WSR Detailed LaserDisc Review


Reviewed In Issue 34 Of Widescreen Review® Stars:
Morgan Freeman, Nigel Hawthorne, Anthony Hopkins, Djimon Hounsou, Matthew McConaughey, David Paymer, Pete Postlethwaite, Stellan Skarsgard

WSR Review Scores
Picture Rating: 4.5
Sound Rating: 5
Download WSR Review
Reference Systems
Critics' Composite Score:
Internet Links


DVD General Information
(Studio/Distributor): DreamWorks Home Entertainment
(Catalog Number): ID5912DW
(MPAA Rating): R
(Retail Price): $29.99
(Running Time In Minutes): 155
(Color Type): Color
(Chaptered/Scene Access): Yes
(Closed Captioned): Yes
(Theatrical Release): 1997
(LD Release Date): 08/99
(THX® Digitally Mastered): Yes

Credits Information
(Director): Steven Spielberg
(Screenplay/Written By): David Franzoni
(Story): NA
(Music): John Williams
(Director Of Photography):
(Production Designer): Rick Carter
(Visual Effects): Industrial Light & Magic
(Costume Designer): Ruth E. Carter
(Editor): Michael Kahn, ACE
(Supervising Sound Editors): Charles L. Campbell & Louis L. Edelman
(Re-Recording Mixers):
(Executive Producers): Walter Parkes & Laurie MacDonald
(Co-Producers): Tim Shriver
(Producers): Steven Spielberg, Debbie Allen & Colin Wilson

DVD Picture Information
(Principal Photography): Academy Standard Flat
(Theatrical Aspect Ratio): 1.85:1
(Measured LaserDisc Aspect Ratio): 1.85:1

DVD Sound Information
(DVD Soundtrack): Dolby Digital Surround
(Theatrical Sound): DTS, SDDS & Dolby Digital
(Theatrical Re-Issue Soundtrack):
(Remastered Dolby Digital): No
(Remastered DTS Digital Surround): No
(Additional Languages):

WSR Narrative Review
Story Synopsis:
Based on actual events, Amistad chronicles the journey of a group of illegally enslaved Africans who violently overtake the Spanish slave ship, La Amistad, and attempt to return to their homeland. Eventually, the African captives are brought to the United States and charged with the murders of their captors. The movie received four Academy Award® nominations.

LaserDisc Picture:
Janusz Kaminski’s (ASC) sweeping cinematography is nicely rendered throughout. The picture is stylized with images that sometimes appear overly contrasted, but this imagery is indeed intentional. Color fidelity is also stylized, with the darkest scenes appearing slightly blurred. Black levels lack true depth. The picture is breathtaking and artistically created. The LaserDisc measures 1.85:1.

LaserDisc Soundtrack:
The Dolby® Digital 5.1 discrete soundtrack is often holosonically defining in spatial character, with excellent dimensionally enhanced with aggressive split surrounds. You will experience the aliveness of the sound with the beginning scene that is powerful emotionally in its sonic sculpture. Unfortunately, this signature is not maintained throughout. Often the soundfield collapses to mono while the scene suggests a larger sonic description. This is especially noted in the dialogue scenes, which take place in the large interiors of reverberant public buildings. Yet dialogue always sounds natural and actually achieves good spatial integration though missing the full extent of the scene’s other dimensions to the sides and all around that the eye is directed to. Why sound designers limit our experience so much in this regard is debatable but from our perspective as the audience such is missing the opportunity to fully engage the full dimensional quality of the scene. The John Williams music score is among his best work and is finely recorded with and expansive soundstage that images wide and deep, no doubt due to the recording and mixing talents of one of the premiere talents, Shawn Murphy. Bass sounds always natural throughout the music delivery. Sound effects low frequency response is at times deep and powerful and effective enhanced with aggressive .1 LFE. While there are numerous enveloping sequences, a half point in our scoring should have been withheld because equally there are numerous sequences, which the sound design creators ignored and reduced to mono or three-channel stereo. But when the soundfield is fully engaged this is truly an exemplary "5" reference soundtrack that serves well to demonstrate the superlative achievements possible with 5.1 digital surround.
(Surround Bass Below 50Hz): Yes
(Aggressive System Surround): Yes
(Intense 25Hz Bass): Yes
(Deep Bass Challenging): No
(Aggressive 0.1 LFE):
(Holosonic Soundfield): Yes
(Aggressive Split Surround): Yes
(Center Back Surround Imaging): Yes
(Directionalized Dialogue): No
Superb Sound Effects Recording Quality:
Superb Music Score Recording Quality:
Superb Special Visual Effects Quality:
Superb Color Fidelity:
Superb Cinematography:
Reference LaserDisc:
Collector Edition: