The SpannerWorks!

Review added January 13, 2005.                        Lake Placid :: DVD Review  

<< Back to Main Page  

.
.
   
Studio: 20th Century Fox >> Review Equipment
Video: 2.35:1 (Enhanced for 16:9) Length: 79 Minutes
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 (384kbps) En Subtitles: En
Video Format: PAL Disc Format: DVD-5
Layer Change: NA Disc Capacity Utilised: 3.86GB
Average Bit-Rate (A+V): 6.19Mbps Region Coding: 2/4  
     
.
.

:: The Film ::

 
 

>> Skip to Audio/Video Details

When I think of writer David E. Kelley, unusual television comedies populated with quirky characters come to mind. Ally McBeal or Picket Fences perhaps, but a horror film? Mr. Kelley must have decided it was time for something new, but after watching Lake Placid it becomes clear he hasn't strayed too far from familiar territory and his influence remains unmistakable.

Lake Placid is often described as a comedy horror, although it definitely leans toward comedy and there's little to scare horror fans (or anyone else, really). Here Kelley's talents can be seen, with some great characters and genuinely funny lines. Following the unexplained death of a Fish and Game inspector at a remote lake in Maine, museum Paleontologist Kelly Scott (played by Bridget Fonda) is dispatched from New York to investigate a reptile tooth found at the scene.




There she meets up with the local Fish and Game representative (Bill Paxton) and the town Sheriff (Brendan Gleeson in a scene-stealing performance) with his entourage of deputies. From there they proceed to the lake. At the lake they are joined unexpectedly by Hector Cyr (Oliver Platt), a mythology professor who travels the world to swim with crocodiles. I won't go any further to prevent spoiling the plot, but I'm sure you can imagine how it proceeds. Not a great film, but worth the price of entry just to see Platt and Gleeson's performances. Also, a note of caution, although essentially a comedy Lake Placid does contain two instances of violence that may put some viewers off.

 
  :: Video ::
.
.


 

At first sight this transfer looked more than a little disappointing, with compression artefacts, grain and dirt evident onscreen during the opening credits. Thankfully, once the credits came to an end things began to look much better. As it turned out, this was a very nice transfer, with outstanding colour reproduction, especially of the film's lush greens and earth-tones, and a sharp picture with plenty of low-level detail.

The transfer's black level was excellent, although shadow detail was fairly poor. Contrast was high thanks to the shooting style of the film, which saw most sequences shot with the sun low in the sky. While pleasant to look at, this often led to (deliberate) blooming on hair and clothing caught in the sunlight. After the opening credits ended compression artefacts were no longer a problem, but slight shimmer was still evident, and several sequences demonstrated excessive edge enhancement.

The print isn't the cleanest, but there were no real problems with print defects or noise (although a large hair managed to sit happily at the top of the frame for a full 30 seconds from 20:48). Not dirty by any means, but not as clean as I would expect for such a recent film. The sharp picture and excellent colour reproduction are offset somewhat by shimmer and some occasional edge enhancement, but this is an otherwise excellent transfer that should please fans of the film.
 

.
.
  :: Audio ::
.
.



 


This Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, encoded at the lower bit-rate of 384kbps, suffers from a serious personality disorder. For the first hour the soundtrack is very much front-hemisphere oriented, with limited use of the surround channels. The front soundstage is fairly broad, with a reasonable number of directional cues and a handful of pans, but is dynamically restricted. Dialogue is cleanly recorded, suffering from little in the way of clipping. The surround channels are used primarily for ambient support, and contain numerous bird calls, insect noises etc. but at fairly low volume relative to the front channels.

Directional pans are few and far between for the first hour, and could be counted on one hand. During the film's frequent dialogue-driven scenes the surround channels often fall completely silent. Bass reproduction is respectable, although there is little actual bass present and I was only able to detect LFE activity twice in the first hour. The soundtrack could easily be mistaken for 5.0 rather than 5.1. At least for the first hour that is. At the one hour mark the entire soundtrack takes a leaf from Jekyll and Hyde, completely changing character.

The surround channels open up, becoming much more active, producing some effective directional cues and pans. The LFE channel also manages to clear its throat, with deep bass making an appearance. Dynamic range also jumps a notch, which may have you reaching for the remote. A very nice soundtrack overall, although the change in tone was a little disconcerting and may be an unpleasant surprise for late night viewers. 
 

.
.

.


All material in this site copyright Adam Barratt

Back to Main Page