Capricorn One (UK - BD RB)
Chris takes a look at Network's release of this conspiracy movie on Blu-ray Disc
Minutes before the launch of their mission, the Capricorn One crew are told to exit their capsule and are secretly taken to an abandoned desert hangar. For the sake of the nation’s morale and the future of NASA funding, they are coerced into taking part in an elaborate charade but when the captive astronauts learn their capsule burned up on re-entry and the world believes them dead, they know their very existence now poses a threat to national security. The three men escape, hoping that one of them will live to expose the sensational cover-up. (Taken from the PR.)
The supporting press release states that this is a brand-new high-definition transfer, but without the benefit of the ITV Studios release for comparison I can neither confirm nor deny this claim. However, if this is a new transfer I can only imagine how bad the original ITV effort must have been, as this presentation falls some way short of the standards I’d expect from a Blu-ray release, even a catalogue title. To be fair the image sports a reasonable level of detail and a nicely saturated, naturalistic colour palette, but those are the only real positives (and even then the palette has problems with stability). Some of the issues are more than likely due to the cinematography, such as a number of scenes that look terribly out of focus compared to the rest of the film, but others are clearly due to what looks to be a rather dated source. There’s noticeable wobble to the image, some very obvious posterisation during the sunset at the beginning of the film, a general ‘grubbiness’ to the image and an encoding error that manifests as a bunch of coloured blocks for a few frames at around the same time as the posterisation. On the plus side there are surprisingly few larger film artefacts to contend with, but it’s a below average transfer that looks decidedly unimpressive when weighed against the better restorations from the likes of Arrow. I’m sure it looks better than any DVD release of the film, but that’s damning with faint praise.
The audio track here is an LPCM 2.0 Stereo affair, which I'm led to believe accurately reflects the film's original theatrical mix. With that said, the track is pretty limited, with what few opportunities there are for channel separation failing to ignite. There's nothing particularly memorable beyond a couple of moments where cars or helicopters transition from left to right (or vice versa), and there's not a lot of bass either, save for one moment during the climactic scenes in which it rumbles into life only to disappear as suddenly as it arrived. The biggest issue here though is with the dialogue, which is at times incredibly muffled and indistinct. There's also one reasonably long portion of the film where the volume of said dialogue dips to a lower relative level than the rest of the film, which proves distracting. As with some of the visual flaws I’m guessing this is source-related, so perhaps I'm being unrealistic in expecting more even from a catalogue release such as this. At least Jerry Goldsmith's score sounds pretty good...
Network has assembled a modest collection of supplemental material, but it's a veritable feast when compared to the bare-bones ITV release. Here's what you'll find on the disc:
- Original Theatrical Trailer
- 'What If...? The Making of Capricorn One'
- On Set With Capricorn One: Desert Filming
- On Set With Capricorn One: Studio Filming
- Image Gallery
The trailer only runs for around three minutes and looks pretty ropey. The vintage 'Making of' is also short at around six minutes, but includes cast and crew interviews and behind-the-scenes footage. The 'Desert Filming' featurette is simply thirty-eight minutes of B-roll footage shot on location in the desert, while the 'Studio Filming' is more of the same, but this time running only for around four minutes and taking place in the studio. The image gallery is also fairly short in length and of the slideshow variety.
Capricorn One is a fanciful and fleetingly entertaining conspiracy movie starring some genuinely big names, but it is let down by pacing issues and a number of elements that stretch suspension of disbelief beyond breaking point. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it, because I found myself surprisingly engaged, but in the absence of any nostalgic attachment to the film I found it difficult to ignore its more obvious flaws. Unfortunately as much as I’d like to report that fans should at least be happy with the Blu-ray presentation, it just isn’t the case. The transfer looks dated and decidedly unimpressive, the audio is flat and lifeless, and the extras are only sporadically entertaining and unlikely to stimulate repeat viewings. I’m sure some of you will think I’m being overly critical of the transfer based on the images below, but let me assure you that the visual issues are more obvious in motion than in static shots. Had the disc not featured an encoding error I might have felt inclined to bump the score up a single notch out of the goodness of my heart, but it does so I don’t.
* Note: The images below are taken from the Blu-ray and have been resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking the individual images, but due to .jpg compression, they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.
Review by Chris Gould
General viewing, but some scenes may be unsuitable for young children
Release Date: 4th August 2014
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: LPCM 2.0 Stereo English
Extras: Making of, Featurettes, Trailer, Image Gallery
Easter Egg: No
Director: Peter Hyams
Cast: Elliot Gould, James Brolin, Sam Waterston, Brenda Vaccaro, O.J. Simpson, Telly Savalas
Genre: Mystery and Thriller
Length: 123 minutes
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