Go to Home Page

Go to Index for All Movie Reviews.

 

Movie Renter's Guide
 

Number 152 - November, 2007

Part III

Staff

 


Now Playing
Divider

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (Blu-ray) Paprika (Blu-ray)
Beowulf & Grendel (Blu-ray) I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry (HD DVD)
Shrek The Third (HD DVD) Hollow Man (Blu-ray)
Hairspray (Blu-ray) A Room with a View (HD DVD)
Pixar Short Films, Vol. I (Blu-ray) Cars (Blu-ray)

Number 152 - November, 2007 - Part I

Number 152 - November, 2007 - Part II

Number 152 - November, 2007 - Part III

Movie Reviews Index

Divider

Columbia/EMI

1977, Color, Rated PG, 2 Hr 17 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

1080p

 

English/Spanish/French Dolby TrueHD 5.1

English DTS-HS MA 5.1

 

Directed by Steven Spielberg

 

Starring:

Richard Dreyfuss, Teri Garr, Melinda Dillon, Francois Truffaut

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

Mild

Sex

No

Language

Mild

"Close Encounters of the Third Kind" (Blu-ray)

Synopsis

Planes reported missing in 1945 suddenly appear in the Mojave desert. A commercial flight is buzzed by a 'bright' object that the pilot 'wouldn't know how to describe'. Roy Neary, while working one night, has a "Close Encounter..."

The US Government determines where the visitors plan to land and create an elaborate cover-up to keep people away. However, a group of people, including Neary, share a vision which draws them to the place and a meeting with new, and old, friends.

Commentary

Spielberg's masterwork of science fiction makes its premier on Blu-ray disc and marks the first directorial feature by the director to appear in high definition (Spielberg did direct one of the short films on Twilight Zone which is available in HD as well).

This "Ultimate Edition" includes three different cuts of the film that can be watched via seamless branching. This includes the theatrical cut, the special edition, and a new director's cut. The packaging has a photo booklet and a pull out that shows the differences between the cuts in a timeline. The new director's cut trims out the final sequence in the mother ship and adds some of the character development that was in the original but trimmed in the special edition. Needless to say this is a must-own for fans of the film.

Technical

I was a bit apprehensive about this one going in. I got an early peek during the recent Blu-ray festival, and it looked quite grainy on their display. Thankfully most of the issues I saw there were display related.

This is an exquisite transfer from Sony. I was astounded at how the film looked. Fine detail is superb throughout most of the story, and the level of dimension is outstanding. There will be some minor gripes about the matte work done for the special effects as they do tend to soften the image up quite a bit compared to the non-effects shots, but this was a limitation of the technology at the time. Colors are spot on, and despite the camera work done, no bleeding is evident, even for the effects. I can say without a doubt that this transfer is leaps and bounds above anything I've seen before for this movie (and I've seen this film A LOT). Bravo to Sony on a superb presentation!

Sony has included no less than four lossless soundtracks for this release. Talk about loading up! Two of these soundtracks are in English and include a Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack, both delivered in 48/24 resolution.

This marks the first Sony release with a DTS-HD MA soundtrack, and I've been informed this was at the request of Spielberg himself. I listened to both soundtracks in their full quality, and honestly, I couldn't tell the difference. Both had a wonderful sense of atmosphere to them, and despite their age, they both delivered the goods in terms of dynamics and extension.

My only real gripe is the balance of dialogue with the soundstage. Early on in the film it was hard to make out the dialogue when the actors were in the desert during a storm. I know this was part of the sound design, but I've seen this enough times to know it wasn't always an issue. There was also some slight strain in some of the voices a few times, but nothing too distracting. Bass can be quite ominous at times (the scene by the train tracks is a great example) but isn't overdone like most sci-fi movies. Surrounds are used aggressively to add to the soundstage and do a wonderful job of filling the room.

Extras

Extras include interviews and a look back at the production of the film. There are some storyboard comparisons, the old feature on the production "Watch the Skies", a fact track, deleted scenes and more.

