Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Rest Stop: Don't Look Back Blu-ray Review

The Thing Blu-ray Review

The Thing Blu-ray Review
Written by Loys Johnson

Video
The Thing comes to Blu-ray with a 1080p VC-1 video transfer, and wow does it look good. Right from the start I knew the transfer would be fantastic, and luckily it stayed that way. Colors are great, detail is fantastic, and black levels are solid. The colors are rich and vibrant, much better than I expected. Detail was also great, with close-ups and textures of clothing being quite impressive. The film also manages to keep black levels solid, adding to the pop of the transfer. I found I had the DVD, despite never seeing the film, and popped in for a comparison, the difference is quite outstanding. 8/10.

Audio
DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio is included,and was left very pleased. Dialogue was clear and never too quiet. Surround speakers were not put to use as much as I would have liked, but the use was definitely decent, and most likely the best it could have sounded. The track definitely helped add to the experience which is The Thing, it really just adds the extra kick to an already great horror experience. 8/10.

Extras
Feature Commentary with Kurt Russell and Director John Carpenter
Picture-In-Picture track
My Scenes

Extras were disappointing, a feature commentary was incuded and was definitely entertaining. I definitely loved the added humor in the commentary, and was just fantastic. The Picture-in-Picture track is the 85 minute documentary, cut up and included as a Picture-in-Picture track, even more disappointing. I love Picture-in-Picture, but not if it means sacrificing extras to make one. My Scenes allows you to bookmark your favorite scenes, and click back on them anytime. 3/10.

Blu-news Summary
The Thing was a new experience to me, and I loved it. The ending could have been a bit stronger, but I found the story just so interesting, and found myself on the edge of my seat once things started getting freaky. The cast is great, and Kurt Russell did a great job in the film. The Thing was not the perfect horror fllick, but it was definitely above average. The Blu-ray presentation is fantastic, other than the lacking extras. Overall The Thing is 'Recommended.'

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Monday, September 29, 2008

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull Blu-ray Review

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull Blu-ray Review
Written by Loys Johnson

Video
The 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 video transfer looks quite good, with fantastic colors and and great detail. Black levels are very deep, and very strong. The transfer leaps off the screen even in the darkest scenes. Detail is great despite the film's misty and sandy environments. Colors were rich and bold, and one of the strongest things about the transfer. The film's CGI was quite bad, as it was very obvious, but still looked quite good in high-def. Indiana Jones is a vibrant and fantastic title to show off the Blu-ray format, and the transfer does not disappoint. 9/10.

Audio
Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio is included, and sounds fantastic right from the start of the film. The film's score makes fantastic use of the surround speakers, as do any of the action scenes. The car chase scene in the jungle sounds incredible, the car's smashing against each other, the monkeys coming from every angle, it's the sound of perfection. Dialogue is nice and clear, and never felt too quiet despite everything going on. Indy is fantastic demo material, one which I can see many using to show off their Blu-ray setup. 10/10.

Extras

Disc 1:
Indiana Jones Timelines (HD)
The Return Of A Legend (17:34) (HD)
Pre-Production (11:44) (HD)
Trailers - Theatrical Trailer 2 (1:52) (HD) Theatrical Trailer 3 (1:55) (HD)

Disc 2:
Production Diary: Making 'Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull' (1:20:52) (HD)
Warrior Makeup (5:34) (HD)
The Crystal Skulls (10:10) (HD)
Iconic Props (9:59) (HD)
The Effects Of Indy (22:42) (HD)
Adventures In Post-Production (12:44) (HD)
Closing: Team Indy (3:41) (HD)
Pre-Visualization Sequences - Area 51 Escape (3:51) (HD) Jungle Chase (5:47) (HD) Ants Attack (4:29) (HD)
Galleries (HD):
The Art Department
Stan Winston Studio
Production Photographs
Portraits
Behind-the-Scenes Photographs
Subtitles - English, French, Spanish, Portuguese

Extras were packed for this 2-disc special edition. Every step of the way in producing the film was included, from pre-production, to editing scenes. The idea of bringing Indy back for a 4th installment was quite entertaining as well, Steven Spielberg talks quite a bit about the idea and what persuaded him to go ahead with a 4th Indy film. Warrior makeup was quite boring, just the makeup process involved for the warriors, nothing riveting there.

The pre-visualization sequences provide a look at the scenes prior to actual filming, and quite entertaining, a very good job was done with the scenes. The Production diary was the longest feature, and provides a great behind-the-scenes look of the film, if there was not enough already. Closing: Team Indy was more credits than anything, except with high-def video of everyone involved. A Picture-in-Picture track or BD-Live features would have been great, but even with out the 2-disc edition leaves much to be enjoyed. 8/10.

