Media

Movie Renter's Guide Number 153 - December, 2007 - Part I

ARTICLE INDEX

"Superbad" (Blu-ray)

SuperbadSynopsis

Seth and Evan want nothing more than to lose their virginity before they head off to college. To do that, though, they need to get liquor for the big party that night. With the help of their friend Fogell, a.k.a. McLovin, and his fake I.D., the three of them go on a hilarious chase for that elusive booze, dodging incompetent cops, angry neighbors and jealous boyfriends.

Specifications

    • Columbia
      2007, Color, Unrated, 1 Hr 29 min
    • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
    • 1080p
    • English/French Dolby TrueHD 5.1
    • English PCM 5.1
    • Portuguese/Spanish DD 5.1
    • Directed by Greg Mottola
    • Starring Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, Seth Rogen, Bill Hader
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Strong
  • Sex: Themes
  • Language: Strong

Commentary

Judd Apatow has been cranking out some seriously funny films lately. This one is a teen movie, but it's totally adult humor. It brings back the raunchy humor we used to get in the 70's and the characters are all a laugh riot. This unrated cut adds a few more jokes to the mix, but doesn't really add much overall to the theatrical cut. Characters are all the same and the story isn't changed at all. I had a lot of fun with this one in theaters and laughed just as hard on Blu-ray.

Technical

I saw this film in D-Cinema and the presentation was a bit of a mixed bag. The same can be said here. At times the image is absolutely gorgeous with crisp detail, wonderful color and outstanding contrast. But a few minutes later it can be on the softer side and a bit washed out. It makes for an inconsistent experience, but even when its a bit softer it looks better than a lot of the titles out there. The more consistent shots can be jaw dropping and just dripping with fine detail and depth. Film grain is almost non-existent except in darker shots, making me think this may have been cleaned up just a tad before encoding. I remember this one having a more consistent grain presence in theaters. Overall though, this is a GREAT looking transfer from Sony.

The soundtrack is pretty much on par for a comedy film. Dynamics get their best workout during the musical selections, which are all fun with a funk theme to them. The soundtrack is pretty front heavy, but has its moments when the soundstage starts extending to the rear of the room a bit. Dialogue is nicely balanced with the rest of the mix and I didn't hear any strain at all.

Extras

Sony went all out on this one for features. This is a loaded two-disc edition and most of the supplements are hilarious. There are deleted scenes, extended scenes, gag reels, interviews, production features, behind the scenes footage, feature themed shorts, cast auditions, and more. One of the best special editions I've seen from Sony yet!



"Ratatouille"  (Blu-ray)

RatatouilleSynopsis

In one of Paris' finest restaurants, Remy, a determined young rat, dreams of becoming a renowned French chef. Torn between his family's wishes and his true calling, Remy and his pal Linguini set in motion a hilarious chain of events that turns the City of Lights upside down.

Specifications

    • Walt Disney Pictures
      2007, Color, Rated G, 1 Hr 51 min
    • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
    • 1080p
    • English Uncompressed PCM 5.1
    • English DD 5.1
    • Directed by Brad Bird
    • Starring Patton Oswald, Ian Holm, Brad Garrett, Brian Dennehey, Peter O'Toole
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: No
  • Sex: No
  • Language: No

Commentary

I will say without hesitation that this was one of the best films I saw this last year. Pixar continues to deliver some of the best stories out there and their level of animation is second to none. I will say I didn't see this as much of a kid's movie (which may explain the rather lukewarm box office take here in the US despite the raving reviews), but my daughter still loves it. Brad Bird continues to be one of my favorite animated film directors and I can't wait to see what the folks at Pixar come up with next.

Technical

Like Cars, this Pixar Blu-ray release leaves nothing to be desired. The image is what reference video is all about. Depth of image is extraordinary and detail is exquisite. This is literally one of those images that seems impossible to improve upon. Even in the difficult lighting conditions of the Paris streets I saw absolutely no banding or compression issues. The use of dynamic lighting effects creates an even more realistic image quality than we saw with Cars and the level of dimensionality to each character is jaw dropping. Pixar continue to raise the bar everytime.

