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Number 151 - October, 2007

Part II

Staff

 


Now Playing
Divider

Tekkon Kinkreet (Blu-ray) The Reaping (Blu-ray/HD DVD)
For Love of the Game (HD DVD) 28 Days Later (Blu-ray)
The Invisible (Blu-ray) 28 Weeks Later (Blu-ray)
The Getaway (HD DVD) The Spider-Man Trilogy (Blu-ray)
Memoirs of a Geisha (Blu-ray) Transformers (HD DVD)

Number 151 - October, 2007 - Part I

Number 151 - October, 2007 - Part II

Number 151 - October-2007 - Part III

Movie Reviews Index

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Aniplex

2006, Color, Rated PG, 1 Hr 51 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

1080p

 

Japanese Uncompressed PCM 5.1

English/Japanese DD 5.1

 

Directed by Michael Arias

 

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

Strong

Sex

Themes

Language

Yes

"Tekkon Kinkreet" (Blu-ray)

Synopsis

In Treasure Town, where the moon smiles and young boys can fly, life can be both gentle and brutal. This is never truer than for our heroes, Black and White, two street urchins who watch over the city, doing battle with an array of old-world Yakuza and alien assassins vying to rule the decaying metropolis. Tekkon Kinkreet is a dynamic tale of brotherhood that addresses the faults of present day society, true love lost, and the kindness of the human heart.

Commentary

Studio 4C has done some wild animation. I was a big fan of their work on The Animatrix and I must admit I am still dying for a chance to see Mindgame on some English friendly release that I don't have to pay a small fortune for. Their animation style is quite a departure from what we typically see from the anime genre, but it's impressive nonetheless.

This release looks simple at times, but the depth of image combined with the amazing amounts of detail in the animation make it almost numbing to watch. The story is based on a Manga and follows two orphans through a suburb in Japan and their battle to keep it theirs. Local yakuza are starting to tread, and Black, the older and more sinister of the two orphans, faces his inner demons while keeping his younger, stranger friend safe.

This tale is not nearly as arresting as some of the more popular Anime films, and frankly, it can get a bit confusing at times, but it wasn't a waste of time by any stretch. This isn't a film I would recommend if you are just looking to dabble in the Anime genre, but hardcore fans would be remiss if they didn't at least give it a rent.

Technical

Animation has been really hit or miss so far on the HD formats. Banding is usually my biggest gripe, and from the compressionists I've talked to, the source material is usually to blame. This presentation is a lot different than the animation we've seen on the formats so far, including the other Anime offerings. Depth is incredible at times, and so is color. I would almost bet that this would be a difficult film to encode for DVD. There are many random color shifts in the characters' outfits and skin that I can just see blocking on DVD. Not the case here though, I never saw a single sign of compression, regardless of how much was going on. Detail is excellent, despite the fact that this isn't the most intricate animation. I look forward to seeing more Anime released on the format.

The soundtrack is delivered in uncompressed PCM 5.1 in the native Japanese language. This is a delightful mix with lots of activity in the front and back. Dynamic range is excellent, and there is some very nice low end heft from time to time. Dialogue is balanced nicely with the rest of the track, and imaging all around is excellent. A great presentation here by Sony.

Extras

Extras include a diary from the director on making the film, an interview with the director and the band responsible for the film's soundtrack, and a feature commentary.

- Kris Deering -

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Universal

1999, Color, Rated PG-13, 2 Hr 18 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

1080p

 

English Dolby TrueHD 5.1

English/French DD+ 5.1

 

Directed by Sam Raimi


Starring Kevin Costner, Kelly Preston, John C. Reilly, Jena Malone, Brian Cox

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

Mild

Sex

Themes

Language

Yes

"For Love of the Game" (HD DVD)

Synopsis

Legendary Detroit Tigers pitcher Billy Chapel has always been better at baseball than at love. Just ask Jane, his on-again, off-again girlfriend. At the end of a disappointing season, just before what may be the last professional game of his career, Jane tells Billy she's leaving him. Now, with his career and his love life in the balance, Billy battles against his physical and emotional limits as he plays the game. And now with every pitch, Billy comes closer to making the most important decision of his life.

