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Number 140 - November, 2006

Part IV

Staff

 


Now Playing
Divider

Kingdom of Heaven: Director's Cut (Blu-ray) Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (Blu-ray)
X-Men: The Last Stand (Blu-ray) The Omen (2006) (Blu-ray)
Waterworld (HD DVD) The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (Blu-ray)
Accepted (HD DVD) Ice Age: The Meltdown (Blu-ray)
Fantastic 4 (Blu-ray) Slither (HD DVD)
Forbidden Planet The DaVinci Code

Number 140 - November, 2006 - Part I

Number 140 - November, 2006 - Part II

Number 140 - November, 2006 - Part III

Number 140 - November, 2006 - Part IV

Number 140 - November, 2006 - Part V

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Twentieth Century Fox

2006, Color, Rated R, 3 Hr 14 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

1080p

 

English DTS HD MA 5.1


Starring Orlando Bloom, Eva Green, Jeremy Irons, David Thewlis, Brendan Gleeson, Marton Csokas, Liam Neeson

 

Directed by Ridley Scott

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

Strong

Sex

Suggested

Language

Yes

"Kingdom of Heaven: Director's Cut" (Blu-ray)

Synopsis

It is the time of the Crusades during the Middle Ages - the world shaping 200-year collision between Europe and the East. A blacksmith named Balian has lost his family and nearly his faith. The religious wars raging in the far-off Holy Land seem remote to him, yet he is pulled into that immense drama. Amid the pageantry and intrigues of medieval Jerusalem he falls in love, grows into a leader, and ultimately uses all his courage and skill to defend Jerusalem against staggering odds.

Commentary

What is it with studios not releasing the director's cuts of films into theaters? I can't think of any director's cuts that weren't better than the original release. When I saw Kingdom of Heaven in theaters, I liked it, but I felt like it was missing a lot.

Guess I was right! This new cut fleshes out the characters a great deal more, and the story as a whole is far more cohesive. This is now a superb film, and one that would probably have gotten a lot more critical acclaim if was released in this form. Do the studios just not trust their directors? Who knows. If any of you saw the original and didn't care for it, GIVE THIS CUT A CHANCE. I doubt you will regret it. Ridley Scott has delivered an amazing film here, with rich characters and a solid story.

Technical

This is probably the most impressive release from Fox short of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Ridley Scott's epic is very stylized, and the use of color to convey mood is captured beautifully here. Fine detail can be breathtaking at times, and film grain looks completely natural. My chief complaint is banding, which is quite evident in some scenes in the movie. It is only distracting in a few scenes, but it is enough for me to not give this a perfect score. Some of the dimensionality of the film wavers at times, but overall this can be a very stunning presentation.

The audio side of the house is incredible. It is amped up a bit, a trait I've noticed with all of Fox's titles on Blu-ray so far, but aside from having to turn down playback levels, I haven't seen any ill effects on overall clarity or dynamic range. This is a lossless soundtrack but unfortunately there are no Blu-ray players capable of decoding the DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack. The soundstage is rich with life, and surrounds are used perfectly to convey both atmosphere and action. Dialogue is clean, and imaging is excellent. Some of the battle sequences will no doubt be used to show off home theaters for quite some time to come.

Extras

Despite being Fox's one and only BD-50 (dual layer) release, the only supplement provided is the film's trailer. While this is a long film, I imagine there are some good supplements available that could have been stuck on a separate disc if need be. I am sure we'll see another edition of this film down the line.

- Kris Deering -

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Twentieth Century Fox

2006, Color, Rated PG-13, 1 Hr 44 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

1080p

 

English DTS-ES HD MA 6.1

French Dolby Digital 5.1

Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1


Starring Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Ian McKellen, Famke Janssen, Anna Paquin, Kelsey Grammer

 

Directed by Brett Ratner

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

Yes

Sex

None

Language

Mild

"X-Men: The Last Stand" (Blu-ray)

Synopsis

In X-Men: The Last Stand, a "cure" for mutancy threatens to alter the course of history. For the first time, mutants have a choice: retain their uniqueness, though it isolates and alienates them, or give up their powers and become human. The opposing viewpoints of mutant leaders Charles Xavier, who preaches tolerance, and Magneto, who believes in the survival of the fittest, are put to the ultimate test - triggering the war to end all wars.