- Kris Deering -

Divider

Starz Home Entertainment

2005, Color, Rated R, 1 Hr 44 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

1080p

 

English Uncompressed PCM 5.1

English DD 5.1

 

Directed by Sturla Gunnarsson


Starring Gerard Butler, Stellan Skarsgard, Sarah Polley

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

Strong

Sex

Mild

Language

Strong

"Beowulf & Grendel" (Blu-ray)

Synopsis

Beowulf & Grendel tells the bloody tale of the warrior Beowulf's battle with Grendel, a great and murderous troll. In this thoroughly updated version of the seminal Anglo Saxon poem, the battle-scarred Norse hero Beowulf leads a troop of warriors across the sea to help an old friend, King Hrothgar, whose kingdom is being ravaged by the marauding troll, Grendel.

However, Beowulf's attempts to fight the troll are thwarted when Grendel refuses to engage him in battle. When Beowulf meets Salma, a mysterious and sensual witch, his understanding of revenge is further complicated.

Commentary

Having just seen the new theatrical re-imagining of this classic tale, it was nice to have a different look that's a bit more grounded to compare to. This version brings the tale to life in a more convincing manner and approaches a story that is far more believable and not as much of a fantasy epic.

The production value isn't nearly as high, but the acting and storyline more than make up for it. I'm surprised this didn't get a wide spread release, as it has some great actors attached to it. Personally I found it more satisfying than the new version of the story and more in line with the story we all had the pleasure of reading during school.

Technical

The video presentation is pretty weak for an HD release, but looks to be limited more from the photography style than anything else. Colors are somewhat muted, and the overall look of the film could definitely be defined as soft. Detail wavers from scene to scene, with some moments offering nice detail and dimension, only to be followed up with softer moments that leave detail in a blur. Contrast is lacking a bit, with blacks being a bit elevated. Compression is never an issue, but there is some edge enhancement at times, mainly in the backgrounds, that can distract a bit.

The soundtrack fares quite a bit better and is delivered in uncompressed 5.1. Dynamics are good, but this isn't a movie with expensive sound design. Instead you have a track that focuses more on the environments, and it excels in that department. Surrounds do a nice job of adding to the ambience and realism of the soundstage, and all of the soundtrack is balanced well. Dialogue is a bit funky in that they use a lot of modern words for such an old tale, but its tonal balance and timbre are fine.

Extras

Extras include a feature commentary with the director and screenwriter, the trailer, and some storyboard sketches.

- Kris Deering -

Divider

Dreamworks Animation

2007, Color, Rated PG, 1 Hr 32 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

1080p

 

English/French/Spanish DD+ 5.1

 

Directed by Chris Miller

 

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

Themes

Sex

Innuendo

Language

Mild

"Shrek The Third" (HD DVD)

Synopsis

When Shrek married Fiona, the last thing he had in mind was becoming the next King of Far Far Away. But when Shrek's father-in-law, King Harold, suddenly croaks, that is exactly what he faces.

Recruiting Donkey and Puss In Boots for a new quest, Shrek sets out to bring back the rightful heir to the throne. Meanwhile, back in the kingdom, Fiona's jilted Prince Charming storms the city with an army of fairy tale villains to seize the throne. Fiona and a band of princesses must stop him to ensure there will be a kingdom left to rule!

Commentary

I enjoyed the first two films in this trilogy, but I have to admit, I didn't care for this latest edition. I fell asleep at the theater, and almost did again watching it at home. The story just doesn't hold my interest nearly as well as the first two. The humor isn't quite as good, and the story moves along at a much slower pace. The animation is still exceptional though, and my daughter loves it (which is what counts at the end of the day). While I think it is the weakest of the series, I was still happy to see Dreamworks release it on HD. Now if we could only convince them to release the other two.

Technical

CG animation is just one of those things that shines in HD. I have cable recordings of the first two Shrek films in HD and they both look sensational, even at low bit rates. This HD DVD release improves upon those with great detail, depth, and color. We've been spoiled lately with all the great animation we're getting in HD. While I don't think this one holds up as well as some of the new Pixar releases, it is noting to smirk at. The texture and detail in the animation here is incredible, and you see every detail. My only complaint is the softness that tends to creep in on occasion in longer shots.

