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  Directed by
  • Widescreen 2.35:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer (RSDL )
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • English: Dolby Digital Surround
  • None
  • Teaser trailer
  • Animated menus
  • Interviews
The Fourth Angel
Universal/Universal . R4 . COLOR . 91 mins . MA15+ . PAL


A film about terrorism isn’t exactly something you want to be watching for entertainment at the moment. Especially one to do with bombs... Speed was recently re-rated for the DVD release and was upped to a MA rating (formerly M), and then this film comes along. OK, Speed can be excused as it was originally released in 1994 (or 1993 as some wish to debate), and was before September 11, but this film is more recent. Hello, it’s a little thing called ‘taste’... or should we say lack thereof? Make something about Care Bears or Teletubbies but not this. Um, wait, can I please (pretty, pretty please) take that comment back? Well, Care Bears rock...

After his family is murdered in a hijacking gone wrong, Jack Elgin (Jeremy Irons) wants what any stereotypical American man wants – revenge. The terrorists responsible for the murders are secretly and mysteriously released, and Jack wants answers. So he finds a US representative – Jason Priestly – to help him discover the answers. If he's the best the US has, that really doesn’t inspire much confidence. Luke Perry was recently seen in The Enemy and should have stayed in the 90210 archives and the same applies here for Priestly. Jack also seeks advice from a good friend, played by Charlotte Rampling. But anyway, along comes an FBI agent played by Forest Whitaker who has his sights set on Elgin and his murderous revengeful plan, but it is soon made apparent who the real terrorists are...


The video is presented in the CinemaScope aspect of 2.35:1, and is 16:9 enhanced. Pan and scan Harry Potter and this CinemaScope crap? C’mon, something’s not right there. Well something isn’t right with pan and scan, period.

Sadly this below-mediocre film has one of the better transfers. Colours are realistic and solid, with no sign of low level noise on the darker shades. Blacks are deep and crisp, with a reasonable and clear level of shadow detail. Grain is not a problem, nor are film artefacts. The only bummer for this video is the aliasing, which happens quite frequently and with different levels of annoyance. At times it is barely noticeable, yet at other times makes a simple oblique line look like a flight of stairs.

Detail levels are quite high, as is the sharpness of the image. One or two cases are visible where the focus is a tad soft, but still. It’s just that with such shocking and uninspiring material on screen it really drags you to the faults of the transfer as it gives you something to do to stay awake.

Two audio tracks have been included, both in English. The first is Dolby Digital 5.1 and the second is a surround encoded Dolby Digital 2.0 track. The 5.1 is the best listening option, but not by much. The major difference between these two tracks is the subwoofer action in the 5.1. Surround channels are used inefficiently and quietly, adding very little ambience to the soundtrack. This is the case in both tracks. The subwoofer track is quite nice, giving a big bang for the opening hijacking sequence. But most probably the biggest bang that you’ll get is when you slam it back on the counter of your local video store upon return.

Dialogue is clear throughout the film, and the lack of subtitles does not cause any problems. The English is easily understood with no thick or rich accents. The music by Paul Zaza is nothing remarkable, but adds that emotive feel to the film. It is just a pity that the action on screen can't carry these emotions too.

The features on this disc are not terribly outstanding, but a welcome inclusion nonetheless. The animated menus, which are 16:9 enhanced, are slick and feature a piece of score from the film. The teaser trailer, which runs for just under two minutes, tells the story quite well, yet suffers from an amateurish feel. The 'Making of' featurette which run for just shy of 18 minutes should really be called ‘Interviews’, as this is primarily what it is. It features chats with the cast and crew, and an in-depth talk with the director about the film.

Just a tad out of taste at the moment, and by far not the best film of the year. Sadly, as said before, this disc does have a rather nice transfer with some reasonable extra features. It's just a pity about the film though...

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  •   And I quote...
    "...a little too close to home at the moment..."
    - 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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