Release Date(s)1970 (February 27, 2018)
Studio(s)Universal Pictures (Shout!/Scream Factory)
- Film/Program Grade: C
- Video Grade: B
- Audio Grade: B
- Extras Grade: C-
Based upon the 1966 novel “Colossus” by D.F. Jones, Colossus: The Forbin Project (or simply The Forbin Project as its known in the U.K.) was released by Universal Pictures in 1970, theorizing what would happen if the United States government built a supercomputer capable of controlling allied nuclear weapons, becoming sentient, and attempting to take over the world by forcing humans to make it more powerful. Directed by Joseph Sargent of The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, this sci-fi take on technology and its creators is a stern and laconic alternative to the comedic bent of Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.
Colossus is a film with plenty on its mind, but unfortunately, it executes its material in the most dry and unexciting manner imaginable. For hardcore science fiction fans, its lack of pretense, as well as its straightforward approach, is likely more appealing than similar and slicker productions. The performances lack almost all emotion, meaning that the actors feel more like robots going through the motions than actually emoting. The original thought was to have either Gregory Peck or Charlton Heston to play the lead, which in my mind, are far more appealing choices. Instead, they went with an unknown named Hans-Jörg Gudegast, whose name was changed to Eric Braeden before he accepted the role.
The film’s moments of suspense likely worked more efficiently in 1970 than they do today, but for those who remember it and enjoy it, Colossus: The Forbin Project is an interesting tale which acts as a warning to those who wish to become totally dependent on technology to run their everyday lives. It’s also worth noting that much of the footage of the Colossus computer itself was later reused in other Universal Pictures projects, including The Six Million Dollar Man and Riding with Death.
Scream Factory’s stateside Blu-ray release of the film (its first) utilizes the exact same transfer found on the film’s U.K. Blu-ray release from Mediumrare Entertainment. While it’s an obvious upgrade over DVD, it doesn’t come without some inherent issues. First of all, it’s had excessive DNR applied to it, meaning that much of the grain structure and detail is absent, making it appear far too clean and smooth. That said, it’s still a few notches higher than its standard definition counterpart. The color palette is also fairly unremarkable, but given that the film takes place primarily in static, colorless environments, it’s not much of a surprise. Black levels appear deep while brightness and contrast is quite acceptable. There are also no major instances of dirt or debris leftover. The audio is presented via an English 2.0 mono DTS-HD track with optional subtitles in English. A fairly flat presentation for the most part, the sounds of the computer have a tiny bit of life to them, while the rest of the soundtrack is, more or less, narrow. Dialogue is clear and occasional instances of score don’t offer all that much fidelity, but the track is clean and distortion-free.
The disc sports a few extras as well, including an audio commentary with author Jeff Bond; Eric Braeden: From Bredenbek to Hollywood, an interview with the film’s leading actor about his experiences making the film (as well as a nice moment when he actually thanks the fans of the film for their support); the film’s theatrical trailer; and a radio spot. The audio commentary and the interview are fairly low-key, much like the film itself, but do offer up some interesting information about the making of the film. Just for comparative purposes, the U.K. Blu-ray releases of the film feature an audio commentary with director Joseph Sargent, a Trailers from Hell commentary by John Landis, and a couple of still galleries – sadly, not carried over.
The idea behind Colossus: The Forbin Project is compelling in and of itself, but unfortunately it just doesn’t work for me personally. However, long-time fans of it will be pleased to finally have the disc on Blu-ray, that’s for sure. Scream Factory’s treatment of these more obscure titles that aren’t given very much due on home video is always welcome.
- Tim Salmons