Monday, August 31, 2009

The Office: Season Five Blu-ray Review

Disc 1 (43.8 GB):
Episode 01: Weight Loss
Episode 02: Business Ethics
Episode 03: Baby Shower
Episode 04: Crime Aid
Episode 05: Employee Transfer
Episode 06: Customer Survey

Disc 2 (44.4 GB):
Episode 07: Business Trip
Episode 08: Frame Toby (Producer's Extended Episode)
Episode 09: The Surplus
Episode 10: Moroccan Christmas
Episode 11: The Duel
Episode 12: Prince Family Paper
Episode 13: Stress Relief

Disc 3 (44.4 GB):
Episode 14: Lecture Circuit Part 1
Episode 15: Lecture Circuit Part 2
Episode 16: Blood Drive
Episode 17: Golden Ticket
Episode 18: New Boss
Episode 19: Two Weeks

Disc 4 (44.6 GB):
Episode 20: Dream Team
Episode 21: Michael Scott Paper Company
Episode 22: Heavy Competition
Episode 23: Broke
Episode 24: Casual Friday
Episode 25: Café Disco
Episode 26: Company Picnic

Video
The Office: Season Five comes to Blu-ray with 1080p VC-1 video presentations, and are sure to impress. The Blu-ray episodes are clearly superior to even the HD broadcasts on NBC. There is a fantastic amount of detail present, from the textures of the environments and clothing to the facial details.

Colors are also impressive on this release, with a vibrant look and solid black levels. Fans of the show and fans of high-definition will be both pleased and impressed with this Blu-ray release. 9/10.

Audio
5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is included for each episode, and is just what I had expected it to be. Surround use varies, depending on the scene, and used when it's more fitting. The surround also doesn't expand much into the rear area, staying mostly within the front left and right speakers.

The environment sounds were very good overall, except for a few 'busy office' scenes in which the effects sounded a bit too fake and cheesy for even The Office. Dialogue was front and center, and was very clear and never muddy. The audio isn't really disappointing, it's just nothing to write home about. 7/10.

Extras

Disc 1:
My Scenes

One-Liner Sound Board (BD-Java)
An interactive sound board in which you can select hilarious lines frome each of the characters and make your own playlist.

Deleted Scenes (1:02:24)
There are many deleted scenes included, quite funny, and all in beautiful high-definition.

Audio Commentary:
Episode 1: Weight Loss
Episode 2: Business Ethics
Episode 5: Employee Transfer
Episode 6: Customer Survey

Disc 2:
My Scenes

Deleted Scenes (1:07:32) (HD)
Many more deleted scenes in high-definition from the episodes on this disc.

Audio Commentary
Episode 10: Moroccan Christmas
Episode 11: The Duel

Disc 3:
My Scenes

Deleted Scenes (24:12) (HD)
Even more high-def deleted scenes from the episodes on this disc.

Disc 4:
My Scenes

Gag Reel (14:48) (HD)

Deleted Scenes (40:30) (HD)
More high-def deleted scenes.

100 Episodes, 100 Moments (8:45) (HD)
100 hilarious moments from the first 100 episodes, all in high-def as well. Based on these clips, I wouldn't mind owning the earlier seasons on Blu-ray as well.

Academy Of Television Arts & Sciences Presents The Office (30:02) (SD)
Q&A event with the cast of The Office.

The Office Promos (4:39) (HD)
Promos from the XLIII Football Championship & Beijing Games are included.

Webisodes (20:18) (HD)
Two webisodes are included, titled 'Kevin's Loan' and 'The Outburst,' both presented in high-definition.

Blu-news Summary
The Office: Season Five brought lots of changes to the show, as well as weaker writing at times. The show still is very enjoyable, but the quality of each episode definitely varied from one episode to the next. I did not hate an episode this season, but the quality difference was definitely there. The season did feature a few amazing moments as well, and the show has lots of promise for the next season based on the finale.

