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

The Faculty [Blu-ray]

 

(Robert Rodriguez, 1998)

 

 

 

 

 

Review by Leonard Norwitz

 

Studio:

Theatrical: Dimension Films & Los Hooligans

Blu-ray: Alliance Canada

 

Disc:

Region: A (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:44:11.161

Disc Size: 20,741,488,455 bytes

Feature Size: 20,663,396,352 bytes

Video Bitrate: 20.00 Mbps

Chapters: 16

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: November 10th, 2009

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 4123 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 4123 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio English 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio French 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps

 

Subtitles:

none

 

Extras:

• (none)

 

 

The Film: 6
Resident geek at the local high school, Casey Connor (an adolescent Elijah Wood) doesn't want to go back to school. And for good reason: Casey and Delilah (Fast & Furious' Jordana Brewster) had just witnessed the murder of the school nurse (Selma Hayek) by two faculty members (Robert Patrick & Piper Laurie) the day before. Only the nurse springs back to life when Casey & Delilah return with the authorities. Must be aliens, they reluctantly conclude.

What's cool and novel about The Faculty directed by From Dusk to Dawn Robert Rodriguez with a screenplay by Scream's Kevin Williamson, is that the small band of daring students (Clea DuVall, Josh Hartnett, Shawn Hatosy, Laura Harris, in addition to Wood and Brewster) that eventually sort themselves out from the others who mindlessly visit the nurse for their alien parasitic transformation is that they are not friends to start with. Worse, they are or have always been antagonistic to each other (it's a kind of social order thing) – all except the new girl in school (Harris). These half dozen kids are forever testing the limits of the trust necessary to fight the evil that is overtaking their school and threatens their town at a geometric rate.

What's not so cool is how the clichés start to pile up. In the third act things start to get repetitive - like the relentless and undifferentiated testing that our gang of six feel they must do with each other. More troublesome is that the filmmakers feel it necessary to bring the alien to life – always a risky business – and in this case, unconvincing and uninteresting at every possible level.

The kids in The Faculty discuss The Invasion of the Body Snatchers , which, as they remind us, did not go so well for the humans. They figure that some alien parasite – Casey actually finds a sort of seed on the football field one day – has invaded human hosts and is controlling their minds and behavior. Not very original there, but I was willing to hang with the idea for a while. Less imaginative is the speech that is repeated by representatives of the converted humans that echoes all too closely that of the pod people in Body Snatchers. This, of course, is deliberate, since the writer is making use of a classic cultural reference here. What I don't think plays so well is that the speech refers to "A world without anger, without fear, without attitude. Where the underachiever goes home at night to parents who care. The jock can be smart, the ugly duckling beautiful, and the class wuss doesn't have to live in terror." The problem is that the Body Snatcher pod-people were, for the most part, as advertised – boring and unemotional. The converted humans at the high school aren't: they have all kinds of generally unpleasant attitude – so what's the sell? And who wouldn't have been able to see right through it?


 

Image: 7/8   NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken 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.

Except for a fine snow that covers the image, the Blu-ray is pretty good – better than Alliance Bu-rays I've encountered in the past (that goes for the audio as well.) There are no serious transfer issues. There is some edge enhancement, but it I didn't find it interfered with my enjoyment of the movie. Noise is pretty much non-existent, but blacks, which appear strong in the daylight, are weak in the dark of indoors. I'd like to say color is good, and it may be, but it does seem to vary curiously from time to time. Notice how vivid the color is in capture #8 where Famke Janssen gets in Josh Hartnell's face. Speaking of faces, check out Robert Patrick's joker smile in capture #11. Is that make-up or DNR? It's an odd frame by any stretch.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio & Music: 7/7
A Dolby Digital 5.1 track is the default, but no question: the optional DTS-HD MA is much to be preferred. It makes clear the case for high definition audio by clarifying the music, dialogue and effects that in the DD 5.1 is thick and mushy. The surrounds really come into their own about halfway into the movie as the gang of six make their way to safety through the mostly converted student body while their suspicious murmurings are heard from all over the room.

 

Operations: n/a

 

Extras: 0
The barest of bones: there's not so much as a main menu.

 

Bottom line: 6
This Canadian Blu-ray came out fairly unnoticed - especially considering the director, Robert Rodriguez, and the hefty cast. This is, very reasonably priced, entertainment and even if imperfect - The Faculty looks and sound good making for a fun popcorn and beer movie night.

Leonard Norwitz
April 10th, 2010

 

 

 

 

 

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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