|Written by Noah Fleming|
|Friday, 13 July 2012|
Anyway, after John Travolta was rescued from cinema purgatory with “Pulp Fiction,” he went on to have an illustrious, rare second-chance career. Personally, I thought “Phenomenon” was a critical success. However, it seems to have lost its steam over the years, not really keeping up with the times and moviegoers expectations of a film.
I am biased, but I still hold this film in high regard. It may not seem original to those that see it for the first time now, but in 1996 this cinematic piece showed us the potential of mankind. Sure, the story is heart wrenching, perhaps even predictable now. But in 1996, this film held its own.
John Travolta stars as George O’Malley, a small town car mechanic that begins to develop uncanny abilities, particularly in knowledge and telekinesis. While the town becomes afraid of him, he pushes the boundaries of human intelligence. He offers the world new ideas in all scientific areas.
The film is that simple. It doesn’t take a lot of explaining. There is a love story in there as well as a message of hope. “Phenomenon” holds up in my mid as one of the best films from the 90s. Sadly, many can’t see the impact of this film anymore and its ratings get lower and lower each year.
Touchstone, or Disney brings “Phenomenon” to Blu-ray with an AVC encode that holds up better than some of the more recent Touchstone catalog transfers. Disney is faltering when it comes to consist catalog video encodes to Blu-ray. “Phenomenon” has been left alone for the large part. There is plenty of noise indicating a lack of noise reduction. The noise is even and provides a nice filmic texture. The colors and fleshtones are a bit overheated for my taste, but as I recall this is indicative of the original production. The black levels are fairly solid. No major crushing occurs. Artifacts such as banding and aliasing are kept to a bare minimum. Details are decent for a mid 90s film but certainly don’t pop as much as they could. Object textures are slightly degraded by the noise, but nothing drastic.
The audio is better than I expected it to be. The film is mainly dramatic, so dialogue is the frontrunner throughout. However, the surround channels do offer immersion with bits of ambience and some ambient sound effects. The LFE channel does nicely during the moments of the light and other more pounding segments of the film. Dynamics are more expansive than I remember on the DVD, which is a plus. The lossless audio track removes the frequency masking and spectral splitting of the DVD’s Dolby track.
As with the DVD there are no special features aside from a theatrical trailer. And due to the extremely poor transfer quality of the trailer, this section should get a flat zero, but alas the system’s minimal value is 0.5 stars.
“Phenomenon” is really a classic in 90s cinema as far as I am concerned. It is heart warming and filled with top-notch actors. The audio and video quality presented on this Blu-ray is a nice upgrade from the standard DVD, but there is still room for improvement, particularly with the video and addition of bonus materials. I highly recommend this title.