With an unprecedented production budget of $25 million, and from the makers of
Seas of Life, comes the epic story of life on Earth. Five years in production, over
2,000 days in
the field, using 40 cameramen...
By far the best complete documentary regarding our planets wild and plant life ever produced. BBC put in a great deal of effort the past 5 years to make this documentary and it shows. From start to finish, the entire series is impressive, bringing to light some rarely seen locations, animals, and plants. From the interior of the Earth to the most extreme parts of our planet, each is painstakingly detailed and visually impressive. The recent broadcasts have received much deserved acclaim on talk radio and news broadcasts, even being recommended by Oprah.
This part of the review I've agonized the most about. Most shots of this film are visually breathtaking, even to the point of seeing the shimmering and bending of light due to zoom lenses and/or extreme cold or heat. At least 90% of the shots are like looking out a window, with vibrant colors and detail. High-speed shots of Fungi growing, or crystal structures in underground caves can only leave ones mouth hanging in awe.
However the transfer suffers from start to finish with the phenomenon known as posterization. This posterization in some shots (especially sun shots or underwater) becomes at times extremely obvious, even to casual viewing. Even to those not sensitive to this phenomenon can see it easily once or twice per disk. Additional nitpicking can pick up even more. Sadly in the most extreme scenes of posterization the broadcast versions handled these select scenes better by showing less extreme forms of posterization. This is unacceptible.
This is not limited to the transfer itself, as the BBCHD logo and title screen suffer from the same effect. This in itself leads me to believe that the problems presented were not entirely the fault of the source but the way it was encoded.
Sadly, because of the posterization problems the overall video quality score had to be lowered to reflect it. This is not to say that most scenes are 9/10 on the PQ scale, they are. The transfer in this case is inconsistent, which does not allow the transfer to be Demo material from start to finish. It's good but it could have been better.
Warner elected to use a standard Dolby Digital 5.1 track, and it does the job. Discrete speaker channels are used during appropriate times, and does a good job of immersing one into the visuals we are seeing on the screen. Many sounds of the environment such as whale song or dolphin sonar are pumped through the appropriate channels. It's unfortunate this effect wasn't used more often for different animals and environments, but the results are very nice and adds to the experience when present. Attenbough also does a fine job of narrating, adding something intangible yet appreciated into the audio.
The audio however is extremely center channel heavy, as one would come to expect from a documentary. Surround channels are reserved for ambient environment noise, and are treated as such. Sadly no lossless audio was included which I have come to love recently with recent PCM releases, and it shows by audio clipping at high volume. It can only lead one to wonder what lossless would have added quality wise.
For some reason Warner decided not to include the making of snippets that were shown on the broadcast versions. Not even some deleted scenes which might have been worth the price of admission alone.
The series by it's own right, is magnificent and completely enjoyable to watch, and the discs are no different. However the video prosterization problems and the lack of any additional extras hurts the overall score for the discs. This is not to say that the series is not worth picking up, as anyone who owns any disc player has no reason not to just for the educational value alone. It’s a shame that on such a high profile release it was not a perfect transfer, whither by encoding or source problems.
As much as I wanted to point out the disc and say “This is why you should own Blu-Ray” and play the entire disc, I can’t as anyone who sees the issues presented with positerization might view it as a problem with the format itself.. Especially if they did not notice the problem on the broadcast version. Instead of a home run, we got an RBI.
Disney / Buena Vista | 2006 | 126 min | Rated PG-13 | Region A (locked) | Apr 24, 2007
Called in to recover evidence in the aftermath of a horrific explosion on a New Orleans ferry, Federal agent Doug Carlin gets pulled away from the scene and taken to a top-secret government lab that uses a time-shifting...
The Movie: 9/10
Being a SciFi nut, I enjoyed the storytelling this movie portrayed. Although borrowing from many years of SciFi, Deja Vu does quite well in making the viewer guess what will be shown on screen next. This is not to say that there is new SciFi material in the film, it borrows much from other films. The strong point of Deja Vu is how it all blends together seemlessly with one focus never being overdone.
Denzel's performance is on par with other movies he's starred in. Consistant, good, but nothing spectacular. Val Kilmer has shown that he's improved since Top Gun (not to mention putting on some weight) and plays great support. Bruce Greenwood also plays a consistant role, and it's unfortunate his screentime is breif.
