DVD-Video Reviews, Part 3 of 3

by | Apr 1, 2004 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews | 0 comments

Part 3 – April 2004 [Part 1] [Part 2]

Les Uns et Les Autres (Bolero) (1981)

Starring Geraldine Chaplin, Robert Hossein, James Caan, Fanny Ardant etc.
Directed by Claude Lelouch
Music: Francis Lai & Michael Legrand
Studio: Les Films 13/Image Entertainment
Video: 2.35:1 widescreen enhanced for 16:9 display
Audio: Dolby Digital stereo surround, French language
Subtitles: English
Length: 177 minutes
Rating: ****

This is a “Director’s Cut” DVD in spades: The original three-hour French film was butchered down to hour-and-a-half size and re-titled Bolero because it opens and closes with a modern dance performance of that Ravel music. The Ones and The Others is such a all-encompassing and sweeping epic with many different interweaving characters a la Robert Altman, and covering three generations of the characters, that even in the three hour version it takes some effort to figure out who is who and what is what. No wonder this important and often very moving film is unknown in the U.S.!

The glue that holds all these various stories together is the magic of music; nearly all the characters are musicians, dancers or composers. James Caan has two roles and Geraldine Chaplin plays his wife in his role as the leader of a Glenn Miller-like dance band during WWII. Caan’s other role is as a German concert pianist/conductor who was befriended by Hitler and then after the war has his concert boycotted by Jewish music patrons. Sharon Stone even has a bit part in this saga. One story begins in l930s Paris with musicians and dancers at the Folies Bergere, whose lives are to all change drastically with the coming of war. The sections concerned with the Holocaust are among the most affecting I’ve seen on that subject – as gripping as Schindler’s List. A heartbreaking theme is the fruitless search by one of the women for her baby which was literally dropped on a French railway station tracks by her husband as they were shipped off by the Nazis to probable death in a concentration camp. Concert music of Liszt, Beethoven and others share with the Ravel work, and the original themes by Legrand and Lai fits the scenes well but are not among their best. Those who can’t abide Ravel’s Bolero might want to use the fast-foward button a couple times, since between the opening and closing choreographic scenes, Lelouch seems to have stretched the actual 12 minutes or so of the original piece to an even longer and more excruciatingly repetitive length! While long and sometimes a bit confusing, the film is kept alive by its emphasis on music and its spirit of life in the face of every adversity. Definitely worth viewing.

– John Sunier

Le Corbeau (The Raven) (1943)

Directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot
Starring Pierre Fresnay, Ginette Leclerc
Studio: Studio Canal Image/The Criterion Collection
Video: 4:3 B&W
Audio: French language, DD mono
Subtitles: English
Extras: Video interview with director Bertrand Tavernier; Excerpts from a documentary about Clouzot and French Cinema; Theatrical trailer; 16-page booklet with essay by film scholar Alan Williams and two controversial articles on “The Corbeau Affair” from a l947 French newspaper
Length: 91 minutes
Rating: ****

Le Corbeau is regarded today as one of the most important French films produced under the German occupation during WW II – perhaps the equal of Carne’s Children of Paradise. Clouzot was attacked from every quarter for either making the film in the first place and/or the content of the film itself. He suffered from the backlash after liberation, but Jean Cocteau and Sartre helped to rehabilitate his reputation, seeing in the plot of Le Corbeau a powerful anti-Gestapo, anti-informant message. An unknown writer of poison pen letters turns a small French provincial town upside down, exposing the dirty laundry just under the supposedly calm exterior of the townspeople. Signing his notes Le Corbeau, the writer quickly creates a paranoia that has everyone accusing everyone else – something like the Salem depicted in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. Many of the scenes take place at the town’s hospital At the center of the maelstrom is a doctor (falsely accused of doing abortions) who it later turns out has a major secret of his own. The film begins slowly but builds to a powerful dramatic tension. Though it has no scenes taking place at night and the village is quite picturesque, Tavernier points out that it was in effect one of the first film noirs – before that term was even coined. After the film was completed and shown to some acclaim, the German manager of the film studio fired Clouzot because he said the film incited people against informing to the authorities, and that’s exactly what the Germans didn’t want!

