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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Jacob's Ladder [Blu-ray]

 

(Adrian Lyne, 1990)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Carolco Pictures

Video: Lions Gate

 

Disc:

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

Runtime: 1:53:32.430

Disc Size: 24,582,483,567 bytes

Feature Size: 20,913,871,296 bytes

Video Bitrate: 19.99 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: August 25th, 2015

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1520 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1520 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit)
Commentary:

LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit

 

Subtitles:

English, none

 

Extras:

• Audio Commentary by Adrian Lyne

• Building Jacob's Ladder (26:29)

3 Deleted Scenes

• Teaser (1:03)

• Trailer (1:53)

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: A tortured man finds himself caught in a middle-ground between hallucination and reality in this supernatural thriller, scripted by Bruce Joel Rubin of Ghost (1990) and My Life (1993). Jacob Singer (Tim Robbins) is a soldier stationed in Vietnam who undergoes a traumatic experience on the battlefield - the nature of which is initially unclear. The film then moves into his post-Vietnam experience in 1970s New York, where he feels consistently traumatized, but can never quite remember exactly what happened to him in Southeast Asia or to free himself from his anxieties over the recent tragic death of his young son (Macaulay Culkin). Though well educated, Jacob works as a letter carrier for the U.S. Postal Service and has become romantically involved with one of his co-workers, Jezzie (Elizabeth Pena), after divorcing his wife. Soon, Jacob's tenuous hold on reality starts to slip as horrifying events befall him; he is nearly run over by a subway train, pursued by faceless demons in cars, and spots reptilian tails and horns protruding from the bodies of those he encounters. Jacob also suffers severe panic attacks related to the chaos that may be reality, or may exist only in his mind. He seeks counsel from Louis (Danny Aiello), a kindly chiropractor, as his ex-wife Sarah (Patricia Kalember), fellow Vietnam vet Paul (Pruitt Taylor Vince), and enigmatic stranger Michael (Matt Craven) all try to help the tortured soul. Jason Alexander, Ving Rhames and Eriq LaSalle highlight the supporting cast.!

 

 

The Film:

Lyne's chilling film bombed in the States, probably because of its origins in the murkier side of the now done-to-death Vietnam War. But, messy and maddening though some of it is, Jacob's Ladder is also a truly scary film which is never simply a war or horror vehicle. Jacob Singer (Robbins) is a man whose life totters continually between past, present and future, between reality and terrifying illusion brought on by his experiences in Vietnam, where his unit was dosed with a vicious derivative of LSD to improve its killing power. Where the problem arises is that this scenario is only one alternative in the life of a man variously shown as divorced, studying and co-habiting, married and prosperous with children, or dead on a Vietnam field-hospital table. But Lyne's giddying, unsettling direction conjures up moments of horrifying hallucinogenic power from the bad-trip hell of his protagonist.

Excerpt from TimeOut located HERE

It's tempting to look skeptically at the hits that have made Adrian Lyne a director to be reckoned with, but there's no denying Mr. Lyne's acumen. With "Flashdance," "Fatal Attraction" and even "9 1/2 Weeks," this exceptionally talented commercial film maker has repeatedly touched the pulse of something vital in his audiences' imagination.

Now, with "Jacob's Ladder," Mr. Lyne has done it again, although with an important difference: the pulse that he touches has stopped. "Jacob's Ladder" is a slick, riveting, viscerally scary film about what in other hands would be a decidedly unsalable subject, namely death.

Clever as he is, Mr. Lyne knows better than to present it that way. "Jacob's Ladder" looks and feels like a thriller steeped in Hollywood mysticism, with as substantial a debt to "The Twilight Zone" as to Ambrose Bierce, whose "Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" is one of the film's main inspirations. There is even a marketable trace of a Vietnam War story in the mix, although it is little more than a pretext for setting the events of "Jacob's Ladder" in motion.

Excerpt from the NY Times located HERE

 

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

Jacob's Ladder looks solid on Blu-ray from Lions Gate.  The 1080P image quality supports the frequent 'style' modulations of the film. This is despite a modest bitrate, on single-layered disc, for the almost 2-hour film. What I see, that I didn't on SD, are the film's textures. It works well conveying an intentional dark and gritty appearance. I saw this theatrically and it was never intended to look crisp or glossy. Contrast is adept but with the cinematography style used there is not an abundance of depth. There are no flaws - the video is clean and produces, what appears to be, an authentic visual presentation.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

The DTS-HD 5.1 surround track at 1520 kbps has some impressive moments in pushing the film's plentiful effects to the rear speakers. There is also aggressive depth exported. The original music by Maurice Jarre (Night of the Generals, The Tin Drum, The Man Who Would Be King, The Damned) via the lossless renderings adds a nice layer onto the film's war sequences and hallucinogenic instances. There are optional English subtitles (sample above) and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.

 

Extras :

Lions Gate include the previously hear audio commentary by director Adrian Lyne as well as a 26-minute 'making of' entitled Building Jacob's Ladder - with input from the principles - 3 deleted scenes and finishing the supplements with both a teaser and trailer for the film.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
I have to say that Jacob's Ladder may be an even more impressive film than when I saw it years ago. Robbins gives such a range of emotions and the focus - losing your grip on sanity - is realized magnificently by Lyne. I appreciated seeing the presentation textures in HD and the lossless audio (including the moody Jarre score) augments the film's impact, IMO. The Lions Gate Blu-ray produces a strong viewing experience - one, at the present price - we can easily endorse. 

Gary Tooze

August 22nd, 2015

 

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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