Dreamworks did some dynamic lighting effects for this film that may lend to that, but I don't remember it looking that way in the D-Cinema presentation. Colors are slightly muted in comparison to the second film, but this is intentional and in line with the slightly darker storyline. Compression is never an issue, and the image is devoid of artifacts. Easily one of the best animated presentations I've seen yet on HD.

Paramount/Dreamworks continues its support of lossy soundtracks with a 1.5 Mbps DD+ soundtrack presentation. Like most animated features, this one has some pretty exceptional sound design, though it isn't quite as aggressive as some of the other animated films I've watched recently. Ambience is rich, and I loved the use of the surrounds, especially in the more action oriented sequences. Bass is tight but not as deep and overcooked as some animated features tend to be. I still have issues with the soundtrack selections, a reoccurring issue I've had with all of the Shrek films.

Extras

Extras are a bit hit or miss on this one. There are some interesting picture in picture comparatives that I enjoyed, but a lot of the comic based features are a bit lame. These include pre-production bloopers, extended music and comedy sequences, and a few other tidbits. I couldn't get my player to connect to the Internet properly for some reason, so I wasn't able to evaluate the on-line content offered by this release. The customized menus were interesting, but I still think there is more potential for original extras from HD.

- Kris Deering -

Divider

New Line

2007, Color, Rated PG, 1 Hr 57 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

1080p

 

English DTS-HD MA 7.1

 

Directed by Adam Shankman


Starring John Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken, Amanda Bynes, Queen Latifah, Zac Efron

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

No

Sex

 Themes

Language

Mild

"Hairspray" (Blu-ray)

Synopsis

It's 1962, and change is in the air in Baltimore. Tracy Turnblad, a girl with big hair and big dreams, has only one passion in life - to dance on "The Corny Collins Show." When her chance arrives, she grooves her way into instant stardom and the eyes of teen-dream Link Larkin. But with the program's scheming stage manager against her, trend-setting Tracy will need the help of her best friend Penny, her bighearted mother, and sassy co-host Motormouth Maybelle to show the world that all it takes to make a dream come true is a toe-tappin' beat and a little Hairspray!

Commentary

I must say, most of the newer musicals out there have been very hit or miss for me. While I've been a fan of some, most leave a sour taste in my mouth. I found this one to be a bit of a mixed bag. It has a lot of catchiness to it, but at the same time it loses me a bit with its production values. I just felt they distracted a bit at times.

The racial overtones of the entire story were also a mixed bag. I thought the story carries a great message, but I didn't always care for how it was delivered. To me it took away from the value at times. The musical numbers are fun though. I enjoyed this far more than the recent Dreamgirls, but they are entirely different types of films I guess. This one reminded me a bit more of Crybaby, and I was delighted to see the short cameo by that film's star!

Technical

New Line joins the HD foray with their very first Blu-ray offering. I guess they are planning an HD DVD release sometime in early 2008 due to region coding issues, so we'll comment on that one then. This is a dual encode presentation with one encode of the film and another with a PiP feature burned in. This is similar to what we've seen with several Blu-ray features in the past. Thankfully it doesn't seem to hurt the presentation much if at all.

There is plenty of pop in this transfer, especially from the color. The filmmakers went out of their way to make this a very stylized film, and the the colors and detail shine the most. Great saturation and fine detail is incredible. Longer shots look great, but at times I saw a bit of softness creep in. Contrast is exceptional and helps with the dimensionality of the image, which is excellent. I love the glow of the 60's look that is predominant throughout this entire feature.

New Line continues to be a big backer of DTS and offers up a full 7.1 discrete DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. Thankfully, we now have full decoding capabilities for DTS-HD MA here at Secrets, so I was able to listen to this soundtrack in its full lossless 7.1 form.

