fully saturated hues. Black levels are uniformly dark throughout. Picture defect mastering is solid with no major flaws or compression artifacts. The overall audio quality is also very good. The soundtrack mix favors the forward soundstage. Dialogue is natural sounding and firmly anchored in the center channel. Surround channels are moderately active and used for both ambient effects and the music score. The LFE channel receives multiple opportunities to rumble. The quality and quantity of tactile sound effects vary amongst episodes, ranging from fair to good.

Reference equipment: [Video monitor- NetTV DTV-34XRT; Video scaler- Silicon Image iScan Pro; DVD player- Philips Q35AT; A/V Receiver- Sherwood Newcastle R-963T; Speakers- Acoustech 5.1 channel system; Tactile Transducer- Clark Synthesis TST 329 Gold; Cables and Wires - www.bettercables.com ]

- Calvin Harding Jr.




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