– John Sunier

Roman Holiday (Special Collector’s Edition) (1953)

Directed by William Wyler
Starring: Gregory Peck, Audrey Hepburn, Eddie Albert
Studio: Paramount
Video: 4:3 B&W
Audio: Dolby Digital mono, English or French
Subtitles: English
Extras: Documentary “Remembering Roman Holiday,” Featurette “Restoring Roman Holiday,” Featurette on Edith Head at Paramount, Photo galleries, Teaser trailer, Theatrical trailer, Re-release trailer
Length: 118 minutes
Rating: ****

Perpetually-adorable Audrey Hepburn won an Oscar for this and it was her very first starring role. The film, which was one of the first Hollywood productions to shoot almost entirely on location in Europe, was nominated for ten Academy Awards. She portrays a modern princess from an unidentified country who visits Rome and rebels against her royal schedule to go off on her own and explore. She meets up with Peck, who plays an American reporter seeking an exclusive interview with her. Albert plays his photographer friend. The attraction of a big purse for coming up with the dirt on the princess fades for the newsman as he falls in love with her. All three leads are young and delightful, Rome is gorgeous (there were not yet many cars) and the black & white cinematography is lovely and skillfully restored to its original crispness (see examples in the Restoring extra). Footage of Hepburn’s original screen tests is also included. A gem of a romantic comedy.

– John Sunier

Cut-Up – The Films of Grant Munro (1945-1983, 2003)

Studio: National Film Board of Canada/Image Entertainment
Video: 4:3 color & B&W
Audio: Dolby Digital mono
Extras: (2-disc set) Audio interview option during entire documentary – Munro discussing his life and art; Second audio interview option during entire film – Munro discussing his films specifically with the same two guys as on the other interview; Stills gallery; Flipbooks by Munro; DVD-ROM features
Length: 110 minutes
Rating: ****

Anyone who has ever marveled over any of the imaginative mostly-animated films produced by The National Film Board of Canada will enjoy this extensive production honoring one of its most creative filmmakers. Munro worked with the better-known Norman McLaren on some of the Board’s finest films, such as the Cold War parable “Neighbours,” and the complex visual/musical canon titled “Canon.” He has been described as a combination of Miro, Buster Keaton, Chuck Jones, Gene Kelley and Felix the Cat. For over 50 years he employed his offbeat talents to create mini-masterpieces, many of which are included in this double-disc package. It appears that the main reason for the two discs is that there was not enough room to include both of the audio interviews as options on a single disc. There are a number of similarities between the interviews which led me at one point to think they had mistakenly packaged two copies of the same DVD.

Not all the films worked for me: “6 7/8ths” – which was rediscovered and edited especially for this DVD – is just Munro doing an odd little dance to an old 78 by the 6 7/8ths String Band on a stage in front of a curtain in black & white. It looks like footage of Buster Keaton gruelingly rehearsing for a few-seconds-long physical bit he plans to include in one of his silent films. There are also some examples of live-action films in which Munro was involved – one of them an anti-smoking message featuring a Dracula poisoned by cigarette smoke. One of the favorite devices of both filmmakers was combining animation and live action in pixilation – creating animation with live figures as though they were cut-outs. (The famous skating around the lawn of “Neighbors” and others is an example.) There is a rather painful short film he shot of McLaren shortly before that filmmaker’s death from cancer, which was done for presentation at a European film festival in place of McLaren appearing in person. This package would be a major treat for anyone interested in the art of animation.

– John Sunier

The Sid Caesar Collection – Classic Comedy from
“Your Show of Shows,” & “Caesar’s Hour” (2000) (3 DVDs)

With Sid Caesar, Carl Reiner, Howie Morris, Imogene Coca, Mel Brooks, Woody Allen, Nanette Fabray, Neil Simon, Larry Gelbart
Studio: Creative Light Entertainment
Video: 4:3 B&W remastered from the original broadcast kinescopes
Audio: Mono, digitally restored
Extras: Lots! Introductions by and interviews with the amazing staff of comedy writers who had to come up with these sketches, Bonus musical sketches, Original script of some sketches with changes and cuts, Bios of all the staff and writers, Sid honored at the Friars Club in l999, Comparisons of the digital restoration process
Length: Nearly four hours total
Rating: *****