Atmosphere is definitely the strongest point of this soundtrack. All of the channels are alive in this one, and the room jumps with the ambience and tunes of the film. The musical numbers are great, and dynamic range is exceptional for each and every song. Dialogue is balanced perfectly with the rest of the track, and I loved the seamless nature of the soundtrack from speaker to speaker. A great first release from New Line on this one!

Extras

New Line's first outing is quite the package! This two-disc set is chock full of goodies, all revolving around the genre of the film. There are some sing along features, including a lyric track that has a bit of a karaoke them to it. There are also dance instructions for those of you who want to get into the fun. Deleted scenes are included and a documentary on making the film that has behind the scenes looks at the production and interviews. There is a PiP running commentary that also looks at the production and dance sequences, with commentary from most of the people involved. Another feature is a look at the original Broadway production and bringing it from there to the big screen.

- Kris Deering -

Divider

Walt Disney

2007, Color, Unrated, 54 Mins.

 

Aspect Ratio: various

1080p

 

English PCM 5.1/2.0

English/French/Spanish DD 5.1/2.0

 

Directed By: Various

 

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

No

Sex

No

Language

No

"Pixar Short Films, Vol. I" (Blu-ray)

Synopsis

Experience these masterpieces of storytelling from the creative minds that brought you Toy Story, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, and many more. With revolutionary animation, unforgettable music and characters you love, these dazzling short films have changed the face of animation and entertainment, and are sure to delight people of all ages for years to come.

Commentary

Funny, I was thinking that it would be a great idea for Pixar to release a shorts collection when I saw Ratatouille in theaters recently. No less than a week later, they announced a collection! If you're as big of a fan of their short films as I am, this is a godsend. Pixar has delivered some of the best animated features to date and their shorts are just as good.

This collection has all of them, including the newest one, Lifted. All of the features are in HD but some have been up-converted from their original renderings, so the picture quality varies a bit with the earlier works. But once you hit Knick Knack and on, the quality of the animation is breathtaking. There is no doubt in my mind that Pixar continues to be the best in the business when it comes to animation, and this is a must own in my opinion.

Technical

As I mentioned before, the quality of the animation varies a bit as we see some of the earliest work done by Pixar. You really get a sense of how much progress this animation company achieved over the years. Most people have no idea just how long these guys have been chugging away before they release the first ever full length CG animated feature, Toy Story. Some of the earlier shorts can be a bit soft looking and don't have nearly the same amount of fine detail as the later features. But each short gets progressively better and better in terms of color rendition, detail, depth, and visual impact. Some of my favorites for video include For the Birds, One Man Band, and Lifted. These will be used for demos for quite some time to come in my house.

Like the video, the audio quality varies a bit from feature to feature and improves dramatically as you progress through. But the variance isn't quite as dramatic as the video's was. Pixar was lucky enough to work with some great sound designers right from the beginning during their days under LucasFilm. If you take note of the sound designers in the credits, you'll see what I mean. The soundtracks of the later films are demo worthy, especially Lifted, Mater and the Ghostlight, and Jack-Jack Attack. Incredible range, outstanding use of the surround environment and presence.

Extras

Extras include a look at the production of these shorts and the evolving of Pixar as an animation studio. It shows early design work and conceptual renderings. You also get interviews with John Lasseter and some of the other principals involved. Each short film also has a feature commentary.

- Kris Deering -

Divider

Sony Pictures Classics

2006, Color, Rated R, 1 Hr 30 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

1080p

 

English/Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1

Spanish/French/Chinese, Thai/Portuguese  DD 5.1

 

Directed by Satoshi Kon


 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

Yes

Sex

Mild

Language

Mild

"Paprika" (Blu-ray)

Synopsis

Prepare to enter the realm of fantasy and imagination - where reality and dreams collide in a kaleidoscopic mindscape of sheer visual genius. The magical tale centers on a revolutionary machine that allows scientists to enter and record a subject's dream. After the machine is stolen, a fearless detective and brilliant therapist join forces to recover the device - before it falls into the hands of a "dream terrorist" in this gripping anime thriller from acclaimed director Satoshi Kon.