Commentary

Costner has been in quite a few baseball movies, and I must say this may be in my top two. The film revolves around his final game as a pitcher for the Tigers and throughout the game he is remembering back to times with his girlfriend who is due to go to London. As the dramatic finale to his professional career plays out, he must face his demons and the mistakes he's made in his love life. This is a great drama with a nice touch of romance. Sports fans may actually have an excuse to watch a game movie with their loved ones night now.

Technical

Universal has been doing a pretty decent job with their latest catalog releases. This one is good, but not one of the best ones on my list. It has a very natural film look to it, and fans of that style will be happy. I thought film grain was a bit intrusive at times and there are quite a few nicks and scratches that pop up here and there. There is even one instance where whites appear a bit clipped. Dimension is quite good though, and the color balance is excellent. This is a big step up from the DVD release, but just about average for a catalog HD release.

The soundtrack is presented in Dolby TrueHD and is also quite good. Dynamics are better than you'd expect for a film in this genre, and there is some interesting sound design at times. Surrounds are a bit lower than I remember with the DVD, but still help add to the atmosphere of the ballpark throughout most of the film. Dialogue is clean and natural, with good tonal balance and integration.

Extras

Extras are the same as the DVD release and include some production features, deleted scenes, a trivia game, and the trailer.

- Kris Deering -

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Hollywood Pictures

2007, Color, Rated PG-13, 1 Hr 42 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

1080p

 

English Uncompressed PCM 5.1

English/French/Spanish DD 5.1

 

Directed by David S. Goyer


Starring Justin Chatwin, Margarita Levieva, Chris Marquette, Marcia Gay Harden

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

Yes

Sex

No

Language

Yes

"The Invisible" (Blu-ray)

Synopsis

Nick Powell is a handsome young writer with a future as bright as he is. Then one tragic night he's brutally attacked and left for dead - but he's really not. He's trapped in a ghostly limbo where no one can see or hear him except Annie, the one person who might be able to save him. They must work quickly together to solve the mystery of his murder before it is too late, and Nick's chance to live again is lost forever.

Commentary

This film is a remake of a Swedish thriller that was quite popular in foreign film circles. Honestly, I was caught by surprise on this one. Based on the few previews I had seen, it looked like another one of those copycat films that took too many ideas from the other "ghost" films out there. Thankfully it wasn't. The premise is good and the execution is solid. Sure there are better films in the genre, but I found this one engaging and entertaining.

Technical

This is a very good Blu-ray presentation from Buena Vista. It's a newer film, so of course the source material is in excellent shape. Detail is a standout, as is contrast. Fine detail is excellent in every way and even longer shots give you that window effect. Colors are slightly stylized and can be a bit on the oversaturated side at times, but it adds to the look and mood of the film.

The audio is presented in full 24-bit uncompressed PCM. Sound design is good on this one, but not quite as aggressive as some other thrillers of this nature. Ambience is excellent, and the front soundstage is extremely wide and engrossing. Some of the musical selections of the film could have been better in my opinion, but I have the feeling the producers were trying to attract a younger audience with this one. Dynamics are excellent all around, and there is some impressive bass at times.

Extras

Extras include two feature commentaries, two music videos, a collection of deleted scenes, and Disney's movie showcase of demo scenes.

- Kris Deering -

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Universal

1994, Color, Unrated, 1 Hr 56 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

1080p

 

English Dolby TrueHD 5.1

English/French DD+ 5.1/2.0

 

Directed by Roger Donaldson


Starring Alec Baldwin, Kim Basinger, James Woods, Michael Madsen, Jennifer Tilly

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

Yes

Sex

Yes

Language

Yes

"The Getaway" (HD DVD)

Synopsis

When master criminal Doc McCoy finds himself rotting in a squalid Mexican jail, a desperate Carol McCoy visits suave crime boss Jack Benyon, hoping to strike a deal: her husband's freedom in exchange for his help in pulling off a multi-million dollar heist.

But Benyon is much more interested in what Carol has to offer... Once Doc is free, he and Carol escape with the loot from a botched robbery and find themselves on the run from the law, from a vengeful cohort, and from Benyon's deadly hit quad. But there's a raw force even more powerful that threatens them on their wild race for the border. When Doc discovers how his liberty was bought, the boundaries of love, lust, and greed are put to the ultimate test.

