Vanishing Point (Blu-ray) Official AVSForum Review - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 19 Old 03-01-2009, 11:45 AM - Thread Starter
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attachment.php?attachmentid=132021&d=1233452848
The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )

Film: attachment.php?attachmentid=109945&d=1210373692

Extras: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

Audio/Video total rating:

( Max score: 100 )

71






Studio and Year: 20th Century Fox - 1971
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 99 Minutes/106 Minutes
Genre: Drama/Action

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
Resolution: 1080p/24


Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, English/French/Spanish/Mono
Subtitles: English, Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin
Starring: Barry Newman, Dean Jagger, Cleavon Little, John Amos
Directed by: Richard C. Sarafian
Written by: Guillermo Cain
Region Code: A

Blu-ray Disc release Date: February 24, 2009







"The last American hero"



Film Synopsis:

Thrills, spills and a handful of pills. It all adds up to one of the most spectacular car chases in motion picture history! Barry Newman stars as Kowalski, the last American hero, who set out to prove that he can drive from Denver to San Francisco in just fifteen hours. Along the way, he meets an old prospector (Dean Jagger), a snake worshipper, a nude woman on a motorcycle, and a blind D.J. (Cleavon Little) who "sees" danger ahead in this super-charged, action-packed adventure!




My Take:

Quite honestly I am not sure what to make of this film. It is plainly obvious that Kowalski is a complex character with a storied past who has known loss in his life. He is certainly not villainous yet his actions dictate a blatant disregard not just for his life but for those who are pursuing him. It would seem that he made a decision that he had enough of the “system” and that he was going to fulfill the task at hand regardless of the consequences. This seemed to empower him as well as those who saw him as a symbol willing to make a statement. The chase sequences were thrilling and there is no disputing the engaging power of the 1970 Dodge Challenger’s powerful engine. The sundry assortment of people he encounters along the way made things interesting. I thought the ending was appropriate and fitting for Kowalski but I somehow felt unfilled because I would have liked to have had more of a connection to him. There was little on his background and he really didn’t say much over the course of the movie. Regardless I found the visceral intensity of Vanishing point to be intriguing and refreshing. It has a dated aesthetic but looking past that allows the potential in it to rise to the surface. I look forward to watching it again and hope to glean a bit more from this character because I think there is more to him. Both the longer UK and U.S. theatrical cut are included which allows fans the opportunity to see the extended cut. I evaluated the U.S. version which is about 10 minutes shorter and will check out the other when I get the chance.


Parental Guide:

The rating is for sensuality, nudity, and drug content.






AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**


(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

Audio: 66



  • Dynamics: attachment.php?attachmentid=109944&d=1210373692

  • Low frequency extension: attachment.php?attachmentid=109943&d=1210373692

  • Surround Sound presentation: attachment.php?attachmentid=109944&d=1210373692

  • Clarity/Detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Dialogue Reproduction: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373692



Video: 78


(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)


  • Resolution/Clarity: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Black level/Shadow detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109944&d=1210373692

  • Color reproduction: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Fleshtones: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373692

  • Compression: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

Vanishing point comes to Blu-ray from Fox featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 23 mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 2.4 mbps.

The 1.85:1 framed video has a granular texture that gives it a gritty edge that seems appropriate for the film’s dusty scenery and hard edged theme. The print is in decent shape although scratches and debris were visible from time to time. This isn’t a glossy and noticeably vibrant film and that is conveyed well here by its rather dull finish. Colors generally look natural and appropriate to the varieties used during the time period. Fleshtones look great with plenty of subtle delineation and tonal warmth. Images are resolved well and offer above average fine detail during close ups. The sweeping vista views of the deserts don’t have defining dimension and long range acuity. Objects that are closer to the camera are better resolved but lack resolute distinction. This is of course innate to the photography but I wanted to point it out for those who might expect this to have the razor sharp resolution of a film shot more recently. Blacks are just average and detail in shadows and uneven light is appreciable but not demonstrative. I noticed a few noisy backgrounds and some minor banding that was visible in the daylight sky during wide angle camera pans. Overall I found this video presentation to be satisfying and while not as strong as some Blu-ray encodes of film’s from this time period, I think it probably comes close to representing the original source elements.