Sound design is once again fantastic. Pixar always delivers in this category and they've never disappointed yet. Dynamics are excellent throughout and some of the more exciting moments really open up the soundstage. The score is an absolute delight and one of the best I've heard all year. Voice work is also excellent and the balance of dialogue and the rest of the soundstage is seamless. Like the video, a real treat!

Extras

Like the Cars release, this one gets quite a few extras and all of them are in HD. You get a feature video commentary with Brad Bird that is done PiP style, plenty of production features, interviews, animation features and a cute chef game that wasn't too cheesy. On top of that you get a pair of animated shorts; Lifted (which is superb and the directorial debut of sound maestro Gary Rydstrom) and a new short Your Friend the Rat that is a fusion of several different animation styles and quite funny. Some trailers are also included.



"Talk To Me"  (HD DVD Hybrid)

Talk to MeSynopsis

Don Cheadle portrays the one and only Ralph Waldo "Petey" Greene Jr. in this funny, feel-good and inspiring true story. Ex-convict Greene talks his way into an on-air radio gig with program director Dewey Hughes, and his unprecedented "tell it like it is" style breaks all the rules while electrifying a city and bringing a nation together when it needs it the most. 

Specifications

    • Focus Features
      2007, Color, Rated R, 1 Hr 59 min
    • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
    • 1080p
    • English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
    • English DD+ 5.1
    • Directed by Kasi Lemmons
    • Starring Don Cheadle, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Cedric The Entertainer, Taraji P. Henson, Mike Epps, Martin Sheen
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Mild
  • Sex: Yes
  • Language: Strong

Commentary

I am a big fan of Don Cheadle, who I personally think is one of the most underrated actors out there right now, but I hadn't seen much about this film when it hit theaters. I had also never heard of Petey Greene, one of the early pioneers of "Talk Radio" in the morning. This is a very entertaining look at a revolutionary radio personality and his struggle to find his voice amongst the chaos of the civil rights struggle, Vietnam, and the DC riots after the death of the Martin Luther King Jr.. The first half of the film is very funny and moves along quickly but the third act is a bit on the slow side. But that didn't stop me from enjoying it overall. While I may not recommend a purchase, a rental is definitely justified.

Technical

The HD presentation is a bit of a mixed bag. Detail is good throughout, but doesn't really shine unless it is a tighter shot. Contrast is severely lacking, but I get the impression the director wanted it to look this way. This hurts depth and dimension in the darker moments of the film, but shadow detail is still preserved quite well. Colors are a bit washed out at times and there is obvious stylization going on to give it an aged look. While this may be a very accurate representation to the director's vision, some may be disappointed with the overall look at times.

The soundtrack is presented in 5.1 Dolby TrueHD and is also a bit mixed. I love the music selections throughout the film and they were definitely the highlight for me. Dynamics are a bit lacking though. Later in the film there are some moments when bass levels seem a bit much and don't balance well with the rest of the soundtrack. ADR is hit or miss at times too. Ambience is good though and the surround soundstage is quite convincing.

Extras

Extras include interviews with the cast and crew about the true story and people they portrayed. There is also a production feature and deleted scenes.



"Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause"  (Blu-ray)

Santa Clause 3Synopsis

As Christmas nears, Scott Calvin invites his in-laws to join the festivities. The holidays take a chaotic turn when Scott discovers a way out of his "Santa Clause" and the mischievous Jack Frost puts the big freeze on Christmas' big cheese! Unless Scott can save the day, it's going to be a very chilly Frostmas at the North Pole and all around the world. Will Scott be able to get his job back in the St. Nick of time?

Specifications

    • Walt Disney Pictures
      2006, Color, Rated G, 1 Hr 32 min
    • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
    • 1080p
    • English PCM 5.1
    • English/French/Spanish DD 5.1
    • Directed by Michael Lembeck
    • Starring Tim Allen, Elizabeth Mitchell, Judge Reinhold, Ann Margret, Eric Lloyd, Alan Arkin, Martin Short
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Mischief
  • Sex: No
  • Language: No

Commentary

Call me the reluctant viewer on this one. I wasn't that big a fan of the sequel to this film but I thought the first one was pretty good. The third outing is a bit of the same with just enough pranks to keep the story going. The younger audience will probably enjoy though, my daughter loved it which is always a good sign for a family film.