Commentary

It was only a few months ago that I reviewed the original The Getaway with Steve McQueen that this film is based on. There are some subtle changes, but some of it plays out almost identically. Personally, I am on the fence on which one I like better. Both are very good, but I think I give the edge to this version as it is a bit steamier (never a bad thing) and has a bit more action. Regardless, both are a good time, and interestingly, both couples that starred in their respective films were actually married in real life.

Technical

This may be the best looking catalog release I've seen from Universal yet. I was really surprised how good this transfer looked throughout. Detail is excellent, and the image has a very crisp quality to it. Colors are bold and don't have a hint of fading, despite the age of the film. Dimension is excellent and there is no doubt that you are watching a high definition presentation. This is right up there with Shaun of the Dead as one of my favorite Universal catalog video presentations.

Another Dolby TrueHD soundtrack offering from Universal. Sound design on this one is a bit dated in the action department, but there are plenty of shoot outs to keep things lively. The score is effective at helping with the mood, and I was impressed with the amount of presence in the rear soundstage. There are even some cool panning effects from time to time. All in all this is a great soundtrack.

Extras

No extras on this one.

- Kris Deering -

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Columbia Pictures

2005, Color, Rated PG-13, 2 Hr 25 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

1080p

 

English Uncompressed PCM 5.1

English/French/Thai DD 5.1

 

Directed by Rob Marshall


Starring Zhang Ziyi, Ken Watanabe, Gong Li, Michelle Yeoh, Koji Yakusho, Youki Kudoh

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

Mild

Sex

Themes

Language

Yes

"Memoirs of a Geisha" (Blu-ray)

Synopsis

In 1929 an impoverished nine-year-old named Chiyo from a fishing village is sold to a Geisha house in Kyoto's Gion district and subjected to cruel treatment from the owners and the head Geisha Hatsumomo. Her stunning beauty attracts the vindictive jealousy of Hatsumomo, until she is rescued by and taken under the wing of Hatsumomo's bitter rival, Mameha.

Under Mameha's mentorship, Chiyo becomes the Geisha named Sayuri, trained in all the artistic and social skills a Geisha must master in order to survive in her society. As a renowned Geisha she enters a society of wealth, privilege, and political intrigue. As World War II looms, Japan and the Geisha's world are forever changed by the onslaught of history.

Commentary

I missed this one in the theaters but I was intrigued by it early on when Spielberg himself was showing interest in directing it (he later went on to produce). The film follows a young girl sold off to a Geisha house and her rise from a bratty youth to one of the most legendary Geishas of all time. The film is beautifully shot and the acting is tremendous. A welcome addition to any film library.

Technical

This is a gorgeous encode by Sony. This film is a visual delight with amazing photography and some of the most vivid detail and color I've seen in awhile. Detail is tremendous all the way down to the smallest objects, and I was surprised at the depth of image. Contrast is also excellent and lends to the dimensional look of the film. This is a disc that could be used time and again for video demonstrations.

The uncompressed PCM soundtrack is also a delight and has an immediate presence with authoritative bass and atmosphere. The entire soundstage is alive with ambience, directional cues, and panning effects. Dynamic range was far better than I was expecting from a film of this nature, and the film's score left an impact to say the least. The drumming sounds amazing at times, with lots of depth in soundstage and superb imaging. One of the best soundtracks on the format yet in my opinion.

Extras

Most of the extras from the DVD release are included here. You get two feature commentaries, interviews, lots of production features including inside looks at the production and bringing the book to the screen, recipes, a photo gallery, and a look at the music of the film.

- Kris Deering -

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Warner

2007, Color, Rated R, 1 Hr 39 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

1080p

 

English Dolby TrueHD 5.1

English/French/Spanish DD+/DD 5.1

 

Directed by Stephen Hopkins


Starring Hilary Swank, David Morrissey, Idris Elba, Annasophia Robb, Stephen Rea

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

Yes

Sex

Mild

Language

Yes

"The Reaping" (Blu-ray/HD DVD Hybrid)

Synopsis

Investigative scholar Katherine Winter is a debunker of modern "miracles," bringing scientific light to superstition and fraud. But events in tiny Haven, Louisiana, defy even her expertise. There, the 10 Biblical Plagues seem to be reoccurring. And the more she seeks answers, the more she questions her own beliefs.

