Thursday, February 26, 2009

Milk Blu-ray Review

Milk Blu-ray Review
Written by Loys Johnson
Disc Size: 40.0 GB (BD-50)
Film Size: 31.7 GB
Region: Free
Rating: R

Video
Milk comes to Blu-ray with a 1080p VC-1 video presentation. The film uses quite a bit of old footage, which doesn't exactly translate well to the overall high-def presentation, but it wouldn't be the same with out it. The film also has a significant amount of grain that varies from scene, mostly a light layer, but more than a few scenes featured a significant amount. Colors were generally quite impressive, but at times felt a little dull.

On the other hand, well-lit scenes in the film typically lend themselves well to high-definition, filled with detail and vibrant colors. Black levels are solid, and stay that way throughout. There does not appear to be any tampering with the source, and this is about as good as I can imagine the film looking with today's technology. If you are a fan of the film, don't hesitate to pick up the Blu-ray despite a few flaws. 8/10.

Audio
A 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is included, and is a mixed bag overall. Dialogue felt a bit odd at times, sometimes feeling dull or too loud, but generally is was quite balanced and clear. This is a front heavy affair as far as surround use goes, with the film's music staying mostly in the front right and left speakers. The audio experience was not amazing, but the film doesn't really need one to be honest. 7/10.

Extras
My Scenes
Remembering Harvey (13:21) (HD)
Hollywood Comes To San Francisco (14:32) (HD)
Marching For Equality (7:58) (HD)

BD-Live:
Deleted Scenes (Not live just yet)
My Scenes Sharing

It was definitely dissapointing to see the lack of extras on this release. Included is the MyScenes feature, which lets you save your favorite scenes, as well as share them through BD-Live.

Also included is Remembering Harvey, which does just that through the people who knew him and were affected by him. Hollywood Comes To San Francisco features behind-the-scenes footage, as well as cast interviews and overall thoughts. Marching For Equality features footage of the march featured in the film, with thoughts from supporters. Deleted Scenes have been saved exclusively for BD-Live on the Blu-ray, which is a shame, but at least they will be available.

Blu-news Summary
Milk is a great film about the life of Harvey Milk, and features an amazing performance from Sean Penn. He really adds so much to the film, and there's no question in my mind why he won best actor at the 81st Academy Awards. It's a film that may not be for everyone, but anyone with an open mind, this is one to definitely watch.

The Blu-ray release is quite solid, featuring a a video presentation that is true to the source, and quite nice as well. The audio track is decent, and it's hard to expect much more from it. Extras are a bit lacking, but the DVD is as well. Milk on Blu-ray is 'Highly Recommended.'

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Rachel Getting Married Blu-ray Review

Rachel Getting Married Blu-ray Review
Written by Loys JohnsonDisc Size: 35.8 GB
Film Size: 27.5 GB
Film Rating: R
Region: Free

Video
Rachel Getting Married comes to Blu-ray with a 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 video presentation, and was just as I expected it to be. The film has a style that is different from your average film, it is filmed almost from a Cloverfield perspective, although there isn't a character behind the camera. It's definitely not as shaky, but it does have some odd movements throughout. The presentation varied in high-def quality from scene to scene, with parts that had quite a bit of pop, to scenes that were flat as could be. The presentation would never be confused with standard definition, unless the scene was meant to look that way. The transfer seems to be very accurate to the source, and it just wasn't amazing. 7/10.

Audio
Sony has included a 5.1 Dolby TrueHD audio track for this release, and it sounds just about right. The film is very dialogue driven, and it usually came through very clear. The times it did not come through as clear, were whenever music was involved, as it was filmed at the same time as the dialogue. The music is quite impressive at times, whether it's from the rehearsals to the wedding. The audio presentation was a very front heavy affair that was generally very nice. 7/10.