The soundtrack comes in both lossless DTS-HD MA and a Dolby Mono options. I used the lossless surround mix during my evaluation. The age of the recording is blatantly obvious as dynamic range is limited which leaves sounds and effects sounding thin/compressed. There is no real bass contained in the mix although there is enough potential associated with the film’s elements that a remix could have offered some enhancement without destroying the balance of the original recording. Surround activity comes mostly in the form of directional panning effects the join the front and rear soundstages when objects onscreen pass by the camera. Near field sounds aren’t audibly cohesive based upon onscreen proximity and therefore lack appropriate spacing which makes them less authentic. An example of this can be seen in the opening segment when the large bulldozers are moving within the frame on each side of the highway. They are very close to the camera but retain a frontal/center focus within the sound field. The police motorcycle passes between them and appropriately passes through the room to the right. This isn’t a major issue but it is clearly obvious and questions why it was neglected if a surround mix was being done anyway. What I did find to be objectionable is the frequent and annoying audio drop outs I experienced when bit streaming the DTS-HD MA audio. They last only for a millisecond but they are clearly audible. I noticed the first at 2 minutes 20 seconds, the next at 6 minutes, the third at 12:40 and another at 16:20. I stopped checking the time after that as they were fairly regular and could be repeated on the same mark. This was not an issue when using the Dolby Mono track or when internal decoding was utilized. The front channels produce the majority of the audio and sounds seem to be evenly spread across all three with the center mixed a bit higher. Channel separation is rarely distinctive and in most cases is only noticeable during camera perspective changes which feels abrupt rather than smoothly transitioned. I gave the Dolby Mono track a listen and found it to be proportionately balanced and non distracting. It obviously doesn‘t have the broader scope of a multi-channel presentation but it sounded just fine. It is nice to have the option and I would recommend that you give both a try and see which is more appealing.



Bonus Features:


  • U.S. and UK versions of the film

  • Audio commentary by Director Richard C. Sarafian

  • D-Box Motion Code enhanced

  • Virtual dashboard - interactive viewing feature

  • Cops, cars, and culture - 70‘s trivia track

  • Vanishing point trivia challenge

  • Interactive 1970 Dodge Challenger

  • (HD) Built for speed: A look back at Vanishing point - 18 minute featurette

  • (HD) OA-5599 - Documentary on the 1970 Dodge Challenger

  • Super Soul Me - BonusView PiP feature - Behind the scenes footage, interviews and music from the film

  • TV Spot A

  • TV Spot B

  • (HD) Theatrical trailer




Final Thoughts:

Vanishing point is a film that many consider a classic because of its spectacular car chase sequences and interpretative meaning. I would have to agree that it is a film that leaves an aftertaste. I liked it but was left feeling that there was more depth to the story that could be enhanced by a repeat viewing. Fox brings it to Blu-ray Disc featuring satisfying video quality and both lossless multi-channel and original Mono audio options. The Blu-ray savvy interactive features are a nice touch and the documentary on the 1970 Dodge Challenger and Built for speed featurette by themselves are probably worth the price of admission. This is a solid package that makes this attractive for fans.









attachment.php?attachmentid=109949&d=1210373731






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post #2 of 19 Old 03-01-2009, 12:53 PM
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Thanks, Ralph. Saw this one when I was a wee lad and the end always stuck with me. Might have to get this one, if only for a warped skip along Memory Lane.

Blu Ray... 3-D TV... 4K... I Like New STUFF!!!

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post #3 of 19 Old 03-01-2009, 02:02 PM
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The lack of character development for Kowalski adds to the mystique of the "last American hero". His trials and past losses are shown, but only to get the audience to see how even a young man can get to the end of his ability to cope with the loss of freedom and corruption of his "then" modern world.

I saw this in it's original release and it made an immediate impression on me. Revisiting this classic on every available format (VHS, Laserdisc, DVD, and now Blu) have given me perspective on the timeless story.

One thing that never changes is my admiration of the girl on the motorcycle!!

In retrospect, maybe Kowalski was truly the last American hero. Seems like we've been running short of these lately.

Those renting the film for the car chases will likely be disappointed. The crashes were real in those days, and the stunts dangerous. Real life, however, pales in comparison to artificial movie magic.

Ride on Kowalski. Keep your radio on, avoid the Blue Meanies, and let speed be your friend.
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post #4 of 19 Old 03-01-2009, 02:10 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aydu View Post

The lack of character development for Kowalski adds to the mystique of the "last American hero". His trials and past losses are shown, but only to get the audience to see how even a young man can get to the end of his ability to cope with the loss of freedom and corruption of his "then" modern world.