The Blu-ray release is fantastic, clearly superior to even the HD broadcasts. The audio wasn't amazing, but there is a lot to be enjoyed by the lossless mixes. We also get quite a few extras on this release, with an amazing amount of high-def deleted scenes, many that were actually very funny. 100 Episodes, 100 Moments was also a fantastic inclusion.

The Blu-ray release is 'Highly Recommended' for fans of the shows, and still is 'Recommended' to those new to the show.'

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Friday, August 28, 2009

Site Relaunched

www.blu-news.com has now relaunched, and is BETTER than EVER. We have an awesome contest going on right now, where you can win 1 of 3 copies on Blu-ray. Check out the new site and make sure to enter our giveaway!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Hannah Montana: The Movie Blu-ray Review

Disc Size: 39.0 GB
Film Size: 22.1 GB
Film Rating: G
Region: A

Video
Hannah Montana: The Movie comes to Blu-ray with a 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 video presentation. I have to say I was expecting an oversaturated bubble gum pink and colorful presentation, but instead we get a more natural looking film with rich but subtle colors. The film's look varied by scene, sometimes being sharp and detailed, and other times a bit more soft and flat.

There was a thin layer of grain present throughout the majority of the film, and black levels generally held up good. The soft look of the film surprised me a bit though, sometimes making scenes look a bit more dull and flat. It wasn't too bad though, and the transfer certainly has more positives than negatives. Fans of the film should be pleased with this Blu-ray effort. 8/10.

Audio
A 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is included and I have mixed reactions. If you forget this is a 7.1 track, it's actually pretty good. the additional two speakers have minimal use throughout, they are active during any song in the film but very quiet in the mix. The audio is a bit more quiet than your average mix to begin with, so it helps to turn up the volume a bit more than usual on your receiver when viewing the film.

Dialogue was clear as can be, front and center. There are certain songs dialogue that aren't as impressive, due to the mixing of the song, and the obvious major editing of the vocals. There are also songs that sound very good and bring the oomph I was hoping for, such as 'Hoedown Throwdown', 'The Climb' and 'You'll Always Find Your Way Back Home.' 'The Climb' was one of my favorite audio moments in the film, with each instrument playing getting a bigger feel of separation and quality, the vocals also felt much more natural and really showed off the high-def audio track.

The film's effects are generally very front heavy, although they do expand more into the surround area at times. The track was far from disappointing though, and fans of the film will be very pleased with the upgrade in clarity and overall quality. 8.5/10.

Extras

Disc 1:

Audio Commentary
with Director Peter Chelsom

Deleted Scenes (10:36) (HD)
Four deleted scenes are included, with each deleted scene explained.

Music Videos (SD/HD)
"The Climb" - Official Music Video (SD)
"Back To Tennessee" Official Music Video (SD)
'You'll Always Find Your Way Back Home" (HD)
"Let's Get Crazy" (HD)
"The Climb" (HD)
"Bless The Broken Road" (HD)
"Crazier" (HD)

The Hoedown Throwdown Home Experience:
Everybody Now... /Learn The Moves (14:40) (HD)
The story of the Hoedown Throwdown, plus learn how to do the moves. Choreographer Jamal Sims and some of the cast show how to do the Hoedown Throwdown.

Find Your Way Back Home (15:07) (HD)
Miley Cyrus, Billy Ray Cyrus, and Emily Osment all show you some of their favorite places from their hometowns.

I Should Have Gone To Film School - With Jason Earles (15:19) (HD)
Jason Earles goes behind-the-scenes of making the film. It features a good amount of behind-the-scenes footage, although the making of is explained for kids to easily understand.

Fun With Hannah And The Gang (3:53) (HD)
Bloopers from the film.

BD-Live:
Radio Disney
Currently unavailable.

Country Store
Available during the film or directly. During the film this feature will allow you to select Hannah Montana items throughout the film and purchase them later.