Commentary

This was the first X-Men film directed by someone other than Bryan Singer, who opted out to work on Superman Returns. The results are a bit of a mixed bag in comparison to the previous films. My chief complaint is the seeming need to have a lot of new mutants as opposed to a solid storyline. The film feels ultimately condensed and bloated rather than giving up some of the abundance of needless characters and letting a strong premise develop. Ultimately, we have some major events, major special effects, and average storyline. The first two films were just a lot better in my opinion.

Technical

This is without a doubt the biggest title in Fox's launch slate and it is also treated as such. The presentation is encoded in MPEG-4 (AVC) and is quite good. Fine detail is preserved wonderfully, and depth is nice. Colors are on the brink of over saturation and do show a bit of noise, but that is how it looked in theaters as well. Fine film grain is noticeable but never intrusive.

The special effects don't hold up as well on BD as they did in theaters. The image is so sharp it makes the effects stand out too much in some scenes while in others the effects shots seem too soft compared to the rest of the onscreen image. Overall though this is a great looking disc.

Like all of Fox's discs, X-Men is mastered in DTS's new lossless audio codec; DTS-HD Master Audio. This one even has a discrete rear channel. My reference Panasonic Blu-ray player does not decode this format at this time (a firmware update is in the works), so I only got a 1.5 MBps DTS-ES Discrete track. But don't let that dissuade you, this is an amazing soundtrack. Dynamic range is impeccable, and the soundstage is extremely engaging. Surrounds are used aggressively to put you in the action, and there are some awesome discrete sounds coming from all directions. Bass is deep and clean and will move your seat with the appropriate subs. A fine example of a modern day big budget soundtrack. I can't wait to hear it in lossless sound.

Extras

All of the extras on this release are in high definition. There are two commentaries, some deleted scenes, alternate endings, a trivia track, and trailer.

- Kris Deering -

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Universal

1995, Color, Rated PG-13, 2 Hr 16 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

1080p

 

English Dolby Digital Plus 5.1

French Dolby Digital Plus 5.1

Spanish Dolby Digital Plus 5.1


Starring Kevin Costner, Dennis Hopper, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Tina Majorino, Michael Jetter

 

Directed by Kevin Reynolds

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

Yes

Sex

Brief

Language

Mild

"Waterworld" (HD DVD)

Synopsis

The polar ice caps have melted, and the earth is covered by water. The remaining people travel the seas in search of survival.

Several different societies exist. The Mariner (Costner) falls from his customary and solitary existence into having to care for a woman and a young girl while being pursued by the evil forces of the Deacon (Hopper).

Commentary

This film got a really bad wrap after it came out. Plagued with production problems, it went on to become one of the most expensive films ever made. Reception at the box office was lukewarm, but I always thought it was a decent summer blockbuster.

Sure it has its faults, but Costner does a great job in the lead, and the story and production design are quite entertaining in my opinion. I am glad to see that Universal still gives this one a chance in different formats.

Technical

It's been a long time since I've seen this film. The HD DVD does a great job preserving the natural film-like look though. Print wear is noticeable at times and can be a bit intrusive. The image tends to be on the softer side, but that is the way I remember the film looking in theaters too. Colors are quite good and depth is more than adequate. While the print could have used some work, the transfer looks better than I expected for a film of this age.

The soundtrack is good, but not great. The main drawback is the dated sound design. I liked the use of the surround soundstage, and the score is excellent, but I felt dynamics were a bit too inconsistent. I used to own the DTS DVD of this film, and this one seems to have better overall fidelity, but not by much.

Extras

There are none.