The Caesar shows (along with Ernie Kovacs) were the brightest comedy spots in the early days of TV, and most of the writing stable involved in the shows went on to fame later. Not only was most of the material sidesplitting, but it is amazing that it was all created on the spot, on the fly, on live television without cue cards or teleprompters or second tries – where anything could go wrong! Nothing in comedy on TV is anything like this any more and it is both entertaining and instructive to see what was accomplished by Sid and his cohorts. The entertainer selected 18 of his favorite sketches from his library of kinescopes (this was well before video recorders). The remastered quality is not bad in either the visuals or audio. Sometimes the top of the images are cropped off for some reason, is about the only complaint. Looking at the side-by-side comparisons of before and after digital restoration of the images I have to admit I couldn’t tell much difference. I have a number of both Beta and VHS videotapes of various network reruns of some of this material, but my Beta has died on me and the VHS doesn’t work well either. These DVDs are far superior and benefit from the intros by the various writers, which are sometimes almost as funny as the sketches which follow.

Some of the classic ones are The Clock, What Is Jazz?, The Argument to Beethoven’s 5th, The 7 Dwarfs Bet, From Here to Obscurity. That last one is an example of Caesar’s parodies of current movies – “From Here to Eternity” in this case – with Sid and Imogene doing the couple in swimsuits in the surf scene. Another sketch is Sid’s take on airplane movies in general.Takeoffs on foreign films became part of the ensemble’s repertory when it was discovered that both Sid and Carl could do excellent doubletalk in several foreign languages. Doubletalk fans will also dig the extra which shows Sid receiving the Man of the Year 2000 Award. Everyone seems to agree the funniest sketch the ensemble ever did was their parody of “This Is Your Life” in which Sid plays a man selected unbeknownst out of the studio audience – who alternately tries to flee and passes out repeatedly from shock. Howie Morris played a long-lost uncle who clings steadfastly to Sid’s leg in emotional breakdown as Sid stumbles about the stage. Earlier in his career Sid had played sax in Benny Goodman’s band, and in one of the bonus sketches he does so again on his show. Charlton Heston, Chita Rivera and Henny Youngman are among the guest celebrities involved in some of the sketches. If your mood requires a quality comedy Rx to cure what ails ya, just pick up this set, the similar Ernie Kovacs set we already reviewed, and a few of the Marx Brothers classics, and you’ll be better in no time. You’ll not only get rid of the blues, but you’ll get rid of all the other colors too!

– John Sunier

Star Trek: Voyager – Season One (1995)

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 DD 5.1, English DD 2.0
Subtitles: English Closed Captions
Extras: “Braving the Unknown: Season One” featurette, “Voyager Time Capsule: Kathryn Janeway” featurette, “The First Captain: Bujold” featurette, “Cast Reflections: Season One” featurette, “On Location with the Kazons” featurette, “Red Alert: Visual Effects Season One” featurette, “Launching Voyager on the Web” featurette, “Real Science with Andre Bormanis” featurette, hidden files, photo gallery
Length: 733 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 first season include the two-part episode “Caretaker” where Voyager’s crew and mission are first introduced; “Faces” in which Torres is split into two distinct beings; and “Cathexis” where a shuttlecraft assault leaves Chakotay apparently brain-dead. The entire fifteen episodes from the 1995 season plus the special features are spread out over five discs. (Disc One: Caretaker, Parallax, Time and Again. Disc Two: Phage, The Cloud, Eye of the Needle, Ex Post Facto. Disc Three: Emanation, Prime Factors, State of Flux, Heroes and Demons. Disc Four: Cathexis, Faces, Jetrel, Learning Curve. Disc Five: Special Features).

Season One’s video quality is very good. Images are accurate with sharp detail. Colors are dark and rich with well saturated hues. Black levels are consistently deep throughout. Picture defect mastering is solid with no major flaws or compression artifacts. The overall audio quality is also very good with the English Dolby Digital 5.1 track serving as the basis for this review. The soundtrack mix tends to favor the forward channels. Dialogue is clean and natural sounding. Surround channels are moderately utilized for both ambient effects and the music score. The quality and quantity of tactile sound effects vary amongst episodes, ranging from fair to excellent. Tactile effects appear as light to moderate impacts originating from sound effects and the music.

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.