Disc 2:
DVD copy of the film

Disc 3:
Digital Copy of the film

Blu-news Summary
Hannah Montana: The Movie is a very average but fun family film, the more family content on Blu-ray the better and this one definitely shines when compared to many available. The film is very cheesy and bubbly, but there's nothing wrong with that, especially for younger audiences. it's a film that will have your younger kids laughing, your tweens possibly crying of joy, and you surprised it wasn't as bad as you thought it would be.

The Blu-ray release is good, not amazing, but I'm glad the Blu-ray is given the deluxe treatment when it comes to this release, also including both a DVD and Digital Copy for your kids to take on the road or watch in their bedrooms. The video presentation was pleasing, the audio was nice, and the bonus features were aimed at kids but still enjoyable overall. This disc is 'Highly Recommended' for fans, 'Recommended' for those with tweens and children, and 'A Solid Rental' for those who haven't seen it but are curious.

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Additional Screenshots:



Thursday, August 6, 2009

Dexter: The Third Season Blu-ray Review

Disc 1 Size: 42.0 GB
Disc 2 Size: 42.6 GB
Disc 3 Size: 40.3 GB
Region: A

Disc 1 Episode List:
01. Our Father
02. Finding Freebo
03. The Lion Sleeps Tonight
04. All In The Family

Disc 2 Episode List:
05. Turning Biminese
06. Si Se Puede
07. Easy As Pie
08. The Damage A Man Can Do

Disc 3 Episode List:
09. About Last Night
10. Go Your Own Way
11. I Had A Dream
12. Do You Take Dexter Morgan?

Video
All 12 episodes of Dexter come to Blu-ray with 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 video presentations, and look just as great as Season 1 and Season 2 did. Unlike many recent television releases, Dexter truly shines in high-definition. The show's sunny and colorful environment brings some of the most vibrant colors and fantastic detail on a television release. Black levels held up quite well, aside from a few darker-lit scenes. Like previous seasons, there is a healthy amount of grain present at times, but is not really intrusive to the experience. Fans of the show must pick up the Blu-ray release. 9/10.

Audio
A 5.1 Dolby TrueHD audio track is included, sounding very very nice. The show's music is once again a beautiful thing to experience at the beginning of every episode, with such a dynamic and aggressive music mix, each instrument and sound clear as can be. Dialogue was always clear and easy to understand, and the mix did a great job at creating environment for the show. The track doesn't always call for a lively mix, but when it fits, it's used well. 8/10.

Extras

BD-Live
The features currently do not work for me, but the following are definitely included:
Dexter By Design - Book Excerpts
First two episodes of United States Of Tara, Season 1
First two episodes of The Tudors, Season 3
Interviews with Michael C. Hall, Julie Benz, Jennifer Carpenter, Lauren Velez & David Zayas

Blu-news Summary
Dexter is definitely one of my big television loves, the show is dark and humorous, and will have you wanting to watch episode after episode until you realize what time it is. The show is completely unique, and anyone who gives the show a chance will love it.

Dexter: The Third Season brings some great new characters to the show, some lasting longer than others. This Season also features quite a bit of changes in the office for all the characters we have all come to love, from Batista to Deb. But those changes are nothing compared to what Dexter has to face this season, including some good and bad surprises. The season is a bit less exciting than the second season was, but definitely better than the first season.

The Blu-ray release is fantastic, featuring top notch video and a good audio mix. Extras are a tad disappointing as they are exclusive to BD-Live, but I believe the DVD doesn't include anything at all without a computer. Despite a few annoyances, this season is still fantastic compared to most shows on TV, and deserves to be 'Highly Recommended.'

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Additional Screenshots:



Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Monsters, Inc. Blu-ray Review (UK Import)

Disc 1 Size: 36.2 GB
Disc 2 Size: 20.5 GB
Film Rating: G
Region: ABC (Free)

Video
Monsters, Inc. comes to Blu-ray with a 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 video presentation, and let me tell you, this is one of the most amazing Blu-ray releases I have ever encountered, simply gorgeous and stunning. Detail was absolute perfection, from the tiny details in the environments to the textures of the characters. Colors were also absolutely fantastic, popping and vibrant at all times, if there is any animated release to demonstrate Blu-ray, this is it!