Commentary

I've always been a big fan of anime films. This one is done by the same team responsible for Tokyo Godfathers, but this time they tackle a different type of storyline. This film revolves around dreams and the power they have to heal and to hurt. The imagery is outstanding, and the animators did an excellent job capturing the dream states and blending "real" life with the dream world. The story is solid enough to be entertaining, but not quite as good as some of the more popular films in this genre. The animation holds up very well, but don't expect the pop and detail of most CG offerings on the market.

Technical

The animation style for this feature is quite bizarre, and Mad House did a great job with the dream sequences. Colors are a bit on the muted side compared to some anime I've seen, but are in line with what most people expect from a hand drawn feature. During the dream sequences, color saturation is a bit deeper, and colors appear a bit livelier. Detail is good, but this isn't a razor sharp image like most CG animation. It has its moments, but they aren't predominant. Compression is never an issue though, regardless of how much chaos is going on. Considering how many soundtracks this disc has and the amount of imagery on screen, that speaks volumes for Blu-ray's technical abilities.

There are two lossless audio soundtracks on this disc, but I only focused on the original language track (Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1). This is a very interesting mix during the dream sequences as well, with lots of good use of the surround soundstage and some nice extension into the lower range. Dialogue is pretty cheesy in tone, and the characters are overdone a bit, lending a comical feel to the performances. The soundtrack is also a bit on the cheesy side and reminded me more of something I would find on a bad video game soundtrack or cut scene. While it does have its impressive moments, this wouldn't be the reason to pick it up.

Extras

Extras include a feature commentary, a production documentary, a look at the dream sequences, some features on the animation styles and development, and storyboard comparisons.

- Kris Deering -

Divider

Universal

2007, Color, Rated PG-13, 1 hr 56 mins

 

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

1080p

 

English Dolby TrueHD 5.1

English/French DD+ 5.1


Directed By Dennis Dugan

 

Starring Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Jessica Biel, Ving Rhames, Steve Buscemi, Dan Akroyd

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

Mild

Sex

Strong Themes

Language

Yes

"I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry" (HD DVD Hybrid)

Synopsis

Adam Sandler and Kevin James star as best friends and fellow firefighters Chuck and Larry, the pride of their Brooklyn fire station.

Chuck owes Larry for saving his life. Larry calls in that favor big-time by asking Chuck to pose as his "domestic partner" so his kids will get his pension. But when a fact-checking bureaucrat becomes suspicious, the two straight guys are forced to improvise as love-struck newlyweds.

Commentary

I must say, I didn't have high hopes going into this one. Adam Sandler has been really hit or miss with me with comedies (usually love his serious toned work), and the subject matter of this one didn't look very promising. But it turned out better than I thought. There are definitely some funny moments throughout, so I didn't feel like I totally wasted my time. Sure every stereotype in the book is used, but they still provide some good chuckles. There is some nice eye candy, courtesy of Jessica Biel as well.

Technical

I think this is the first HD DVD to have a U-Control feature, a 1.85:1 transfer, AND a Dolby TrueHD soundtrack. Looking at this format from a technical side, this seemed like a bit of a hurdle, given HD DVD's limited bandwidth in comparison to rival Blu-ray. While I wouldn't call this title a counter strike to this hurdle (this is a fairly clean transfer that would have been easy to compress and the U-Control feature is a bit light on content), it is nice to see Universal try and press on.

The video transfer is quite good, but I wasn't expecting much less from a film of this age. Some of the effects work is plain awful (the guys on the fire truck in the beginning in front of a green screen looks dreadful), and some of the colors in the movie look hideous. Detail is quite good though, and the depth of image can be striking at times. I was really impressed with some of the outdoor shots when the firemen are outside of a smoking building. Plenty of pop, fine detail, and depth. There is a tinge of edge enhancement, but nothing that was overly distracting. A nice transfer, but not quite reference.

