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True Lies

True Lies
A 20th Century Fox Home Video Release
1994, 141 Minutes, Color, Rated R (14A in Canada)

Starring:  Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jamie Lee Curtis, Tom Arnold, Bill Paxton, Tia Carrere, Art Malik
List Price:  $29.99 USD, released 05/25/99
Packaging:  Keepcase, Region 1 NTSC
Disc Format:  Single Sided, Dual Layered (DVD-9)
Aspect Ratio:  2.35:1 Widescreen
Audio Formats:  English 5.1, English 2.0 Surround, French 2.0 Surround
Subtitles:  English, Spanish
Closed Captioning:  English
Features:  Animated Interactive Menus, Scene Selection, Theatrical Trailer

James Cameronís True Lies is a great Schwarzenegger action/comedy flick that both exhilarates and entertains. Arnold plays Harry Tasker, special agent to the Omega group Ė a deep level secret government agency that handles all the dirty national security-type missions. For 15 years heís kept his profession hidden from his wife Helen, played by Jamie Lee Curtis. Except that his latest task is hitting a little too close to home Ė and when his personal life and his business life collideÖ well, you know what to expect from a Schwarzenegger film!

While other popular Cameron titles such as Titanic and The Abyss are still on hold for dual sided dual layered DVDs (DVD-18), Fox chose to bring True Lies out in a bare-bones format in a readily available disc format. Since it is 141 minutes long, itís pleasing to find a large number of chapters on the disc Ė 44 in all, with the layer change happening at the beginning of chapter 21. The chapters are nicely arrayed on a cardboard sheet backed by a classy copy of the movie poster, and can also be selected from on-screen menus.

The video is presented in 2.35:1 widescreen and occupies over 7.5 gigabytes. Although it is taken from the older THX laserdisc transfer it is still of good quality. Not as sharp as, say, The Fifth Element, but there are no glaring problems. Colors are rich, vibrant and smooth, black levels are solid and, whatís more, itís a pleasantly bright transfer. There was very little dirt on the original master, so you wonít be distracted by white spots on nighttime scenes. Despite the numerous complicated action sequences and flashing effects caused by gunfire and, well, more gunfire, there is no artifacting or pixelation. Jaggies, staircasing and grain are also at a minimum on my 29" screen using S-Video.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track on this disc is great stuff - loud and crisp (perhaps a bit too crisp) with mountains of couch-shaking bass. Rear channels are used continuously throughout the movie for effects, atmosphere and music. Dialogue is recorded with no background hiss, easily made out at all times. There are still one or two problems, such as a slight muffling at the beginning of chapter 31 and during some scenes in 42, but if youíre looking for something to really showcase your new system this is it! English 2.0 and French 2.0 ProLogic soundtracks are also available, along with English and Spanish subtitles. The 5.1 track must be selected manually, as auto-detecting players will not select it.

As for extras, Fox is still taking a minimalist approach. Things are improving though, as this is the first Fox disc Iím aware of that includes elaborate 3D animated menus. Not that thereís much to use them with Ė the only bonus feature being a full-screen theatrical trailer in 2.0 stereo sound. Fox seems to have once again changed cases to the latest non-Amaray style from Alpha. This one features the large "Lift Here" finger indent at the top, and unlike some previous versions this one actually works without pressing the center hub.

Combine nonstop action star Arnold Schwarzenegger and epic director James Cameron and youíre got a real winner. Despite the lack of bonus features and anamorphic enhancement this is one disc that deserves to be in your collection.

- Reviewed by Daniel Tonks on May 27, 1999.

Video Quality:
Audio Quality:
1-Poor 2-Fair 3-Good 4-Excellent
System Equipment
Sony DVP-S500D DVD Player
Sony STR-GA8ES 5.1 Receiver
Sony KV-27V65 27" Television using S-Video
Nuance Spatial & Star Series Speakers

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