Technical

In a rare move for the mouse house, Disney has authored this one in VC-1 as opposed to AVC which has been their norm. It doesn't seem to affect the image much as both codecs seem to deliver the goods when used properly. As you would guess, this film uses a lot of colors and they do have a tendency to pop off the screen on occasion. Reds are impressive and the amount of fine detail resolved in just about everything is excellent. I did notice a bit of softness with some of the longer shots, but nothing too distracting. If anything this transfer's detail hurts the presentation a bit as the actor's makeup is revealed a bit too much. I guess studios are going to have to be a bit more aware of this as HD becomes more and more prevalent. The integration of the special effects is also not as good as some of the bigger budget releases out there and only exacerbated with the amount of detail in the image. I've noticed this trend quite a bit lately with these better transfers.

The audio is presented in uncompressed PCM 5.1 and is a lot of fun. There are a lot of gimmicks in the sound design, but it makes for an engaging mix. Dynamics are what I'd expect from a family film; a few low end treats here and there, but nothing too ominous. Surrounds are used extensively and add a lot to the soundstage. A fun mix, but nothing too extravagant.

Extras

Lots of extras on this one. Plenty of production features, bloopers, interviews and behind the scenes footage and a music video. There is also a virtual holiday decorator to give you tips on holiday decorations for the home. Last but not least is a christmas carol sing along karaoke style.



"I Know Who Killed Me"  (Blu-ray)

I Know Who Killed MeSynopsis

Aubrey Fleming was living the small town life, until the day she was abducted by a sadistic killer. After a frantic search, Aubrey turns up alive, but changed. She is missing limbs, but has gained a new personality - that of bad girl Dakota Moss. Her parents and the FBI think she's suffering from delusions, but if "Dakota" is just a trick of her mind, why do strange wounds keep appearing on her body? Desperate and alone, Aubrey must now unlock family secrets to unmask a mysterious killer with a deadly obsession. 

Specifications

    • Tristar Pictures
      2007, Color, Rated R, 1 hour 46 min
    • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
    • 1080p
    • English PCM 5.1
    • English/French Dolby TrueHD 5.1
    • Directed by Chris Sivertson
    • Starring Lindsay Lohan, Julia Ormond, Neal McDonough, Brina Geraghty
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Grisly
  • Sex: Yes
  • Language: Yes

Commentary

I had never even heard of this film before getting it in for review. Lohan has been all over the tabloid media lately with her antics, but she's been out of the limelight a bit on the big screen. Despite her reputation in the media I've always thought she was an above average actress for her age and I've usually been impressed with her performances whether I've liked the films or not. This is another solid effort by her in a so-so film. The story is interesting enough, but it isn't anything we haven't seen before in one fashion or another. It's a gory ride though and some of the thrills get pretty intense.

Technical

This is a REALLY detailed transfer from Sony. The amount of fine detail and dimension can be staggering at times. This film was shot digitally using the Genesis camera (the same one used in some of Apocalypto and Superman Returns) and you can tell at times. Some of the motion has a slight blur to it and all of the film elements are void. What you're left with is amazing color rendition and LOTS of detail and depth. Colors have been pumped quite a bit, especially reds and blues, which has some adverse affects on the image. Skin tones are the biggest distraction. Most people are just WAY too red. Aside from that though, the saturation of colors really makes the image pop in a way that many would probably use some of this film for color demonstrations. Contrast is also exceptional, even in low light segments. If it wasn't for the skin tones, I probably would have given this a five.

The audio is also quite impressive. This has one of the most realistic surround soundstages I've heard in quite sometime, with exceptional use of discrete sound effects in the rear soundstage. It freaked my wife out quite a few times, she could have sworn some of the sounds were from our house. Dynamics are excellent. The club scenes feature some great synth rock mixes that really sound great and filled the room up with low and tight bass and great mid range presence. Dialogue is the only thing keeping this soundtrack from a perfect score. The balance isn't very natural. The presence of people's voices changes dramatically as their tone changes with the lower end of their voice being louder than the higher end. I noticed this a few times and thought it was distracting. Overall though, this is a very engaging mix and a lot of fun. Kudos to Sony for including an uncompressed soundtrack as well. Gotta love two lossless soundtracks on top of an uncompressed one. Says a lot about the bandwidth available to the Blu-ray format.