The soundtrack is presented in lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and is a mixed bag of sorts. Dynamics are a bit compressed, with only a few moments of extension into the low end. Dialogue sounds good for the most part, but the imaging across the main soundstage sounded a bit condensed. Ambience is decent, and surrounds are used to add to the envelopment of the track, but this isn't something you'd use to show off your new home theater.

Extras

Universal provides some U-Control support on this one with a running friendship test that you answer as the movie progresses. Overall, I thought this was a bit cheesy, but it sticks with the themes in the film. There are also some web-enabled features, but they didn't amount to much, and frankly didn't warrant the amount of time it took the player to access them.

There are also some deleted scenes, interviews, production features, and some funny outtakes.

- Kris Deering -

Divider

Columbia Pictures

2000, Color, Unrated, 1 Hr 58 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

1080p

 

English PCM 5.1

English DD 5.1

 

Directed by Paul Verhoeven


Starring Kevin Bacon, Elizabeth Shue, Josh Brolin

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

Yes

Sex

Yes

Language

Strong

"Hollow Man" (Blu-ray)

Synopsis

What would you do if you were invisible? How far would you go? After years of experimentation, Dr. Sebastian Caine, a brilliant but arrogant and egotistical scientist working for the Defense Department, has successfully transformed mammals to an invisible state and brought them back to their original physical form.

Determined to achieve the ultimate breakthrough, Caine instructs his team to move on to Phase III: human experimentation. Using himself as the first subject, the invisible Caine finds himself free to do the unthinkable. But Caine's experiment takes an unexpected turn when his team can't bring him back. As the days pass, he grows more and more out of control, doomed to a future without flesh as the "Hollow Man."

Commentary

Hollow Man is a thriller directed by the ever-popular Paul Verhoeven. A sort of mad scientist flick, it follows a government funded research group on their quest to make living things invisible. After successfully completing the experiment on a gorilla, the lead scientist decides to try it on himself. Unfortunately the reversal isnít working and slowly he starts going mad. A kind of ethics tale that makes you wonder: what would you do if you knew no one could see you? This was a pretty fun film and definitely keeps with the directorís style of action, mystery, and eroticism.

Technical

I used this film for demonstrations of DVD back when it was released as part of Sony's "Superbit" line. The reconstruction scene of the gorilla was always a favorite of mine for detail, depth, and color. This new HD transfer definitely improves on that one with less noise, less ringing, and a complete lack of compression artifacts. Fine film grain is now resolved and the level of fine detail is quite a step forward. Colors still have pop, but the CG effects are starting to look a bit on the aged side now. The rest of the photography is good, but leans to the soft side compared to some of the newer films out there. I like the natural photography style though. Fans of the film will definitely be pleased.

Sony includes an uncompressed 5.1 PCM mix on this one. This film always had an interesting sound design, especially with some of the animal sounds in the labs. There is a nice sense of envelopment throughout the entire film, and the use of surrounds to heighten the experience is excellent. Dialogue is pitch perfect with no strain or poor ADR.

Extras

Extras include an HBO behind the scenes feature, a collection of production features that deconstruct the filming and effects, and a picture in picture comparison of the special effects.

- Kris Deering -

Divider

BBC Films

1986, Color, Rated PG, 1 hour 57 mins

 

Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1

1080p

 

English DTS-HD 5.1

 

Directed by James Ivory


Starring Helena Bonham Carter, Daniel Day Lewis, Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Julian Sands, Simon Callow

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

No

Sex

Themes

Language

Mild

"A Room with a View" (HD DVD)

Synopsis

A Room with a View tells the story of the coming of age of Lucy Honeychurch. Longing to burst free from the repression of British upper class manners and mores, she must wrestle with her inner romantic longings to choose between the passionate George and the priggish but socially suitable Cecil.

Commentary

This film was nominated for quite a few Academy Awards back in the day and even took home a few. This is the first time to see it for me, and honestly, I don't know what all the hoopla was about. This film is classified as a bit of a romantic comedy, but it isn't anything of the sort. It is more of a dramatic play come to life on the big screen, and a bit of a drab one at that. The performances are all good enough, but the character development is weak, and frankly, so is the story. I usually enjoy this genre immensely, and British humor, but this film tested my patience, and even my wife didn't like it.