I saw this in it's original release and it made an immediate impression on me. Revisiting this classic on every available format (VHS, Laserdisc, DVD, and now Blu) have given me perspective on the timeless story.

One thing that never changes is my admiration of the girl on the motorcycle!!

In retrospect, maybe Kowalski was truly the last American hero. Seems like we've been running short of these lately.

Those renting the film for the car chases will likely be disappointed. The crashes were real in those days, and the stunts dangerous. Real life, however, pales in comparison to artificial movie magic.

Ride on Kowalski. Keep your radio on, avoid the Blue Meanies, and let speed be your friend.

Greetings,

Great stuff indeed...

Regards,

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post #5 of 19 Old 03-01-2009, 02:20 PM
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Wow, I don't think I have ever seen this film. Time to rectify that.

Back off man, I'm a scientist.
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post #6 of 19 Old 03-01-2009, 04:27 PM
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About the character development.

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Spoiler  
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
There is no character development because what we are seing really is the last hours of a guy who planned to go out with a bang. He never really intended to deliver the car. The whole chases is just is way to leave this world and go meet is GF in the afterlife.
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post #7 of 19 Old 03-01-2009, 06:28 PM
 
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None of the 1970 Dodge Challangers (there were 5) in the movie had a Hemi in it. They used 440's:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vanishing_Point

And the final car in the crash scene isn't a Challanger - it's a Camaro with the engine removed so it would fold up. It was towed by one of the Challanger's into the dozer blades. You can see the tow cable for a split second before the crash.
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post #8 of 19 Old 03-01-2009, 06:43 PM
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This may be a bit off topic, but does anyone happen to know the name of a certain movie from the 70's, that had a black car in it, that you couldn't see inside of to see who was driving it. Driving around in the desert, supposedly the devil drove it, or someone evil like that. Running over people and stuff out in the middle of nowhere, chasing em down and just wreaking all kinds of havoc. I remember seeing it when I was a kid back then and thought it was a pretty good movie. I had thought that maybe this movie being reviewed was it but it's not. Anyone happen to know what movie I'm referring to?

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post #9 of 19 Old 03-01-2009, 07:04 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yadfgp View Post

This may be a bit off topic, but does anyone happen to know the name of a certain movie from the 70's, that had a black car in it, that you couldn't see inside of to see who was driving it. Driving around in the desert, supposedly the devil drove it, or someone evil like that. Running over people and stuff out in the middle of nowhere, chasing em down and just wreaking all kinds of havoc. I remember seeing it when I was a kid back then and thought it was a pretty good movie. I had thought that maybe this movie being reviewed was it but it's not. Anyone happen to know what movie I'm referring to?

THE CAR - with James Brolin. The Car itself was designed by George Barris

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0075809/
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post #10 of 19 Old 03-01-2009, 07:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yadfgp View Post

This may be a bit off topic, but does anyone happen to know the name of a certain movie from the 70's, that had a black car in it, that you couldn't see inside of to see who was driving it. Driving around in the desert, supposedly the devil drove it, or someone evil like that. Running over people and stuff out in the middle of nowhere, chasing em down and just wreaking all kinds of havoc. I remember seeing it when I was a kid back then and thought it was a pretty good movie. I had thought that maybe this movie being reviewed was it but it's not. Anyone happen to know what movie I'm referring to?



The Car I believe, it look like a Hitler's Mercedes out of hell.

Oh with a truck horn that scared the bee Jesus out of me when I was a kid.


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post #11 of 19 Old 03-01-2009, 07:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lee Stewart View Post

THE CAR - with James Brolin. The Car itself was designed by George Barris

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0075809/


You beat me to it..

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post #12 of 19 Old 03-01-2009, 07:31 PM
 
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I saw Vanishing Point twice on opening weekend in Boston MA. Once by myself (Friday night) - then a second time with my college buds (Sat. Night). Owned it on LD and now DVD.

This movie was made and shown at a very interesting time in our society, as I look back now. 1971 (release date) was the end of two eras - The Psychodellic Era and The Muscle Car Era.

And Vanishing Point is all about these two bygone eras. Factory built race cars, open use of drugs, "make love not war," bell bottom pants, music (R&R) and other iconic items that were part of that period.