I found myself in awe more than a few times, and while I no longer get the 'wow' factor that that came when first adopting the format, this presentation made me feel like this was the first time I had seen a Blu-ray disc in motion. The DVD can't compete whatsoever, there is so much more to be seen and any fan of the film should upgrade without hesitation. 10/10.

Audio
A 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is included and sounds absolutely stunning. Dialogue is clear like never before, and the film's effects will transform your home theater into whatever scene you are viewing. The effects are so dynamic and aggressive, there is no way one could be disappointed. I was also impressed with the fantastic direction used, feeling like you are in the room when an announcement is made over the intercom or hearing helicopters fly over your head. This track is beautiful and top notch, and I didn't expect anything less. 10/10.

Extras

Disc 1:

Introduction by Director Pete Docter (HD)
As featured on various high-def releases, the Director of the film introduces the Blu-ray, basically reassuring you of your purchase. It's quite neat actually.

Filmmakers' Round Table (21:35) (HD)
Pete Docter, Lee Unkrich, Darla Anderson, and Bob Peterson reflect on the film and share their fun memories working on the film.

Monsters, Inc. Ride And Go Seek: Building Monstropolis In Japan (7:59) (HD)
Go behind-the-scenes of the new Disneyland Japan attraction, includes interviews with thew crew involved in creating the ride.

For The Birds (3:29) (HD)
The funny and popular Pixar short 'For The Birds' in beautiful high-definition.

Mike's New Car (3:48) (HD)
An animated short involving Mike and his new car.

Audio Commentary
with Director Pete Docter, Lee Unkrich, Andrew Stanton and John Lasseter.

Disc 2:

Roz's 100 Door Challenge (BD-Java Game)
Interactive trivia game, very dull but at least it's new.

Pixar Fun Factory Tour (3:47) (SD)
John Lasseter shows off the Pixar Studio.

Story Is King (2:03) (SD)
David Silverman introduces the story-board artists, Story Supervisor Bob Peterson explains the job of a story-board artist.

Monsters Are Real (1:32) (SD)
The crew and cast talk about the monsters' fear of children in the film.

Original Treatment (13:40) (SD)
The original pitch for the film.

Story Pitch: Back To Work (4:36) (SD)
Bob Peterson pitching a scene.

Banished Concepts (Intro SD) (Concepts HD)
Includes an introduction by Co-Director Lee Ulkrich, the following concepts are featured:
Assistant Sulley (2:15)
End Of Day (2:22)
Bad Scare (2:51)
Scream Refinery (1:06)
Original Sulley Intro (1:00)

Storyreel (5:14) (HD)
The storyreel version of the Boo bedtime scene.

Final Color (5:14) (HD)
Watch the final version of the Boo bedtime scene.

Split-Scene Comparison (5:14) (HD)
See both the storyreel and final color versions of the Boo bedtime scene via split-screen comparison.

Art Gallery
Includes Characters, Color Script, Concept Art and Posters.

Designing Monstropolis (2:52) (SD)
David Silverman explains the design process.

Set Dressing Intro (3:22) (SD)
Set Dressing Supervisor Sophie Vincelette shows how they create the sets.

Location Flyarounds (7:26) (SD)
See the many Monstropolis locations and get to see them without the characters taking up the screen.

Cast Of Characters. (5:54) (SD)
The crew explains the recording process, as well as thoughts from the cast.

What Makes A Great Monster (1:28) (SD)
The art department shows off the many ideas of monsters, as well as the evolution of the characters.

Animation Process (3:14) (SD)
The crew shows the steps in animation.

Early Tests (8:05) (SD)
Early animated look at Mike and Sulley.

Opening Title Animation (2:09) (SD)
The crew talks about the decision to add a fun intro rather than a scary one.