Extras

Extras are a bit light. There is an alternate ending and opening, both in 1080p60 with varying video quality. You also get the sexy striptease sequence in extended form for those who like watching Lohan dance around a pole. A blooper reel is also included.



"Rescue Dawn"  (Blu-ray)

Rescue DawnSynopsis

Real-life story of a US fighter pilot Dengler, shot down and captured during the Vietnam War. Christian Bale as Dengler and a small group of POWs plan a death-defying escape into the harsh jungles of northern Viet Nam.

Specifications

    • MGM
      2007, Color, Rated PG-13, 2 Hr 5 min
    • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
    • 1080p
    • English DTS-HD MA 5.1
    • Spanish/French DD 5.1
    • Directed by Werner Herzog
    • Starring Christian Bale, Steve Zahn, Jeremy Davies
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: Themes
  • Language: Yes

Commentary

I missed this one in theaters but really wanted the chance to see it. I've become a huge fan of Christian Bale and he seems to have a great eye for material. Ultimately I wasn't as impressed with the film as a whole as I thought I would be, but I still enjoyed it a lot. The film doesn't spare much time getting into the POW aspect but isn't quite as brutal in tale as films like The Deer Hunter or Apocalypse Now. All in all though this was a good film with gorgeous photography and strong performances from most of the cast.

Technical

MGM hasn't released very many day and date titles on Blu-ray and has been relying on mainly high profile catalog releases so far. This results in dated presentations that look good, but not stellar. This is a brand new film so it benefits from a far better master and film print. But that doesn't make it perfect. The colors of the jungle are extremely lush in this presentation and the depth of image is outstanding. The image has a very natural look to it with little to no stylization. Contrast is good, but at times some of the darker scenes were slightly flat. Fine detail is excellent in close ups and fine object detail is solid throughout. I didn't see any compression issues or transfer artifacts but there is some slight chromatic aberration from the camera lens in a few instances.

The soundtrack is delivered in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and is a strong presentation. The soundstage is very open and the jungle atmosphere provides a rich soundstage with plenty of discrete effects littered throughout the track. Dynamics are good and there is some intense deep bass now and then. Despite the cover art this isn't really an action film so don't expect too much action.

Extras

Extras are quite good on this release and it marks one of the best from MGM yet. There is a feature commentary, deleted scenes with an optional commentary and a REALLY good making of documentary that shows just how hard this production was. You really get a sense of the hell these guys endured getting this film made. There are some production features, an interactive memorial for veterans that was pretty interesting, a photo gallery and the trailer.



"Pride & Prejudice"  (HD DVD)

Pride & PrejudiceSynopsis

Academy Award nominee Keira Knightley stars as heroine Elizabeth Bennet, who upon meeting the handsome Mr. Darcy, believes him to be the last man on earth she could ever marry. But as their lives become intertwined, she finds herself captivated by the very man she swore to loathe for all eternity.

Specifications

    • Universal
      2005, Color, Rated PG, 2 hr 9 min
    • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
    • 1080p
    • English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
    • English/French DD+ 5.1
    • Directed by Joe Wright
    • Starring Keira Knightley, Matthew Macfadyen, Brenda Blethyn, Donald Sutherland, Tom Hollander, Jena Malone, Judi Dench
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: No
  • Sex: No
  • Language: Mild

Commentary

Jane Austen's masterpiece of romance and comedy finally finds its way to HD. I've always enjoyed this production of the classic novel, it combines a superb cast, great script and wonderful production value.

Technical

The photography in this film is nothing short of stunning and this HD DVD does an excellent job of bringing the rich photography, gorgeous landscapes and exquisite detail to the small screen. Depth of image and fine detail are excellent all around and contrast levels really help lend to the dimensionality of the image. It doesn't appear that Universal has cleaned anything up here, the transfer has a faithful film look to it with fine film grain apparent through most of the film. Colors are exceptional with rich hues and no bleeding at all. I did detect some very slight edge enhancement, but nothing intrusive. Overall this is a great transfer from Universal.