IMO - there is plenty of character development for Kowalski. We see this as short visuals of his past. We understand that everything he did - he failed at. He was a race car driver - lost, he was a cop - no longer, he loved a woman - she died (USA version).

His bet was his last chance in his mind to "get it right" and he suceeds. He has made a name for himself. He is famous. He has beaten the establishment at it's own game and won . . .

And he gladly paid the price in the end to do so.

The other notable "car" movie from 1971 is Two Lane Blacktop. Another very interesting movie that revolves around cars - two of them.
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Thanks, the family saw this when it first came out as well, pretty striking movie to me at 13/14.
I remember a white Challenger screaming away from the drive in as we were leaving that night, lets hope he and the car didn't end up like Kowalski did. I'm not sure if I own this one or not but probably need to get the blu version as the extras sound pretty good, ya can't do much for old mono sound. Another cult classic for just about any male breathing when this thing was released
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lee Stewart View Post

None of the 1970 Dodge Challangers (there were 5) in the movie had a Hemi in it. They used 440's:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vanishing_Point

And the final car in the crash scene isn't a Challanger - it's a Camaro with the engine removed so it would fold up. It was towed by one of the Challanger's into the dozer blades. You can see the tow cable for a split second before the crash.

Greetings,

Thanks for the clarification Lee...

Regards,

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post #15 of 19 Old 03-02-2009, 05:41 AM
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Ralph....great job, as always!

I saw Vanishing Point at a "nostalgia film theater" a few years ago. Even considering the time period this film was made, I thought "what's the point?" after the ending credits. As you point out, good car chase sequences, though (which I am a fan of).

Got a quick question for you, though. There are some films that do have those unacceptable audio dropouts. Almost always happens when a BD is bitstreamed. And, it always seems to happen using DTS-MA codec. Like you, having the decoding done in the player, and sent out LPCM, alleviates that problem.

I had thought it was a "bug" in the BD player. Are you inferring it's really a function of the way the codec was implemented by the studio? Why does it work via LPCM, but have issues bitstreaming? Your thoughts?

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ralph Potts View Post

Greetings,

Thanks for the clarification Lee...

Regards,

When they made that awful remake with Viggo M. - THAT Challanger did have a Hemi in it.
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post #17 of 19 Old 03-02-2009, 07:20 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by graphicguy View Post

Ralph....great job, as always!

I saw Vanishing Point at a "nostalgia film theater" a few years ago. Even considering the time period this film was made, I thought "what's the point?" after the ending credits. As you point out, good car chase sequences, though (which I am a fan of).

Got a quick question for you, though. There are some films that do have those unacceptable audio dropouts. Almost always happens when a BD is bitstreamed. And, it always seems to happen using DTS-MA codec. Like you, having the decoding done in the player, and sent out LPCM, alleviates that problem.

I had thought it was a "bug" in the BD player. Are you inferring it's really a function of the way the codec was implemented by the studio? Why does it work via LPCM, but have issues bitstreaming? Your thoughts?

Greetings,

I don't think it is a function of the implementation but looks like an error in the datastream. When the signal isn't bitstreamed for external decoding it isn't an issue. I have rarely had any problems with DTS-HD MA signals and when I have it related to the original encoding and a problem with the codec itself.

Regards,

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post #18 of 19 Old 03-05-2009, 05:31 PM
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I gave this a more critical viewing today.

This is by far the best this film has looked - including when I saw it as a 1st run feature in a movie theater.

I listened to the DTS-MA soundtrack and experienced the audio dropouts that Ralph mentioned in his review. This was with output bitstreamed and decoded by the receiver.

The extras are worth viewing. I especially liked the "looking back" segment, where the director, star, and even the nude girl on the motorcycle comment on the making of the film. It was a special kick to see the nude girl (clothed this time) as a woman. Guess we all get older.

There is some discussion about what happens to Kowalski at the end of the film. He may have just moved to another plane of existance. They give a twisted ribbon analogy that explains this. Pretty cool thought that makes this far more than a "car chase" flick.

Cult classic? Maybe for some. For me this continues to be a mythical movie that I probably won't ever completely understand, but will enjoy every time the disc spins.
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post #19 of 19 Old 04-05-2009, 01:35 PM
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Does anyone know if the Blu-ray version was made from the same source that was used to make the DVD a few years back?

Movies must be OAR, sports and movies must also have 5.1 audio, No EE or NO SALE!
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