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  • Widescreen 2.35:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • English: Dolby Digital Surround
    English, English - Hearing Impaired
  • Interviews
Short Circuit
/Roadshow Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 94 mins . PG . PAL


Number Five is Alive!

That’s right, that wacky robot that looks like a cross between a washing machine and a stop sign is now available on DVD for the first time.

At Nova Robotics Laboratories a new series of robots in being developed, primarily for combat and delivery of nuclear arsenal, they also mix up a mean Martini. Known as S.A.I.N.T. (Strategic Artificial Intelligent Nuclear Transport) these robots are state of the art killing machines, designed to be able to parachute into enemy territory and delivery rather large explosive payloads without being detected.

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E.T. phone Dick Smith

The robots are designed and developed by reclusive and peace loving scientist Newton Crosby (Guttenberg) who wants nothing more than for his invention to be used for good rather than destruction. When a freak accident means that one of the robots gains sentience and escapes the labs the chase is on to recover number 5 but it eventually makes its way to the home of lost animal collector Stephanie Speck (Sheedy) and we learn that Number Five is alive!

“Originally I had non military uses in mind, I designed it as a marital aid”

Short Circuit is one of those movies from the 80’s that everyone had seen and knew about. The music from the soundtrack was on the radio (everyone will remember the “Who’s Johnny” song as soon as it comes on the radio in the movie) and the actors were flavour of the month, even Steve Guttenberg who was between Police Academy movies at the time was becoming way too famous.

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The new Sony #5 dual LCD projector.

Fisher Stevens also acts up a storm as Newton’s bumbling assistant Ben Jabituya. Who would have thought that 9 years later he would be playing a master hacker character known as “The Plague” in Hackers?


For a movie approaching its 20th year anniversary Short Circuit has survived the transition to DVD pretty well. Presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and enhanced for widescreen displays the image would rate as above average when compared to other transfers from the same era.

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Hi. Name's Mahoney, Police Academy.

This is not to say the video transfer is anywhere close to perfect as there are substantial problems with grain and an overly soft picture along with severely washed out primary colours, mostly obvious with reds and blues. A weird brown smudge also appears at about the 19:59 mark, but this looked like a blemish in the original print, not an artifact of the transfer process. Despite these problems the image is fine for the most part and highly watchable for a movie of this age. One significant and distracting fault in the video transfer is a 4-5 pixel wide semi-transparent border around the enture picture, it is definately not deliberate and was only present when played through my stand alone DVD player on the projector, not when played though the PC.

The audio presentation is also showing its age and is available only in a Dolby Digital 2.0 mix. In the same light as the video presentation the rating for the audio of a movie this age and only having a 2.0 audio mix would be above average. However, the audio track is typically flat and dead when compared to a 5.1 mix so the sub woofer is mostly dormant as are the surrounds. The dialogue mix is acceptable though and all the spoken parts are clear and fully audible at all times.

There are only 2 extra features on this disc, both being sit down interviews with two of the crew responsible for the robot effects on Short Circuit, Eric Allart the Special Effects Engineer and Syd Mead, an Effects Designer. Both these interviews combined run for nearly an hour, and unless the viewers is a die-hard Short Circuit or special effects fan they can be very dry and boring.

Fans of 80’s movies (and who isn’t?) should be glad to see Short Circuit make it to DVD with a decent transfer and audio treatment. It would have been nice to have a 5.1 sound mix and a few of the minor video problems rectified, maybe a few more extras wouldn’t have gone astray but as it stands this DVD is adequate and probably the best we can expect for now.

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  •   And I quote...
    "Number 5 is alive!"
    - Chris Hore
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Pioneer DV-676A
    • Receiver:
          Yamaha RX-V995
    • Speakers:
          Wharfedale Diamond
    • Centre Speaker:
          Wharfedale Modus
    • Surrounds:
          Wharfedale Diamond
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard Optical
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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