*batteries not included: Imprint Collection #298 [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray ALL - Australia - Via Vision
Review written by and copyright: (20th May 2024).
The Film

"*batteries not included", directed by Matthew Robbins is a charming yet formulaic science fiction fantasy film that blends heartwarming elements with a touch of whimsy. Released in 1987, the movie tells the story of a group of tenants in a dilapidated New York City apartment building who find unexpected allies in the form of miniature extraterrestrial robots.

The narrative centres around Frank (Hume Cronyn) and Faye Riley (Jessica Tandy), an elderly couple who own a diner in the ground floor of their building. They, along with their fellow tenants—aspiring artist Mason (Dennis Boutsikaris), pregnant Marisa (Elizabeth Peña), and former boxer Harry (Frank McRae)—face eviction by a ruthless property developer. Their lives take a surprising turn when the alien machines arrive, bringing both hope and a sense of community.

One of the film's strengths lies in its character development. Cronyn and Tandy, both seasoned actors, deliver compelling performances that add depth to the otherwise straightforward plot. Their portrayal of an elderly couple coping with the loss of their son is particularly poignant, grounding the film's fantastical elements in genuine emotion. The supporting cast also provides solid performances, particularly Elizabeth Peña, whose character's resilience adds another layer of emotional weight to the story.

The film's visual effects, particularly the design and animation of the alien robots, are notable for their time. The tiny machines, which the tenants affectionately name "Fix-Its," are imbued with personality and charm, contributing to the movie's whimsical tone. The practical effects used to bring these creatures to life are impressive and stand as a testament to the creativity and technical skill of the special effects team.

However, the film is not without its shortcomings. The plot follows a predictable trajectory, relying heavily on familiar tropes and sentimental moments. While the predictability doesn't detract significantly from the film's enjoyment, it does limit its potential for deeper storytelling. Additionally, the film's pacing occasionally falters, with some scenes feeling drawn out and others rushed.

Thematically, "*batteries not included" explores the importance of community and perseverance in the face of adversity. The alien robots serve as a metaphor for the unexpected sources of support that can emerge during difficult times. This message, while heartwarming, is delivered with a heavy hand, leaving little room for subtlety or nuance.

The film also touches on the struggles of urban life, gentrification, and the displacement of lower-income residents—issues that remain relevant today. However, these themes are addressed in a somewhat superficial manner, overshadowed by the more fantastical elements of the story.

"*batteries not included" is a feel-good film that combines endearing characters with imaginative special effects. While it doesn't break new ground in terms of narrative or thematic depth, it succeeds in delivering an entertaining and heartwarming experience. Its blend of science fiction and human drama, anchored by strong performances from its lead actors, makes it a memorable, if not entirely groundbreaking, entry in the family-friendly genre of the 1980's.


Imprint has delivered this film in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 in HD 1080p 24/fps using AVC MPEG-4, this transfer is licensed from Universal Pictures and was originally mastered back in 2016, so it's an 8 year-old transfer. While it would have been nice to see a newly mastered image it would not happen here as Imprint tends to licence their transfers from various sources. That being said, it's an ok image for being 8 years-old that does tend to suffer from some issues. For a start there is some image wobble, definition isn't as sharp as it could be, and there some specks. Colours look good, blacks are a tad noisy. Detail and texture look good despite these flaws. Overall there isn't much to write home about in regards to this image.


Two audio tracks are included in English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround and English LPCM 2.0 stereo. For the purposes of this review I chose to view the film with its 5.1 audio. The audio fares much better than the image, with solid and clear dialogue, and active surround track with well balanced mis of score, effects sounds, ranging from subtle to more active. Optional subtitles are included in English for the hearing impaired only.


Imprint has included some new extras on this release and if you have the older Universal release this is possibly the only reason to double dip.

"Bring Good Things to Life: Directing *batteries not included" 2024 interview with director Matthew Robbins (22:33) the film's director takes a look back at the making of the film as he reminisces on working with the cast and creating a family classic.

"An Amazing Story: Writing *batteries not included" 2024 interview with screenwriter Mick Garris (14:48), Garris came up with the story and in this clip he talks about the development of the project and on the writing challenges.

"Remembering James Horner: Score *batteries not included" 2024 interview with Sara Horner (12:40) Horner's wife takes a look at his career and on the music he left behind as his legacy.

Also included is the film's theatrical trailer (1:28)


Packaged in a Blu-ray keep case housed in a slip-case with unique artwork and is limited to 1500 copies.


The Film: B Video: C Audio: B+ Extras: B+ Overall: B-


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