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A view on Blu-ray and DVD video by Leonard Norwitz

Point of No Return [Blu-ray]

 

(John Badham, 1993)

 

 

 

 

 

Review by Leonard Norwitz

 

Studio:

Theatrical: Warner Bros. & Art Linson

Blu-ray: Warner Home Video

 

Disc:

Region: ALL

Runtime: 1:48:20.368

Disc Size: 22,392,657,959 bytes

Feature Size: 21,846,245,376 bytes

Average Bitrate: 26.89 Mbps

Chapters: 30

Case: Custom Blu-ray case

Release date: April 7th, 2009

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 2.4:1

Resolution: 1080p

Video codec: Vc-1

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Audio:

Dolby TrueHD Audio English 1596 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1596 kbps / 16-bit (AC3 Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps)
Dolby Digital Audio English 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio French 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio German 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio Italian 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / Dolby Surround
Dolby Digital Audio Japanese 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / Dolby Surround
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps

 

Subtitles:

English SDH, Spanish, French, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, German Italian, Norwegian, Polish, Swedish & Portuguese

 

Extras:

• Theatrical Trailer in SD

 

 

The Film: 6
Hollywood wastes no time in bringing selected European and Asian movies to the West, modified for what filmmakers thinks will appeal to us and thereby make money for them. While a significant number derive from France, we are likely to think right away of Martin Scorsese's 2006 The Departed, hot on the heels of Hong Kong's Infernal Affairs. But France is a significant resource for a number of English language remakes: There's Mike Nichol's relatively heavy-handed, but commercially successful The Birdcage (La Cage aux folles); the 1987 comic farce Three Men and a Baby (3 hommes et un couffin); Sorcerer, William Friedkin's 1977 remake of Henri-Georges Cluozot's 1953 Le salaire de la peur (Wages of Fear), and Jeremiah Chechik's much less happy remake of Clouzot's classic noir, les diaboliques. Ditto the 1983 remake of Breathless.

The trick, of course, is to remain faithful to the spirit of the original while committing plastic surgery. The results, like beauty, will lie in the eye of the beholder. John Badham's Point of No Return plays it safe by sticking closely to Luc Besson's screenplay for his 1990 Nikita (aka: La Femme Nikita). Both movies have in common a bleak melancholia that derives partly from the subject (a drugged-out street urchin and careless killer is groomed by the government as an assassin) and by the object (a drugged-out street urchin and careless killer is groomed by the government as an assassin).


The government employs two teachers: the one who breathes new purpose for living (namely, killing, and all the supportive technologies that attend thereto) and the other who teaches her to do it with style. In both movies, the first teacher – both named "Bob" - (Tcheky Karyo and Gabriel Byrne) fall reluctantly in love with their creations. The second teacher remains more in the background, more elusive. (It's not entirely clear where her lair is located in the compound - I was reminded of Sleeping Beauty's wanderings through the castle before she comes upon the spinning wheel that would alter her fate.) Here we have the enigmatic Jeanne Moreau in Besson's movie vs. Anne Bancroft's more upper class, holier than thou, but fierce as a tiger persona.

Anne Parillaud appears more of a blank slate for her Pymalion makeover. She's so out of it we are inclined to think she might be brain damaged, and she is the more beautifully transformed for the effort. Beautiful, but broken. Brigit Fonda is the new Nikita, now named "Maggie". Fonda's Maggie is the personification of American street sass. Even when wasted on drugs, she seems in charge of herself, a contradiction I found a little hard to grasp.

The second half of both films has our heroine finding love in the form of a young man who has no idea of what this woman's other life was or has become. In this, I think Jean-Hughes Anglade works out better than Dermot Mulroney. Mulroney plays a photographer and as such has insights on her inner life as compared to Anglade's check out clerk. Americans, it seems, don't want their men completely in the dark.

In any case, both films are successful blends of high gloss killing, resounding gunfire and pulsing music.

 


 

Image: 7/8    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.
The first number indicates a relative level of excellence compared to other Blu-ray video discs on a ten-point scale. The second number places this image along the full range of DVD and Blu-ray discs.

Point of No Return on Blu-ray looks pretty good. It's reasonably free of scratches or blemishes and isn't particularly noisy, though it has every opportunity. Shadow detail is quite good. There is some mild edge enhancement, which is only apparent if you look for
it in the usual places. I thought the image to be a wee bit oversharpened.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio & Music: 8/8
Here is one of the biggest differences between Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby TrueHD I've yet encountered. I was surprised it should be so on a movie as old as this. Not only am I able to watch the movie without subtitles, bur dialogue now comes with its own appropriate ambiance. For example when Bob first enters Maggie's recovery room, there is a subtle reverb to his voice underscoring the empty room in which he stands. I wasn't aware of that in the DD 5.1. The music always opens up the soundstage considerably whether in its use of contemporary pop or Nina Simone on record. The surrounds are effectively used for environmental sounds as well as exploding gunfire, as in the opening gunfight at the OK Pharmacy.

 

 

 

Operations: 7
A relative lack of features did not stop the designers from having a well laid out menu.
 

Extras: 2
I'll give this Blu-ray a couple of points for the many language options and a trailer in standard definition.

 

 

Bottom line: 6
If you liked Nikita, you ought not be insulted by the remake. On the other hand, the only good reason, besides a cinephile curiosity, to have this disc is if you have a particular aversion to movies with subtitles.

Leonard Norwitz
April 19th, 2009

 

 

 

 

 


 

About the Reviewer: I first noticed that some movies were actually "films" back around 1960 when I saw Seven Samurai (in the then popular truncated version), La Strada and The Third Man for the first time. American classics were a later and happy discovery.

My earliest teacher in Aesthetics was Alexander Sesonske, who encouraged the comparison of unlike objects. He opened my mind to the study of art in a broader sense, rather than of technique or the gratification of instantaneous events. My take on video, or audio for that matter – about which I feel more competent – is not particularly technical. Rather it is aesthetic, perceptual, psychological and strongly influenced by temporal considerations in much the same way as music. I hope you will find my musings entertaining and informative, fun, interactive and very much a work in progress.


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