Blu-news Summary
Indiana Jones is back, and I definitely enjoyed the return. I can't say it was what I was expecting, particularly the ending, but still enjoyed it for what it was. The Blu-ray presentation is fantastic, with strong video, and even better audio. Extras are packed for the 2-disc Blu-ray release, and all presented in high definition as well. Indiana Jones is 'Highly Recommended.'

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Rudy Blu-ray Review

Rudy Blu-ray Review
Written by Loys Johnson
Video
Rudy comes to Blu-ray with a 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 video transfer, and I was quite pleased with the release. The transfer may not be amazing, but perfectly true to the source. The colors are good, and detail is quite strong. Black levels were definitely a bit lacking, but not a huge disappointment. Rudy is a solid Blu-ray presentation, providing a significant upgrade over the DVD version. 7/10.

Audio
English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio is included, also available is a French Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio track. The track is definitely not amazing, but found it good overall. Dialogue is the major part of the film, and while the audio is nice and clear, it just doesn't pop. Action on the field seems to make a decent use of the surround speakers, although I was never blown away. Rudy does not sound bad whatsoever, it's just limited, and there's not much than can be done about that. Fans of the film will be pleased overall though. 7/10.

Extras
Rudy: The Real Story (12:53) (SD)
Production Featurette (3:10) (SD)
First Down With Sean Astin (1:05) (SD)
Previews (HD)
BD-Live

Extras were definitely lacking, and other than a couple of Blu-ray previews, all in standard definition. BD-Live allows you to download trailers to other Blu-ray releases, as well as previews for a few titles coming to Blu-ray soon. 2/10.

Blu-news Summary
Rudy is a fantastic film, I found the acting phenomenal, and the story was quite inspiring. It's just a feel good movie, and can't imagine many disliking the film. The Blu-ray presentation of the film is quite decent in both the video and audio department, and looks and sounds like it just can't get much better. Extras were definitely lacking, which was disappointing for such a great film. Overall Rudy is 'Recommended.'

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View The Film's Trailer:

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Daredevil: Director's Cut Blu-ray Review

Daredevil: Director's Cut Blu-ray Review
Written by Loys Johnson

Video
Fox brings Daredevil: Director's Cut to Blu-ray with a 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 video transfer. The film looks good for the most part, with vibrant colors and great detail in any well-lit scene. Grain was featured quite heavily, but also only in darker scenes. Black levels are solid, and detail is great, particularly during any close-up shot. 8/10.

Audio
A DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track is included, and is definitely reference. The film's score is aggressive, and makes fantastic use of the surround speakers. From the music, to the fight scenes, to the little details, lossless audio makes it all clear. I expected the soundtrack to sound great, and was still pleasantly surprised. Dialogue is very clear, and never felt low. Daredevil is an audiophiles dream. 10/10.

Extras
Enhanced Viewing Mode
Commentary by Mark Steven Johnson And Avi Arad
Fact And Fiction Feature
Beyond Hell's Kitchen: Making Daredevil (58:51) (SD)
Jennifer Garner Screen Tests (2:31) (SD)
Featured Villain: Kingpin (2:21) (SD)
Daredevil: HBO First Look Special (24:50) (SD)
Moving Through Space: A Day With Tom Sullivan (8:28) (SD)
Giving The Devil His Due (15:26) (SD)
Multi-Angle Dailies (3:18) (SD)
Trailers (4:56) (SD)
Music Videos (11:58) (SD)
Still Galleries (HD)
The Comic Book (59:15) (SD)

Extras were quite packed, which was quite surprising. The features were all in standard definition, but forgivable considering the amount of content included. Behind-the-scenes features were all very cool, and the most entertaining about the extras. Fans will be pleased. 7/10.

Blu-news Summary
Daredevil may not be one of the better superhero action films, but still manages to be quite decent. The cast was pretty good, and the overall film was entertaining. The video presentation and audio presentations are both fantastic, and extras are quite packed as well. Fans of Daredevil should definitely pick up the Blu-ray, others I say 'Worth A Look.'

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View The Film's Trailer:

Hulk Blu-ray Review

Hulk Blu-ray Review
Written by Loys Johnson

Video
Hulk comes to Blu-ray with a 1080p VC-1 video transfer. Detail on the release is quite impressive, reference during many scenes. Close-ups looked fantastic, and detail was strong with even the smallest bits on the screen. Colors tend to be quite good as well, although a bit more dull in indoor scenes. The source is very clean, and free of any intrusive grain. Hulk left me very impressed. 9/10.

