The trailer for Pacific Heights was on the White Sands disc and I thought "that looks OK, I can review that." But you know what, sometimes trailers can be deceptive. This film is classified as a suspense film, but the pace that this film moves with creates no suspense at all. It felt like I was sitting there for two hours, but the timer on the DVD player only said 48 minutes – I still had an hour to go. But luckily, the second half did pick up the pace a little bit.
The story is centred around Patty (Griffith) and Drake (Modine) who have just bought a new Victorian house in Pacific Heights. But they only way they can keep the house is to rent out downstairs. The two downstairs apartments were both rented out, one to a nice, friendly Chinese couple, and the other to a living nightmare known as Carter Hayes (Keaton). Hayes talks his way around paying the rent and writing credit forms, and moves in without permission from the upstairs landlords. But now, he hasn’t paid and he won’t leave. The rest of the story I will leave up to you to watch because that is the point of a thriller – to build the story as you go along, and learn new things about the characters. Oooh, that’s got you wanting more, hasn’t it?
Matthew Modine is just the most annoying person to watch onscreen. His character Drake is violent, angry and frustrating to watch and he is the kind of character that irritates me to the bone. Melanie Griffith isn’t much better for the first half, but she redeems herself in the second half of the movie. Michael Keaton can always be relied upon to portray a brilliant and unique character. This film is no different for him. He portrays the most evil and dangerous character and does it so well that its scary!
Where to begin with this transfer? Lets start with the video. The video is presented in a 1.85:1 aspect and is 16x9 enhanced. However, it appears during the opening credits that the actual theatrical release may have a slightly higher aspect ratio. The colours are incredibly pale and very blue throughout the feature, and the colours are pale and muted, offering little brightness and vibrancy. The red colours bleed, including red blood and the ‘Pacific Heights’ logo on the main menu which looks very messy and unprofessional. The colours on a whole are very bland and plain and it is appalling to thing that this is the best that Warner could do, let alone leave it as an NTSC transfer.
However, saying those things about the colours, there are very little film artefacts, and no visible grain, even in the darker scenes. No MPEG artefacts were visible at all.
The entire picture appears to have been muted slightly, and the image is very soft. This isn’t really distracting, just disappointing given the sharpness that the DVD medium can offer. The disc is single-sided, dual layered and the layer change is very neat – so neat that I was unable to spot it.
There are two audio tracks on this disc, an English Dolby Digital 5.1 and a French Dolby Digital 2.0. The English 5.1 could have fooled me, as it sounds mono for the first half of the film. There is very little, quiet action from the front left or right and the surround left and right speakers, and even less subwoofer action. But then, after the layer change I presume, the 5.1 mix wakes up but it should have laid dormant. This stereo film has been remastered to 5.1, and has been done with a very poor result. The mix is incredibly poor with sound effects flying around the soundstage constantly and this is really distracting for the viewer. After the layer change, subwoofer action does not increase at all.
Pretty much the only good point to this audio transfer is the score by Hans Zimmer. Zimmer is one of my favourite composers and in Pacific Heights, earlier on in his career, Zimmer still uses running brass lines and intense themes. Chapter 24 is the best example of Zimmer’s score on this film, with the melodic, harmonic and pulsating theme grinding out of the centre speaker, and very slightly from the subwoofer and surrounds.
The theatrical trailer that is included on this disc is not really a special feature, but it is there none the less. It is in the aspect of 4:3 and in Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. The menus are not animated, but they have audio. 1 point just for trying.
Overall this disc is a real disappointment with a poor video transfer and an irritating audio mix with no special features, apart from the common trailer that commonly accompanies a disc. This disc does not get my thumbs up, but rather a flat hand. If you are a fan of either the cast or crew or the story, get it, but if you have never seen it before, stay back and maybe hire it first. You might want to hire the VHS first to get a better result than from this DVD.