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Shock-jock radio D.J. Grant Mazzy has, once again, been kicked off the Big City airwaves, and now the only job he can get is the early morning show at CLSY Radio in the small town of Pontypool which broadcasts from the basement of the small town's only church. What begins as another boring day of school bus cancellations due to yet another massive snow storm quickly becomes deadly. Bizarre reports start piling in of people developing strange speech patterns and committing horrendous acts of violence. But there's nothing coming in on the news wires. So... is this really happening? Before long, Grant and the small staff at CLSY find themselves trapped in the radio station as they discover that this insane behavior taking over the town is caused by a deadly virus that may be spreading as a direct result of their radio transmissions... Now they must shut up or die.
For more about Pontypool and the Pontypool Blu-ray release, see Pontypool Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on January 22, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Stephen McHattie, Georgina Reilly, Daniel Fathers, Lisa Houle
Director: Bruce McDonald
» See full cast & crew
Pontypool Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, January 22, 2010
Based on Tony Burgees' novel "Pontypool Changes Everything", Bruce McDonald's "Pontypool" (2009) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Kaleidoscope Entertainment. The supplemental features on the disc include: an audio commentary with director Bruce McDonald and screenwriter and actor Tony Burgees; the Blu-ray exclusive "Pontypool - the Radio Play"; two short films; stills gallery; and more. Region-Free.
Sometimes all that a good director needs to shoot a good film is...less money. You don't believe me? Make sure you either rent or buy Bruce McDonald's Pontypool, the first installment in a trilogy of films about Canadian zombies on the loose.
Here's the plot: An aging shock-jock, Grant Mazzy (Stephen McHattie, The Dark), who has been fired from his city job, has found a new home in the provincial town of Pontypool, Ontario. There he runs a boring phone-in radio show during which people call to complain about anything - from lost cats to the terrible weather.
One day, Mazzy gets an unusual phone call - a listener reports that the locals have gone crazy. Apparently, all over Pontypool people have started committing horrific acts of violence. At first Mazy concludes that his listener is trying to pull a prank on him and quickly brushes him off, but then more people begin calling in with similar reports and he changes his mind. Together with his producer, Sydney (Lisa Houle), and her assistant, Laurel-Ann (Georgina Reilly), Mazy sets out to uncover what is going on.
A BBC reporter gets in touch with Mazy and asks if it is true that the Canadian Army has closed all roads leading to Pontypool, but he does not know how to respond. Sydney and Laurel-Ann are also unable to get any sort of a clarification as there is nothing on the wire. Embarrassed, Mazi walks out of the radio station. And he immediately sees them. The crazy ones are everywhere.
Mazi, Sydney and Laurel-Ann barricade themselves inside the radio station. They decide to wait and see if someone would be able to help them out; perhaps the Canadian Army. Mazi also gets back on the air and immediately begins asking questions. Meanwhile, reports about large groups of people committing acts of violence keep pouring in.
Dr. Mendez (Hrant Alianak), who has seen the crazy ones, manages to get to the radio station. He tells Mazi, Sydney and Laurel-Ann what they have already figured out - the residents of Pontypool have been infected by something. While he describes to them the atrocities he has seen on his way to the radio station, Laurel-Ann gets sick.
Dr. Mendez comes up with a theory. He thinks that the English language is what causes the residents of Pontypool to go crazy - there are words in it that are "infected". When people utter them, they lose their minds. Mazi and Sydney are confused. How could words be "infected"? Dr. Mendez begins explaining...
I am reluctant to fully deconstruct Pontypool for you as I think that a lot of what makes it a terrific film is related precisely to the manner in which one separates the serious from the unserious in its story - yes, technically this is a film about zombies, but if one pays close attention to the dialog, one would quickly discover that this is actually a very clever linguistic puzzle.
Pontypool is almost entirely set in the radio station, and a lot of the horror is described not shown. Unsurprisingly, some of the most memorable scenes in the film are actually conversations between Mazi and his listeners.
Pontypool has been effectively drained of most of its colors. The lighting in the film is also notably subdued - obviously, in an attempt to enhance the nagging sense of claustrophobia. Cinematographer Miroslaw Baszak's (The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day) lensing is terrific; it gives the film a surprisingly elegant look.
Pontypool Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, encoded with MPEG- AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Bruce McDonald's Pontypool arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Kaleidoscope Entertainment.
The high-definition transfer is very strong. Clarity is excellent, fine object detail impressive and contrast levels consistent throughout the entire film. On the other hand, Pontypool has been drained of most of its colors, and as a result it truly looks quite cold (black and gray are the two prevalent colors). Edge-enhancement and macroblocking are not an issue of concern. I also did not spot any severe aliasing, ringing or banding. There are no stability issues to report in this review either. Finally, the transfer is free of large scratches, stains, debris, and dirt. (Note: Even though this Blu-ray disc is marketed as Region-B, it is in fact Region-Free. Therefore, you will be able to play it on your PS3 or SA regardless of your geographical location. For the record, there is no problematic PAL content preceding its main menu).
Pontypool Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one audio track on this Blu-ray disc: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. For the record, Kaleidoscope Entertainment have not provided optional English subtitles for the main feature.
The audio treatment is very good. Even though the rear channels are not overly active, there are some terrific audio effects that really add up quite a bit of flavor to this film (particularity, after the main protagonists lock themselves up in the audio booth). On the other hand, the bass is strong and powerful, and there are a couple of scenes where it will seriously rock your audio system. The dialog is crisp, clear and easy to follow. There are no balance issues with Claude Foisy's music score either. To sum it all up, Pontypool gets a very respectable audio treatment, which I thought was as important as the film's unique visuals.
Pontypool Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Audio commentary- a very informative and at the same time entertaining commentary with director Bruce McDonald and screenwriter and actor Tony Burgees. I listened to the entire commentary as I had a number of questions about some of the unusual themes Pontypool tackles, and suffice to say I found plenty of answers. Apparently, this is the first installment in a trilogy which, needless to say, I am now very much looking forward to.
Pontypool - the Radio Play - a Blu-ray exclusive of the play that inspired the film. (57 min, 1080p).
Horror Collection - two short films: Eve, shot in black & white and boasting a terrific ambient soundtrack (13min, 720p); and Dada Dum, also shot in black & white and with a remarkably atmospheric soundtrack (9 min, 720p). The first short, in particular, is notably eerie.
Stills Gallery - a collection of still from the film.
Theatrical Trailer - the original theatrical trailer used by Kaleidoscope Entertainment to promote the film. (2 min, 720p).
Teaser - (2 min, 720p).
Pontypool Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Pontypool is a bold and remarkably original independent film, one that truly defies genre conventions. The Blu-ray disc herein reviewed, courtesy of British distributors Kaleidoscope Entertainment, looks and sounds great. It also contains some terrific supplemental features. I particularly enjoyed the two short films, Eve and Dada Dum. RECOMMENDED.
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