Plot: What’s it about?
A train wreck is not a pretty sight, and the damage caused by one can be great, with much loss to lives and property involved. Now, imagine if that train that wrecked were to have a Russian nuclear bomb on board, think of the damage involved in that accident. But who would be stupid enough to transport a nuclear weapon on a train, right? Well, in this case it’s a waste disposal company who decided to toss the nuclear device aboard a train, to be delivered to Denver to be taken care of. Not only does the train have a nuclear weapon stocked, but also many other hazardous materials, including some highly flammable materials. While the trip seems like it should be just another routine train ride, something goes wrong. The brakes on the train go dead, which means the train has become a runaway and it headed straight for Denver. The residents of Denver are send into a panic filled evacuation, but due to traffic problems many of them will never make it out before the train reaches the final stop. The only hope of stopping the train is an expert on the subject (Rob Lowe), but with time running out, it’s nearly impossible for even him to prevent this disaster.
When this disc arrived, I was skeptical about how good it could really be. I mean, Rob Lowe in a made for television film where he has to prevent a runaway train from exploding. Not exactly the best storyline I’ve heard, and quite possibly one of the worst. But I struggled on, and after sitting through over one hundred-sixty minutes of this mini-series, I can say my skepticism was correct. While my time was not totally wasted, there was little to be thankful for, and to be honest I wasn’t entertained by ninety percent of this feature. Maybe as a feature length film it would have fared better, but at almost three hours, it’s near awful. I think if the more plodding points were chopped, the film would be more fluid and enjoyable, instead most of it is like having your teeth pulled. What makes this long running time even worse is that Trimark issued this release as a flipper, which means halfway through the movie, you have to flip the disc over to continue. Ugh. Just when you think it’s over, you learn you’re only halfway through it. I recommend this release only to those who saw and enjoyed the mini-series, are intrigued by the storyline, or are die hard Rob Lowe fans.
This mini-series was directed by Dick Lowry David Jackson, and even a double dose of directing couldn’t save this stinker. I suppose you approach a mini-series different from you would a feature film, but these guys falter around every turn. But to their credit, given the obvious low budget, poor writing, and low profile talent involved, it turns out much better than expected. It’s still bad, just not as bad as it could have been. Lowry has directed several other works for television, including the Kenny Rogers driven series The Gambler and some installments of the In The Line Of Duty series, as well as directing Smokey & The Bandit III for the big screen. Jackson has directed many television shows, including episodes of The Equalizer, Nash Bridges, 21 Jump Street, and Miami Vice. The lead role in this clunker is played by Rob Lowe, who used to have a career. Lowe (Tommy Boy, St. Elmo’s Fire) is not too good here, although he does a decent job given the terrible material he has to work with. Also appearing are Esai Morales (Freejack, The Principal), Mena Suvari (American Beauty, American Pie), and Kristin Davis (HBO’s Sex And The City).
Video: How does it look?
Atomic Train is presented in the original full frame aspect ratio. This is a made for television movie, so the image is not as sharp or professional as a feature film, but this transfer looks as good as you can ask for. The image looks much like broadcast quality, which is acceptable here, with bright colors and natural flesh tones present. The contrast is good, if a little on the light side, and shadows look nice, with good visible detail level. The main flaw with this transfer is the presence of compression errors, which are frequent.
Audio: How does it sound?
This is a stereo mix, so it sounds much like you’d expect it to, no powerhouse effects, but an acceptable mix. The music and effect come through well, with no separation issues to report, but I will say this would have sounded much better in a 2.0 surround mix at the least. Dialogue is great too, no volume or layering issues at all.
Supplements: What are the extras?
A fluffy ten minute behind the scenes featurette and a couple bonus Trimark trailers are the included supplements. Note that no trailer for Atomic Train is present on this release.