Commentary

I am still on the fence for this one. I saw it in theaters and while I didn't hate it, it didn't do a lot for me. Seeing it again for this review, it is still more than passable entertainment and it has its genuine chills, but I don't care for the last act of the film. Things go fast and some things are tied up too nicely in my opinion. Overall though this is an effective thriller with a decent storyline behind it. The special effects quality wavers a bit through the movie, but there are some pretty cool sequences in it. A solid rental easily.

Technical

Warner has done a great job bringing this one to HD. Both formats look and sound identical. The image has a very film like quality to it with nice fine detail, depth, and color balance. Unlike most modern day horror films of this nature, the director saw fit to not over-stylize the image, so colors and contrast are far more natural than you'll normally get from this genre. I was impressed with the level of detail this transfer has, even in longer shots, and the lack of compression artifacts in some of the more intense sequences (the locust attack looks like a compressionist nightmare!)

Both HD version feature a Dolby TrueHD soundtrack along with the standard lossy versions. This is a very atmospheric mix with very nice use of the lower octaves. Bass is ominous, and there are some really nice infrasonic touches at times. Surrounds are used aggressively at times to really bring you into the moment, and I enjoyed the atmosphere of the mix overall. Dialogue is integrated perfectly and never sounds overly forward (a problem I've noticed with quite a few mixes lately).

Extras

Extras include a look at the 10 plagues from a scientific standpoint, interviews, production features, and a short story look with the young actress from the film.

- Kris Deering -

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20th Century Fox

2003, Color, Rated R, 1 hr 43 mins

 

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

1080p

 

English DTS-HD MA 5.1

French/Spanish DD 5.1

 

Directed by Danny Boyle


Starring Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris, Christopher Eccleston, Megan Burns, Brendan Gleeson

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

Strong

Sex

Yes

Language

Strong

"28 Days Later" (Blu-ray)

Synopsis

An infirmary patient awakens from a coma to an empty room...in a vacant hospital...in a deserted city. A powerful virus, which locks victims into a permanent state of murderous rage, has transformed the world around him into a seemingly desolate wasteland. Now a handful of survivors must fight to stay alive, unaware that the worst is yet to come.

Commentary

Personally, I think this film redefined the "zombie" genre and breathed new life into it. Instead of the tired old dead people that swarm around you, there are cunning and quick swarms that want nothing more than to rip you apart. Add that to the filming style and "reality" feel and you have one heck of a horror film. Boyle broke new ground with this one, and in my opinion, delivered one of the best horror movies of the last decade, if not longer. A must have for any true horror fan.

Technical

There is almost no reason at all to even comment on the video presentation. Anyone who has seen this film knows that it was shot with consumer grade DV cameras and that the resolution isn't anywhere near what you'd get from standard 35mm cameras.

Boyle didn't want this to look like a standard film. Most of the time this doesn't look any better than an upconverted VHS tape, but that is the point. Like it or not, the Blu-ray version looks identical to what I saw in theaters.

No need to even pay attention to the score either.

We still don't have the capability to fully decode DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks, but we should within the next month or so. The lossy DTS mix is good though, but this is a film that's soundtrack isn't too far away from the visual representation. Dynamics can be quite good though, and there is a really rich atmosphere. My only complaint is the same for all of the Fox DTS titles out there, the volume seems too loud in comparison to every other soundtrack I review. It's as if they have amped the overall level up around 5-6 dB. Otherwise, this is a solid presentation.

Extras

Extras appear to be identical to the DVD version. This includes a feature commentary, deleted scenes, an alternate ending, a production feature, a music video, storyboards, and the trailers.

- Kris Deering -

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Anchor Bay

1987, Color, Unrated, 1 Hr 24 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

1080p

 

English Uncompressed PCM 5.1

English DD 5.1

 

Directed by Sam Raimi


Starring Bruce Campbell, Sarah Berry, Dan Hicks, Kassie Wesley

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

Strong

Sex

Yes

Language

Yes

"28 Weeks Later" (Blu-ray)

Synopsis

In a sequel to 28 Days Later, the story picks up six months after the Rage virus has spread throughout the city of London. The United States Army has restored order and is repopulating the quarantined city, when a carrier of the Rage virus enters London and unknowingly re-ignites the spread of the deadly infection, wreaking havoc on the entire population. The virus is not yet dead, and this time it's more dangerous than ever!!