The story does have a few plot holes, but nothing overboard that ruins the entire experience. We do not know Denzel's character history with the Oaklahoma City Bombings, or who was called in the body bag at the beginning. Nor do we know why he even became interested in Paula Patton's character. Instead we as the audience is left to draw these conclusions by various hints dropped in different scenes.
Try as I might, I could not find anything wrong with this transfer. Granted, this is a above and beyond VC-1 encode, often defing the conventional wisdom of less bits is more for VC-1. It even defies the rival HD-DVD spec by consistantly going above the max bitrate for that format and reaches for the max that BR itself offers. It is very impressive quality wise, as this is what we should come to expect from high def. The transfer is so clear, that on closeups of Denzel you could quite possibly count every skin pore he has.
The film itself has a darker/gold cast that is consistant throughout the entire film. Colors are vibrant and extremely consistant, although some of the higher greens and reds are muted intentionally. The colors reminded me a lot of Invincible, using the same 'gold' overlay. Shadows and blacks are excellent, never looking crushed and showing dimension. Presence of film grain is clear-- but never distracting. Instead the film grian actually adds to the experience, never taking the focus off the movie itself. If this is a product of the high bit encode, I say give us more.
The 5.1 PCM soundtrack is overall very excellent. I only noticed a few scenes in which it suffered from clipping, but only during explosions. This might have actually been a product of the master material, but it is present and generally unnoticable during 99% of the film. All 5.1 channels are used to some extent, but not very active for this day and age. The surround channels are mainly used for ambient music.
The Survellience window provided for the disc is nicely put together -- but nothing above the ordinary. It seems to be a making of combined with the director's commentary, all while seemlessly blended into to the actual film itself. The deleted scenes are also standard for a DVD and makes an appearance on the BR as well.
If you apprechiate and enjoy Denzel as an actor, this movie is a rental if not outright buy. The story is suspenseful and will always keep you guessing what will happen next (at least until the end). If one needs a transfer for potential demo material for AQ and PQ, this is also one to pick up and show what film can look line on today's technology.
Warner Bros. | 2006 | 151 min | Rated R | Region free
| Feb 13, 2007
Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson and Mark Wahlberg star in Martin Scorsese's new crime
Departed. The Departed is set in South Boston where the state police force is waging an all-out war to take
After reading several reviews, I decided to do a blind buy of this title. Thankfully this is one of those titles that I'm extremely glad to own. The movie cast work exceptionally well together. Matt Damon, Mark Wahlberg, and Leonardo DiCaprio have proven that they are excellent actors when given a great director and decent material. I was a little concerned DiCaprio and Damon in main roles, but they've shown they have matured into great actors. To a lesser extent, Wahlberg has earned some respect in my book as well, by giving a very strong showing. Complimented by Jack Nicholson, Alec Baldwin and Martin Sheen this movie hands down is one that is star studded and doesn't fall short of expectations. Jack Nicholson of course does exceptionally well, doing what he always does by being himself. Baldwin and Sheen in their supporting roles command respect, and share the screen exceptionally well with the younger actors. Baldwin taking a shot at Walhberg being a bartender in Invincible makes me wonder if that was ad-libed or not, which is comedy either way. Each scene is surprizingly ballanced, with only Nicholson occasonally stealing the show from DiCaprio.
However, the movie is a bit hard to follow cutting back and forth and uses a unique way of telling the story. Maybe some key parts were cut short due to the running time, and plot holes will be closed during a directors or extended edition. With that said, the theatrical version took me a couple viewings to understand everything, but that was fine. I enjoyed watching it the second time as much as the first time. Language was a little strong however, with various scenes littered with profanity. Granted the nature of the movie does allow for the language, but some people actually might find it distractive or distasteful.
As a note, the scene with the Chinese buyers were actually speaking a form of Chinese and not the typical pig latin for these types of scenes. My fiance who is native Chinese giggled at what they were saying and gave a rough translation to me. It's a shame that there were not subtitles, as it would have added to the scene.
