Patlabor Movie 1 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Saturday, February 16, 2002
Release Date: Tuesday, July 25, 2000
I've heard for years that Patlabor was another one of Mamoru Oshii's great masterpieces, and I think that while this show doesn't quite live up to other movies such as Ghost in the Shell (granted GitS is 6 years newer) it's still a true classic that deserves to be watched. Finally, we've got the DVD in our hands with a widescreen transfer (though not Anamorphic) and English 5.1 Audio with Japanese 2.0 Audio as well.
First thing about this disc, the audio is great on the Japanese track. There were a few instances early in the movie where there was some noise in the background, but that went away after the first 15 minutes, and it only happened rarely. The directionality of the sound on the Japanese track is great, with both the front speakers being used well.
The English track is another story. While it is in fact a DD5.1 mix, it's a very poor one. There is no use of sound directionality at all. Every voice or sound effect comes from the center speaker, while ambient noise and music comes from the 4 other channels. That's about it. Really a waste of DVD space, if you ask me. A stereo mix with at least some directionality would've been better, in my opinion.
The Video has a few problems, but overall it's a good transfer. During the opening titles, there's some severe digital breakup where big colors boxes appear on the screen during one of the fades (checked this on 3 different players) and the Layer change is placed just a fraction of a second too late so that it's really obvious. The Layer change, even on a 6X SCSI DVD-ROM drive caused a pause for about a second, and this is during a panning motion, so you get this picture on you screen that is in between frames (i.e. the first interlaced refresh of the next frame shows up while every other line is from the previous frame) which looks kinda bad. Also, the transfer is rather dark. I turned up the brightness/contrast controls, some parts of it were so dark. Other than that, the video itself is a really good transfer considering this film is over a decade old.
The Packaging is so-so. The cover image is pretty cool looking, and if you open the case all the way and lay it down, the back and front cover are actually one continuous picture, which I thought was cool. There's an insert inside the case with chapter stops, which are well placed, and the disc itself has part of the cover image placed on top. Other than that, though, the packaging is rather plain. Nothing special - no little plastic Noah standup, I'm sure Chris was crushed! ;-]
The Menus are fairly well done, although they suffer from the same problems the Cowboy Bebop discs do in that the transitions get old REALLY fast. Every time you change menus there's a little clip from the movie that gets shown (dubbed, no less). Anyways, they get fairly annoying when you just want to select the freakin language and subtitle settings.
The Content of the movie is probably where people will disagree most. The depth of the plot and the subtle nuances and clues which are littered around the movie are really great - when you watch the movie for a second time you pick up all sorts of little things which you never noticed the first time around, or which you couldn't make the connection for yet because you hadn't seen the ending.
The movie starts out on the right foot, with a cool fight scene between a rampaging Labor (big robot) and a whole platoon of defense forces. Unfortunately, the movie is just too slow. They could've cut about 20 minutes to half an hour out of the middle section and not lost any of the story. The problem is with all the dialog and plot points there's just not enough going on until you start hitting the slope up to the climax. The middle of the movie can just be very boring and can cause some less dedicated viewers so lose interest. Things really heat up near the end though, and the whole plot comes together and you see what brilliant plan the villain had in store. Truly a unique and innovative premise.
I recommend this film to all Anime fans, but with a warning that you really should sit this one through to the end. The climax is really cool, and worth the wait.
RealMagic Hollywood+ DVD Decoder card w/Cambridge Soundworks DTT2500 Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound speakers
Mania Grade: A-
Audio Rating: A-
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: B
Menus Rating: A
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Manga Entertainment
Running time: 90
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2