Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Doubt Blu-ray Review

Doubt Blu-ray Review
Written by Loys Johnson
Disc Size: 46.6 GB
Film Size: 25.9 GB
Film Rating: PG-13
Region: A

Video
Doubt comes to Blu-ray with a 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 video presentation that will easily please both fans and high-def enthusiasts. The transfer is sharp, clear, and detailed. Black levels were very impressive, and never faltered. Colors were always rich, and also quite vibrant when the scene settings and lighting allowed. The details on the buildings, the detail on the roads, the detail of the clothing, it's all extremely impressive. Doubt is without a doubt one of the best high-def presentations I have seen. 10/10.

Audio
Miramax has included a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track, and it definitely met by expectations. The movie is very dialogue driven, and fairly quiet for the most part, although it does have a fantastic score. Dialogue is front and center, and I found it to be very clear. The film's score lightly expands into the surround area, but was overall a front heavy affair. It's hard to expect much of a surround use or aggressive track from a film that relies almost entirely on dialogue. Doubt sounds just fine. 7.5/10.

Extras

From Stage To Screen (19:06) (HD)
The cast and crew discuss how they brought Doubt to the big screen

The Cast Of Doubt (13:50) (HD)
EW.com interviews with Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams and Viola Davis.

Scoring Doubt (4:37) (HD)
Composer Howard Shore talks about what inspired the music in the film.

Sisters Of Charity (6:28) (HD)
Interviews with real nuns as they explain the history of the Sisters Of Charity.

Audio Commentary
Commentary by Writer/Director John Patrick Shanley

Sneak Peeks (HD)
Lost, The Proposal, On Blu-ray Disc, Miramax Films Trailers

Blu-news Summary
First off, I have to say this film has some of the most amazing and sincere performances of 2008. Doubt has been nominated for 5 Academy Awards, although unfortunately did not win any. The nominations included Best Actress (Meryl Streep), Best Supporting Actor (Philip Seymour Hoffman), Best Supporting Actress (Amy Adams), Best Supporting Actress (Viola Davis), and Best Adapted Screenplay (John Patrick Shanley).

Despite not winning, Doubt definitely deserved each nomination it received. Meryl Streep, and Phillip Seymour Hoffman had nothing to prove with their performances, but Amy Adams and Viola Davis both provided some amazing and quite surprising performances to be honest. Doubt is one that must be seen, whether it be a purchase or a rental.

The Blu-ray release is fantastic, featuring a very impressive video presentation, and a good audio track. There aren't too many extras, but fortunately they are all in high-definition and entertaining. Doubt on Blu-ray is 'Highly Recommended.'

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Monday, March 30, 2009

The Reader Blu-ray Review

The Reader Blu-ray Review
Written by Loys JohnsonDisc Size: 41.6 GB
Film Size: 33.8 GB
Film Rating: R

Video
The Reader comes to Blu-ray with a 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 video presentation. The film looks fantastic, featuring a very impressive and detailed high-def presentation. Detail was great, and was often times amazing. Colors were rich, and black levels were solid from beginning to end. The look of The Reader is similar to that of Eastern Promises, and translates to Blu-ray just as well. 9.5/10.

Audio
Included is a 5.1 Dolby TrueHD audio track. The film is very dialogue driven, and in that department it was very clear and front heavy. The film did have a very nice and light score, that expands to the surround area nicely. This won't be an impressive audio track, but it does the job well, and free of any issues. 7.5/10.

Extras

Deleted Scenes (42:15) (SD)
There are quite a few deleted scenes as well as extended sequences, some may find them interesting.

Adapting A Timeless Masterpiece: Making The Reader (23:03) (SD)
The Director and crew talk about the film adaptation of The Reader, as well as casting of characters. It's the most interesting feature included, and provides a lot of interesting information, as well as behind-the-scenes.

A Conversation With David Kross & Stephen Daldry (9:47) (SD)
David Kross explains his audition and learning process, as well as thoughts from Stephen Daldry and Kate Winslet. He also talks about the sex scenes in the film, and how scary it was for him at first.