The Four Noble Truths
His Holiness The XIV Dalai Lama (1997)

Produced and Directed by: David Cherniack
Studio: Mystic Fire Video/Wellspring Media
Introduction: Robert A. F. Thurman
Video: 4:3
Audio: Mono
Extras: Biography, Director Filmography, Weblinks, Series Transcript on DVD-ROM, Production Credits
Length: 6 hours on 2 discs
Rating: ****

How does a normal person become a Buddha, a fully awakened wise and compassionate being, someone who understands the real meaning of life? This is the central question of Buddhism. In July 1996 His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet gave two days of teaching on the Four Noble Truths at the Barbicon Hall of London. He was invited by 16 Buddhist groups, part of the network of Buddhist organizations in the U.K. This was the first time he had given the teachings in such complete detail in the West. This was an historic occasion, the first time in modern Buddhist history that a major teaching was requested and attended by ordained clergy from almost every Buddhist denomination.

The foundation of Buddhism consists of the Four Noble Truths: the truth of suffering, the truth of the origin of suffering, the truth of the cessation of suffering, the path that leads to the cessation of suffering. The four truths have sometimes been misunderstood to convey a pessimistic message, that suffering is inevitable. The central message is that suffering can be overcome and freedom is possible. Freedom is the bottom line of the Buddha’s teachings on the Four Noble Truths.

The foregoing was contained in the very fine initial introduction by Robert
A. F. Thurman who gives an introduction to each of the four sections of this six hour presentation. Thurman is Professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies in the Department of Religion at Columbia University. The box notes indicate that some parts of the original Tibetan have been shortened for presentation purposes.

The Dalai Lama begins with some brief comments in English. He states that all major religions have the potential to create good humans with good hearts. And that it is better to follow one’s own traditional religion, but for those who feel strongly attracted to Buddhism, then it is okay to adopt the Buddhist religion. He says “Buddhism is best” but not for everyone. Entire humanity cannot be Buddhist or Christian or Moslem. All have the potential to produce a good heart. It is important to respect all religions. And with that he spoke for most of the remaining time through an interpreter. Occasionally, particularly when he was feeling in a jovial mood, he spoke in English for a few minutes. On the second disc, he spoke more frequently in English at greater length and those were the most accessible teachings.

I highly recommend this presentation to serious followers of Buddhism as well as to beginners. Be warned that much of it is highly complex and I suspect some of it becomes lost in translation. It certainly was periodically lost to me but ultimately worth the effort. (Perhaps I need a Dalai Lama For Dummies.) The Dalai Lama generally speaks several “paragraphs” before the translation begins, so it is easy in the interest of time (and in the interest of lessening boredom, unless you speak Tibetan) to fast forward through most of the Dalai Lama’s speaking and attend primarily to the translation. However, if you do that too consistently, you may miss the times he speaks in English. It is clear why the Dalai Lama is so revered and loved with his warmth, compassion and enthusiasm so evident. The translator is to be commended for his warm, intelligent and conversational style.

Predominantly lecture, there was some stopping for questions. Someone asked: “Could you advise a lay person with home, family and work demands on how to develop a pattern of practice?” Part of his answer: “Adopt a way of life where your daily life accords with principles of the Dharma. Without effort, we cannot integrate the principles of the Dharma.” He got a lot of audience laughter when he said his Western friends want the “quickest, easiest, most effective and cheapest!”

Another question: What is the difference between self realization and God realization? His response in English was, after a moment’s thought, “I don’t know.” And then, Are you free from suffering? “Certainly not.” His humility and humor was in evidence again when he joked that he would not attempt to get into the interpretation of the four schools of thought on the second truth of the origin of suffering because it would “complicate my explanation and besides I don’t remember all of it. His best response, he concluded, would be “to adopt a dignified silence.” The Dalai Lama is known for his warm laughter and the twinkle in his eye, but overall his approach is extremely serious and measured.

Each disc contains two sections and there’s a helpful chapter index for each section, 15 to 17 chapters for each. Some chapter headings for Part 1: Four Noble Truths: Foundation of Buddhist Teaching, The Three Jewels, The Meaning of Dependent Origination. Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha, Disparity Between Appearance and Reality. Part 2: The Meaning of Duhkha, Sentient Beings in the Cosmos, Three Levels of Suffering, Reflecting on Impermanence, Fundamental Confusion. Investigating the Nature of Mind Through Meditation. Part 3: Origins of Duhkha, Four Types of Karma, Ten Actions to Avoid, How Karmic Effects Occur. Consciousness and Rebirth. Part 4: Emptiness is not Nothingness, Emptiness and Emotional Response, Essential Nature of the Mind, Two Ways to Generate Bodhichitta, Bodhisattva Vows and Practices, Determination and Patience.

