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  Directed by
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 2.35:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • French: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • German: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Italian: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  Subtitles
    English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Hebrew, Greek, Russian, Dutch, Arabic, Portuguese, Turkish, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish
  Extras
  • Animated menus

Flipper

Universal/Universal . R4 . COLOR . 92 mins . PG . PAL

  Feature
Contract

Kid's flicks, there’s nothing quite like them. The tone, the language, the themes - the whole package is just so, erm, 'kiddy'. But then the kid's flicks branch into two main categories – those with wide age ranges, such as Pixar stuff, and those with limited ages, such as Winnie the Pooh. This film quite clearly falls into the latter category.

OK, the tone: its simplified dramatic themes and softened story intertwined with oddly choreographed fight scenes (yes, believe it or not) give Flipper a rather sappy tone with a very simple and idealistic view of the world. So who am I kidding? It’s a kid's film. But this tone aims at young'uns, but some of those fight scenes are a tad scary for the wee kids. It is PG after all. So now, the language. Can you say t-h-e-s-a-u-r-u-s? And yes, I can hear your “boo”s from there. Finally – the themes – in such an idealistic world, such as that created in films like Andre and Dunston Checks In, kids make friends with animals so easily, however things aren’t quite like that. If you’re aiming at three or four year olds that’s different, as cute and simplistic things are good for their minds, but this film does aim towards the ten-plus category who are starting to get a more mature understanding of the world. You may say “give it a fair chance”, but this kid's film just morphs from a fun tropical story into a rather annoyingly pathetic mystery that has one too many irritating characters for this reviewer’s liking. Sure, the kids are sure to like it, but adults may as well leave their kids in front of the box.

Mind you, it is rated PG, and for good cause, however there’s nothing terribly offensive in it. There’s some cigar smoking which turns oddly disturbing when Elijah Wood’s character puffs up, as well as some scary scenes with a shark. If your kids are able to handle these scary themes, then there’s no problem. For the girls there’s the appeal of dolphins, as well as Elijah Wood (um, whatever you reckon), and for the boys there’s Jessica Wesson to keep an eye on – plus the shark. Co-starring is Australia’s Paul Hogan, as well as Jonathan Banks, Chelsea Fields and Isaac Hayes. The entire cast do gel well together, forming believable bonds (given the script), and the world that is created is like a fantasy land full of intrigue and mystery. For the adults, this is the sort of kids film that is just for the kids, and for the older kids out there, they’re sure to love it, even if it is overly simple. At least the scenery is just drop dead gorgeous, so that passes a bit of the time.

Elijah Wood stars as Sandy, a young teenager sent against his will to live with his uncle, Porter (Hogan) who lives on Coral Key, until his parents deal with a divorce. When he gets there he finds is eccentric Australian uncle waterskiing with the “babes” and a dump of a shanty on the tropical shore, with enough Spaghetti-Os to last a lifetime. The rebellious Sandy struggles to stay, but his Uncle is always one step ahead of him. However, one day while out fishing, Dirk Moran is out on his big speedy rich-bitch fishing boat when dolphins come along and start eating their bait. So out comes the rifle, as you do, and he pops one of the dolphins off. The other hides behind Porter’s bomb of a boat, aptly named “Reliable”, and is able to be saved by some purposely-done misdirection on Sandy’s part. Now this dolphin won’t leave him alone – it keeps coming back to visit him, and the two form a special bond and he names him Flipper. Enter Kim, a girl on the island who befriends Sandy for the summer, as well as a geeky kid Marvin and shopkeeper/marine biologist (yeah, nice combination) Cathy. Now trouble starts to crop up when Dirk finds out about this dolphin, and calls in the local law enforcement to ensure that Flipper leaves and never comes back as fish hauls have slumped. But Flipper does come back, and comes back a heck of a lot sicker than when he left. Tests confirmed poisoning and Sandy and Kim soon discover that some toxic waste is being dumped in the picturesque waters, poisoning the water. But who is dumping this waste? And where is it? Ah Flipper can help out, of course, and from here on we meet a scary shark, a dude of a cop and a wanker of a fisherman. Ah, just what you need!

