Assault on Precinct 13 Review
This review is offered for direct comparison with Michael Brooke's review of the far superior Region 0 release.
Michael's review of the Region 0 DVD can be found by clicking here.
It is worth mentioning at this point, that the Region 0 disc is often confused as being a Region 1 disc. Please note that this is not the case, and that the disc is in fact, Region 0 (i.e. can be played on any DVD player).
With that out of the way, let's take a disappointing look at this Region 2 release.
When you load this disc into your DVD player, the Universal Logo is displayed in all it's Anamorphic full Widescreen 2.35:1 aspect ratio glory. Everything is looking good. However, when the film begins, you will be horrified to see that the transfer has been cropped from its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio to 1.78:1 (16:9). Just why Universal have decided to issue the DVD in this cropped aspect ratio is really beyond me. Its only saving grace, some may say, is that at least it is an Anamorphic transfer.
For an example of just how bad this 'cropping' of the image is, check out Chapter 4. During this chapter, you will notice two actors to the right and left of the screen. Because of the way the image has been cropped you can only see half of their faces.
This is immensely disappointing, and no amount of 'Anamorphic-ness' can make up for this.
Michael has already passed his experienced eye over the film in his review, so there is little point in me spending too much time analyzing it all over again.
All that I will say is that although the film may appear a little dated, the pacing and sense of tension is still as good today, as it was when it was released. This is further complimented, in my opinion, by John Carpenters own soundtrack, which is very effective, if a little 'under produced', and perfectly sets the tone and mood of the film.
John Carpenter excels as the director of this movie, delivering an almost perfectly paced and thrilling work, complete with some very powerful scenes, and one or two surprises. In addition, the film contains some wonderfully placed humor that does not distract from the viewers enjoyment, but simply takes the edge off the tension when needed, only for Carpenter to masterfully put the pressure right back onto the viewer.
It really is compulsive viewing, and in my opinion, one of Carpenter's finest films.
Picture - I have already talked about my great disappointed that Universal have decided not to present the film in it's original aspect ratio. So putting that important issue to one side, let's take a look at how the transfer looks. Over all it is not too bad, but does contain a little grain and the image is a little soft, and the colors somewhat muted. These issues may not be to do with the quality of the transfer - but rather the quality of the source material. Either way, it is certainly better than VHS.
Sound - The film has been re-mixed to a stereo Dolby Digital 2.0 track. However, this really does play and sound like a mono track. In fact I could not detect any real, effect use of stereo at all during the film, so this was a little disappointing. Otherwise this simply came across as an average Mono track.
Menu System - Due to the almost complete lack of extras, the Menu System for this disc is limited and as bland as it's extra content. The Scene Selection Menu is static and contains 6 chapters per screen, with 18 chapters in total.
It is worth noting that there is a subtitle option, but selecting this has no effect whatsoever. And if you try to access any subtitles during play, using your remote control, there are none available to select. Whether or not this will be available on the commercial release I cannot tell you. But the test disc for this review did not feature subtitles and this could be a major issue for some consumers.
Easter Eggs - There were no Easter Eggs to be found on this test disc.
Theatrical Trailer - Presented in Full screen and Dolby Digital 2.0 sound, this average trailer is made worse with a faded blurry image along with some serious damage to the film stock. Not really even worth taking a look at.
And that's your lot !!!!
To call this disc average, would be doing it an injustice - to call it one of the worse releases I have seen for some time - now that would just about sum it up! On the cropped transfer issue alone I would be unable to recommend this release, but this drab lacklustre DVD just makes things even worse.
Keep your money in your pocket - and go treat yourself to the far superior Region 0 release.
You have been warned.