Universal continues to support lossless soundtracks with most of its new catalog releases and I was glad to see it included here. While not a dynamic mix, the score and atmosphere lend a lot to the viewing experience and each subtlety is preserved. I liked the sense of openness in the track. Some of the interior scenes (like the dances) really give you a sense of space and surroundings. Dialogue is balanced nicely with the main track and imaging in all channels is excellent. While I don't know that I'd use this as a show off disc, it excels in quite a few areas.

Extras

All the extras from the DVD release are included. You'll find a feature commentary, interviews, production features, an HBO inside look, and a look at the family and homes of the film.



"The Shining"  (Blu-ray/HD DVD)

The ShiningSynopsis
A man, his son and wife become the winter caretakers of an isolated hotel where Danny, the son, sees disturbing visions of the hotel's past using a telepathic gift known as "The Shining". The father, Jack Torrance, is underway in a writing project when he slowly slips into insanity as a result of cabin fever and former guests of the hotels ghost's. After being convinced by a waiter's ghost to "correct" the family, Jack goes completely insane. The only thing that can save Danny and his mother is "The Shining".

Specifications

    • Warner Bros.
      1980, Color, Rated R, 2 Hr 24 min
    • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
    • 1080p
    • English PCM 5.1 (BD)
    • English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (HD)
    • English/French/Spanish DD 5.1
    • Directed by Stanely Kubrick
    • Starring Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Scatman Crothers, Danny Lloyd
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: Nudity
  • Language: Strong

Commentary

Probably one of my favorite horror films of all time and one of my personal faves from director Stanley Kubrick. Really, who hasn't seen this movie yet? I was overjoyed when Warner announced this one as part of the Kubrick set, but I'm still anxiously awaiting the rest of his greats. Fans will find little to be disappointed in here.

Technical

Both the HD DVD and Blu-ray look identical here, and this is by far the best I've seen this film look yet. I was really impressed with the color balance of this transfer, something I usually find lacking in previous versions. There is a small amount of print wear, but for the most part this is a spectacular source print with little in the way of noise or variance. Contrast is good, but color is better. Detail is consistently solid throughout, especially fine detail, and depth of image is amazing. Some of the flyover shots are as good as the more recent nature documentaries that are so popular.

Some very slight differences in audio on this release. The HD DVD's Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack isn't quite as airy as the Blu-ray PCM version, but it is splitting hairs. The score is just as haunting here as ever, but I liked the sense of openness the PCM track provided. Dialogue is a tad bright at times, and the noise floor does creep in a bit more than I like, but these are probably production issues more than anything. Kubrick's films tend to be a front heavy, but this one has some nice atmosphere in the surround channels, especially from the score.

Extras

Great extras for this release. You get a feature commentary, a great documentary on the making of the film, production features and the trailer.



"Live Free Or Die Hard"  (Blu-ray)

Live Free or Die HardSynopsis
New York City detective John McClane delivers old-school justice to a new breed of terrorists when a massive computer attack on the U.S. infrastructure threatens to shut down the entire country over Independence Day weekend. 

Specifications

    • 20th Century Fox
      2007, Color, Rated PG-13, 2 hour 9 min
    • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
    • 1080p
    • English DTS-HD MA 5.1
    • English/French/Spanish DD 5.1
    • Directed by Len Wiseman
    • Starring Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Scatman Crothers, Danny Lloyd
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Strong
  • Sex: Themes
  • Language: Yes

Commentary

I've been a big fan of this franchise since the first one came out but I must say I was a bit skeptical when this one was released. The trailers looked hit or miss for me and I was really nervous about a Die Hard movie that was rated PG-13. Luckily, they delivered. Honestly, this could be better than the last one in a lot of ways. The film has plenty of excitement, great production values and some spectacular action. Sure there are some serious "I don't think so" moments, but what great popcorn flick doesn't have them. The action stays intense despite the lower rating, you just don't get to hear many F-bombs. Fans of the series should be quite happy with the new addition.

Technical

Fox delivers a seriously gorgeous transfer. Compared to the other three films, this one is quite stylized, but it works with the material. It reminded me a lot of MI:III in this regard, with similar shooting styles and contrast levels. Blacks are exceptionally deep and shadow detail is excellent. Fine detail is exceptional, but there were a few moments that the longer shots (especially ones with CG effects) looked a tad soft. Color balance is excellent all around and I didn't see anything in terms of compression issues or banding. This one is great for showing off your new HDTV.