Audio
Universal provides DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track, and it sounds very impressive. Hulk is filled with action, and it comes to life with lossless audio. Dialogue was nice and clear for the majority of the film, but felt a bit quiet during any action scenes. The film's action scenes made fantastic use of the surround speakers, as did the film's soundtrack. Hulk sounds fabulous, and fans will be pleased. 9/10.

Extras
Deleted Scenes (5:51) (SD)
The Making Of Hulk (23:43) (SD)
Evolution Of The Hulk (16:17) (SD)
The Incredible Ang Lee (14:28) (SD)
The Dog Fight Scene (10:09) (SD)
The Unique Style Of Editing Hulk (5:34) (SD)
Feature Commentary with Director Ang Lee
Picture-in-Picture track
My Scenes

Extras were all presented in standard definition. The Picture-in-Picture track was actually a bit disappointing, there was very little to it, and very little did it pop up through out the film. The making of is quite interesting, and found that to be the most enjoyable feature of the extras. 5/10.

Blu-news Summary
Hulk was a mediocre film at best, but many should find it decent. The video and audio presentations are fantastic, and left me very satisfied. There are quite a few extras, some better than others, but happy with what was included. Overall I say 'Give It A Rent', but recommend to any fans of the film.

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View The Film's Trailer:

Iron Man Blu-ray Review

Iron Man Blu-ray Review
Written by Loys Johnson

Video
Iron Man comes to Blu-ray with a solid 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 video transfer. The presentation is quite impressive, with great colors and strong detail. Black levels were solid for the majority of the film, although a darker scenes were not as deep as I would have liked. The detail in the Blu-ray presentation is stunning, the rocks in the desert, the rough skin, it all comes to life in 1080p. You could pic out every single pebble, every single facial hair, it's superb. I feel for those who are limited only to the DVD version of the film, as they are missing out on quite a bit. 9/10.

Audio
Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Audio is included, and it's demo material all around. The film is filled with so much action, and really shines. Gunshots to explosions all sound incredible, and make awesome use of the surround speakers. Dialogue is always in the front, and always very clear. The film's music adds a lot to the experience as well, bringing lots of excitement to an already great film. 10/10.

Extras
Disc One:
Hall Of Armor
The Invincible Iron Man (47:04) (HD)
Deleted/Extended Scenes (23:56) (HD)
BD-Live

Disc Two:
I Am Iron Man (1:49:00) (HD)
Wired: The Visual Effects Of Iron Man (27:01) (HD)
Robert Downey Jr. Screen Test (6:03) (HD)
The Actor's Process (4:13) (HD)
The Onion: Wildly Popular Iron man Trailer To Be Adapted Into Full-Length Film (2:38) (HD)
Theatrical Trailers (8:14) (HD)
Galleries:
Concept Art
Tech
Unit Photography
Posters
Credits

Paramount has provided a 2nd disc of extras for Iron Man, and they are all quite good. BD-Live features shoud be fantastic once they go live, although still not live at the moment. The Invincible Iron Man was quite entertaining, and fans of Iron Man should definitely enjoy it. My favorite feature is 'I Am Iron Man', so much went into it, and just very interesting. Fans should be very pleased. 8/10.

Blu-news Summary
Iron Man was a box office success, and looking to do the same on home video. The Blu-ray presentation really is the only way the film should be experienced, with fantastic detail and colors, to amazing sound. Extras are quite packed as well, and all in high-definition. Iron Man on Blu-ray is 'Highly Recommended.'

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Sex And The City: The Movie Blu-ray Review

Sex And The City: The Movie Blu-ray Review
Written by Loys Johnson

Video
Sex And The City: The Movie comes to Blu-ray with a stunning 1080p VC-1 video transfer. Detail is fantastic, colors are great and leap off the screen, and black levels are solid. Detail was fantastic, from any close-up to any outfit. The colors were very strong, and extremely vibrant, making for a beautiful high-def presentation. Sex And The City shines in every way on Blu-ray, and one of the best Blu-ray presentations I have seen. 9.5/10.

Audio
Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio is included, and also sounds quite good. Dialogue is extremely clear, and music makes a great use of the surround speakers. The film opens with Fergie's 'Labels Or Love' and sounds fantastic, making a strong use of the surround speakers. The soundtrack won't leave you stunned, but for the film it sounds extremely good, and can't see anyone being disappointed. 8/10.

