PictureWith a running time of 172 minutes this movie represents a challenge to fit onto one disc, especially given its dark, moody (and somewhat grainy) footage. Unfortunately the transfer hasn't done it any favours. Presented in a 1.85:1 letterbox, the picture quality is a little lacking. Rarely peaking above 4mbits, the images are a little murky with some over saturation and colour problems hinting toward a middle of the road standards conversion. It's not all bad news though; there is little evidence of mpeg nasties in the form of macroblocking or mosquito noise although the odd halo is visible as a result of cranking the edge enhancement a little too high. Given the age of the material (2000), it's certainly disappointing that a little restoration couldn't have taken place and the lack of an anamorphic transfer is pretty unforgivable.
SoundWhilst it may not be too surprising to note that we don't have a Dolby digital 5.1 mix (or any kind of multi channel mix here) it is somewhat of a disappointment to report that we have a Dolby Digital 2.0 (224) track here which may as well be in mono. The mix is lifeless with poor dynamics, slightly muffled dialogue and little to no bottom end. If you have the option to run this through a high quality sound system or your TV, you may as well stick with your TV since it's going to sound the same either way. Not quite dreadful but poor nonetheless.
ExtrasWhen I say bare bones I mean it, unless you count a static chapter selection menu and a static but scored main menu, there are no extras here, not even subtitles for the hard of hearing. Given the lead actors involved surely one or two interviews could have been found or recorded, what about some information on the original novel or Hugo himself? Very disappointing.
VerdictThis TV miniseries outing makes a valiant attempt at presenting a non-musical, faithful retelling of the book for which it deserves a DVD release. Unfortunately this bare-bones effort fails to do justice to the movie itself.