- Kris Deering -

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Universal

2006, Color, Rated PG-13, 1 Hr 33 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

1080p

 

English Dolby Digital Plus 5.1

Spanish Dolby Digital Plus 5.1

French Dolby Digital Plus 5.1


Starring Justin Long, Blake Lively, Anthony Herald, Lewis Black

 

Directed by Steve Pink

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

Comedic

Sex

Implied

Language

Mild

"Accepted" (HD DVD)

Synopsis

When every college turns him down, Bartleby "B" Gaines decides to create one. Welcome to the South Harmon Institute of Technology, where the students teach the classes, the dean lives in a trailer in the back, and Bartleby's on the way to scoring with the girl of his dreams.

Commentary

Bit of a cookie cutter here. Accepted is a fun young adult comedy that takes a bunch of underachievers and shows how they can shine. Overall this has some funny moments and it borrows a lot from films before it. While I wouldn't recommend buying it, it makes for an amusing rental.

Technical

Like most modern comedies, this one has a nice color palette and some decent detail. The image wavers a bit in terms of detail and at times appears unnecessarily soft. Color rendition is excellent though, and the image stays consistently clean. Not really much to complain about here other than the occasional moments of softness.

The 5.1 mix is pretty average. The film's soundtrack (which has some nice classic rock tunes in it!) makes the most use of the soundstage and does a nice job of filling at least the main soundstage. Surrounds are used on occasion, mainly for atmosphere. The center point of the film is the dialogue, and it always sounds clean and natural.

 Extras

Universal has given this title the hybrid treatment with the SD version on the flip side. It also features U-Control for interactive features such as a picture-in-picture commentary and production photos. You also get a boatload of features on the SD side.

- Kris Deering -

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Twentieth Century Fox

2005, Color, Rated PG-13, 1 Hr 46 mins.

 

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

1080p

 

English DTS HD MA 5.1

Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 


Starring Joan Grufford, Jessica Alba, CHris Evans, Michael Chiklis, Julian McMahon, Kerry Washington

 

Directed by Tim Story

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

Yes

Sex

Innuendo

Language

No

"Fantastic 4" (Blu-ray)

Synopsis

When an experimental space voyage goes awry, four people are changed by cosmic rays. Reed Richards, inventor and leader of the group, gains the ability to stretch his body, and takes the name, Mr. Fantastic. His girlfriend, Sue Storm, gains the ability to turn invisible and create force fields, calling herself the Invisible Woman. Her younger brother Johnny Storm gains the ability to control fire, including covering his own body with flame, becoming the Human Torch. Pilot Ben Grimm is turned into a super-strong rock creature calling himself Thing. Together, they use their unique powers to explore the strange aspects of the world, and to foil the evil plans of Doctor Doom.

Commentary

This is one of the weaker Marvel adaptations. Instead of coming off as a serious film with a message or well written plot (ala X-Men or Spiderman ), Fantastic 4 comes off a a big-budget popcorn flick. Sure it has some heart, but the flash gets in the way, along with the somewhat cheesy dialogue. While it does have its fun moments, I just wasn't that impressed with the overall effort.

Technical

This is a good looking Blu-ray release, with just a few issues keeping it from being a reference disc. I saw a bit of banding in some sequences, and the detail of the film varies quite a bit throughout. Sometimes the image just seems to take on a softer look that leaves the image looking a bit flat. While this isn't the case all the time, it is enough to be distracting. Color rendition is excellent though, and the special effects hold up well with the rest of the image.

Like most summer films, this one has an explosive soundtrack. Surrounds are used aggressively, and the dynamic range is quite impressive. For some reason most, if not all, of the Fox Blu-ray releases seem to be a bit over-amped in volume level. At about 8 dB under reference, the room almost seems like it will come apart at times. This shouldn't be the case, even with a soundtrack as aggressive as this. It almost seems like the loudness of older DTS soundtracks is slowly creeping into the new formats as well. Like the other Fox releases, this one is encoded as a lossless audio track, but unfortunately no available Blu-ray players can decode DTS-HD Master Audio tracks in lossless form.

Extras

Extras include a commentary and the trailer in HD.