Kate Winslet On The Art Of Aging Hanna Schmitz (12:50) (SD)
Go behind the scenes as Kate ages from 36 to late 60s. Kate explains the process as she gets ready. Kate Winslet is extremely funny and down to earth with the crew, and fans of Kate should definitely check this out.

A New Voice: A Look At Composer Nico Muhly (4:08) (SD)
The film's score is very impressive, and comes from Composer Nico Muhly. Go behind-the-scenes as they record the film's music, as well as his intentions for the score.

Coming To Grips With The Past: Production Designer Brigitte Broch (7:21) (SD)
Brigitte talks about teaming up with the Director, as well as the importance of being authentic to detail and story. They talk about how they approached the difficult subject, one that was especially difficult for Brigitte Broch.

Theatrical Trailer (2:33) (SD)

Blu-news Summary
The Reader is a great film, but one that may not have a ton of replay value for many. The cast of course is fantastic, and Kate Winslet won Best Actress at the 81st Academy Awards for The Reader. The film travels through many years, and provides a very emotional and dramatic experience. The film really knocks down a bit when it comes to replay value though, but one that can still be enjoyed.

The Blu-ray release was very nice, featuring a completely impressive video presentation, as well as a fititng audio track. Extras are in standard definition, but very informative and welcomed. The Reader on Blu-ray is 'Recommended.'

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

South Pacific: 50th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray Review

Disc Size: 43.1 GB
Film Size: 42.4 GB
Film Rating: Not Rated
Region: A

Video
South Pacific comes to Blu-ray with a 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 video presentation. Fox has allowed the film to take up almost the entire first disc, allowing the movie to really breathe. Everything about the presentation is jaw-dropping in high-def, and looks far better than I had imagined it would look.

The film is sharp and detailed, and free of excessive dirt and specks. Colors are rich and vibrant, and leap off the screen. The island setting only enhances the film's visuals, and is sure to please both fans and high-def enthusiasts.

Fox has definitely provided one of the best catalog high-def releases, and it's very difficult to think this film is celebrating it's 50th anniversary. 10/10.

Audio
Fox has included a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track for the Blu-ray release, and it sounds magnificent. The film does show it's age when it comes to regular dialogue, but was still overall very nice. When the musical numbers begin though, it's a whole different audio experience.

The recorded vocals and music sound amazingly clear, and is surprisingly dynamic. I expected the film to be a front heavy experience, even for the musical numbers, but it expands very nicely into the surround area. The track easily impresses during the numbers, and what's most important for a musical. 9.5/10.

Extras

Disc 1:
Commentary by Ted Chapin and Gerard Alessandrini

Singalong (45:18) (HD)
Choose all or only a select song to singalong with.

Songs Only Chapter List (45:18) (HD)
A Chapter list made exclusively for the musical numbers in the film, for those who want to view a specific song with out having to find it in the film.

Disc 2:
Road Show Version of the film (SD) with optional commentary by Richard Barrios
Fox has included the Road Show Version of the film in standard definition on the second disc, the presentation is a mixed bag due to the lower quality footage included in the road show version. Fox didn't have to include it at all, but It's great they did.

Passion, Prejudice, and South Pacific: Creating an American Masterpiece (1:34:05) (HD)
Exclusive to the Blu-ray release is a special featurette hosted and narrated by 'South Pacific' lead Mitzi Gaynor. It provides an extensive look at South Pacific, from the music to the story. Features thoughts from those involved, relatives, and those in the Lincoln Center revival of of the musical.

Making Of South Pacific (14:01) (HD)
4:3 but HD look of the making of South Pacific. It's short but definitely entertaining.

60 Minutes: The Tales Of The South Pacific (22:24) (SD)
Diane Sawyer's interview with James Michener (Author of Tales Of The South Pacific), as he went back to the islands where it all started.

Vintage Stage Excerpt (9:38) (SD)
Performances from the original Broadway cast including Mary Martin and Ezio Pinza. Includes 'I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair', 'Some Enchanted Evening', and 'A Wonderful Guy.'

South Pacific On The Screen - A Perfect Hit (1:19) (SD)
Promotion from Fox Movietonews featuring footage from the premiere.

