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Phase IV [Blu-ray]
(Saul Bass, 1974)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Alced Productions
Region: 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 23,478,676,178 bytes
Feature Size: 23,330,598,912 bytes
Video Bitrate: 33.50 Mbps
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: October 27th, 2015
Aspect ratio: 1.78:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1911 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1911 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Description: Saul Bass had a fascinating career as an animator and as designer of title sequences for a number of notable films, including Psycho, Vertigo, Anatomy Of A Murder and Seconds. However, Phase IV was his only credit as director of a feature film. A visually inventive science-fiction story, Phase IV concerns a group of research scientists working in the Arizona desert who find themselves confronted by an Army of super-intelligent mutant ants. The results are more intelligent than the description would lead you to believe, and Nigel Davenport and Michael Murphy turn in good performances as the embattled men of science.
This gripping film, part science fiction, part philosophical musing on
man’s place in the universe, has gained cult status. Michael Murphy (Manhattan)
stars as James Lesko with Nigel Davenport (A
Man For All Seasons) as Dr. Ernest Hubbs, scientists in search
of answers to an evolutionary shift in the ant population that’s adopted
a hive mentality allowing the ants to team with others of their species
to create a super colony. In an effort to better understand the
intelligent and powerful new life form, Lesko and Hubbs are faced with
the choice of either communicating with, or eradicating their
antagonists. Lynne Frederick is cast as Kendra, an ant attack survivor
who’ll play a pivotal role in deciphering the ants’ mysterious
Phase IV opens with a short, ambiguous account of how the ants’ revolution began: A natural occurrence far removed from the hands – and the responsibility – of human beings. We’re offered this information in a voice-over monologue by James Lesko, who we will shortly meet, and played against beautiful Kubrickian shots of a sun moving between two heavenly bodies, one set precisely in front of the other—an image that not only defies the make-up of our universe but one that will appear again throughout the film. Immediately after this planetary alignment is achieved the camera’s focus shifts to a smaller universe: an intricate network of rooms and tunnels constructed completely underground by millions of ants. This six-minute montage – of hundreds of those tiny insects, each a different size and color and, to a degree, personality – displays the sudden alliance between all species of ants and is shot with a precise eye. In fact, these shots are captured with stunning, and inexplicable, precision, as many of the ants sport prop attachments between their antennae and move as though choreographed by the director himself to crawl and stand and communicate..Excerpt from NotComing located HERE
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
The primo visual titles-designer Saul Bass' only feature film directorial credit, Phase IV arrives on Blu-ray from Olive Films. Typically single-layered but with a very high bitrate for the bare-bones disc. It is exported in 1080P appearing quite consistent - much like a mid 70's film's heaviness but clean with tight colors. There is some texture and sporadic depth. No damage or speckles. It is rendered in the 1.78:1 aspect ratio. The Blu-ray produces authentic image quality supporting the film's effects and multiple close-ups. I expect it looks about as good as Phase IV ever will in HD.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
Olive go with a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel at 1911 kbps and the effects are boisterous. One scene where the ants are bombarded with sound is quite intense via the lossless. Good depth and a receptive high-end. A sparsely utilized score is by Brian Gascoigne and sounds appropriately eerie and mysterious when called upon.. There are no subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.
No supplements - not even a trailer which is the bare-bones route that Olive are going with the majority of their releases.
October 19th, 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.
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze
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