Technical

This is an older film and the quality of the print is very hit or miss. There is quite a bit of film grain in some instances, but thankfully it never hurts the image much. This is a lot softer than most of the HD transfers on the market now, but it fits the mood of the film for the most part. Depth is better than I expected, and some of the fine detail isn't too bad.

The print is very shaky at times, especially towards the beginning of the film, and this was quite annoying at times. I also saw some bad cuts from scene to scene and intra-scene. While it doesn't have the compression issues of the DVD format, or edge enhancement, it doesn't compare to the better HD transfers out there.

The audio presentation could be one of the worst I've heard so far from either format. The soundtrack is presented in DTS-HD 5.1 and is all over the place. The dialogue is the biggest issue. Whoever did the ADR for this film should be shot. It is the worst I've heard in a long time. Most of the time the voice work is very forward and completely unrealistic given the environments the characters are in. You can tell they recorded it separately, but then they cut in with dialogue recorded on set which sounds fine, but makes the other parts just sound worse. The balance of the score with the rest of the soundtrack is awful, and the imaging relies too much on hard pans to certain channels and collapses the soundstage. There just wasn't really anything here to like.

Extras

Extras include a feature commentary, a look back at the success of the film, photo galleries, and the trailer.

- Kris Deering -

Divider

Walt Disney

2006, Color, Rated G, 1 hour 56 mins.

 

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1

1080p

 

English PCM 5.1

English DD 5.1

 

Directed by John Lasseter


Starring Owen Wilson, Paul Newman, Larry the Cable Guy, Cheech Marin

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

No

Sex

No

Language

No

"Cars" (Blu-ray)

Synopsis

Hotshot rookie race car Lightning McQueen is living life in the fast lane until he hits a detour on his way to the most important race of his life. Stranded in Radiator Springs, a forgotten town on the old Route 66, he meets Sally, Mater, Doc Hudson, and a variety of quirky characters who help him discover that there's more to life than trophies and fame.

Commentary

Pixar has finally made its way to the Blu-ray format and with no less than three new releases the same day! This film got a lukewarm reception for a Pixar production, but I loved it. Being a big fan of Doc Hollywood, it was easy to see the parallels that were drawn between the two films. The animation is second to none, and Pixar continues to bring amazing stories along with the best CG animation in the business. A must have for home theater demonstrations and good family fun.

Technical

If you have ever wanted to get one of those video transfers that is just literally PERFECT, well, this is one of them. Honestly, my jaw was on the floor from start to finish. The DVD of this film had a lot of issues for me. Mosquito noise, ringing, aliasing, the works. This new HD transfer is spectacular. I swear you feel like you can reach into the screen and just touch the cars. Depth, detail, color, all first rate. I have not seen anything on any format to date that can touch this, it is that good.

The full resolution PCM soundtrack is also amazing. You can crank this up to reference level and enjoy on a top flight home theater system. I love that Disney did not feel the need to exaggerate the level of this soundtrack. There are so many out there right now that are encoded louder than they should be to trick you into thinking they sound better than the last one. Dynamic range is incredible here, and this Blu-ray has some of the best demonstration material I've seen yet. Bass is incredibly strong, but tight and detailed. Surrounds are used aggressively to put you in the action at the race track, but also do a wonderful job of creating the atmosphere of Pixar's gorgeous landscapes. Pixar continues to deliver some of the best audio entertainment out there!

Extras

Lots of extras on this Blu-ray release. There are some games for the kids, including a car finder game. There are some production features and deleted scenes, two animated shorts in full HD, a picture in picture commentary, and most of the supplements from the DVD release.

- Kris Deering -

Divider

 
© Copyright 2007 Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity

Go to Table of Contents for this Issue.

Go to Home Page.

 

About Secrets

Register

Terms and Conditions of Use