The Day Of The Triffids Blu-ray Review
Power/Showbox bring The Day Of The Triffids to UK Blu-ray with a terrific AVC MPEG-4 transfer that really bestows the two-part show a vivid, film-like gloss and imagery that very definitely fulfils its hi-def promise. Shot with digital cameras, the film has a detailed and rich veneer. This is not of the parched, high-contrast, desaturated meanness of 28 Days Later, but a much bolder, more visually splendid appeal that boasts a great three-dimensional depth and suitably thick black levels to anchor that all-important atmosphere. The huge, sky-swallowing solar storm at the start looks radiant and offers up a variety of smoothly blended colours that the disc doesn't botch, and the livid red welts and lacerations that the Triffids cause are bold and strongly rendered, proving that the palette, although not always fully employed, is wonderfully rich and varied.
A thin layer of grain gently mists the 1.78:1 image and about the only digital bugbear that I noticed was some edge enhancement. No smearing or banding occurs, black crush is not in evidence and I didn't spot any distracting aliasing. Object delineation is clean and the image is sharp and glossy without looking too processed or artificial.
It is always amusing to see just whose face provides that full 1080p workout. And, in this case, it is the star of the show, himself ... as Dougray Scott's visage seems god-given for such digital-scrutiny. Whilst everybody is revealed in quite startling clarity - Joely Richardson won't be too pleased about that “just woken-up shot” during her reunion with the wandering scientist - Scott's various blotches, scars, cuts and general pores just seem to dominate the screen, even more so than the craggy, be-whiskered Brian Cox, who usually assumes this duty in films such as X-Men 2 and Troy. There is a sparkle to the eyes and a genuinely real appearance to skin-tones. Clothing texture, those nasty cuts and all the slithering Triffid tendrils all have good close-up detail. Middle-ground objectivity is also fine, with lots of crowd scenes and eerie forest foliage providing the goods. Detail in the walls of the Abbey and in the houses of the little hamlet in which Mason meets two resilient and well-armed little girls are also finely picked-out. And the panning shots of his father's isolated mansion also reveal a very strong and excellently etched transfer. The misty and shadow-veiled woodland scenes keep their integrity without losing any distinction, whilst their brighter, day-lit counterparts are clear and crisp.
The Day Of The Triffids has a superb transfer, folks. One that can look appreciably gritty at times, and startling sharp and vigorous at others.
Well, there's nothing to get excited about with the disc's DTS-HD MA 5.1 track, folks. Whilst it makes no mistakes, the lossless audio doesn't have much in the way of surround usage and most of the activity is delivered from the front. This isn't to say that the experience is shallow and uninvolving, because there is plenty of width and dimensionality to the track. Crowd scenes and episodes of exterior action - of which there are plenty - have depth and positioning, and the soundscape is alive and stimulating. It is just that the film doesn't really seem to have been designed with surround sound in mind. There are sporadic explosions that thump and thud evocatively in the background, as London degenerates into chaos, and a couple of these actually resonate from the rear speakers, providing that nicely atmospheric touch of a front-line that is getting ominously closer to our position. Voices occasionally emanate from over the shoulder, and the score does filter around the back to provide a greater foundation for the suspense, but this is not a track that feels particularly aggressive or energetic or encompassing.
Dialogue is always clean and clear and the very effective score from Alan Boyd is consistently showcased with presence and spread. Imaging across the front is sharp and reasonably accurate and the film, itself, never sounds as though it has been contained or smothered by TV limitations. Gunfire has some bite to it and the slithering, organic movement of the Triffids is certainly discernable, even if it is not especially memorable. Still, this is perfectly acceptable for the material and the lack of all-round, in-yer-face bombast will not be disappointing.
A DD 2.0 option is also included. This sounds clean and sharp, but lacks the greater extension offered by the lossless track.
Now, this is hysterical, folks. Not only do we get an enormous amount of interviews with cast and crew - I haven't added up the full running duration, but the generous assortment of 16 segments goes on for one hell of a long time - but we are forced to suffer some of the most inane and sloppy questions imaginable. Which, of course, leads to bemused faces, struggling replies and heaps of unintentionally funny, and utterly cringe-worthy moments. Whilst the likes of Scott, Richardson and Cox bravely keep on course, you get the full thirty minutes of Eddie Izzard just going off around the houses with anecdotes, Napoleonic history-lessons, reminiscences with his dad, who is sitting in the corner of the room, off-camera, tips on how to get over a fear of flying, some Izzard-Family heritage and a lot of simply wonderful, if rambling, improvisation. To be honest, this is not how should have been done, and some of these sessions just go on for far too long and descend into meandering overkill - the atrocity of Jason Priestley's session just has to be seen to be believed - but the massive selection is still worth wading through, if only for the sheer amusement factor. Eddie Izzard rules, but even he struggles so badly to keep on track that, after a couple of minutes, he simply doesn't bother to try. And the interviewer? Jeez, my three-year old daughter can speak far more eloquently and articulately than this young lady .... and she wouldn't have allowed Eddie to wander off-topic quite so much, either.
Following on this is a 34-minute making of that intersperses much of the interview material we have just seen with on-set activities and behind-the-scenes footage that takes in such things as the casting, the visual FX, the themes of Wyndham's tale and how the team sought to update them. Interesting moments include some green-screen stuff and watching Scott leap onto and then battle the mocked-up mannequin stand-in for a big bad Triffid. Not a bad a little making-of, but much of it is repeated in the huge interview section.
And, beyond this somewhat ramshackle, but surprisingly extensive collection, we also get a smattering of Deleted Scenes. Although these are interesting, they tend to be short and add nothing to the film at large, other than a few extended character beats and drama evocation.
This new modernised take on John Wyndham's classic SF novel is actually great fun, all round. A good, strong cast take the story seriously enough for us to follow-suit. An epic scale to the destruction of Britain and the ensuing anarchy is vividly captured, and the various encounters with nefarious humans and violent vegetation all pack enough of a visceral punch to keep the excitement levels bubbling. The story is pretty faithful, albeit with a few surprisingly effective new slants that only make the story more believably relevant for modern audiences, and the visualisation of a world gone to the plants is often excitingly drawn. The idea of seeing the post-apocalyptic world is always enticing and Patrick Harbinson's screenplay brings this to raw and intriguing life. My only complaints with this dramatisation would be those that I would raise against the original novel, as well. The whole “blindness” angle is little more than a convenience, and the Triffids, themselves, often seem like a happy coincidence, rather than an all-out threat. But kudos must go to the devout resilience that the makers had to withstand perpetrating a more Hollywood-style ending.
Fast, action-packed and visually captivating, The Day of The Triffids presents a harder, meaner adaptation than we had any right to have expected from the Beeb, and this single-disc UK Blu-ray presentation goes commendably hand-in-frond with it. A top-notch picture brings the tale to vivid life, although the audio does little to properly impress, and the extras become a truly bewildering hybrid of the fun, the insightful and the downright embarrassing. Seriously, if they weren't taking the plant-sap with this massive roster of cack-handed interviews, then I'm Charlie Dimmock!
Some people weren't impressed with this version of the acclaimed British SF-spearhead, but I must say that I found it highly enjoyable. The dreariness of the previous TV-series is utterly eschewed and the whole enterprise is dealt out with vigour and intelligence, and a keen sense of character that, mostly, works very well indeed. Thus, this Blu-ray edition of The Day Of The Triffids comes highly recommended. It delivers all the veggie-violence you could hope for in a 12-rated yarn and provides an ecologically pertinent drama with characters you can, ahem, root for.
A definite grower!
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