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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Phase IV [Blu-ray]

 

(Saul Bass, 1974)

 

More Apocalypse-related films on Blu-ray and DVD reviewed (click review buttons to also see

comparisons where applicable) from our article Films From The End of the World:

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Alced Productions

Video: Olive Films

 

Disc:

Region: 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:23:27.043

Disc Size: 23,478,676,178 bytes

Feature Size: 23,330,598,912 bytes

Video Bitrate: 33.50 Mbps

Chapters: 9

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: October 27th, 2015

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

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)

 

Subtitles:

None

 

Extras:

• None

 

Bitrate:

 

 

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.

 

 

The Film:

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 existence.

Phase IV is written for the screen by Mayo Simon (Futureworld), photographed by Dick Bush (Ken Russell’s Tommy and Mahler) and scored by Brian Gascoigne (The Emerald Forest) with contributions by Stomu Yamashta, David Vorhaus and Desmond Briscoe.

Excerpt from Olive Films located HERE

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

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.

 

Extras :

No supplements - not even a trailer which is the bare-bones route that Olive are going with the majority of their releases.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
While a different film than, a favorite, Them! - I loved Phase IV. It was more an intellectual creature-feature - evoking sci-fi gems like The Andromeda Strain, breaching the sterility of the lab to face a new enemy (kinda). With Bass at the helm, Phase IV is a very visual film - not so much effects as interesting eye candy way beyond simple close-ups of menacing ants. Very cool - good pace, tension and suspense. Despite the bare-bones Blu-ray - I give high value for the film. At pre-order 57% OFF - we certainly recommend to fans of the science-fiction genre. I had fun watching this.

Gary Tooze

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.

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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