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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Conspiracy Theory [Blu-ray]

 

(Richard Donner, 1997)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Warner

Video: Warner Home Video

 

Disc:

Region: FREE! (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 2:15:17.442

Disc Size: 38,440,976,137 bytes

Feature Size: 38,010,961,920 bytes

Video Bitrate: 25.94 Mbps

Chapters: 32

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: April 22nd, 2014

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 4284 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 4284 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 / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio German 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio Italian 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB / Dolby Surround
Dolby Digital Audio Portuguese 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB / Dolby Surround
Dolby Digital Audio Czech 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB / Dolby Surround
Dolby Digital Audio Hungarian 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio Polish 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio Russian 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps / DN -4dB
* Dolby Digital Audio Japanese 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps / DN -4dB

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, Portuguese, Czech,  Hungarian, Polish, Russian, Japanese, none

 

Extras:

None

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: Jerry Fletcher (Mel Gibson) is a New York City cab driver who seems to have absorbed every bit of crackpot information passed along as "suppressed news" that's surfaced on talk radio or the Internet in the past 20 years. Anti-United Nations militia men who are actually U.N. operatives? NASA scientists engineering earthquakes? Oliver Stone's secret life as a government agent discrediting conspiracy theorists? Jerry's heard 'em all and believes most of them, and even publishes his own journal of forbidden information, with a subscription list that now totals five people. In short, Jerry seems like just another New York City lunatic, and while he spends a fair amount of his spare time following Alice Sutton (Julia Roberts), a government attorney, Alice regards him as harmless; he once intervened while she was being mugged, and he's been acting like her benign if whacked-out protector ever since. However, one day Jerry is kidnapped and worked over by CIA operatives; he is convinced that one of the theories he uncovered must be for real -- but he has no idea which one. He tries to get Alice to help him, and before long both are drawn into a dangerous web that leads to a startling revelation of just how Jerry got this way. Mel Gibson gives a fine comic performance, and those with a taste for alternative media will have fun dissecting which of the theories Jerry spouts are "real" (or at least appeared before this film was made) and which were the invention of the screenwriters.

 

 

The Film:

Jabbering Mel Gibson is clearly a Manhattan cabbie with a troubled past, and his pursuit of upper-bracket love interest Julia Roberts, a Justice Department attorney investigating the murder of her judge father, gets the plot rolling on an expansive, glossy thriller that delivers much less than it at first promises. Donner and cameraman John Schwartzman pull out their best stuff early on when unknown assailants tie Mel to a wheelchair and pump him full of truth drugs. Weird colours. Fast-cuts. All very disorienting, until we realise terminally dull Patrick Stewart is the interrogator with the steel-rimmed glasses. Gibson deserves a nod for taking on a character so obviously fractured by military experiments, but despite having the ultimate paranoiac's pad, he too often settles for playing the lovable wacko, and his memory returns at the convenience of screenwriter Brian Helgeland. A series of increasingly desperate chases, and catchy use of the karaoke classic 'Can't Take My Eyes Off You', masks a lack of confidence in a narrative with too few suspects and the same old CIA bad guys behind it.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE

At last we have a summer movie hero who likes a good book. Unfortunately, he likes only one book (''The Catcher in the Rye,'' so popular with dangerous crackpots). And he happens to be halfway out of his mind. Jerry Fletcher (Mel Gibson) keeps a beer bottle balanced on his doorknob, not to mention a lock and label on his tapioca pudding supply. He thinks that Jerry Garcia is still alive, that Oliver Stone is in cahoots with George Bush, and that water main breaks in New York City are not the accidents they seem. He thinks strange forces are everywhere.

Well, he isn't wrong. Not about this season's action movie cycle, which concludes with Mr. Gibson, Julia Roberts and paranoia at its prettiest in Richard Donner's trumped-up, ultra-slick ''Conspiracy Theory.'' Arriving on the heels of space aliens (''Men in Black,'' ''Contact''), skyjackers (''Con Air,'' ''Air Force One''), face swappers (''Face/Off'') and other big-ticket subversive notions, ''Conspiracy Theory'' puts a cute and timely spin on the lunatic fringe. But the only sneaky scheme at work here is the one that inflates a hollow plot to fill 2 1/4 hours while banishing skepticism with endless close-ups of big, beautiful movie-star eyes.

Excerpt from Janet Maslin at the NY Times located HERE

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

Conspiracy Theory appears slightly thick and with rich colors on Blu-ray from Warner.  The image quality shows some impressive detail in close-ups.  This is dual-layered with a supportive bitrate for the 2 1/4 hour film. It can look a shade glossy/waxy at times in-motion but I don't suspect manipulations. Skin tones seem true and contrast has a shade on inconsistency. There are plenty of dark scenes but no undue noise is exhibited. This Blu-ray is no award winner in terms of video but excels over the previous SD transfers notably in the colors and detail.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Warner supply a very dynamic DTS-HD Master 5.1 at a whopping 4284 kbps. Effects are loud and crisp with plenty of sneaky separations. We hear Can't Take My Eyes Off You first performed by Frankie Valli and then Lauryn Hill - sounding brilliant on both occasions. The film's score is from frequent Coen collaborator Carter Burwell (A Serious Man, No Country for Old Men, The Big Lebowski) and is supported nicely by the lossless rendering. There are plenty of subtitles and DUB options and my Oppo has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.

 

Extras :

No supplements at all. This is a bare-bones Blu-ray disc.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
I have a soft-spot for Conspiracy Theory. It is just one of those films I don't mind seeing every year or so. Gibson's character is a combination of fascinating, obsessive, pitiful, deep and amusing. Julie Roberts is a strong foil. I like the score. The Blu-ray presentation is a solid notch above the last DVD and the lack of supplements is reflected in the reasonable price. I am happy to own, and revisit, this film. 

Gary Tooze

April 18th, 2014

 

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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