The transfer to DVD was excellent in terms of resolution and color quality. Use of camera angles was very skilled with close ups, periodic shots of the audience, views of the Dalai Lama and the translator from various angles and distances. The special features include an excellent biography of the Dalai Lama.

– Donna Dorsett

The Missing (2003)

Starring: Cate Blanchett, Tommy Lee Jones, Evan Rachel Wood, Jenna Boyd, Eric Schweig, Aaron Eckhart
Studio: Revolution Studios/Columbia Pictures
Video: 2.40:1 widescreen enhanced for 16:9
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Surround
Subtitles: English, French
Extras: Deleted Scenes, Outtakes, Featurettes (The Last Ride: The Story of the Missing, New Frontiers: Making the Missing, The Modern Western Score, Casting the Missing, Apache Language School), Alternate endings, Ron Howard on . . . (Filmmaking), Photo Galleries, Trailers
Length: Approx. 137 minutes
Rating: ****

In the opening scene of The Missing, Maggie Gilkeson (Cate Blanchett) is in a standard situation in an outhouse. Her 10 year old daughter, Dot, knocks on the door summoning her for a medical emergency. Maggie is a sought after healer and also owns a ranch. We quickly observe that life is hard in 1885 in this desolate part of New Mexico territory. Yet Maggie appears to have the externals under control. In addition to Dot, Maggie has a 17 year old daughter, Lily, who longs to move to Cleveland, away from the rigors of frontier life. Brake (Aaron Eckhart), Maggie’s lover, is a great help with the ranch and a kind surrogate father for the girls. Fiercely independent, Maggie snaps at Lily at one point “Don’t you ever act pitiable and helpless to win favor with a man!”

Maggie’s father, Samuel Jones, (Tommy Lee Jones), who abandoned the family when she was a child, suddenly returns to make amends. After the shock of seeing him again is overcome, Maggie dismisses her father. Jones, as he is called (although we later learn his Indian name means “shit for luck”) ran with the Apaches for many years. Maggie holds both her father and the Indians in great contempt. She blames them and she fears them. (The racism among the Apaches, Anglos and the Mexicans is explored without being preachy.)

When the two girls and Brake depart for the day to do some work with the cattle, the mood and pace of the film abruptly change. Maggie waits for them to return on the porch all night. At dawn a lone horse with no rider comes back. Lily has been kidnapped by Chiden and his gang. Chiden is a hate-filled Apache who thrives on kidnapping young women and selling them across the Mexican border. The sheriff and the army are useless for assistance. Since it “takes an Apache to find an Apache”, Maggie in desperation enlists the help of Jones. She tells him “You wanted to give me money. Do this instead.” Her father is not optimistic. Chiden is beyond evil and a brujo (witch) to boot.

What ensues is an amazing ride on several levels. There is considerable violence but it isn’t gratuitous. Based on a novel, The Last Ride, the screenplay is beautifully spare with long silences. Cinematography is exquisite, with stunning scenes of the Southwest adding to the power of the film. The pace is flawless. This is such a well-cast film with fine acting in every role, it took my breath away. Not a Western in the traditional sense, the film shouldn’t be avoided for that reason. It is a thriller set in the Southwest. The Apache language is used frequently (with subtitles) and makes the story more authentic. The exquisitely haunting original musical score is predominantly orchestral strings with some Native American music woven in. The Missing is a great action film with tremendous dramatic tension. And yet it is so much more-with tremendous heart and intelligence-soul satisfying without being sentimental.

This is a two disc set with a second for the many thoroughly worthwhile extras. Of course, be sure to see the film before viewing the extras or obviously you won’t be as caught up in the story. The extras are listed at the top of this review. There are numerous commentaries on the making of the film, interviews with the actors and others. Among them are the director, the screenwriter, the music composer, the costume designer, the casting person, the director, even the Apache translators for the film (one of whom is the great granddaughter of Cochise.)

The transfer to DVD was excellent with no noticeable edge enhancement. The colors are brilliant and realistic and resolution is sharp. Intelligibility of the dialog is fine. Surround sound is immersing when appropriate.

