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  Directed by
  Starring
  Specs
  • Full Frame
  • Dual Layer ( 53:44)
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital Surround
  • French: Dolby Digital Surround
  • Spanish: Dolby Digital Surround
  • German: Dolby Digital Surround
  • Italian: Dolby Digital Surround
  Subtitles
    English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Dutch
  Extras

    Casper - A Spirited Beginning

    20th Century Fox/20th Century Fox . R4 . COLOR . 91 mins . G . PAL

      Feature
    Contract

    In 1995, cinema screens across the world were graced with the presence of a friendly ghost named Casper in a film of the same name. This film starred Christina Ricci and Bill Pullman, and introduced a young Canadian spunk named Devon Sawa. As well as a fine cast, the film also boasted superb live action crossed with computer animation, with a top-notch quality Casper and the Ghostly Trio. Sadly this technology was not passed onto this film.

    The ghosts in this film act more like string puppets than fluid computer animation, and at times this is too annoying and distracts from the flow of the film. The ghosts lie on top of the image, rather than blending in like in the film. Sure, this is a direct-to-video release, but it was still made two years after Casper was released. But anyway...

    The humour is stock-standard man-falls-over-chair-and-this-is-supposed-to-be-funny type humour. News flash, it’s not funny. Some of the one-liners are amusing, but the fall over jokes are too old hat. OK, that may be a bit harsh for a kids movie, but what about something like Monster’s Inc that holds plenty for adults too? Anyway... before this gets nasty, on to the story...

    "...Sure, pick on the living impaired..."

    The story is based around a ghost called Casper (funnily enough) who gets thrown off the train to Ghost Central Station – the place where all ghosts get taught how to haunt. He finds his way to Deedstown where he befriends young science-fiction geek Chris. Casper is introduced to the Ghostly Trio (Fatso, Stretch and Stinky) who teach him their unorthodox haunting methods. But Casper doesn’t want to haunt, he wants to be friendly. As the movie plods along, Kibosh (voiced by James (“I am your father”) Earl Jones) and his snivelling assistant Snivel (voiced by comic retard legend Pauly Shore) try to find Casper as he escapes his training at Ghost Central Station. And then there is the story about Chris and his father (Steve Guttenberg) and their relationship... and then the story about Chris and his teacher Sheila Fistergraff (Lori Loughlin – anyone remember her from Full House?) There are some side plots, some in-movie references to Mission Impossible, and some poor acting to boot. Overall, there's nothing much here for the adults, but quite a lot of potential for the little ones.

      Video
    Contract

    The video is presented in a full frame ratio of 1.33:1, and is obviously not 16x9 enhanced. Being made for video, this is the original aspect ratio.

    The transfer provided from 20th Century Fox is a superb representation of the film, with very few faults.

    Colours are rich and solid, with bright, luminescent blues, gacky greens and vibrant reds. Skin tones appear slightly pink, but nothing outrageously bizarre. Blacks are solid and rich, with a reasonably good level of shadow detail. Low-level noise does not appear to be a problem, nor do MPEG artefacts. The image is free from grain and film artefacts, hinting that it may have been filmed onto a digital source material. One slight flaw with the transfer is that the image appears to be very similar to an NTSC image, when the transfer is PAL. The only plus to having a NTSC-looking PAL transfer is that the image is incredibly sharp, as we have come to expect from Fox. The clarity of the image is faultless for the duration of the feature, boasting a crisp and sharp image.

    Being a dual layered disc, a layer change occurs at 53:44. This change is faultless, occurring quickly, efficiently and discretely. It occurs at a scene change and does not disrupt the flow of the film.

    The largest problem on this disc is a minor (and this is very minor) case of aliasing, notably at 26:56 on a banister on the Applegate Mansion. This is ever so slight and is in no way distracting.

    Six subtitle languages are in place on this disc, each being coloured with a soft pale grey, making them incredibly easy to read, and not incredibly obvious either. Subtitles are available in Dutch, English, French, German, Italian and Spanish.

    The video transfer is great overall, and would only have been improved by using a widescreen format with 16x9 enhancement.

      Audio
    Contract

    There are five audio tracks for this film – all Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround-encoded. Available languages are French, English, German, Italian and Spanish. The English track was the prime listening option for this review.

    The sound that is reproduced is superb as far as surround-encoded tracks go. The surround activity is suitably active and richly encoded. The sound from the front half of the soundstage is incredibly directional with many, many cases of discrete left and right action.

    Dialogue is crisp and clear throughout, with only one audio sync problem. The fidelity of the effects is generally good, but some poor foley effects are just unrealistically corny.

    The background score composed by Udi Harpez is touching in its simplistic style. With no leading theme, the score accompanies the on-screen antics of the characters, and does so very well. While not being memorable or outstanding, the score does its job.

    One fault in the audio track is at 23:10, where some poor dubbing has led to a slight audio synch problem. This is seen as bully Brock is talking to Chris on the steps.

      Extras
    Contract

    I’m sorry, a static silent menu does not cut it as an extra feature. Nor does scene selection. Enough said.

      Overall  
    Contract

    Nothing beats Christina Ricci and originality. Period. The video quality is good, but lacks widescreen and 16x9 enhancement, and the audio is sufficient but nothing special. The extra features are non-existent. This is a film definitely for the kids only, and they may benefit from a hire or two.


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      And I quote...
    "Nothing beats Christina Ricci and originality. Period..."
    - Martin Friedel
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Nowa DS-8318
    • TV:
          TEAC 68cm CTV
    • Speakers:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Centre Speaker:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Surrounds:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          standard s-video
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