The initial time I saw Geoffrey Murphy’s The Quiet Earth (1985), I fairly a lot hated it. This subdued, sobering slice of post-apocalyptic drama undoubtedly had its moments—and a convincingly bleak low-budget atmosphere to boot—yet its outright refusal to answer a few lingering questions eventually produced my first viewing a frustrating, flat knowledge. But I softened on The Quiet Earth after a although, sooner or later appreciating it for the very same causes that made me dislike it in the first spot. Like most people, the opportunity to even watch it came from Anchor Bay’s 2006 DVD, a slick-searching Steelbook package with intriguing cover artwork. Ahead of that, the film enjoyed an even a lot more limited cult status on cable and VHS throughout the preceding two decades, both in its native New Zealand and abroad.
A single thing’s for positive: if you like small casts, The Quiet Earth may possibly be up your alley. Like most post-apocalyptic fare (I Am Legend, 28 Days Later and, to a lesser extent, The Road), out story starts with a sole survivor seeking for (1) other people like him, and (2) a possible resolution for the disaster. Our man of action is Zac Hobson (Bruno Lawrence, who also co-wrote the screenplay based on Craig Harrison’s source novel), a scientist whose final memory was functioning on a international power grid experiment recognized as “Project Flashlight”. At some point throughout the experiment, all life on Earth apparently just…vanished, as evidenced by fastened seat belts in empty, crashed autos (including an airplane) and unfinished meals in abandoned houses. Naturally, it takes time for Zac to adjust: in the course of the first third of this 90-minute film, he explores the remains of New Zealand, requires factors he normally could not afford, records a looping radio distress get in touch with, destroys a church, plays a saxophone in the rain, rides around in a locomotive, and tries on a woman’s slip whilst walking around with a loaded shotgun. You know, the usual stuff when no one else is about.
Quickly adequate, The Quiet Earth succumbs to its own loneliness: Zac eventually meets liberated redhead Joanne (Alison Routledge) and Māori descendent Api (Pete Smith) along the way, both of whom are initially cautious but glad to uncover kindred spirits. A really like triangle inevitably—and, if I am being truthful, disappointingly—develops but, soon after a brief Alpha Male tussle, The Quiet Earth returns to its noble quest to clarify/resolve the apparent international disaster. Both the science and plot are more than a little shaky at times, and the somewhat unbelievable explanation for their current and continued existence needs suspension of disbelief. An unpredictable ending pushes this essential element even additional, at some point taking at least one survivor considerably deeper into Twilight Zone territory it kind of performs inside The Quiet Earth‘s odd boundaries, but I definitely wouldn’t blame you for hating it the initial time either.
Naturally, any film destined to leave most of its audience on the fence almost requires a thoughtful, lovingly assembled residence video package to tip them in the right direction…but you don’t actually get that with Film Movement’s new Blu-ray. Arriving a full decade following Anchor Bay’s DVD, this curious cult film didn’t really feel like an clear candidate for Blu-ray but seemed promising with a brand new 2K digital restoration and audio commentary featuring, of all people, the articulate astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. But loudly I shout from the rooftops: do not get your hopes up.
Presented in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio, The Quiet Earth is sourced from a new 2K digital restoration and, at instances, looks really very good. Outdoor scenes showcase a decent amount of depth and detail, easily outpacing the processed appearance of older DVD presentations. Colors look excellent as well, with pleasing shades that appear similar to earlier efforts without having the added red push. But there are at least two glaring difficulties here: a mild to moderate amount of digital noise reduction has been added, and black levels are all over the map in a lot of instances. As for the former, it’s most evident in medium to extended shots, as textures are apparent but not fairly at the level they should be. But the latter is eventually much more distracting: blacks run the gamut from actual black to medium-grey to what I contact “Instagram purple”, giving random scenes an oddly faded look that diminish their strength. I’d undoubtedly call foul on this transfer as a entire it’s a clean step up from the DVD to be certain, but far from a excellent presentation.
We get two alternatives here, but neither is the film’s original Dolby Stereo mix. Luckily, the default DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track (also accessible in Dolby Digital five.1 for whatever cause, as if all Blu-ray players and receivers weren’t capable of down-mixing automatically) is a tasteful remix with nicely-balanced music and effects. Channel separation and LFE are present but not overpowering, even though several moments are played to fantastic effect with subtle and not-so-subtle touches along the way. However, a tiny portion of the limited dialogue—mostly Api’s, later in the film—is a bit hard to decipher for non-natives, which makes the lack of optional English subtitles all the a lot more painful. Nevertheless, this is a relatively effective mix that, for the most part, adds to the film’s moderate effectiveness.
Film Movement’s menu interface is simple and effortless to navigate, though a half-dozen or so trailers should be skipped beforehand. Separate choices consist of audio set-up, chapter selection, and bonus attributes, along with a handy “Resume” function and pop-up menu in the course of the primary function. This 1-disc package arrives in a sharp-looking clear keepcase with desirable two-sided artwork and a good Booklet featuring production stills, credits, and a new essay by Professor Teresa Heffernan (who possibly should’ve carried out an audio commentary, but a lot more on that later).
The major added is an anticipated Audio Commentary with astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and critic Odie Henderson. Their topics of discussion contain the post-apocalyptic genre, 1985 laptop technologies, nitpicking a handful of particulars (and in some cases, pointing out admirably right ones), how to make explosions, religious symbols, Zac’s variety of feelings, changing the laws of physics, Tyson’s resemblance to Api, love triangles and Alpha males, genetically diverse offspring, the ending, and…properly, not much else, as this is one particular of the most poorly organized and executed commentaries in current memory. It really is obvious that neither participant watched this beforehand (Tyson mentions that The Quiet Earth is “a single of his preferred films”, yet later mentions “seeing it once again 30 years later” and “enjoying it more the second time around”): their comments are significantly more off-the-cuff than researched, and the overwhelming amount of dead air is painful. I’d bet that they speak for possibly 15 or 20 minutes combined…and considering the film’s sparse audio to begin with, this is much more of an exercise in patience than an enjoyable, rewarding listen. What a bummer!
Also right here is The Quiet Earth‘s Re-release Trailer touting its new digital restoration, as well as a half-dozen trailers for other Film Movement Blu-rays. Sadly, each supplements from Anchor Bay’s respectable 2006 DVD (a vastly superior audio commentary with producer Sam Pillsbury, and the film’s original trailer) are nowhere to be found.
The Quiet Earth is not necessarily a leading-tier work even within the small sub-genre of post-apocalyptic drama, but the film’s terrific atmosphere and effective underdog mentality go a lengthy way in my book. It really is an enjoyable work in the proper mood, even if—and probably because—the surprisingly ambitious plot doesn’t always add up and the ending takes a sharp left turn into uncharted territory. But this is definitely niche material, as The Quiet Earth doesn’t answer a lot of inquiries and will quickly alienate 1st-time viewers who are not prepared to suspend a particular amount of disbelief. Sadly, Film Movement’s Blu-ray should’ve been an simple slam-dunk out of nowhere, but the new 2K restoration is somewhat disappointing and the intriguing audio commentary is a total bust. Issue in the loss of original two. audio, no optional subtitles, and two missing supplements from Anchor Bay’s respectable 2006 DVD, and you have got a single disappointing and overpriced disc. Die-challenging fans may possibly want to indulge, but first-time viewers should Rent It.
Randy Miller III is an affable workplace monkey by day and film reviewer by night. He also does freelance design and style perform, teaches art classes and runs a site or two. In his limited cost-free time, Randy also enjoys slacking off, juggling HD DVDs, and writing in third particular person.