- Kris Deering -

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Columbia Pictures

2006, Color, Unrated

2 Hr 2 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

1080p

 

English Uncompressed PCM 5.1

English Dolby Digital 5.1

French Dolby Digital 5.1

 

Starring Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Sacha Baron Cohen, Gary Cole, Michael Clarke Duncan

 

Directed by Adam McKay

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

Comedic

Sex

Innuendo

Language

Bad

"Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby" (Blu-ray)

Synopsis

NASCAR stock car racing sensation Ricky Bobby (Ferrell) is a national hero because of his "win at all costs" approach. He and his loyal racing partner, childhood friend Cal Naughton Jr., are a fearless duo - "Shake" and "Bake" by their fans for their ability to finish so many races in the #1 and #2 positions, with Cal always in second place. When flamboyant French Formula One driver Jean Girard challenges "Shake" and "Bake" for the supremacy of NASCAR, Ricky Bobby must face his own demons and fight Girard for the right to be known as racing's top driver.

Commentary

It was only a matter of time before a comedy like this would find its way to NASCAR, and some of the silliness of the sport is delivered, but it is a bit too much for my taste. Then when the film tries to turn a more serious note later, it just doesn't work. Fans of Ferrell will probably love this one, but I didn't.

Technical

**This is not the same edition that is bundled with the Sony Playstation 3. That edition is not the unrated version and is on a BD-25.

This is the third BD-50 release from Columbia, and it reminded me a lot of Click!. The image looks good for the most part, but I couldn't help but feel like something was missing in both dimension and detail.

The image frequently looks a bit flat and veiled. Colors are great and contrast is solid, but the three dimensionality of better high definition transfers is just not there. Since I didn't see this one in the theaters, it is hard to say what is intentional or not, but overall I thought a film like this would look a bit better.

The audio was also a bit of a letdown. Sony's uncompressed audio tracks have been stellar for the most part, and since this film deals with NASCAR, I was expecting some impressive sound design and dynamic range, at least in the racing scenes. While there is plenty of surround usage, dynamic range isn't really that great, and the sound design stays a bit toned down. I guess I should have expected that from a comedy though.

Extras

Extras include some deleted scenes, a gag reel, interviews, and some production features.

- Kris Deering -

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Twentieth Century Fox

2006, Color, Rated R, 1 Hr 50 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

1080p

 

English DTS HD MA 5.1

Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1

French Dolby Digital 5.1


Starring 
Liev Schreiber, Julia Stiles, Mia Farrow, David Thewlis

 

Directed by John Moore

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

Strong

Sex

No

Language

Mild

"The Omen" (2006) (Blu-ray)

Synopsis

John Moore's remake of Richard Donner's unsettling 1976 horror classic increases the quality of production values, yet stays very true to the original.

Liev Schreiber plays Robert Thorn, a wealthy American official living in Rome, whose wife, Kate, has just lost her first child. At the behest of a strange priest, Robert substitutes an orphaned child for his own without Kate's knowledge, and soon the small family is living an idyllic existence on a lavish estate in England.

When the child, Damian, turns five years old, strange things begin to happen, beginning with a nanny's public and very grisly suicide at the boy's lavish birthday party. Kate begins to notice odd things about her child, such as the way other children don't want to play with him, his strange provocation of animals, and his increasingly pronounced withdrawal from her. By the time she begins fearing for her life, however, it may be too late, and it's up to her husband to figure out once and for all if the child really is the spawn of Satan.

Commentary

I am not a big fan of remakes, and when I saw the trailer for this originally, I pretty much put it off. It has been years since I've seen the original film, so I really don't have a lot to compare to, but I did think this was a well done production. Instead of using cheap thrills or over the top theatrics like so many of today's horror films, The Omen uses great pacing, intriguing storylines, and subtle thrills to keep you going.

The film is well acted and executed and never tries to conform to the pizzazz of most modern day horror films. I am not sure what fans of the original may think, but I found this to be quite entertaining, and chilling.

Technical

This is a release that could have got a solid 5 in the picture department if a little bit more care was shown. I am not sure if the master or the authoring is to blame, but there are a few moments in this film that detail and depth just go out the window. A great example is when the main characters first go to the house they buy in England. There is a shot of them near the stairs that sticks out like a sore thumb compared to the depth and detail of the rest of the film. This happens a few times, but enough to notice the inconsistency of the transfer. Some slight banding and compression noise are also noticed, but rarely. Detail at times can be stunning, and the image can have a dimensionality that rivals the best HD I've seen. If only it had remained that way consistently.

