D.A.R.Y.L. Studio: Paramount Year: 1985 Rated: PG Length: 100 minutes Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1, anamorphically enhanced Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround, French Mono Subtitled in English, and Closed Captioned in English Special Features: None S.R.P. $14.99 USD Release Date: October 19, 2004 D.A.R.Y.L. is a reworking of the classic Pinocchio, and has similarities with the later Spielberg film, A.I. It is about a boy (Barret Oliver) who is a sort of a living robot, only he doesn’t know it. Having been picked up by social services after wandering alone, with no memory of who he was or of a family, Daryl is placed with a foster family (Michael McKean, Mary Beth Hurt). He has difficulty fitting in with his foster family, and nobody can quite put their finger on what the problem is. Daryl excels in almost everything he does - his grades in school, video games, baseball - to an unnatural degree. When a couple show up and claim that Daryl is their son, the stage is set for the revealing of his super abilities. Daryl’s “parents” take him to a top secret military base, where we find out that Daryl is a robot, and he was never meant to live in society. After having tasted real life, however, he becomes self aware and has emotional responses. The military wants to terminate the D.A.R.Y.L. project, and the boy. A scientist working on the team, however, has a different idea and attempts to reunite Daryl with his foster family. This is the kind of film that has its heart in the right place, but it is so saccharine in delivery that it can be hard to take. If you can get by that, then this is a story that provides a lighter look at the Pinocchio story than either Pinocchio or A.I., and it is appropriate viewing for the family. The Transfer The anamorphically enhanced picture delivers pretty good detail for a film of this age, offering up good contrast and color. Black levels are somewhat inconsistent, but shadow detail is usually pretty good. The picture exhibits a slight flicker, most noticeable in darker scenes. There is mild to moderate grain throughout, and there are occasional instances of mild banding, aliasing and moire. A few of the darker night scenes have sort of a “reverse vignetting,” where the edges of the frame seem to glow unnaturally, and the center of the frame is properly exposed. This isn’t a top notch transfer, but it’s okay for a bargain catalog title. The sound is Dolby Digital Surround (2.0). the track is clean, with no hiss. Frequency response is pretty good, and there are some excellent surround effects, for a 2.0 track. Bass response is acceptable, but not aggressive. Final Thoughts This is a bare-bones, bargain catalog release from Paramount. The transfer isn’t without its problems, but it is acceptable as a bargain title. Look for this one in your local bargain bin.