The first scenes will likely strike your eyes as unremittingly garish, with colours that should come with a health warning, but fear not, you haven't accidentally engaged the vivid colour mode on your display, this is in fact a cinematic attempt to differentiate locales, as if the sweeping jungles and subtitles which tell us where the characters are wasn't enough. These segments in the Philippines and elsewhere are off the scale in terms of intensity, the palette seems skewed towards burning retinas and primaries are downright hazardous, but at least there are no signs of over-applied digital post processing techniques.
Once we settle into the main narrative in Tokyo it is far easier to judge picture quality. The palette is subdued with primaries containing a little punch but the yellow/green push throws everything off - whites aren't clean, showing some blooming when apparent in large quantities, and the effect this tint has on blacks tends to drain them somewhat of depth, leading to some crushing. Skin tones fare better, with there being a good consistency and the heavy handed shifts in cinematography doesn't take as great a knock-on effect as one might expect of them. There are still a few ruddy cheeks or wan complexions from scene to scene but it is never glaring.
It is hard to say if DNR has been applied as, though grain is still apparent, the image lacks the fine detail Blu fans have come to hope they'll see. There is a softness to edges, and intricacies such as hair and fabric detail, unless in close-up, are never particularly good. It is a clean, decent image, but it simply lacks any level of refinement and never proves stellar in any one department - it certainly isn't without merits, but it doesn't inspire enthusiasm.
This is a generally front heavy mix that finds itself punctuated with moments of ambience from the surrounds. There are two great helicopter pans that shift across the room in a dynamic and authoritative manner, but other than that there is little in terms of a 360 degree soundscape.
Bass is satisfyingly solid and underpins the rhythmic beating of the 24-esque countdown score well, being tight and free from distortion. Once the more melodramatic shift of the score into made-for-TV territory schlock, the sub seems to hide a little more (I don't blame it). The dialogue is for the vast majority of the film amply provided for by the centre speaker, though there was one scene which seemed to lapse in terms of level, but this was a comparative drop in the ocean as the speech was rounded, warm and integrated perfectly with the front speakers. It isn't the most complex mix, but the key points of the score and dialogue are prioritised to good effect.
Making of - 27:46
The usual clips of cast and crew preparing for shots, filming scenes and receiving instructions from the director. Unfortunately the lack of English subtitles precludes me from passing judgement as to the quality of the content.
Trailer 1 - 1:33
No English subtitles (there are obviously Chinese subs though).
Trailer 2 - 1:34
Another trailer without English subtitles.
Pandemic is an odd mish-mash of a film, it contains all the elements of a decent Outbreak style thriller but enshrouds what should by rights be a 90 minute rollercoaster with an added hours worth of filler and fluff. The end result is a narrative that is too diluted to prove potent in any one area.
The disc, being locked to region A will disappoint some, but the adequate image and sound quality will not. The picture doesn't stun but more than does its job, if in a slightly soft way, whilst the audio adds a little more flourish but stays fairly grounded to the pillars of realising the speech and score. Extras are not for the non-Chinese speaking movie fans, but this being a foreign disc it is hard to nit-pick based on that aspect.
Unfortunately, due to the over acted melodrama, as a package it's still more Dr Fox than Doogie Houser.
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