Video: 7 out of 10
After reading various reviews on the PQ of this title, I found them to be a little off. Picture for the most part is vibrant, with exceptional blacks and color saturation. But that is not to say that the transfer was perfect. Several scenes showed afterglow or edge enhancement of the previous frames on the next frame (DiCaprio and Farmiga in the hallway near the end is the most obvious). The second time through watching, I noticed a couple other scenes in which that same afterglow was present, but just not as obvious. It almost seemed that the scenes and frames these appeared were bitstarved or downrezzed. These scenes were far and in between and did not distract to badly from the film. The transfer also seemed to be lacking something, although I can't place my finger on it. Perhaps it was the slight inconsistant apperance from cut to cut, as during these times the film seemed to go slightly out of focus from the print. It's definately an above average transfer but there are better transfers for perfect demo material.
Audio: 9 out of 10
The PCM sound track is nothing less than exceptional. Each channel is used to it's fullest, and the entire soundtrack and dialog is crystal clear. Listening to the PCM track can possibly even convince non audiophiles the improvement over DVD Dolby Digital or DTS. I only noticed one part of the PCM track that was a little weak during a few gunshots and dialog, but I have a feeling this was more of an issue with the studio mix or boom mike locations. It's the only reason that the sound quality was reduced a point.
Extras: 4 out of 10
Seeing that DVD's on average place an audio track of the director commentary, it was dissapointing that Scorsese wasn't included in some form of documentary. Looking through the other extra's included, you can tell that he did his homework and is proud of his movie. Perhaps when we have a director's or extended edition, an audio commentary track will be included.
Overall: 8 out of 10
If you do not mind frequent strong language, I recommend this film to others. The movie is very fun to watch even if it is a little hard to follow. Seeing Baldwin, Nicholson and Sheen together on the screen is worth the price of admission alone. The film has replay value too, as you pick up additional bits during successive showings. The strong showings of Damon, DiCaprio, and Wahlberg also make me excited to see some of their future offeings.
If you are a fan of war movies it's a given that you've watched Full Metal Jacket at least once. The movie is decisively split into two different parts -- boot camp and Vietnam. The first part of the movie is the best, with some of the most memorable quotes coming from Gunnery Sgt Hartman (Lee Emery). To this day, various radio stations use audio clips from this movie. Additionall Lee Emery has done cameo appearances reprising his role (The Frighteners) with the same flavor and spirit. The second part of the movie based in Vietnam seems generic and finishes a bit weak. An over abundance of stereotypes prevade the end of the movie, from sexuality and death. Essentially it is two movies spliced into one with part one being the better of the two. When seeing this movie on TV, I generally turn off the second half as I quickly loose interest on the vietnam cutover.
Video: 2 out of 10
The film they used in the transfer is generally clean , free from blemishes and dust speckles, and overall is pretty consistant with the delivery of bleached colors. Before you rush out and buy it though, beware that this film is extremely grainy. From the very beginning of the Warner logo, to the ending credits the grain is overt and is very much in your face. The entire film flickers and moves with film grain, especially stationary backgrounds such as walls. Shadows and dark spots are mostly undefined and gives the appearane of looking through a dirty window. It has so much grain infact that daylight/cloud scenes look unnatural and digital noise appears (especially in dawn scenes). The transfer itself is also extremely soft and seems more like a DVD upconvert.
However, some of the night time vietnam scenes looked great. One scene in particular seemed truely HD. The grain was more natural during this scene, it was sharp, and had definition in shadows and hues. Had the entire transfer looked like that, it would have easily been an above average transfer.
Audio: 4 out of 10
Although the Dolby Digital 5.1 is definately better than the mono or Dolby Prologic versions of the DVD and VHS, the extra channels for audio are barely used. Rear speakers seem more for ambient noise and music. With that said, the audio is definately a front heavy mix. The mix itself also is lacking high's and lows. With that said, the mix isn't bad, but it isn't good either. It's on par with DVD Dolby 5.1.
Extras: 1 out of 10
A lone 2 minute movie trailer is all that is included with this release. There is no audio commentary track. Addtionally the movie trailer is presented in 480p, looks stretched, and is less grainy than the theatrical film. It's not even worth watching unless you want to see how badly the transfer of the movie itself was lacking.
Overall: 4 out of 10
If you are a fan of this movie, it is slightly better than the DVD versions currently out there. Colors are a bit more defined, and the Dolby 5.1 is recomended over mono or prologic. However it is in desperate need of another remaster. Natural film grain seems to produce digital noise, the encode was extremely soft, and the audio track needs serious re-working. If you are happy with your DVD upconvert, I suggest renting this movie before buying it.