Extras
Commentaries:
Commentary with Producer Neda Armian, Screenwriter Jenny Lumet and Editor Tim Squyres
Commentary with Actress Rosemarie Dewitt

Featurettes:
'The Wedding Band' (7:47) (SD)
A Look Behind The Scenes Of Rachel Getting Married (15:48) (SD)
Cast & Crew Q&A at Jacob Burns Center, Pleasantville New York (49:20) (SD)

Deleted Scenes (18:52) (SD)
Theatrical Trailer (2:25) (HD)

Previews (HD):
Rachel Getting Married
Blu-ray Disc is High Definition!
Waltz With Bashir
I've Loved You So Long
Synecdoche, New York
Passengers
The Class
The Wackness
Capote
Rent: Filmed Live On Broadway
Damages - Season 1
The Da Vinci Code

BD-Live:
Download the latest trailers/provide feedback via survey

We don't get too many extras here, but it's better than a lot of recent releases. Two different audio commentaries are included, as well as three featurettes in standard definition. The deleted scenes and theatrical trailer rounded off the actual extras, and were nice additions. Lastly we get more than a handful of high-def previews from other Sony Blu-ray releases, as well as being BD-Live enabled.

Blu-news Summary
Rachel Getting Married is one of my favorite films of 2008. The film just flows very well, and features a performance from Anne Hathaway that just blew me away. The character was so different from what we have seen Anne do in her career so far, but it was definitely impressive. She did not win best actress, but the nomination was definitely deserved.

The Blu-ray release is not amazing, but it was pretty good overall. It's hard to demand much from this release, as it is unique in both it's video and audio presentations. That being said though, I think Sony did a great job bringing both as accurate as could be. The Blu-ray release may not be demo material, but it features the best presentation available of this amazing film, and for that alone it is 'Highly Recommended.'

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Wonder Woman Blu-ray Review

Wonder Woman Blu-ray Review
Written by Loys Johnson
Disc Size: 17.7 GB
Film Size: 11.3 GB
Film Rating: PG-13
Region: Free

Video
Wonder Woman comes to Blu-ray with a 1080p VC-1 video presentation. The presentation is slightly disappointing, but I can't say it was bad either. The film isn't the most impressive technically, with what I feel to be weak animation. The outlines of the characters held up pretty well, but weren't as strong as I would have liked. There was also noticeable banding at times. Colors were vibrant, and the presentation does feature quite a bit of 3D pop. Other than the mentioned issues I had, it was still overall fairly nice. 7.5/10.

Audio
Warner has included 5.1 Dolby TrueHD audio track, which was both surprising and pleasing. The audio track is actually significantly better than the standard Dolby Digital 5.1 track also included. Dialogue is nice and clear at all times, but the star of the show is the action. The action sequences are quite impressive, with both the film's music and violence. The weapons in the film sound clear and agressive, and travels throughout the front speakers. The audio never expands too much into the surround area, but I was still very pleased. 8/10.

Extras
Digital Copy (Compatible with iTunes and Windows Media)

Behind The Story:
Wonder Woman: A Subversive Dream (25:33) (SD)
Wonder Woman: Daughter Of Myth (25:36) (SD)
Commentary by Senior VP Creative Affairs, DC Comics Gregory Noveck, Producer Bruce Timm, Director Lauren Montgomery and Writer Michael Jelenic

Additional Extras:
A First Look At The Animated Feature Film: Green Lantern (10:11) (SD)
From Graphic Novel To Original Animated Movie-Justice League: The New Frontier (10:43) (SD)
Wonder Woman: The Amazon Princess (10:24) (SD)
Batman Gotham Knight: An Anime Evolution (10:11) (SD)

Bonus Episodes: Four Of Bruce Timm's Picks Featuring Wonder Woman
Paradise Lost: Part 1 (21:20) (SD)
Paradise Lost: Part 2 (21:55) (SD)
To Another Shore (22:43) (SD)
Hawk And Dove (22:45) (SD)

Included is a digital copy for fans of the film, as well as a couple of featurettes about Wonder Woman the character, and what she did to change the superhero genre. A few extras are just promotional material for other animated releases, but they are still welcome. Last but not least we get four episodes picked by Bruce Timm that feature Wonder Woman, which was a nice addition.

Blu-news Summary
Wonder Woman was a decent adventure that should definitely please fans of the character. The story was well paced and written, and I was kept entertained. My biggest issue was actually with the voice cast, as a lot of it actually sounded pretty cheesy and awkward. It actually was so bad at times it took away from the scenes, but what's done is done. The film is better than I thought it would be, but overall it's forgettable.

