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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Phenomenon [Blu-ray]


(Jon Turteltaub, 1996)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Disney

Video: Touchstone / Disney



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

Runtime: 2:03:26.440

Disc Size: 32,794,986,139 bytes

Feature Size: 30,881,519,616 bytes

Video Bitrate: 26.39 Mbps

Chapters: 18

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: July 3rd, 2012



Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 4111 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 4111 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio French 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 320 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 320 kbps / Dolby Surround



English (SDH), French,  Spanish, none



Trailer (2:42)





Description: Academy Award nominee John Travolta (Best Actor, 1994, Pulp Fiction) leads a stellar cast, including Kyra Sedgwick, Forest Whitaker, and Robert Duvall, in this uplifting story of an ordinary man transformed by extraordinary events. On the night of his 37th birthday, George Malley (Travolta) is knocked to the ground by a mysterious, blinding light and develops amazing mental abilities. With his newfound knowledge, George astounds everyone in town, but comes to realize that his wondrous experience has changed him and all those around him forever.



The Film:

Mr. Travolta plays George Malley, a name that by no coincidence summons thoughts of George Bailey in "It's a Wonderful Life." George is the nicest fellow in Harmon, a very nice Northern California town. A friendly but none too bright auto mechanic, he has a sweet simplicity that affects the whole film, and Mr. Travolta plays him with charismatic ease. Mr. Turteltaub does gild the lily by throwing in a kitten and a bunny only moments into the movie, and by filming almost all of it in the warm, golden glow of an ad for breakfast cereal.

One night, after his well-attended birthday party, George is apparently struck by a bolt of lightning. This event takes him into a whole new realm of intelligence and carries the film itself into Spielberg territory, since there's something distinctly extraterrestrial to the new magic in George. He has electromagnetic powers. He learns Portuguese in 20 minutes. He suddenly knows the names of wildflowers and becomes expert at chess. In keeping with the film's doggedly sunny spirit, every new talent George develops becomes a gift for doing something generous or kind.

Excerpt from NY Times located HERE

Director Jon Turteltaub followed up the hit While You Were Sleeping (1995) with this fantasy similar to Charly (1968) and a film from the previous year, Powder (1994). John Travolta stars as George Malley, a humble mechanic in a rural California town. On his 37th birthday, George celebrates at a pub with friends Nate (Forest Whitaker) and Doc (Robert Duvall), the local physician. When he steps outside, George observes a bright light in the sky that knocks him briefly unconscious. When he awakens, George has incredible intellectual powers. He checks books out of the library in armfuls, becomes an inventor, a psychic, has telekinetic powers, predicts an earthquake, and memorizes Portuguese in minutes. Using his newfound powers, George becomes a hero, but he can't totally win over the spooked townsfolk or the standoffish Lace (Kyra Sedgwick), a single mom burned by love once too often. As George's kindness breaks down Lace's reserve and a romance begins, his fame spreads, bringing him to the attention of the FBI and curious university scientists. Similarities between George's powers and the alleged benefits of Travolta's religion, Scientology, led to charges that the film was veiled pro-Scientology propaganda.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Phenomenon on Blu-ray looked quite good on my system but the screen captures don't indicate it being overly strong.  The image quality is clean but not pristinely sharp. Colors are rich and bright and contrast is handled well by the 1080P transfer. There is no undue noise and generally the visuals are quite pleasing although not at dynamically sharp levels.  This seems like a reasonably adept production in terms of art direction and the Blu-ray image quality reflects a strong, if not stellar, presentation. Skin tones seem a shade warm but aside from some less-noticeable softness - I suspect most will be very happy with the appearance. It advances well beyond the last SD renditions in several key areas - notably detail and colors.
















Audio :

The audio comes in the form of a powerful DTS-HD Master 5.1 at 4111 kbps 5.1 but effects are few and what benefits from the lossless sound if the soundtrack with Eric Clapton's "Change The World", Van Morrison's "Crazy Love" (performed by Aaron Neville), Peter Gabriel appropriate "I Have The Touch", some The Supremes, Marvin Gaye, Sheryl Crow ("Everyday is a Winding Road") and Diana Ross and The Supremes. There are optional subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.


Extras :

Nothing but a trailer - which is okay.



I'll make no excuses - I like Phenomenon and continue to enjoy Travolta as a performer. I wouldn't go too far with the Capra-esque expression here but I can see enough evidence for many to make the case although the last 1/4 does turn unpleasantly dour. Although there is enough sweetness to overcome it. I'll definitely revisit and the Blu-ray is the best way to enjoy the film in your Home Theater. 

Gary Tooze

June 30th, 2012


About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze






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