Extras
A Conversation With Sarah Jessica Parker and Michael Patrick King (23:49) (HD)
The Fabulous Fashion Of Sex And The City (18:03) (HD)
Fergie In The Studio (2:11) (SD)
Additional Scenes With Commentary By Director Michael Patrick King (3:53) (SD)
Additional Scenes Without Commentary (3:53) (SD)
The City (Blu-ray Exclusive
Dish It (Blu-ray Exclusive)
Digital Copy (iTunes and Windows Media Compatible)

Extras were quite decent, although a bit lacking overall. If you loved the film's fashion, you will definitely enjoy the Fabulous Fashion Of Sex And The City, others not so much. Fergie in the studio is exactly as titled, Fergie working on the opening song for the film, short but entertaining. The additional scenes didn't do much for me, just quite random. 'Dish It' is a pop-up trivia track, available exclusively on Blu-ray, definitely a fun track for fans of the film. The City was a bit dumb, in which you can select locations featured in the film, quite boring. Extras were solid overall. 6/10.

Blu-news Summary
Sex And The City: The Movie was not my cup of tea, I did find some humor in it, but the film is of course aimed for fans of the film, and the female demographic in general. That is not to say guys can't enjoy the film as well, as it does provide a lot to like about the film as well, and the wife will definitely be pleased. Video presentation is stunning, with a great audio track as well. Extras are quite good, although a bit lacking, for the inevitable double dip in the future. Sex And The City is 'A Must Own For Fans', others 'Worth A Look.'

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View The Film's Trailer:

The 40-Year-Old-Virgin Blu-ray Review

The 40-Year-Old Virgin Blu-ray Review
Written by Loys Johnson

Video
The 40-Year-Old-Virgin comes to Blu-ray with 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 video transfer. The film looks quite decent, although not amazing. The colors are quite good, although the transfer fails to pop overall. Detail was quite good, very very impressive at times, especially close-ups. The title does not scream high definition, but it is certainly a step up from the DVD version, and overall pleasing. 6.5/10.

Audio
English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is included, and quite good when considering the extremely dialogue driven film. Dialogue is the most important part of the film, and it sounded very clear. Club scenes managed to make a decent use of the surround speakers, although nothing amazing. The audio on the DVD was weak, and the Blu-ray provides a nice improvement, although the film still does not sound perfect, I was certainly satisfied with it, it's reached the point where it really could not have sounded better. 7/10.

Extras
Deleted Scenes (Available with commentary) (27:31) (SD)
The First Time (Available with commentary) (5:02) (SD)
Tales From The Stock Room (Available with commentary) (5:29) (SD)
'You Know How I Know Your Gay?' (Available with commentary) (5:31) (SD)
Date-A-Palooza (9:18) (SD)
Line-O-Rama (6:20) (SD)
Gag Reel (4:35) (SD)
Judd's Video Diaries (20:46) (SD)
Waxing Doc (3:31) (SD)
My Dinner With Stormy (2:08) (SD)
Raw Footage (19:23) (SD)
Poker Game Rehearsal (5:12) (SD)
Auditions (7:33) (SD)
Comedy Central: Reel Comedy Roundtable (21:08) (SD)
Cinemax/Finalcut: The 40-Year-Old-Virgin (12:44) (SD)
1970s Sex Ed Film (5:26) (SD)
Theatrical Trailer (2:33) (SD)
Feature Commentary with Writer/Director/Co-Writer Judd Apatow, Actor/Co-Writer Steve Carell and Cast
Picture-in-Picture Track (Extended Version Only)
My Scenes

Extras were packed, and presented in standard defintion. The extras are quite hilarious, from many deleted scenes, to behind-the-scenes. The Picture-in-Picture track was quite decent, providing a lot of behind-the-scenes footage and interviews into one track, mostly taken from the extras available. Auditions were also quite entertaining, to be honest it was all very funny. The commentary track was great for the most part, despite them always talking, sometimes over each other. Fans of the film will definitely be pleased with the supplements package. 8/10.

Blu-news Summary
Both cuts of the film are included, and I personally enjoyed the theatrical version a bit better. I loved the movie either way, but felt the extended version added too much that just wasn't entertaining. The video presentation is quite decent, and a definite step up from the DVD version. The audio is good considering the source and genre of the film, it was never meant to sound amazing. The extras are definitely packed, and were all very funny. The 40 Year Old Virgin is 'Recommended.'

