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DVD Reviews

HTF Review: Wilder Napalm

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#1 of 5 OFFLINE   Michael Osadciw

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Posted August 04 2003 - 06:14 AM

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Wilder Napalm

Studio: Columbia TriStar
Year: 1993
Rated: PG-13
Film Length: 109 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 Anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1)
Languages: English
Subtitles: English

Release Date: September 09, 2003

I wish I knew how to set things on fire with my mind. I wish I could do a lot of things of the supernatural, but I can't. Wilder and Wallace Foudroyant sure can - two brothers with pyrokinetic abilities and very different personalities on how they should be used.

Wilder (Arliss Howard) lives day to day working in a photo booth in a mall parking lot and lives in a trailer with his wife Vida (Debra Winger), an arsonist under house arrest. He is a quiet and unexciting man and volunteer firefighter who represses his feelings. It is Wilder's fears that keeps his pyrokinetic talents to himself. With only a few days left before Vida's release after three years, Wilder's brother Wallace (Dennis Quaid) shows up in town as the head clown of a traveling carnival after a five year absence from his brother's marriage to Vida. Wallace and his carnies want to expose the fire-starter talents to the world to make money on it, but Wilder disagrees because of the potential bad outcomes for them.

Things heat up between Vida and Wallace after her house arrest is lifted, as Wallace tries to convince her she married the wrong Foudroyant. Before Wallace can run away to Hollywood with his talent and Vida, he'll have to defeat Wilder in a hot match of pyrokintetic skills!

I thought this film was rather amusing being a firefighter myself. Although I'll be absolutely honest I'd never be firefighting with Wilder and his group of singing firefighters (yes, they like to sing in harmony on their job). The unsafe firefighting practices on screen would surely cause death to anyone standing around. I can imagine how other professions are misrepresented on screen and the audience doesn't catch on to it. But then, this is only a movie - and a fairly unrealistic one - and its goal is to amuse audiences with the story, and it does it quite well. I found it to be enjoyable and funny at times, and worth my two hours and the bowl of icecream I ate while watching it just to keep the movie from overheating my room.

PICTURE QUALITY: Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image /Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image
The (uncredited anamorphic) 1.85:1 widescreen image is has film grain throughout the entire picture. The image is softer than other films of today, with smaller images lacking detail. Colours are well balanced but lack punch. Interior scenes are dim and lack definition in blacks, which are deep in the nighttime scenes. There are also minor compression artefacts on this satisfactory looking film.

AUDIO QUALITY: Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image/Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image

The audio is presented in Dolby Digital 3.0 mono surround. The music is well recorded and the score creates an excellent sense of space. The piano is the only instrument that sounded restrained. Dialogue is well recorded and spatially integrated with the rest of the sound effects, which at times can be centric in the soundstage. In other instances (the lawn mower scene), the soundfield can wide and dynamic. Overall this is a dated soundtrack, but can still aim to please.

HOT EXTRAS?: Posted Image /Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image

There are no extras on this disc to speak of other than English subtitles and a few trailers for other Columbia TriStar DVDs to be released.


While this movie is a little silly, I thought it was enjoyable to crack out a few laughs. Firefighters should find it amusing to see Wilder getting sprayed by 65mm hose lines while attempting to balance himself on a pointed rooftop with a pike pole, no harness, no roof ladder, and a ripping fire five feet in front of him. Posted Image But do not mistake me - this is not a bad movie. Watching Wilder trying to escape his fears by repressing them and doing strange things is extremely amusing. If you are a fan of the film, this is the best transfer it has seen to date. While there is no discrete 5.1 presentation, using Pro-Logic II for decoding is adequate enough to widen the soundstage and engulf yourself in the flames of love and greed of Wilder Napalm.

Mike Osadciw

Michael Osadciw

THX/ISF Professional Video Calibrator

Video Contributor

CANADA HiFi Magazine

#2 of 5 OFFLINE   SteveGon


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Posted August 04 2003 - 01:01 PM

[quote] But do not mistake me - this is not a bad movie. [quote]
I beg to differ. One of the worst movies I've ever seen.

Sorry if that seems like a thread fart, but Wilder Napalm is so bad it made my bottom 20 list (see below). Stinky! Posted Image

#3 of 5 OFFLINE   Aaron Reynolds

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Posted August 06 2003 - 05:18 AM

Here's a vote in the other direction: I adored it. Yes, it's silly. Very, very silly. And good.

#4 of 5 OFFLINE   Hunter P

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Posted August 06 2003 - 05:57 AM

I too thought it was a good "straight to video" flick. I also liked another lessor known Arliss Howard flick: Plain Clothes (1988). If I never saw this movie then I would have never discovered e. e. cummings.
"I am the Doctor of Death, and I have come to cure you of your life." --Endless Mike, The Adventures of Pete and Pete

#5 of 5 OFFLINE   DaViD Boulet

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Posted August 06 2003 - 09:49 AM

Nice review Michael. Looks slick!

I just might have to use some stars in my reviews too now that I see how cool they look Posted Image

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