-Donna Dorsett

Buffet Froid (1979)

Starring: Gerard Depardieu
Studio: Fox Lorber
Video: 4:3
Audio: Dolby Digital stereo
Extras: Filmography
Length: Approx. 95 minutes
Rating: **1/2

The main character in this French production, “Buffet Froid” (Cold Cuts), Alphonse Tram, (Gerard Depardieu) is unemployed, preoccupied with murder and death and beset by nightmares. The opening scene takes place in a deserted subway and very quickly the first of a variety of murders takes place. None of these murders is presented horrifically. They are “cold cuts” involving a variety of methods.

Nothing in this movie is predictable. Although the box notes describe the film as a farcical thriller, to me it was more an amusing farce – albeit very dark – rather than a thriller. I was not on the edge of my seat. Not a predictable plot by any means. Inventive and clever but not thrilling. This could be someone’s bizarre nightmare and it seems clear the writer (and also director) intended it as such.

There are several memorable scenes of hilarious black humor. Alphonse befriends his wife’s murderer. At one point he walks the man home become he’s afraid of his shadow. Alphonse’s wife’s murderer, the new tenant in Alphonse’s building – a police inspector nearing retirement -and Alphonse himself become inextricably tangled up in each others’ lives as odd companions. The inspector’s “allergy” to violins makes for a couple of very funny scenes as his behavior becomes increasingly bizarre. But then there is nothing and no character in this film that is not bizarre.

The characters are not well developed but that seems intentional. The actors are believeable and convincing, given the absurdity of this dream like story. Gerard Depardieu is always a treat to watch both for his wonderful acting ability as well as his pretty appearance. The film was made in 1979, an early Depardieu film. Okay. I admit I’d watch Depardieu in almost anything. Bernard Blier, the writer and director of Buffet Froid also directed Depardieu in Too Beautiful for You and Get Out Your Handkerchiefs.

Although technically a well-made film, I found Buffet Froid depressing with its strong nihilistic sense. Alphonse habitually wore his overcoat indoors. When his wife questions this, suggesting he is like a visitor, he replies “We’re all visitors. We do some sightseeing and off we go.” I kept hoping Alphonse would awaken from his nightmare. If you like black humor, this movie would be worth your time. If you prefer elevating, meaningful films, this one may not be for you.

The only music (or sound, other than the dialog) in this 95 minute film was about ten minutes of Brahms toward the end and during the closing credits. The almost continual quiet contributed to the cold, stark atmosphere throughout. The transfer to DVD is excellent, sharp and detailed. The colors are also sharp and strong. There were no special extras, only a filmography.

-Donna Dorsett
Galerians: Rion (1999, 2002)

Japanese anime directed by Masahiko Maesawa
Studio: Enterbrain/Polygon Magic/Image Entertainment
Video: 1.78:1 widescreen letterboxed
Audio: Dolby Digital: Choice of English 5.1, Original Japanese 5.1, English stereo, Japanese stereo; Also alternate English soundtrack with heavy metal rock by several bands
Subtitles: English, French, German, Spanish
Extras: Teaser trailer
Length: 73 minutes
Rating: ** (higher for serious anime fans)

The plotline of this rather violent anime about a female supercomputer who attempts to take over or destroy the world seemed very familiar – even to the name of the computer – Dorothy. But then it could be that the stylized elements of sci-fi anime are all rather similar and just retreaded in various ways for some new productions. In this story the only way to destroy the genocidal computer is with a virus program developed by her human creator. Half of this program has been injected into the daughter of the computer’s creator and the other half is in one of the superpowered Galerians – an android sort of super race created by Dorothy. The action involves the efforts of this Galerian named Rion to learn about his true self and to find the girl so they can battle Dorothy. The images look more computerized than most recent anime I have seen – like a computer game. Perhaps that’s appropriate considering the story line but it prevented me from getting into the characters very deeply. I know some of these animes run on Japanese television first in segments, and that may be true of this one – explaining its overall look. One thing you get sonically with most of the 5.1 mixes on these animes is plenty of creative use of the surround and LFE channels. I viewed the film with the original Japanese soundtrack and subtitles and eschewed both the English-dubbed track and the alternate English soundtrack with heavy metal bands. There’s enough screaming and noise in the original soundtrack already, thank you.

– John Sunier

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