Commentary

Being a big fan of the original film, I really wanted to see this one in theaters. Unfortunately, it wasn't in the cards due to time constraints and travel. Most sequels leave a lot to be desired (especially horror sequels), but this one is actually quite good. The film manages to keep the intensity of the first film going, though it does play up the gore a bit more than it needs to at times (see the chopper scene for example). The style of the film is a bit more traditional, so the look of the film is definitely more suited to an HD format.

Technical

This film was shot with multiple camera types so the picture quality wavers a bit. But even on its worse moment, it outshines the first film by a long shot. Some of the video here is as good as anything I've seen on HD yet. There is some very crisp detail and outstanding depth in this presentation.

Colors are stylized and add to the feel of the film and contrast is superb. Fine film grain is noticeable at times, and there are moments when the image does get a bit on the soft side. I wouldn't call it distracting, but it is odd when contrasted to the razor sharp image that may proceed it.

The DTS mix (still listening to the core at this point) is very good and full of rich dynamics and lots of soundstage use. Again this mix seems a bit hot overall, and needs to be turned down a bit from standard listening levels in other sound formats. I am not sure why this is, but it's pretty obvious. The presence of this film is excellent, with the whole soundstage really coming alive. Bass response is deep and tight, and the musical selections really add to the hopeless and terrifying feeling of the story. Dialogue is balanced perfectly within the front soundstage, and imaging is excellent. A very solid audio presentation from Fox.

Extras

Extras include a feature commentary, deleted scenes, some production features, two animated features from 28 Days Later: The Aftermath, and the trailer.

- Kris Deering -

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Columbia Pictures

2002/2004/2007, Color, Rated PG-13, 2 hour 1 mins/2 hours 16 mins/2 hours 19 mins.

 

Aspect Ratio: 1.85/2.40:1

1080p

 

English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (all)

English PCM 5.1 (3)

English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Thai 5.1 (various)

 

Directed by Sam Raimi


Starring Tobey McGuire, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Rosemary Harris, Willem Dafoe, Alfred Molina, Thomas Haden Church, Topher Grace, Bryce Dallas Howard, James Cromwell

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

Yes

Sex

Themes

Language

Mild

"The Spider-Man Trilogy" (Blu-ray)

Synopsis

SM1 - Average teenager Peter Parker is transformed into an extraordinary super hero after he is accidentally bitten by a radioactive spider. When his beloved uncle is savagely murdered during a robbery, young Peter vows to use his powers to avenge his death. Deeming himself "Spider-Man," he sets about ridding the streets of crime, bringing him into conflict with malevolent super-villain "Green Goblin."

SM2 - Tobey Maguire returns as the mild-mannered Peter Parker, who is juggling the delicate balance of his dual life as college student and a superhuman crime fighter. Peter's life becomes even more complicated when he confronts a new nemesis, the brilliant Otto Octavius who has been reincarnated as the maniacal and multi-tentacled "Doc Ock." When Doc Ock kidnaps Peter's girlfriend Mary Jane, Spider-Man must swing back into action as the adventure reaches new heights of unprecedented excitement.

SM3 - Peter Parker finally has the girl of his dreams, Mary Jane Watson, and New York City is in the throes of Spider-mania! But when a strange alien symbiote turns Spider-Man's suit black, his darkest demons come to light, changing Spider-Man inside as well as out. Spider-Man is in for the fight of his life against a lethal mix of villains - the deadly Sandman, Venom, and the New Goblin - as well as the enemy within himself.

Commentary

It was only a matter of time before Sony released their crown jewels onto the Blu-ray format. In all honesty, I was surprised they didn't launch the format with at least the first film if not the first two. This box set contains all three films, but the third film can be purchased separately. I'm sure some fans will be disappointed with the fact that they have to buy all three to enjoy either the first or second film, but I guess that is the way it goes.

