Short Circuit
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Review by Earl Cressey | posted October 4, 2000
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Review:
Movie:
Short Circuit, originally released in 1986, has finally made its way to DVD. The movie stars Ally Sheedy (Stephanie), Steve Guttenberg (Newton Crosby), G.W. Bailey (Skroeder), Fisher Stevens (Ben), Austin Pendleton (Howard), and of course, Number 5 (voiced by Tim Blaney).

The film opens with Nova Robotics hosting a field test of their newest $11 million dollar robotic weapons, which they hope will eventually replace ground troops in armed combat. The five of them easily dispatch covered transports and tanks, much to the delight of the spectators. Soon after it starts to rain, the audience is moved inside, and the robots are sent to be disarmed. However, a bolt of lighting strikes a generator near Number 5 and shorts out some of his programming, allowing him to learn and process information. Instead of going to disarming, he wanders onto a trash truck and is driven out of the gates, much to the dismay of Newton, his programmer, Ben, Newton's assistant, Howard, the head honcho, and Skroeder, the chief security officer. They waste no time in sending men after him, which Number 5 manages to elude by parachuting off a bridge and onto the back of a snack wagon driven by Stephanie. Stephanie discovers him upon arriving at her house, mistakes him for an alien visitor, and invites him inside her house. Since some of his circuits have shorted out, Number 5 has an insatiable appetite for 'input,' which Stephanie is only happy to fulfill with numerous books and encyclopedias. The next morning, she discovers that he's actually a robot, and immediately calls to inform Nova Robotics of his whereabouts. Number 5, who learns of this, hijacks her truck with her in tow, and tries, unsuccessfully, to escape. Newton and Ben get to them first, and see that Number 5 just might be 'alive.' Before they can run any tests or come to a conclusion, Skroeder captures Number 5. However, Number 5 manages to escape, but is determined to convince Newton and Stephanie that he really is alive, but to do that, he has to elude being destroyed by Skroeder and his men.

No matter what anyone says, I love Short Circuit. I haven't seen it in quite a few years, but I remember watching it over and over again as a kid. It is just a fantastic movie, for any age group really. Sure, some parts of it, especially those involving the Three Stooges, are incredibly cheesy, but they are funny as well. I'm surprised the number of jokes and references in the movie that only an older person would understand. The acting is pretty good too, and I found the story line to be quite fascinating, especially as a kid. The real gem of the movie is watching Number 5, who is quite the robot, do all sorts of stuff.

Picture:
Short Circuit is presented in 2.35:1 widescreen and it is not anamorphic. The picture contains quite a few instances of too much edge enhancement, resulting in some shimmering that is quite distracting. There were also a few marks and some grain that are easy to detect on the print. For positives, the colors are vibrant and the flesh tones are accurate. And it's a real treat to finally see Short Circuit in widescreen.

Sound:
Short Circuit is presented in both English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround and English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo. The 5.1 surround was well implemented and sounded great; I couldn't detect any problems with it. The dialogue was crisp and clean throughout the film.

Extras:
Short Circuit really delivers tons of extras. Most notable is the audio commentary with John Badham, the director, and both writers, S.S. Wilson and Brent Maddock. The commentary is quite informative with never a dull moment. Fans should get a lot out of it. An isolated music and effects track is also present. Also included are: a behind the scenes featurette, a "Creation of Number 5" featurette, five video interviews with the cast and crew, a photo gallery, concept sketches for Number 5, the original theatrical poster and press kit photos, production notes, cast and crew biographies/filmographies, and the trailer. The trailer was a bit disappointing as its in rough shape, but its nice to have. I found all the supplemental material to be quite interesting, especially the "Creation of Number 5" featurette. They show how a few individual parts work before Number 5 was assembled. It's a bit on the short side though, and they never show the puppeteer actually controlling Number 5. Of note are the hidden interview clips found in the biographies section; you can access them by pressing 'left' on your remote. The only real disappoint I had with the extras were that no subtitles were included.

Summary:
Short Circuit is a terrific movie, marred on DVD only by the non-anamorphic transfer and frequent instances of edge enhancement, and as such, I can't highly recommend this disc, though I would have loved to. Fans of the movie will still want to pick it up for the numerous extras, the widescreen presentation, and terrific sound. For others, it's a solid rental, if not a possible purchase. Recommended.



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