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Image Entertainment presents
Short Circuit (1986)

"Number 5 is alive!!"
- Number 5 (Tim Blainey)

Review By: Kevin Clemons   
Published: September 25, 2000

Stars: Ally Sheedy, Steve Guttenberg
Other Stars: Fisher Stevens, Austin Pendleton, G.W. Bailey
Director: John Badham

Manufacturer: WAMO
MPAA Rating: PG for Mild violence
Run Time: 01h:38m:49s
Release Date: September 19, 2000
UPC: 014381917321
Genre: comedy

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ BB+A A-

DVD Review

While it has been almost 13 years since I, a child then, last saw Short Circuit, and despite that I have grown older and a bit smarter, the story still holds its charm. The film is perfect for kids, but any adult expecting anything more than mindless fun will be disappointed. But hey, sometimes we all need a little mindless fun. How else do you explain Independence Day?

Number 5 is a top-secret government-made robot that has been designed as the ultimate weapon. Armed with various weapons as well as a nuclear weapon, it is the latest in technology for the Department of Defense. The night after a successful demonstration, Number 5 receives a surge of electricity that makes the once dangerous robot suddenly begin to think with human emotions. Realizing its military purpose, it escapes. The president of NOVA, the base where Number 5 is being designed, then sends Number 5's creator Newton Crosby (Guttenburg) and his assistant Ben (Stevens) to find him. While Newton and Ben are trying to find Number Five, the robot has wound up with Stephanie Speck (Sheedy), a young woman who takes the curious robot in.

While the film does appear to be dated, the effects in the film were nothing short of amazing at the time of the films original release. Number 5 can at times seem so lifelike that it is hard to believe that no visual effects were involved in his scenes. The way his eyebrows move while watching a butterfly, or how easily he moves around Stephanie's house is a wonder. And to the filmmaker's credit, they took a concept that could have been a complete mess and made a delightful motion picture.

Short Circuit was director John Badham follow-up to his previous film, Wargames, this movie represents a change of pace for the director. Badham has a good time with Number 5 as well as the romance that blossoms between Newton and Stephanie. And while Badham does make some bad decisions here and there, they don't overly detract from the overall film. The script by S.S. Wilson and Brent Maddock never goes overboard with action or melodrama, but finds a nice balance in between.

The cast, while hit and miss, is comprised of then 'A'-list talent. Sheedy, who fell off the Hollywood map until resurfacing with 1998's great High Art, is the best part of the film. As Stephanie, Sheedy not only shares the screen with a robot well, she is also luminous in scenes with Guttenberg and other actors. Guttenberg does a good job as Newton, but as I am not the world's biggest fan of the actor, it is hard for me to call his performance anything more than average. Fisher Stevens offers up some funny comic relief, and supporting parts by Austin Pendleton and G.W. Bailey are done well.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Presented in a 2.35:1 non-anamorphic widescreen presentation Short Circuit isn't as bad as it could have possibly been. This is a great transfer, and while the film does lack some of the sharpness and detail that an anamorphic transfer would have provided. Colors are fine, and the constant uses of the outdoors in this film really show up nicely. The greens on the trees and grass never show any bleeding. Much of the film takes place in bright daylight, and despite this black levels are very good. This is a fine transfer for the film, but it could have been even better had it been anamorphic.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review:
Remastered in Dolby Digital 5.1, Short Circuit proves to be an above average mix. The aggressiveness of the mix is apparent throughout the film with constant activity coming from the rear channels. Dialogue is clear and understandable, and the center blends nicely with the two front speakers for a fluid soundstage. A Dolby 2-channel mix is also offered. This is a great, surround heavy, mix from Image Entertainment.

Audio Transfer Grade: A


Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Cast and Crew Filmographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
Production Notes
Isolated Music Score with remote access
1 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Director John Badham and screenwriters S.S. Wilson and Brent Maddock
Packaging: Snapper
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL
Layers Switch: UN

Extra Extras:
  1. Cast and Crew Interviews
  2. Concept Art
  3. Original Press Kit Photos
Extras Review:
Billed as a Special Edition (aren't they all?), Short Circuit truly lives up to this title. While the supplements range from basic to obscure, there is very little on this disc that is not worth looking at.

First up is an audio commentary track with director John Badham and writers S.S. Wilson and Brent Maddock. While not as serious as some commentaries, the three have a good time, and tell many stories pertaining to both the production as well as some insight into the script. It is worth noting that I noticed hardly any dead air on the track. That is quite a rarity indeed. An isolated music and effects track featuring David Shire's original score is offered as another alternate audio track. Also on the production side of things are two featurettes that offer everything from interviews to the creation of Number 5.

A number of interviews with Guttenberg, Sheedy, Badham and Number 5 designer Eric Allard are included. Surprisingly Allard's segments are the longest of the group (they are also the best). Filmographies, original concept drawings, behind-the-scenes photos, and the original theatrical trailer round out the disc.

Extras Grade: A-


Final Comments

I can understand why thirteen years ago I loved Short Circuit, and I have no doubt that if I were still that young the film would become a favorite of mine. While a bit lacking for adults looking for subtance, you can be assured that aside from the non-anamorphic transfer that this is a great disc. Recommend as a rental for adults and non-fans, but if you are a fan or have kids, it is a must buy.


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