I've always been on the fence a bit with the Spider-Man films. The first one was good, though it had its goofy moments. The second upped the ante a bit in terms of production and action, and was still pretty enjoyable, though again silly at times (though I did like the 2.1 cut a bit better than the original).

The third installment I am not a big fan of at all. It has its moments, but unfortunately they are overshadowed by all of the corny humor that bloats the film and the mess of bad guys that didn't really need to all be in one script. The Sandman was a bit useless as a plot point in my opinion (for this film at least), and the amount of coincidences that surround his character throughout the film is almost embarrassing (how many trucks full of sand are just randomly parked throughout New York anyways?)

Venom doesn't get nearly the respect he deserves for being arguably the most famous bad guy in Marvel history and one of the highest points of the Spider-Man comics. Production value is outstanding in the visual department though, and even the sound design is incredible. I just wish they would have done more (or less I guess) with the good part of the story they had to work with.

Regardless of what I think, I know these films have their following and I honestly think the first two are a fun ride.

Technical

Video presentation across these films varies a bit, so I will break them down by film. The audio was pretty much stellar across the board so my comments below pertain to all three films.

SM1 - The video quality of this film is the weakest of the bunch. That is pretty understandable given that it's the oldest, but I was still surprised that it looked as soft as it did at times. Longer shots aren't near the level of detail as the other films, and most of the image has an analog look to it, with fine detail being slightly rolled off. Close ups look really good though and I thought color balance was excellent. The special effects tend to look sharper than the live action footage, which can be distracting, and the colors are a bit bolder in this footage as well. Fine film grain is preserved nicely, and the darker scenes look very good, with excellent depth and contrast. I would rate this one a bit above average for an HD release, but it is quite a bit softer than the other two films (SM3 especially).

SM2 - This is a very good HD transfer, with nice detail and depth. Ever since this was released, I've seen HD clips from it used time and again, so I had a bit of an idea of what to expect with this one, but I was surprised to see a lot of the footage didn't look the same as the demo clips we so often see.

This was especially true of the train fight. The demos are extremely sharp and clean, whereas this version has some fine film grain and is a bit softer. Dimensionality is still excellent, but toned down a bit. I imagine the demo clips had some noise reduction done. Effects blend in far better with this version compared to the first film, making this transfer fare more consistent in quality. Long shots have a lot more detail as well. A very good presentation from Sony.

SM3 - While I sincerely believe this is the weakest film in the trilogy from an overall standpoint, there is no denying that this is an absolutely gorgeous HD transfer. Everything is improved here. Depth, contrast, color balance, detail, all exquisite. Dimensionality is superb throughout. You really get that sense of looking through a window throughout most of this film. Film grain is apparent from time to time, with a couple shots bordering on excessive, but detail is also kept in check. I didn't notice any noise at all, regardless of how much was going on in the film (some of the sand sequences had to have been hard for the compressionist). Colors are dazzling for the most part, and contrast in this film is some of the best I've ever seen. A superb job by Sony on this one.

Audio on all three films is excellent across the board. The first film is probably the weakest when it comes to sound design, but that doesn't mean it isn't a great recording. Dynamics are superb with some very intense bass. Some of the sequences in the second and third film are system-threatening, with some of the lowest bass I've heard (and not heard) in awhile. The third film is still the best though. The entire soundstage is just constantly alive, with outstanding use of the surround soundstage and discrete effects. Bass is constantly a factor, and it's controlled perfectly. At times I thought dialogue could be a bit forward on the first film, but it wasn't overly distracting. All of the films contain a 24-bit TrueHD soundtrack, and the third film has a 16-bit PCM track as well. Honestly, I couldn't tell much of a difference in my system. The levels were slightly different, but once I adjusted the volume, they both sounded amazing.

Extras

No real extras on the first two films, but the second film does have the alternate cut via seamless branching (aka Spider-Man 2.1). The third film is a two-disc set though with quite the load of extras, including a feature commentary, bloopers, a music video photo galleries, lots of production features, location features, and trailers. All of the production featurettes on the second disc (and there are a lot of them) are in HD, which is a nice change from what we've been seeing on most HD releases. All of them go into quite a bit of depth about their production aspect, and I enjoyed the features on the effects works and bad guys.