The Blu-ray release is good, featuring an overall nice video presentation, pleasing audio, and a good amount of extras. The Blu-ray release is 'Recommended For Fans', to all others I would 'Give It A Rent.'

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South Park: The Complete Twelfth Season Blu-ray Review

South Park: The Complete Twelfth Season Blu-ray Review
Written by Loys JohnsonRegion: Free
Rating: Not Rated

Disc 1 Size: 23.0 GB (BD-25)
Episode List:
01: Tonsil Trouble (Original Air Date: 03/12/08)
02: Britney's New Look (Original Air Date: 03/19/08)
03: Major Boobage (Original Air Date: 03/26/08)
04: Canada On Strike (Original Air Date: 04/02/08)
05: Eek, A Penis! (Original Air Date: 04/09/08)

Disc 2 Size: 22.9 GB (BD-25)
Episode List:
06: Over Logging (Original Air Date: 04/16/08)
07: Super Fun Time (Original Air Date: 04/23/08)
08: The China Problem (Original Air Date: 10/08/08)
09: Breast Cancer Show Ever (Original Air Date: 10/15/08)

Disc 3 Size: 26.6 GB (BD-50)
Episode List:
10: Pandemic (Original Air Date: 1022/08)
11. Pandemic 2: The Startling (Original Air Date: 10/29/08)
12. About Last Night... (Original Air Date: 11/05/08)
13. Elementary School Musical (Original Air Date: 11/12/08)
14. The Ungroundable (Original Air Date: 11/19/08)

Video
South Park: Season Twelve comes to Blu-ray with 1080i AVC/MPEG-4 encodes for each episode. All right, so the first thing you may be wondering, why is it in 1080i? Well that's due to the broadcast tapes being in 1080i, and how it is expected to be for past and future episodes as well. Either way, the differences between 1080i and 1080p would not even be noticed, especially on a release like this. The video presentation is very nice, featuring vibrant colors, and solid black levels. Having recently seen another animated release where the outlines of the characters weren't so solid, it's great to see South Park just the opposite. The outlines of the characters and environments are sharp, and never did I notice them get jaggy.

The textures used for the characters and environments were also quite impressive, and adds to the high-def experience. This isn't the most impressive animated release, as the animation style is overall quite simple looking, but I can't imagine anyone being that disappointed either.

Audio
A 5.1 Dolby TrueHD audio track is included for each episode, and was actually more impressive than I had imagined. The episodes are front heavy, which is to be expected. But whenever music was featured, it expanded into the front left and right speakers, as well as the surround area. At times it was surprisingly epic and aggressive. Dialogue, which is the most important aspect of this release is extremely clear at all times. It won't be amazing at all times, but it definitely surpassed my expectations.

Extras
Digital Copy - Windows Media Only
Paramount had dropped iTunes support after The Love Guru, so this is not a surprise. It's certainly unfortunate though.

Disc 1:
'The Making Of Major Boobage' (13:17) (SD)

Disc 2:
Six Days To South Park (1:22:26) (SD)

Disc 3:
'About Last Night' (21:52) (HD)

We don't get many extras here, but I enjoyed them overall. My only dislike is the digital copy, which does not support the majority of portable players.

Blu-news Summary
It has been no secret that I have never really been a fan of South Park, I would happen to see it on TV occasionally, and just find it to be the most pointless thing I have ever seen. That has all changed my friends, I wanted to give the show a chance, and I did with this Blu-ray release. The show was extremely hilarious, and yes pointless, but that's what it's all about. The characters are all extremely enjoyable, and I have a new love for the South Park series.

The Blu-ray release is fantastic, featuring impressive video and audio, and a small but enjoyable amount of extras. South Park on Blu-ray is a 'Must Own For Fans.'

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Beverly Hills Chihuahua Blu-ray Review

Beverly Hills Chihuahua Blu-ray Review
Written by Loys Johnson
Disc Size: 33.9 GB
Film Size: 22.0 GB
Film Rating: PG
Region: A

Video
Beverly Hills Chihuahua comes to Blu-ray with a 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 video presentation. Like most new releases, the transfer is free of any dirt and specks, and features a bright and vibrant presentation. Colors are fantastic on the release, as are black levels. Detail was nice as well, although never reached the levels I was hoping for, it was actually quite soft at times. Overall though, I was very pleased and impressed. 8/10.