State Department Confers High Honor On South Pacific (:52) (SD)
Promotion from Fox Movietonews featuring addition footage from the premiere.

Screen Test: Mitzi Gaynor (6:51) (HD)
View Mitzi Gaynor's screen test in high-def, very neat to see.

Still Gallery (9:05) (SD)
Low-res images of the cast and crew, as well as behind-the-scenes images. For the biggest fans only.

Theatrical Trailer (2:43) (HD)
The theatrical trailer for the film, the source used looks to be very dated.

This is a top notch feature filled package, Fox has given this release a 2-disc release that I'm sure we won't see a better supplements package in this format's lifetime. 10/10.

Blu-news Summary
South Pacific is one of my least favorite Rodger and Hammerstein musicals, but there is a lot to love about the film as well. It's a fantastic story, that wasn't always executed in the best way but still redeems itself in many ways. The colored filters are different, and I have always found them to be more distracting than fitting. That said, after watching the film on Blu-ray I definitely enjoyed it much more than I remember. 8/10.


The Blu-ray release is amazing, with fantastic video and audio, and a very nice package of extras as well. This is one of the best catalog releases I have seen or heard, and I really have to applaud Fox for this fantastic release. South Pacific on Blu-ray is a 'Must Own For Fans', and 'Highly Recommended' to all others.

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Bolt Blu-ray Review

Bolt Blu-ray Review
Written by Loys JohnsonDisc Size: 31.0 GB
Film Rating: PG
Region: A

Video
Bolt comes to Blu-ray with a 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 video presentation. Animation typically is some of the best available on Blu-ray, particularly that from Disney/Pixar. Bolt is no different, as it features a fantastic and top notch presentation. Colors are bright and vibrant, and detail can be quite stunning as well. These definitely is one of the best looking high-def transfers of 2009, or ever for that matter. 10/10.

Audio
Disney has included a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track for Bolt, and it is very impressive. The very beginning especially will have your theater room shaking, and manages to stay quite impressive for the rest of the film as well. Dialogue is nice and clear, and the film uses the surround speakers very well. 9/10.

Extras

Disc 1:
Bonus Short: Super Rhino (4:28) (HD)
Rhino gets his own short, in which he is given super powers to save both Penny and Bolt. Rhino fans should definitely enjoy it.

Deleted Scenes (6:38) (HD)
Two deleted scenes are included, and are introduced by Directors Chris Williams and Byron Howard.

In Session With John Travolta And Miley Cryus (:59) (HD)
Very promotional, and John Travolta compares Miley Cryus to Olivia Newton John in Grease.

"I Thought I Lost You" Music Video (1:47) (HD)
Miley Cyrus and John Travolta teamed up for the film's song, and now presented in music video form. It features the artists in a studio, as well as footage from the film.

Bolt's Be-Awesome Mission Game (BD-Java Game)

A New Breed Of Directors: The Filmmakers' Journey (4:34) (HD)
Features interviews with Directors Chris Williams and Byron Howard, as well as John Lasseter.

Act, Speak! The Voices Of Bolt (9:47) (HD)
Features interviews and footage from the cast recording the voices for the memorable voices in the film. Fans should definitely give it a look, just to see how Rhino got his voice.

Creating The World Of Bolt (6:45) (HD)
Talks about the mix of paintings and CGI. Fans of the animation should definitely give this a look.

Bolt Art Galleries:
Character Design
Color Script
Storyboard Art
Visual Development

BD-Live:
Disney Movie Chat/Virtual Living Room
Disney Movie Challenge
Disney Movie Mail
Disney Movie Rewards Live!

Disc 2:
Digital Copy of the film (Compatible with iTunes and Windows Media)

Disc 3:
DVD copy of the film

Blu-news Summary
Bolt is a fantastic film, no doubt about it. The film borders on Pixar quality, and features a fantastic cast of voices. Each character is so unique and different from one another, and it's all brought together very well. Rhino is my personal favorite, and both kids and adults should get plenty of enjoyment from the film.

The Blu-ray release is fantastic, featuring demo material video and audio, and a small but nice selection of extras. Once again, Disney has included a DVD copy of the film for those with kids, or plan to transition to Blu-ray in the future. Bolt on Blu-ray is 'A Must Own.'