The audio presentation is impeccable. Dynamic range is extremely impressive and is used perfectly to heighten the intensity of the film. Ambiance is superb, and the atmosphere of the film is heightened constantly by the score and subtle details in the soundstage. Get ready to jump a few times in this one!

Extras

Extras include a feature commentary, some production features, extended scenes and a trivia track.

- Kris Deering -

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Twentieth Century Fox

2003, Color, Rated PG-13, 1 Hr 50 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

1080p

 

English DTS HD MA 5.1

Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1

French Dolby Digital 5.1


Starring
Sean Connery, Shane West, Stuart Townsend, Peta Wilson, Jason Flemyng

 

Directed by Stephen Norrington

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

Yes

Sex

Themes

Language

Some

"The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" (Blu-ray)

Synopsis

Renowned adventurer Allan Quatermain (Connery) leads a team of extraordinary figures with legendary powers to battle the technological terror of a madman known as "The Fantom." This "League" comprises seafarer/inventor Captain Nemo, vampiress Mina Harker, an invisible man named Rodney Skinner, American secret service agent Tom Sawyer, the ageless and invincible Dorian Gray, and the dangerous split personality of Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde.

Commentary

I've heard that Alan Moore's original story for this is quite good. Unfortunately, I didn't care for the screen adaptation. The production value and cast are great, but the film falls into that cheesy realm as it tries so hard to be a Hollywood success. You can tell that this could have been a bit darker, but the glitzy production seems to overshadow it too much. While it does have its moments, ultimately this one just feels too overdone.

Technical

This is the best looking Fox Blu-ray title so far in my opinion. The image has outstanding depth and detail and maintains it consistently throughout the presentation. The dimensionality of the image gives you that "looking through a window" feeling, and I didn't see much if anything getting in the way of it. Film grain is preserved naturally, and contrast is excellent.

The DTS soundtrack packs quite punch here. Like most big budget films, sound design is quite good, and quite exciting. The surround soundstage is utilized to the fullest degree but doesn't muddy up the dialogue or ambiance of the environment.

Extras

These include two feature commentaries, a trivia track, and a shooting gallery game.

- Kris Deering -

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Twentieth Century Fox

2006, Color, Rated PG, 1 Hr 30 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

1080p

 

English DTS HD MA 5.1

French Dolby Digital 5.1

Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1


Starring Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary, Queen Latifah

 

Directed by Carlos Saldanha

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

Mild

Sex

Innuendo

Language

No

"Ice Age: The Meltdown" (Blu-ray)

Synopsis

While Skrat the Saber Toothed Squirrel is still ineffectually trying to regain his precious acorn, the misfit trio of Manny the Mammoth, Sid the Sloth, and Diego the Sabretooth Tiger have settled down in an isolated valley with numerous other animals. However, the trio discover that the ice wall surrounding the valley is barely holding back a massive body of water behind it, and it's melting state threatens to break and flood the valley.

With their one chance of survival being a boat at the other end of the valley, the trio follow the desperate exodus there. Along the way, they meet Ellie, a female mammoth who is convinced she's an opossum like her brothers. While the strange group continues the trek, they must learn to get along even as Manny struggles to find some connection to this strange female who may be the only other one of his kind.

Commentary

I wasn't the biggest fan of the original Ice Age film. I thought Skrat was funny (who didn't?), but the film was only just above passable compared to other animated fare I've seen. This one is more of the same. Sure it has some very funny moments, but the story overall is a bit weak. The animation quality has been stepped up big time since last time around, but window dressing only gets you so far.

If you were a bit fan of the first one, you'll probably really enjoy this one, but if you just thought it was okay, you may want to just rent this one.

