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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Runaway Train [Blu-ray]

 

(Andrei Konchalovsky, 1985)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Golan-Globus Productions

Video: Arrow Films

 

Disc:

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

Runtime: 1:50:45.305 

Disc Size: 44,402,175,292 bytes

Feature Size: 32,365,004,352 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.88 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Transparent Blu-ray case

Release date: July 22nd, 2013

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), none

 

Extras:

From Thespian to Fugitive Star Jon Voight shares his memories of his Academy Award-nominated role (37:49)
Running on Empty - an interview with director Andrei Konchalovsky (15:57)

Sweet and Savage - Eric Roberts on Runaway Train (16:02)
The Calm Before the Chaos Co-star Kyle T. Heffner remembers Runaway Train (17:04)
Original Trailer (2:37) with optional commentary by Rod Lurie (2:46)

DVD of the feature included and reversible package artwork

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: Two convicts break out of Stonehaven Prison in the dead of winter, boarding a freight train with the intention of getting as far away as possible before their notoriously sadistic warden finds out. But the brakes fail and the driver has a heart attack, sending hundreds of tons of metal hurtling through the snowy Alaskan wastes at terrifying and unstoppable speed.

Based on a script by Akira Kurosawa (Seven Samurai), with hardboiled prison slang added by real-life ex-con Edward Bunker (Mr Blue in Reservoir Dogs), this riveting thriller also boasts Oscar-nominated performances from Jon Voight and Eric Roberts with Voight playing spectacularly against type as a criminal so vicious that he served much of his sentence welded into his cell.

Combining electrifying action with constant psychological tension (the only surviving member of the train crew is a young, inexperienced woman), Runaway Train is one of cinema's great thrill-rides.

 

 

The Film:

Russian director Andrei Konchalovsky's second American film may well be the only existential adventure flick in Hollywood history. Two prisoners, Manny (Jon Voight) and Buck (Eric Roberts), escape from a desolate Alaskan maximum-security facility. They hop aboard a speeding train, making a clean escape. But the engineer has suffered a heart attack, and the train goes out of control. To prevent a disastrous head-on collision, the railroad heads decide to derail the runaway train, killing its occupants to save the lives of hundreds of others. Once Manny catches on to what's happening, he tries to jump off the train, only to be talked out of such a foolhardy act by railroad employee Sara (Rebecca DeMornay). As doom approaches, Manny apparently goes mad, viciously preventing any attempts to stop the train or rescue its passengers: if he's to die, and if the others are to be saved, it will be on his terms, or no terms. Runaway Train was slated as a project for Akira Kurosawa in 1970, but for various creative and scheduling reasons, it remained on the back burner for 15 years.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

So brutish a prisoner that the Warden (Ryan) had him welded into his cell for three years, Voight goes on the run through the Alaskan winter with only Eric Roberts to keep him warm. They sneak into the back of a four-engine work train, but the engineer has a heart attack, the brakes burn out, the track controller's computers can't cope, and the engineer's sleeping assistant turns out to be - a woman. So sit tight and watch four matt black shunters, looking like beasts from the pit of hell, go charging through the tundra, while Voight and Roberts slug it out over the girl, life, fate, and who's going to have to go outside. Then there is the problem of the Warden being winched down by chopper for one last showdown. The surprise is that Konchalovsky has taken such an obviously pat formula (from an original screenplay by Kurosawa) and made it work remarkably well. Somehow one leaves aside the blatant implausibilities, the coincidences, even Eric Roberts, and takes great pleasure in a breakneck ride to the end of the line. And Voight has finally found his niche, abandoning all those wet-eyed liberal roles and playing to the hilt a hideous, raving beast, with scars. Great ending, too. CPea.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE

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

Runaway Train gets an impressive transfer to Blu-ray from Arrow Films.  It's solidly into dual-layered territory with a max'ed out bitrate. The film was never meant to be glossy and pristine. This 1080P seems supportive of the film's rougher edge and outdoor wintery cinematography. Even with the thick, rich visuals there is some minor depth in the 1.85:1 frame.  It's clean, colors seems true - warm skin tones but no embellishment. We can see  some hi-def detail in the infrequent close-ups. This Blu-ray probably looks like exactly the theatrical version of the film Runaway Train. It seems devoid of imperfections of any kind and carries a pleasing texture to the presentation.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Audio comes in the form of a linear PCM 2.0 channel track at 2304 kbps. It is authentic and supports the intensity and aggressive effects. Depth is present via the lossless and we have a super original score by Trevor Jones (varied compositions include the films In the Name of the Father, Angel Heart and Arachnophobia). There are optional English (SDH) subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'B'-locked.

 

Extras :

Arrow continue to impress with their extensive extras - we get From Thespian to Fugitive a 40-minute piece where Jon Voight shares his memories of his Academy Award-nominated role. Running on Empty - is a 15-minute interview with director Andrei Konchalovsky, Sweet and Savage has 16-minutes with Eric Roberts talking about his experiences on Runaway Train and The Calm Before the Chaos has Kyle T. Heffner recollections of Runaway Train - running 17-minutes. There is also an original trailer (2:37) with optional commentary by Rod Lurie (2:46). The package has both reversible artwork and a, second disc, DVD of the feature.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
Runaway Train is a gripping thriller - keenly crafted with realistic performances.  The Arrow Blu-ray provides and excellent a/v presentation with very appreciated supplements. This is film that carries some surprising depth - if you were anticipating a cheap/cheesy thriller - this will dramatically exceed your expectations. Recommended! 

Gary Tooze

July 8th, 2013


 

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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