All of the films feature a bookmark option, which is a feature I've found lacking on the Blu-ray format in general. I hope to see this in future releases as it makes demos a whole lot easier.

- Kris Deering -

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Dreamworks Pictures

2007, Color, Rated PG-13, 2 Hr 23 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

1080p

 

English/French/Spanish DD+ 5.1

 

Directed by Michael Bay


Starring Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Jon Voight, John Turturro, Bernie Mac, Tyrese Gibson

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

Yes

Sex

Innuendo

Language

Mild

"Transformers" (HD DVD)

Synopsis

From director Michael Bay and executive producer Steven Spielberg comes a thrilling battle between the heroic Autobots and the evil Decepticons. When their epic struggle comes to Earth, all that stands between the Decepticons and ultimate power is a clue held by young Sam Witwicky. Unaware that he is mankind's last chance for survival, Sam and Bumblebee, his robot disguised as a car, are in a heart-pounding race against an enemy unlike anything anyone has seen before.

Commentary

I used to watch this cartoon quite a bit when I was a child and am well versed on the history of the story. When I first heard it was being made into a movie, I shuddered. I've seen too many bad films made from TV shows, cartoons, and video games.

But when I saw that Bay and Spielberg were attached, my ears perked a bit. The trailers made this one look like it was going to be quite the action film. After seeing it in D-Cinema, I found myself on the fence. There is no doubt that this film has some amazing action sequences and some of the best special effects put on film, but I can't help but feel like the film was toned way down with some of the campy comedy attached. Some of the funny bits were good (mostly the robot humor), but a lot of it was really bad and took me out of the moment, that and the constant GM car advertising!

I can't help but feel that Bay could have made a very serious action film from this, but the producers wanted something a bit more family friendly. Overall, I think it is a fun popcorn flick, but it could have been so much more.

Technical

As I mentioned before, I saw this one in D-Cinema when it was released. This transfer is a bit different than the digital image I saw there. It is much cleaner. Most of the darker sequences in the film were quite grainy in the theater. Here you see some occasional film grain, but it is rare. I would be willing to bet that the master went through some type of grain removal. I know that AVC has this type of feature. Thankfully detail isn't sacrificed. This is an EXTREMELY detailed image. It doesn't matter what kind of shot either. Long shots look as good as close-ups. Contrast is superb, adding a dimensional quality to the image that you don't see very often. There just isn't anything to complain about here. No matter how insane the action was, I never saw a hint of breakup or compression. The image stayed rock solid throughout. An amazing visual treat.

I saw a lot of badmouthing going on when Paramount announced that this release would only have a DD+ soundtrack offered. I'll admit, I am not that happy about it either. Yes I gave this a 5 for audio, but that doesn't mean that I agree with their soundtrack choice. I strongly believe that all HD releases, regardless of the format, should have at a minimum a full resolution lossless soundtrack in the original language it was recorded in. That aside, this is an amazing soundtrack that I will be using for demonstrations for a long time to come. The sound design is top notch here, with the entire soundstage coming alive and adding to the amazing visual sequences. Dynamics are incredible with intense tactile infrasonics and some insane room filling bass. Surrounds are used aggressively to add to the excitement and put you right in the action. The D-Cinema presentation I saw pales in comparison to how this version sounded in my room. Everything was balanced perfectly with not even the slightest hint of strain (something I've been hearing a bit too much of lately it seems, especially in dialogue). One of the best sounding HD releases I've heard yet.

Extras

Dreamworks has delivered a two-disc set for this release, with the bulk of the features occupying the second disc. On the first disc you'll find a feature commentary with the director and a PiP option that has behind the scenes footage, interviews, and they are similar to what we've seen from Warner with their IME supplements. There is also a web-enabled feature, but I could not get it to work with my Toshiba HD-A35 player.

The second disc is where the bulk of the supplements are located. It is essentially a collection of production features that cover everything from the back-story at Hasbro, to casting, to production design, to the cars, to military involvement, and eventually special effects. I didn't know that Bay had recently acquired Digital Domain. I found that interesting since I thought James Cameron had bought that one back in the day. The trailers are also included on disc 2.

On disc 1 after the main feature, there is a teaser trailer, the trailer for Iron Man, and a montage dedicated to the Autobots as well.

- Kris Deering -

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