Technical

Of all of Fox's initial Blu-ray slate, I figured this one would be the huge home run in the video department. Ice Age looked quite good on D-Theater, and animation in general looks fabulous in high resolution (the image has never been passed through a lens if you are watching it on a flat panel display). While this is certainly a great looking disc from an animation and color standpoint, the encoding has some obvious issues. There are two main problems: banding and noise. Banding is evident throughout the film in both the sky and water, and at times it is anything but subtle. How the compressionist didn't see this is beyond me. There is also visible noise in almost anything with fine detail. I have a 1080p DLP front projection system that can resolve the full Nyquist resolution of 1080p, and I've never seen noise like this in fine detail. Other than those two issues, depth and detail are superb. Again, the animation took a big step up for this sequel, so you have more dimension in the characters.

The soundtrack has an impressive design. That is what I love about animated features, the ability to do anything you want for sound. While this isn't a showcase title like most of the Pixar offerings, it holds its own. Surrounds are used aggressively, and the low end is very impressive. Like all of the Fox releases, this one has a DTS lossless track.

Extras

Included here are a cheesy sneak peek at the upcoming Simpson's movie, some production features, and the animated short No Time for Nuts. Like the main feature, this short has some intrusive banding (it is actually worse than the main feature in this regard), but is a lot of fun. There are also some games and a sound effects lab.

- Kris Deering -

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Universal

2006, Color, Rated R

1 Hr 36 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

1080p

 

English Dolby Digital Plus 5.1

French Dolby Digital Plus 5.1

Spanish Dolby Digital Plus 5.1

 

Starring Nathan Fillion, Elizabeth Banks, Gregg Henry, Michael Rooker

 

Directed by James Gunn

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

Strong

Sex

Mild

Language

Yes

"Slither" (HD DVD/DVD Combo)

Synopsis

In this blend of the B movie classics, a meteorite collides in a small town and delivers an alien creature. Grant finds it, and is infected by a parasite worm, which infests his brain and causes him to undergo a creepy transformation into a monster. Starla, his wife, and Bill, a policeman, try to stop him and the plague of worms generated by the creature.

Commentary

This is B movie horror at its best. It knows its silly, but it continues anyway. I was on the brink of not caring for it, but ultimately I thought it was entertaining. If you like films such as The Blob or Tremors, be sure to give this one a look.

Technical

Slither is a newer movie, so the condition of the print was excellent. Detail and depth were also quite good overall. The main issues I saw with this release were the night sequences. When they are setting the stakeout for one of the bad guys, the backgrounds seem to be almost devoid of detail. There is also a lot of noise and posterization in the objects around the actors during these scenes. Outside of this (which lasts about 15 minutes or so), I thought the film looked quite good.

The soundtrack is pretty good, and what I would expect from this type of horror film, but don't expect much, other than a wild score and some gross out noises.

Extras

Slither is a hybrid release and has the SD presentation on the flip side of the disc. You also get some deleted scenes, production features, and a commentary.

 - Kris Deering -

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MGM

1956, Color, Rated G

1 Hr 38 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

1080p

 

English Dolby Digital Plus

 

Starring Walter Pidgeon, Anne Francis, Leslie Nielsen, Warren Stevens, Jack Kelly, Earl Holliman

 

Directed by Herman Hoffman

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

Mild

Sex

No

Language

No

"Forbidden Planet" (HD DVD)

Synopsis

In the 22nd century, a ship from earth is sent to Altair-4, a planet that had a human colony placed there decades before, but which has run into trouble.

Commander John Adams (Nielsen), Dr. Ostrow (Stevens), and Lt. Jerry Farman (Kelly) find that the only ones left are Dr. Edward Morbius (Pidgeon) and his daughter Altaira (Francis).

Dr. Morbius tries to get them all to leave him alone and go home, but Commander Adams insists that he be informed of what actually happened to all the other people.

Morbius shows the crew an underground cavern that goes on for miles, and which had been created by a long extinct group of intelligent beings, called the Krell.

Adams begins a romance with Altaira, and Morbius' assistant, Robbie the Robot, makes whiskey by the gallon for Adams' cook (Holliman).

Soon, Adams and his crew discover why Morbius wanted them to leave, when an invisible creature attacks the ship, killing several of the crew.

