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|The pre-Superman Years
by Gord Lacey (All reviews)
Before he was Superman, he was Clark Kent, a quiet young man growing up in Smallville. This excellent show is all about Clark growing up and discovering his powers along the way. It's more teen-drama with some super hero stuff tossed in. The acting from Tom Welling, Michael Rosenbaum and Kristin Kreuk is phenominal (especially Michael Rosenbaum). I really, really like this show, so I was excited when Warner Home Video Canada announced they were releasing the first 2 episodes as a pilot movie. This DVD isn't available in the US, but you won't have any problem importing the disc from Canada as both countries are region 1.
The pilot episode was directed by David Nutter who has done a lot of pilot episodes (Millennium, Space: Above and Beyond, Roswell and Dark Angel), and feature films (Disturbing Behavior) and whose work I always enjoy. Peter Wunstorf, a regular Nutter collaborator, was the Director of Photography on the pilot and also worked on the pilots for "Two", "Millennium", "Total Recall 2070" and "Dark Angel". My friend Tyler Hill is an editor at Studio Post (a post-production house in Edmonton) and often cuts together Peter Wunstorf's demo reels.
The show was broadcast in Canada and the US in 1.33, but overseas as 1.78. This DVD contains an anamorphic widescreen 1.78 transfer. I was initially worried they may just crop the top and bottom of the 1.33 image, but after watching the DVD I'm happy they decided to include more of the image (more picture to the left and right).
As for the quality of the transfer, it's generally good. Some minor dust here and there and some scenes contain a bit of shimmer (usually in thin lines or a pattern). The reds in the picture were a little over saturated, especially in the first half and I found the darker scenes were a tad too dark and detail was lost in the picture.
I should also point out that the show's opening isn't included in here, and the end credits have been created specifically for this release. The theme song isn't present at all.
The opening scenes of the meteorites were awesome! There are quite a few audio tracks included on the release; English and French Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish and Portuguese stereo. There are also English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Bashasa, Thai and Korean subtitles. The rear speakers are used well, not overdone, but you know they're used. Excellent use of the rear speakers during the opening meteor shower, and later in the show for ambient effects such as rain, or direction sounds like cars driving by.
Extras - How we rate extras
Cast and Crew
A very simple 1 screen that contains the cast members and the characters they play. Some crew members are also listed.
The extra most fans were looking forward to. There are 7 scenes which last 6:58. These scenes can be played with and without commentary, and also include subtitles for both the scene and the scene with commentary. The deleted scenes are: "Ross' at the creamed corn factory", "Jocks and their trucks", "Principal Kwon confronts Jeremy", "Lex meets Gabe Sullivan in the fertilizer plant", "Pete and Chloe outside the homecoming dance", "Pete has breakfast with the Kents" and "Martha and Jonathan discuss Clark's powers".
Interactive Map of Smallville
An interesting feature, this map highlights 7 spots around Smallville, then provides a short video piece of the location. The locations and video lengths are: Kent Farm (0:53), Lana's Home (0:34), Smallville High (0:31), Main Street (0:31), Lex's Estate (0:54), Luther Corp (0:36) and Corn Fields (0:31).
A very, very interesting and entertaining commentary track featuring Producers Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, and pilot director David Nutter. An excellent track with screen specific information, background information on the series, and even a few hints about what's to come...
A great release from Warner Home Video Canada. I know many of you may be bitter because the disc wasn't released in the US, but at least it's in a format that you can all watch on your DVD players bought in the States. Chad E. Donella who played Greg in the second episode, "Metamorphosis" was also in "Disturbing Behavior" directed by David Nutter. Eric Johnson (Whitney Fordman) went to high school very close to where I used to live (a 5 min drive). It's nice to see a local person "make it big". I think this pilot movie will have to tide people over as I suspect the release of the first season could be years away.