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The China Syndrome [Blu-ray]
(James Bridges, 1979)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: IPC Films
Video: Image Entertainment / Indicator (UK)
Region: 'A' / Region FREE (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)
Runtime: 2:02:19.332 / 2:02:19.707
Disc Size: 22,486,459,768 bytes / 47,428,831,769 bytes
Feature Size: 19,549,956,096 bytes / 38,786,885,184 bytes
Video Bitrate: 17.94 Mbps / 34.59 Mbps
Chapters: 16 / 12
Case: Standard Blu-ray case / Transparent BD case
Release date: October 14th, 2014 / June 25th, 2018
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
DTS-HD Master Audio English 2148 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2148 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps /
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
• English (SDH), None
• The China Syndrome: A Fusion of Talent (27:35)
• The China Syndrome:Creating a Controversy (29:34)
• The John Player Lecture with Jack Lemmon (1973, 80 mins):
archival audio recording of an interview conducted by Philip Oakes at London’s
National Film Theatre
• Theatrical trailer (01:59)
Description: Nominated for four Academy Awards® including Best Actor and Actress (Jack Lemmon, Best Actor; Jane Fonda, Best Actress–1979), THE CHINA SYNDROME stars Jane Fonda, Jack Lemmon and Michael Douglas in the "superbly suspenseful, expertly crafted, entirely riveting" (Richard Schickel, Time) white-knuckle thriller that famously predicted Three Mile Island meltdown, a nuclear disaster that occurred just 12 days after the film's theatrical release. It started as just another assignment. Reporter Kimberly Wells (Jand Fonda) and cameraman Richard Adams (Michael Douglas) were covering the daily routine at a Los Angeles power plant when the unthinkable occurred – a nuclear accident that could have wiped out Southern California. And Richard caught it all on tape. When their TV station refuses to air the footage, Wells and Adams recruit plant supervisor Jack Godell (Jack Lemmon) to expose the terrifying truth: the facility is a ticking time bomb. But with millions of dollars at stake, company officials cannot let the story break. When the trio attempts to broadcast live from the plant's control room, the utility company does everything in its power to silence Godell permanently, as the world watches.
This gripping 1979 drama about the dangers of nuclear power carried an extra jolt when a real-life accident at the Three Mile Island nuclear plant in Pennsylvania occurred just weeks after the film opened. Kimberly Wells (Jane Fonda) is a TV reporter trying to advance from fluff pieces to harder news. Wells and cameraman Richard Adams (Michael Douglas, who also produced) are doing a story on energy when they happen to witness a near-meltdown at a local nuclear plant, averted only by quick-thinking engineer Jack Godell (Jack Lemmon). While Wells and Adams fruitlessly attempt to get the story on their station, Godell begins his own investigation and discovers that corporate greed and cost-trimming have led to potentially deadly faults in the plant's construction. He provides evidence of the faulty equipment, which could lead to another meltdown (the "China syndrome" of the title), to the station's soundman to deliver to Wells and Adams at a hearing on nuclear power. However, on the way to the hearing, the soundman is run off the road by evil henchmen, leading Godell to realize that his own life is threatened, possibly by his bosses at the plant. Driven to the edge of a breakdown, Godell takes over the plant's control room at gunpoint and demands to reveal his findings on TV. The plant's management, however, has other plans, and the facility itself is becoming dangerously unstable. Whether or not you agree with the film's clear anti-nuclear bias, its sobering message and riveting, realistic story and performances are still difficult to ignore.Excerpt from MRQE located HERE
Largely successful attempt to merge politics with Hollywood mainstream, as Fonda and Douglas play TV news-reporters latching on to a nuclear power scare about falsification and negligence of safety regulations. All a bit too earnest, despite the seriousness of the subject, with Fonda setting her jaw and stepping into father's footsteps as Tinseltown's very own protector of humanity; but it's tightly scripted and directed, and genuinely tense in places.Excerpt from TimeOut located HERE
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
The China Syndrome has a modest Blu-ray transfer from Image Entertainment. This is only single-layered with a low bitrate - but visuals still look consistent. There is some impressive detail in close-ups and no untoward noise visible. I don't see a lot of texture and although the video advances over SD - it is not by significant strides. The Blu-ray provides a decent, but not dynamically stellar, 1080P presentation.
Indicator brings us 1979's "The China Syndrome" on a
dual-layered Blu-ray. The film has a maxed out bitrate, and
is presented in 1080p in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio.
The image is a slight improvement over the previously
available Image Blu-ray. Flesh-tones are warmer and seem
more natural. There is slightly more detail and grain in the
image as well, thus giving the picture a more filmic look
when in motion. Contrast is good, and colors seem to be more
realistic (notable in the aforementioned flesh-tones).
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
The DTS-HD Master 5.1 surround (bump) at 2148 kbps sounds pleasing. There is some depth and minor, but never crisp, separations and audio seems exported without flaws. There are a few effects including car chase scenes that are carry some momentum. A few moments are surprisingly crisp at times also carrying weight into important areas of suspense. There are option al English subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.
We get the option of the original 1.0 mono soundtrack (24-bit linear PCM), or an alternative 5.1 (24-bit DTS-HD) soundtrack. There are optional English (SDH) subtitles on this region-free Blu-ray.
Two half-hour vintage featurettes are included - The China Syndrome: A Fusion of Talent is by Laurent Bouzereau and was this documentary was originally featured on the Special Edition DVD from 2004. It has archival footage and interview snippets from some of gthe cast. Pretty much ditto for The China Syndrome: Creating a Controversy - a lesser 1/2 hour piece also by Bouzereau examining the more daring areas the film explores regarding nuclear energy.
First off, there is an option to watch the film with the audio from a 1973 John Player Lecture with Jack Lemmon. This archival audio recording is of an interview conducted by Philip Oakes at London’s National Film Theatre. This runs about 80-minutes overtop of the film. New to this disc is "Assesing the Fallout", a 17-minute interview with Professor Tony Shaw, author of Rotten to the Core: Exposing America’s Energy-Media Complex in ‘The China Syndrome’. Shaw discusses the film and the issues it raises. There are three deleted scenes, totaling around 4-minutes. Both half-hour documentaries from the Image disc are also here, "The China Syndrome: A Fusion of Talent" (27:35) and "The China Syndrome: Creating a Controversy" (29:30). Also included is the film's trailer. There is also a limited edition exclusive 40-page booklet with a new essay by Neil Sinyard, notes on the rejected score by Gergely Hubai, an interview with Bruce Gilbert, an overview of contemporary critical responses, and film credits.
Image Entertainment - Region 'A' - Blu-ray
Indicator - Region FREE - Blu-ray
Indicator continues to impress with
its stellar growing line-up of Blu-rays. Not only is the
curation of these films worthy of mention, the transfers are
consistently striking. The extras packaged here, old and
new, are definitely worth digging into. Aside from those
extras, the slight bump over the image of the Image Blu-ray,
gives Indicator the strong edge here.
October 7th, 2014