Finally, when Adams searches the underground remnants of the Krell, he discovers the nature of the beast, so that everyone who is still alive can return to earth.

Commentary

For 1956, this is one amazing movie. When you see it, you will recognize the look of Star Trek and Star Wars which used this film as a model for their own outer space adventures. It was a trend setter.

Even Robbie the Robot continued on, with appearances in the TV series Lost in Space and films, one of which is included on this disc.

As a side note, Krell, the company we all know that makes big power amplifiers, apparently took its name from the Krell in this movie.

Technical

A lot was put into the restoration of this classic, and it shows. The high def image is sharp throughout, and color is consistent. Sound is mono, and I am surprised that MGM shot the original this way, as 1956 was when CinemaScope was a big thing, and stereo sound accompanying the wide picture was the way to go. The current production saw fit to move the voices around in the front from side to side when characters move while talking, but it doesn't do much more than startle you, as it is artificial.

Extras

There are lots of extras, including interviews with Leslie Nielsen, Anne Francis (looking dazzling even in her 60s), The Invisible Boy (a 1957 movie with Robbie the Robot), and many other things.

 - John E. Johnson, Jr. -

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Sony Pictures

2006, Color, Rated PG-13

2 Hr 29 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

480i

 

English Dolby Digital 5.1

French Dolby Digital 5.1

Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1

 

Starring: Tom Hanks, Audrey Tautou, Ian McKellen, Jean Reno, Alfred Molina, Paul Bettany

 

Directed by Ron Howard

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

Yes

Sex

No

Language

Mild

"The DaVinci Code"

Synopsis

Dr. Robert Langdon (Hanks), a Harvard Professor of Symbology, on a lecture tour in Paris, is called by Captain Bezu Fache (Reno) of the French Police, to the Louvre where a colleague of Langdon's, Jacques Saunire (Jean-Pierre Marielle), a museum curator, has been found murdered.

Jacques lies in a pool of blood, in which he has written coded messages that Fache wants Langdon to decode.

Sophie Neveu (Tautou), a cryptologist with the French Police, tells Langdon that Jacques was her grandfather and that he is in danger of being arrested. She helps him get away from Fache who suspects that Langdon is Jacques' killer.

Together, they take a key that Jacques had given her to a Swiss bank and they obtain a Cryptex, which is a container with coded entry.

Then, they visit one of Langdon's old friends, Sir Leigh Teabing (McKellen), who is also interested in the Cryptex, because it may contain a map to find the Holy Grail, which he says, is not actually a cup.

Meanwhile, a Bishop has conspired with a religious fanatic named Silas (Bettany) to get the Cryptex at all costs, because it holds a secret that would devastate Christianity, namely that Jesus and Mary Magdalen actually were married and had offspring.

They travel to London where they search for the final clue in a church where knights have been entombed, with Silas close on their heels.

Commentary

This movie is a disaster. Weak direction by Ron Howard, coupled with shallow acting by Tom Hanks, results in a movie that puts viewers to sleep. It is so disjointed, that even if one has read the book, the film is hard to follow and understand.

I thought that perhaps, since just about everyone has read the book, and it is a great story, movie audiences were just expecting too much. So, when I had friends over to watch the DVD, three of us had read the book, and one had not. One of those who had read it fell asleep, and so did the person who had not read it. "Am I mistaken in saying this movie was dull? the non-reader said at the end. "No, you are not mistaken," I answered, "It was awful."

It made a lot of money because of the anticipation. But there is no question that it was a failure in terms of its quality.

What a waste of time and resources. A story of this caliber should have had first rate action talent like John McTiernan directing and Harrison Ford as the main character, not the milk toast directing and acting that it had.

Technical

The SD image is excellent throughout the movie, except that dark scenes have quite a bit of pixelation. Other than that, it is sharp, with good color timing.

The soundtrack is almost as boring as the movie, even though the actual sound fidelity is high quality.

Extras

These include A Portrait of Langdon, Who is Sophie Neveu, Magical Places, Close-up on Mona Lisa, and lots of other things.

 - John E. Johnson, Jr. -

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