Audio
Disney has included a 5.1 Uncompressed PCM audio track, and it sounds nice overall. The film does not make a fantastic use of the surround speakers, other than a few little effects and score, which is understandable. Dialogue stays front and center, staying clear at all times. It sounded fine, it never really reached impressive levels, but I was hardly disappointed with the audio. 7/10.

Extras
Legend Of The Chihuahua (3:08) (HD)
Pet Pals: The Voices Behind The Dogs (9:27) (HD)
Hitting Their Bark: On Set With The Dogs Of BHC (12:57) (HD)
Deleted Scenes (24:39) (HD)
Blooper Scooper (3:00) (HD)
Audio Commentary
BD-Live (Movie Chat, Movie Mail, Movie Challenge, Disney Movie Rewards)

Easter Egg:
After 'Audio Commentary' in the extras, click down on your remote once more, and a dog paw appears. Click to view the original teaser trailer for Beverly Hills Chihuahua, featuring the wacky 'Chihuahua!' song. (1:32) (HD)

Extras are quite short, but we actually get a few Blu-ray exclusives other than BD-Live. Legend Of The Chihuahua is the animated short that is teased about on the packaging, but really isn't anything slightly worth watching. The featurettes are just behind-the-scenes, which I did find interesting and entertaining when it was about the dogs. It was definitely cool to see how they got all these dogs for the film, and how they managed to film a lot of it. Deleted scenes are alright, I didn't really take the time to watch all of them.

Blu-news Summary
Beverly Hills Chihuahua was an actually entertaining film, one that I didn't expect much from based on the original teaser trailer. Yeah, the film is not realistic whatsoever, but it never was meant to be. The film was made to entertain both kids and adults, and I feel that it accomplished what It set out to do. This is first and foremost a family film, so if you cannot take the cheesiness that usually comes with the genre, I would avoid this at all costs. If you are interested in the film though, it is one that definitely has some charm.

The Blu-ray release is good, featuring an impressive video presentation, and a decent audio track. We get a nice small selection of extras, Disney has even included a few Blu-ray exclusive featurettes. This is a film that I would definitely say is 'Recommended For Families.'

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Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Pink Panther (1964) Blu-ray Review

The Pink Panther (1964) Blu-ray Review
Written by Loys Johnson
Disc Size: 42.8 GB
Film Size: 35.3 GB
Film Rating: Not Rated
Region: Free

Video
The Pink Panther comes to Blu-ray with a 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 video presentation. The film has never looked better, despite the flaws it does have. The film does have a fair share of grain, and there is dirt and specks throughout, but it actually wasn't as excessive as I thought it would be. Detail ranges from decent to stunning, particularly clothing textures. Colors ranged from dull to vivid as well, but were pleasing overall. 8/10.

Audio
A 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is included, and is actually quite nice. The film isn't going to be a surround sound experience, but it's never sounded as clear as the Blu-ray release. Dialogue stays front and center, clear at all times. The film has a few effects that are used in the front right and left speakers, and the film's fantastic music shines whenever used. This won't be an impressive track, but it will certainly please fans. 7/10.

Extras
Blake Edwards Audio Commentary
The Pink Panther Story (28:42) (SD)
Behind The Feline: The Cartoon Phenomenon (10:51) (SD)
The Coolest Cat In Cortina: Robert Wagner (10:53) (HD)
The Tip Toe Life Of A Cat Burglar: A Conversation With Former Jewel Thief Bill Mason (9:43) (HD)
Diamonds: Beyond The Sparkle (6:53) (HD)
The Pink Panther Trailer (3:50) (HD)

Blu-news Summary
There are benefits when remakes and sequels of remakes come out, because that's when we get the classics on Blu-ray. The original Pink Panther releases just in time for the theatrical release of the Pink Panther 2, a sequel of the remake. The original Pink Panther is classic and hilarious, and still shines today. Peter Sellers is amazing as Jacques Clouseau, and he adds a lot of charm to the film that otherwise would not be there.

The Blu-ray release is great, featuring a nice video presentation, a fitting audio track, and a nice selection of extras. The Pink Panther on Blu-ray is 'Recommended.'

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