Fox goes full bore on this DTS-HD Master Audio track. This movie has some SERIOUS bass that could crumble some of the weaker subs out there. I've been really impressed with the level of spatialness that most of the DTS Master Audio tracks have delivered and this is no exception. The soundstage is quite active, especially in the surround environment, and just seems to drop you right in the action. I have the same complaint on this presentation as I did on the theatrical screening too though, BAD ADR. The dubbing at times is absolutely horrible and obvious. I understand going back in and recording some lines different, but I've never seen it so apparent in a big budget film like this. Outside of that though, this is pure ear candy.

Extras

Extras include a feature commentary and a look at the history of the franchise. You also get a somewhat cheesy Java game based on the concepts of the film, a documentary on making the film, a great little gag interview with Kevin Smith and Bruce Willis, a music video and the theatrical trailer.



"Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix"  (HD DVD Hybrid)

Harry Potter and the Order of the PhoenixSynopsis
Lord Voldemort has returned, but few want to believe it. In fact, the Ministry of Magic is doing everything it can to keep the wizarding world from knowing the truth - including appointing Ministry official Dolores Umbridge as the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher at Hogwarts. When Professor Umbridge refuses to train her students in practical defensive magic, a select group of students decides to learn on their own. With Harry Potter as their leader, these students (who call themselves "Dumbledore's Army") meet secretly in a hidden room at Hogwarts to hone their wizarding skills in preparation for battle with the Dark Lord and his Death Eaters...New adventure - more dangerous, more thrilling than ever - is yours in this enthralling film version of the fifth novel in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series.

Specifications

    • Warner Bros.
      2007, Color, Rated PG-13, 2 hour 29 min
    • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
    • 1080p
    • English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
    • English/French/Spanish DD+ 5.1
    • Directed by David Yates
    • Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Helena Bonham Carter, Robbie Coltrane, Ralph Fiennes, Gary Oldman, Alan Rickman
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Mild
  • Sex: No
  • Language: No

Commentary

I've read all of the Potter books and have to say this one was my least favorite. In fact, it was REALLY hard to read. It's a frustrating story and while I think the director did a decent job of conveying that to the screen, they didn't quite nail it. But they did make it a more entertaining ride. I was really skeptical about how well this one would translate to the screen and overall I enjoyed it. It isn't my favorite by a long shot, but its far better than I was expecting. Warner has done a brilliant job with this series so far, especially in casting, and I'm looking forward to what they bring out next.

Technical

This is the second Potter film I've reviewed in HD. I reviewed The Goblet of Fire awhile back after importing it from the UK and had mixed results. This one improves in some regards, but takes a step back in others. Thankfully we aren't seeing any of the blocking artifacts with this one like we did with Goblet. Blacks are solid, though slightly stylized. Contrast is good, but there are times when the image seems a bit washed out. Some of the special effects don't hold up quite as well here as they did in the last two films, and at times it hurts image quality a tad. Some of the longer shots can be a bit on the softer side, but fine detail and close ups look spectacular. The film is on the desaturated side when it comes to color, but hues have nice balance and at times, plenty of pop. I don't think anyone will be disappointed with this presentation but I think it is just a tad short of absolute reference.

The HD DVD boasts a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack and its quite nice. Dynamics are startling at times and the use of the LFE channel is scary at times. There is definitely some room shaking bass in this track so be careful where you set the levels. I didn't care much for some of the score though, and the balance with the rest of the track seemed a bit off early in the film. Surrounds are used nicely, but a tad underused in some cases (the kittens scene is a good example). While I liked this track overall I wasn't nearly as impressed with it as I was with the last Potter film.

Extras

Warner has delivered quite the package with this HD DVD release. There is a full "In Movie Experience" supplement that covers production, interviews and commentary throughout the film via PiP, and a few web enabled features including the ability to share scenes (similar to 300). Warner also breaks into the marketplace (similar to Universal's Evan Almighty release) with ringtones and wallpapers for sale. Other features include a set visit and a production feature with the director.