  Video
Contract

Presented in its original theatrical aspect of 2.35:1, Flipper hits the screen with a pretty good 16:9 enhanced transfer. Riddled with only a few minor issues, this transfer of a 1996 film is mighty nice one. The first thing that hits you, after the older animated Universal tag that is, are the colours. They are so bright, vibrant, effervescent and any other colourful adjective you can come up with. Blues are just stunning, contrasting beautifully with the warmly saturated yellow and orange tones, and what’s even better is that the skin tones still give off a lifelike quality with not a hint of over-saturation. But, as you know, good things do come with bad things. The darker scenes in the film are a little too dark, so much so that things become looking rather murky and severely lack definition. Then, on the contrary, during the brighter, livelier sequences, the clarity is superb, with a crisp image and pristine precision. So that’s Flipper’s first niggle.

That’s the biggest of the gripes, with the other issues being fairly minor in comparison. Edge enhancement and aliasing occur fairly constantly, but only subtly over the image making it near-impossible for the average eye to see. A rather odd niggle is the huge amount of film artefacts – not big, obvious ones, but smaller flecks that just whip past quite busily. This can best be seen by slowing the video playback down, and watching the rather constant changes in colour over splodges of the image. These sorts of specks can be noticed primarily on the lighter colours, such as the open ocean shots.

And while we’re on about odd things, let’s talk about the subtitles. No, not the fact that they come in a variety of languages, but at the atrocious font used. Look through the font list on your computer and find a really old computer-style font – big bubbly ’80s shapes. Well that is what we have the subtitles presented in. They are big and black, highly disruptive to the beauty of the image and, even worse, heavily (no, really really heavily) edited, with even simple key words lost. A solution is simple – choose a smaller, less-busy font, and you’ve got plenty of room to fit all the subtitles in. Easy, eh?

  Audio
Contract

With five Dolby Digital 5.1 audio tracks included, it’s a real surprise that the video quality is as good as it is. There is one English track to listen to, with the others assumingly for the Region 2 branding. Released theatrically with DTS audio, a DTS track is nowhere in sight. There’s no excuse for that one.

Dialogue comes crisply and clearly from the centre channel, with synch spot on throughout except for one or two cases of obvious Additional Dialogue Recording. As far as a 5.1 soundstage goes, Flipper does pretty well for himself with a rather busy soundstage. The front end easily carries the dialogue and effects, with the surround channels chirping in with ambience and the score. The subwoofer even gets its fair share of the action, with plenty of bumps and booms to keep the bass fans happy.

The soundtrack is made up of a fluffy score by Joel McNeely, and is backed by a very ’90s pop soundtrack including a cover of In the Summertime by Shaggy. The score and soundtrack weave together well, encasing the theme and setting of the piece particularly well. It’s no Academy Award winner, but it does its job well.

  Extras
Contract

Cheeky bugger... Flipper must have taken them all – all he’s left is a set of animated menus. Big whoop.

  Overall  
Contract

The kids will love this one, and the adults may groan, but the transfer is a beauty with such picturesque surroundings and a pretty decent 5.1 mix. The lack of extras on this disc is annoying, as so many informative and entertaining features could have been included, such as dolphin documentaries and the usual trailers too. But still, it’s a bargain DVD and the kids may like it, so give it a go.

This reviewer just can’t get out of his head Eddie from Absolutely Fabulous singing “they call him Flipper, Flipper”...


  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=3031
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      And I quote...
    "They call him “Flipper, Flipper”!"
    - Martin Friedel
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Philips DVD 736K
    • TV:
          TEAC EU68-ST
    • Receiver:
          Sony HT-SL5
    • Speakers:
          Sony SS-MSP2
    • Centre Speaker:
          Sony SS-CNP2
    • Surrounds:
          Sony SS-MSP2
    • Subwoofer:
          Sony SA-WMSP3
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard Optical
    • Video Cables:
          standard s-video
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