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Also Available: Unrated Comedy Collection

View The Film's Trailer:

Knocked Up Blu-ray Review

Knocked Up Blu-ray Review
Written by Loys Johnson

Video
Universal provides a 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 video transfer for Knocked Up. The transfer is quite good, and I was definitely pleased with it. Colors were quite good, detail quite strong, and black levels quite deep. I found the image to be nice and clean, and free of any major issues. It was not amazing, as the transfer felt a bit flat at times, although not too bad. Knocked Up is a pleasant high-def presentation, and fans will be pleased with both the theatrical and extended versions. 8/10.

Audio
A DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track is included for the release, and sounds quite good. The comedy is extremely dialogue driven, and while it does not demand a lossless track, I'm definitely glad it was included. Dialogue was always very clear, and just as expected. The club scene was quite impressive, not to mention the music playing is great, making good use of the surround speakers. Overall it will not amaze, but considering the film genre, it is quite good. 7.5/10.

Extras
Deleted Scenes (49:19) (SD)
Extended/Alternate scenes (37:35) (SD)
Line-O-Rama (10:12) (SD)
Beard-O-Rama (4:02) (SD)
Gag Reel (11:52) (SD)
Kids On The Loose (5:36) (SD)
Finding Ben Stone (27:54) (SD)
Directing The Director (7:41) (SD)
Gummy: The 6th Roommate (6:42) (SD)
Roller Coaster Doc (5:19) (SD)
Kuni Files (5:28) (SD)
Kuni Gone Wild (5:52) (SD)
Topless Scenes (3:59) (SD)
Stripper Confidential (2:02) (SD)
First Sex On Camera (1:31) (SD)
Video Diaries (28:34) (SD)
Raw Footage (18:12) (SD)
Katherine Heigl Audition (2:43) (SD)
Loudon Wainwright III - Scoring Session (4:47) (SD)
Loudon Wainwright III - Live at McCabe's (18:11) (SD)
Feature Commentary with Writer/Director Judd Apatow, Executive Producer/Star Seth Rogen and Actor Bill Hader
Picture-in-Picture Track (Available in Extended Version only)
My Scenes

Extras are fantastic, and hilarious. The Picture-in-Picture track is quite good as well, providing a lot of good behind-the-scenes, and available exclusively on the extended version of the film. There is almost 50 minutes of deleted scenes, very funny as well. I can't imagine anyone being disappointed with the extras, as they are fantastic. 8.5/10.

Blu-news Summary
Knocked Up is one of my favorite films of all time, yes it is a comedy, but it is very fun and includes a great cast. I could honestly watch it again every day with out being bored, it is that good. The video and audio presentations were quite good, and left me very pleased. The extras are packed, although in standard definition. Knocked Up is a fabulous Blu-ray release, and is 'Highly Recommended.'

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Also available: Unrated Comedy Collection

View The Film's Trailer:

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Cirque Du Soleil - Corteo Blu-ray Review

Cirque Du Soleil - Corteo Blu-ray Review
Written by Loys JohnsonVideo
Corteo comes to Blu-ray with a 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 video presentation. While the video was not amazing, it was definitely quite good. Colors were vibrant, and detail was very solid as well. The show is done in not brightest situations, make it just a bit less impressive in high-def or standard definition. It looks good overall, and very good considering the circumstances of the show and it's performances. 7.5/10.

Audio
Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio is included, and sounds quite strong. The show involves music for the entire show, and it makes an awesome use of the surround speakers to bring the feeling of the show to your home theater. The music I actually found quite creepy, and very chilling, but was very pleased with the presentation. Dialogue when used was very clear as well. 8/10.

Extras
Through The Curtain (45:24) (SD)
A Day In The Life Of Corteo Artists (10:44) (SD)
Filming Corteo (7:38) (SD)
Teatro Intimo (7:52) (SD)
Photo Gallery (3:02) (SD)
BD-Live

Extras were quite decent, with Through The Curtain being an actually interesting feature. So much behind-the-scenes footage was provided, and how the show came together. The rest were quite short, providing insight to the artists days, from the mornings to the actual performances. BD-Live is also included, and at the moment it provides no exclusive content for Cirque Du Soleil - Corteo, it does take you to the Sony Portal, in which you can access trailers and previews of current and upcoming Sony Blu-ray releases. 5/10.

Blu-news Summary
Cirque Du Soleil is quite the show, with humans performing what seems like the impossible. You can tell so much work went into the show, and definitely leaves viewers amazed and satisfied. I found the music slighly creepy, but just how I find regular circus music creepy. The video presentation is quite good, and audio left me very satisfied. Extras were quite decent as well, and fans of the show will definitely enjoy them. Overall I say 'For Fans Of Live Performance'.

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View The Show's Trailer: