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This review originally appeared in issue 12 of THE CINEMA LASER.



Wow!!! OUTBREAK ($40) is a fun, well paced, and exciting thriller which Hollywood has a penchant for releasing, but this one is much better. Now some of you may think of this as a "check your brains at the door" action movie, I found this film to be entertainment spelled with a capital "E"!

Dustin Hoffman stars as a top army doctor who specializes in biohazards. In the film, Hoffman's character is sent to Africa where he comes up against a new virus so deadly, that the victims are dead within 48 hours of initial contact. When he returns stateside, he fears that an outbreak of the new organism in the U.S. could devastate the entire population of the country. His fears turn into a nightmare reality when a monkey carrying the virus gets loose in a small southern California town, thus infecting the population. As Hoffman's character tries to discover some way of stopping the virus, he uncovers the fact that the army isn't telling all they know about this disease. With this revelation, Hoffman becomes a liability to his superiors.

Director Wolfgang Petersen (IN THE LINE OF FIRE) infuses the film with an edge of your seat intensity that never lets up. OUTBREAK features one of the best helicopter chase sequences that I've ever seen in a film; it is one wild ride. Hoffman won't win any acting kudos for OUTBREAK, but in the film, he gives one of the most simply entertaining performances of his career. Hoffman finally gets to cut loose and be the "action film" hero, and it really works! His character is totally human, and the audience is with him all the way. In addition to Hoffman, OUTBREAK's outstanding cast also features Morgan Freeman, Rene Russo, Patrick Dempsey and Donald Sutherland who, like Hoffman, is great fun to watch.

Thanks to the folks at Warner Home Video, OUTBREAK is an awesome Laserdisc. The people at THX couldn't have done any better with this title. This disc is a prime example of a Laserdisc company's ability to produce truly outstanding discs without the intervention of a third party. OUTBREAK has been given an excellent Letterbox transfer which approximates the 1.85:1 theatrical aspect ratio quite well. The image is nicely detailed, and the colors are lush and well saturated without bleeding.

The digitally encoded Dolby Surround soundtrack is outstanding. The directional effects are tremendous, and the deep bass is mighty impressive. OUTBREAK has a truly demonstration quality soundtrack. OUTBREAK is also AC­3 digital encoded, without any additional cost to the consumer. The Pioneer pressing had only a modest number of inclusions. Side three of the film, which features the helicopter chase, is encoded in CAV. For entertainment value, and for Laserdisc quality OUTBREAK receives a very high recommendation.


Laserdisc reviews are Copyright © 1996 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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