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A Mighty Heart Blu-ray Review

A Mighty Heart Blu-ray Review
Written by Loys Johnson
Disc Size: 34.5 GB
Film Size: 31.4 GB
Film Rating: R
Region: Free

Video
A Mighty Heart comes to Blu-ray with a 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 video presentation. The film gets a healthy encode that is true to the source. Visually, the presentation is rather dull as far as color scheme goes. Detail varies from well-lit scenes to darker scenes, with the well-lit scenes far more impressive. The darker scenes are actually quite unimpressive at times, but not fault of the high-def transfer. This is a pleasing presentation of the film, and certainly better than the DVD release. 7/10.

Audio
Paramount has included a 5.1 Dolby TrueHD audio track. The audio track is definitely more impressive than the video presentation, and was a bit more immersive than I expected. The film is front heavy, but does have a nice amount of surround use as well. Dialogue stays front and center, clear at all times. While the film's city effects and score manage to make light, but effective use of the surround speakers. This won't be demo material at all, but it's certainly nice. 8/10.

Extras

A Journey Of Passion: The Making of A Mighty Heart (30:03) (SD)
Cast and crew interviews, as well as good behind-the-scenes commentary and footage from the film.

Public Service Announcement - Pearl Foundation with Christiane Amanpour (2:08) (SD)
A public service announcement for the Pearl Foundation, also can be viewed prior the film starting.

Committee to Protect Journalists (8:40) (SD)
Talks about the foundation that was formed over 25 years ago, featuring interviews with the chairman of the committee and more.

Theatrical Trailer (2:33) (HD)

Blu-news Summary
A Mighty Heart is an amazing film, with a truly fantastic performance from Angelina Jolie. She brings so much emotion to an already amazing story and film. Anyone with even slight interest should definitely give the film at least a rental.

The Blu-ray release isn't amazing, but it is accurate, and that's what is most important. A Mighty Heart on Blu-ray is 'Highly Recommended' for the film alone.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Princess Bride Blu-ray Review

The Princess Bride Blu-ray Review
Written by Loys JohnsonDisc Size: 38.0 GB
Film Size: 30.7 GB
Film Rating: PG
Region: A

Video
The Princess Bride comes to Blu-ray with a 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 video presentation. When the title was first announced as MPEG-2, I was very skeptical, and luckily it was delayed. Now that it was put back on the schedule, MGM has given the film a fantastic new encode that is sure to please fans of the film. The transfer is as sharp as the source allows, with grain intact (although never looked too excessive). Colors are rich and vibrant, and detail is quite impressive as well. Fans of the film should not be disappointed with the high-def debut of The Princess Bride. 8/10.

Audio
MGM has included a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track that is nice and fitting for the film. The majority of the track is front heavy, from dialogue to the score. Dialogue was clear at all times, and the film's score sounded very nice as it travels into the surround area. This won't give the speakers a workout, but was definitely improved from the DVD release. 7.5/10.

Extras

Disc 1:

Audio Commentary by Rob Reiner
Audio Commentary by William Goldman
The Art of Fencing (7:07) (SD)
As You Wish: The Story Of Princess Bride (27:17) (SD)
Cary Elwes Video Diary (3:55) (SD)
The Dread Pirate Roberts: Greatest Pirate of the Seven Seas (11:43) (SD)
Fairytales and Folklore (9:15) (SD)
Love is Like a Storybook (16:42) (SD)
Miraculous Makeup (11:22) (SD)
Original Theatrical Trailer (2:19) (HD)
Princess Bride: The Untold Tales (9:06) (SD)

Disc 2:
DVD copy of the film

We get quite the amount of extras, all in SD other than the theatrical trailer, which is understandable for catalog releases. There are a number of interesting extras, and MGM has even included a DVD copy of the release as well.

Blu-news Summary
The Princess Bride is a very funny and enjoyable film that anyone can enjoy. It's got a bit of something for everyone, and I think that's why the film is loved by so many. The Blu-ray release is fantastic, featuring far more impressive video than I had anticipated, with a nice audio track as well. The Princess Bride on Blu-ray is 'Recommended.'

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