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Site created 12/15/97.

review added: 4/29/99

Meet Joe Black
1998 (1999) - MCA/Universal

review by Todd Doogan, special to The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

Meet Joe Black Film Rating: B-

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): C+, A-, C+

Specs and Features

180 mins, PG-13, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced, single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at 1:25:12), Amaray keep case packaging, film-themed menu screens, production notes, cast and crew bios, theatrical trailer, web access and a Spotlight On "behind-the-scenes" featurette, scene access (18 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1 and 2.0) and French (2.0), subtitles: English, Close Captioned

Three hours. That's a long time for a movie -- especially in a theater. I think that's the only thing really wrong with this movie. And it's not really so much the length, as it's the fact that audiences can't watch a life affirming movie and be interested for three hours. Meet Joe Black is a good movie. I can find a lot of problems with Brad Pitt's portrayal, but that would take a huge essay to go into, and you guys are only interested in the disc I'm sure.

MJB is about Death (yes, capital "D"). For some reason he wants to walk amongst human kind, so he picks Anthony Hopkins' character as a guide, and Brad Pitt's body as host (a really awesome effect that must be seen). It would seem Hopkins is on his death bed, and he's also very rich -- so he's a perfect guide through life. In the three hours of film time, Death tastes peanut butter, has sex (er... makes sweet, sweet love), makes enemies and sews everything back together neat as pie by the end. It's cliched, it's predictable, but it's well written and acted as well. Once I got through the first 35 to 40 minutes, I found myself liking the movie. I didn't want to, but I did. Most the people I talk to like the film on video as well. None would imagine sitting in a theater through it, but with the pause button and a fridge in the next room, it's a good fun way to spend a few hours on a Sunday.

In terms of DVD quality, the disc looked fine on the Sony 7700, but was artifacted on the Toshiba 3109, Sony DVP S550 and Panasonic A120 -- which tells me the image quality is lacking. I guess you can expect that a three hour movie stuffed on one side, even with RSDL dual layering, is going to look close to shit. I mean, it looks better than that, so don't worry -- I just noticed some MPEG problems in quite a few scenes. At least the disc is 16x9 enhanced. The sound is great, with no problems that I noticed. The sound field is full and comes out all the right speakers. The extras are sparse, but there are a few things. A behind the scenes job (that's simply a Pitt-fest), cast and crew bios, trailer and production notes are here for you to enjoy. I think people should give Joe Black another chance on video -- it's not as bad as your friends and critics led us to believe. The disc is okay, but I would have liked better. It's your call. Death doesn't knock twice ya know.

Todd Doogan
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