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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Survivor - All Stars (Complete Season)
Survivor - All Stars (Complete Season)
Paramount // Unrated // September 14, 2004
List Price: $49.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted September 6, 2004 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

Probably one of the backstabbiest seasons of "Survivor" ever, castaway Boston Rob aptly described the general tone of the opening moments: "You can't trust anybody." This particular season of the series was special because it brought together some of the most famed castaways from prior seasons to try and compete for the title of sole survivor, proving themselves capable of outwitting, outplaying and outlasting some of the best prior participants the game had ever seen.

Starting off with a rather silly opening where the survivors (in 3 boats) are accompanied by a large military escort, the castaways finally hit their beaches and it's not long before everyone realizes that the stakes are higher and things are tougher. Their camps are essentially bare, with next-to-nothing in the way of supplies. The water that is present nearby the camps is contaminated and will reportedly cause some serious problems to those who drink it without cooking it. That, however, doesn't stop a couple of castaways who believe they've tasted worse.

Despite the initial frostiness and mistrust, a few alliances begin to form in the early days of the show, most importantly Rob M. and Amber, described as the game's "power couple" further on in the show. Although she initially didn't know how seriously she could take him, the two looked out for each other, and eventually romance began to show. He continued to win many of the challenges of "All Stars" and continued to take her along with him, even if it meant burning some bridges. Although Rob turned his back on some alliances throughout, other players also occasionally surprised each other, leaving several Survivors feeling blindsided by votes they weren't expecting to be headed their way.

The show does present some of the expected elements: former winner Richard Hatch becomes arrogant quickly and walks around most of the days nude, eventually earning him some very serious anger from contestant Susan Hawk when he gets in her way without clothing in one challenge. Another Survivor chooses to leave fairly early on in the game due to the illness of a parent. The former winners of the game also find themselves trying desperately to win over their tribemates, given that they entered the game with a big million dollar target on themselves - they're often referred to by the other castaways as the easiest ones to vote off first.

I found this season entertaining, overall. Although the challenges seemed often like repeats or variations from prior seasons, they were often well-staged and tight races. Other players were angered by the "low" way that a couple of players chose to play the game, but "Survivor" is called "Survivor" for a reason - despite the show's agreeable and good-hearted emphasis on family - often bringing in family members or contacts for rewards and focusing on discussion by players of those back home - it's still a game and the other players should have eventually saw it coming. Reception from "Survivor" fans to this stunt season was mixed, but I found it enjoyable.

Opening 3 Tribes:
Chapera
Alicia Calaway
Amber Berkitch
Rob Cesternino
Rob Mariano
Susan Hawk
Big Tom Buchanon

Saboga
Ethan Zahn
Jenna Lewis
Jerri Manthey
Rudy Boesch
Rupert Boneham
Tina Wesson

Mogo Mogo
Colby Donaldson
Jenna Morasca
Kathy Vavrick-O'Brien
Lex van den Berghe
Richard Hatch
Shii Ann


The DVD

VIDEO: "Survivor: All Stars" is presented in the show's broadcast 1.33:1 full-frame aspect ratio. The presentations are generally excellent - a tad better than television broadcast quality. Sharpness and detail are often very good, although there are some dimly-lit elements or additional, different cameras that result in the picture being slightly less defined. The picture remains largely free of flaws, although there were a couple of slight traces of pixelation and shimmering on occasion throughout some of the episodes. Colors remained bright and well-saturated, with no flaws.

SOUND: "Survivor: All Stars" is presented in 2.0 audio. The show's soundtrack sounds excellent when played back in Dolby Pro Logic II, creating an immersive environment out of the thunderclaps, rain and other jungle sounds. It makes one wish that Paramount had remixed these soundtracks for Dolby Digital 5.1. Audio quality is very good, with full-sounding ambience and clear dialogue.

EXTRAS: Commentaries on 10 episodes by Rob Cesternino, Jenna Morasca, Rudy Boesch, Tina Wesson, Lex Van Den Berghe, Alicia Calaway, Kathy Vavrick-O'Brien, Shii Ann Huang, Rupert Boneham, Jenna Lewis, Amber Brkich and Rob Mariano are included, although not all members are involved in each track - they are paired into smaller groups. The commentaries are a lot of fun, as the survivors chat about their real feelings for some of the other players, as well as some of the behind-the-scenes moments that were either not seen or not given focus on by the show's creators. There's also some subtle (and not subtle) digs at each other and funny jokes - with four people per commentary team, quiet stretches throughout these tracks are pretty rare, too.

The discs also contain bonus footage from many of the episodes and additional featurettes: one that focuses on the team that tests the challenges, one that shows the casting process, one that shows behind-the-scenes of the finale and one that shows a compilation of some famous moments in the series. We also get interviews with the survivors and promo spots.

Final Thoughts: "Survivor: All Stars" hit some predictable stretches and occasionally offered some twists and surprises. While there's some flaws with the season, I found it entertaining. Paramount's DVD edition shows the studio offering the season excellent treatment, with a lot of supplements and fine audio/video quality. Recommended.

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