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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Bio-Dome (Blu-ray)
Bio-Dome (Blu-ray)
Olive Films // PG-13 // April 21, 2015 // Region A
List Price: $29.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Randy Miller III | posted April 14, 2015 | E-mail the Author

Aside from serving up the first big-screen appearance of Tenacious D and a few clever jabs at trendy young environmentalists, Jason Bloom's Bio-Dome (1996) doesn't have much lasting value. A handful of dumb laughs? Sure. A certain VHS charm? Yep. Likable (or at least committed) performances by Pauly Shore and Stephen Baldwin as two slackers who wander into a soon-to-be-launched ecological experiment and troll a team of scientists who they're trapped inside with, just because they had to pee? For most folks, that's where the train grinds to a halt.

Not surprisingly, if you never chuckled once during the likes of Encino Man or Jury Duty, the bulk of Bio-Dome will be a long and laborious affair. The jokes don't land regularly and, even at 95 minutes, there's an awful lot of padding along the way. If there's any high point here, it's the stupidly charming chemistry between slacker Bud "Squirrel" Macintosh (Shore) and Doyle "Stubs" Johnson (Baldwin), which solidifies during their clash with the team of scientists they're accidentally stuck with for a year (played by the likes of William Atherton, Henry Gibson, and Kylie Minogue, among others). But yes, any movie with more than one extended fart joke, ample slapstick, and...well, just having Pauly Shore in the lead role will undoubtedly repel a good chunk of America and the world at large. But if Bio-Dome made back almost triple its budget back in 1996 (chew on that for a minute, folks), I'd imagine that some of its more rabid fans have already added it to their home video collection at some time or another.

Not surprisingly, Bio-Dome is the first Pauly Shore comedy released in high definition (I'd have wagered it'd be Encino Man, if anything), which replaces MGM's barebones DVD released 13 years ago. Not surprisingly, Olive Films' new Blu-ray doesn't add any new bonus features---in fact, it omits the theatrical trailer found on the DVD---but its A/V presentation obviously looks better than ever. This one's still priced extremely high for what you're getting...but if Bio-Dome registers as a guilty (or not-so-guilty) pleasure, it's a least worth a weekend spin.

Quality Control Department

Video & Audio Quality

Presented in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio, Bio-Dome looks pretty great on high definition; this is easily a marked improvement over MGM's DVD, and miles better than any TV broadcast or fading VHS tape (which, let's face it, is probably the last time most of us saw Bio-Dome). Since most of this production was shot either outdoors or with ample natural light, it's no surprise that image detail, and colors look uniformly good. Shadow detail is decent enough, and no major digital imperfections could be spotted along the way. Grain is present but not overpowering. This appears to be a single-layered disc...but it barely cracks the 90-minute mark and contains no extras, so there's less danger of compression artifacts and other digital eyesores. Overall, fans will appreciate Olive's efforts on loan from MGM, as this looks a notch or two better than you'd expect for a minor slice of 1990s slacker comedy.


DISCLAIMER: These compressed and resized promotional stills are decorative and do not represent the Blu-ray under review.

On paper, this new DTS-HD 2.0 Master Audio presentation is technically a downgrade from the DVD's Dolby 5.1 mix...but considering there was virtually no surround channel activity on that older track, the improved clarity and punch on this Blu-ray is a fair trade. Dialogue and music are clean and well-defined without fighting for attention, while plenty of moments also feature strong channel separation. Don't get me wrong: your speakers or subwoofer won't get much of a workout overall, but this lossless 2.0 track is more than acceptable for a 20 year-old comedy. Unfortunately, no optional English subtitles or captions are included, which isn't surprising for an Olive disc.

Menu Design, Presentation & Packaging

Not much here, just a plain-wrap static interface that's pretty much identical to the cover artwork. The only menu options are to play the movie or select one of its eight chapters. This one-disc release arrives in a standard keepcase and includes one promotional insert. No bonus features at all, though...not even the trailer.

Final Thoughts

There's not much of a broad appeal here, but I'd image Bio-Dome still has something of a fanbase after almost 20 years. I've definitely seen more pointless "dumb comedies" in my time, but let's be honest: this is a surface-level production with little more than a few enthusiastic performances, a handful of solid gags, and the nostalgic appeal of an aimless trip back to the mid-1990s. Olive's Blu-ray seems like one of the least obvious candidates for a 1080p upgrade, but the clear A/V improvements over MGM's original DVD are welcome. Still, there's not much bang for the buck here and, unless you're some kind of super-fan, it's not something you'll revisit very often...if at all. Rent It.


Randy Miller III is an affable office monkey by day and film reviewer by night. He also does freelance design work, teaches art classes and runs a website or two. In his limited free time, Randy also enjoys slacking off, juggling HD DVDs and writing in third person.
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