Hard Parts (5:02) (SD)
The crew talks about creating new ideas for Monsters Inc. and being original.

Shots Department (2:16) (SD)
The crew talks about simulation, and the challenges that came with it.

Production Demonstration (HD)
Includes intro, storyreel, layout, animation and final color.

Monster Song (3:17) (SD)
Go behind-the-scenes with Billy Crystal and John Goodman as they sing ''If I Didn't Have You.''

Sound Design (4:16) (SD)
Gary Rydstrom explains the sound design process.

The Premiere (:59) (SD)
Footage from the premiere of the film.

Theatrical Trailers & TV Spots (HD)
Two theatrical trailers, four TV spots, International inserts, Multi-Language clip reel, toys, and outtakes and Company Play are included, which was featured at the end of the theatrical release.

Wrap-Up (:46) (SD)
Conclusion of the Pixar Studio tour.

Monster TV Treats (1:13) (SD)
TV vignettes for the film, during all diffferent types of events. Baseball, football, Christmas and Thanksgiving.

Ponkickies 21
Interactive Japanese game, includes a random rock paper scissors game.

"If I Didn't Have You" Music Video (1:12) (HD)
A music video featuring clips from the film.

On The Job With Mike & Sulley (2:33) (SD)
Mike & Sulley talk to a reporter about their jobs.

Welcome To Monsters, Inc. (:56) (SD)
Introduction for new Monsters, Inc. employees.

Your First Day (3:38) (SD)
An overview of the company.

History Of The Monster World (1:36) (HD)
Bud Luckey draws and narrates a history of the schism between man and monster.

Blu-news Summary
The Blu-ray release of Monsters, Inc. was the first time I have seen the film in a couple of years, and it was absolutely fantastic to be able to revist the film in 1080p high-definition. I actually enjoyed the film much more this time around, I always felt it was mediocre among Pixar films overall. Mediocre in Pixar films is not mediocre among all films though, as Pixar is levels above all other animation studios. The film is very funny and unique, and still very heart-warming at the same time. If you haven't seen the film yet, what are you waiting for?

The Blu-ray release is jaw-dropping to say the least, bringing an ultimate package filled with tons of extras and even exclusive Blu-ray features. The video and audio presentations are perfection, and one of the most gorgeous things I have ever seen or heard. The Blu-ray release is 'A Must Own.'

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Additional Screenshots:

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Soloist Blu-ray Review

Disc Size: 39.9 GB
Film Size: 31.5 GB
Film Rating: PG-13
Region: Free

Video
The Soloist comes to Blu-ray with a 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 video presentation. Detail and colors are both fantastic on this release, and really shows off detail only there with the best releases. Skin textures were extremely sharp, particularly on Jamie Foxx, you could see every little mark and hair on his rough and dirty face. The environments were also very sharp and filled with detail, and black levels were very solid. Who said Blu-ray was only for action flicks? 9/10.

Audio
A 5.1 Dolby TrueHD audio track is included and sounds very nice. The film's dialogue was always clear and the mix had a great sense of direction when it came to effects. The real star of the mix is thte music though, coming through the surround sound beautifully. The Orchestra scene in particular is so amazing, with every instrument clear and different from each other. This track is fairly quiet, but when fitting it truly shines. 9.5/10.

Extras

Audio Commentary
by Director Joe Wright.

An Unlikely Friendship: Making The Soloist (19:38) (HD)
Behind-the-scenes making of.

Kindness, Courtesy and Respect: Mr. Ayers + Mr. Lopez (4:49) (HD)

One Size Does Not Fit All: Addressing Homelessness in Los Angeles (9:46) (HD)
All about the homeless and what it's like to be liviing in their conditions.

Juilliard: The Education Of Nathaniel Ayers (4:08) (HD)
The title is quite self-explanatory.

Beth's Story (2:02) (HD)
Stick figure short about how easy it is for one to become homeless, that not everyone is there because of bad choices.

Deleted Scenes (9:48) (SD)
Five deleted scenes are included.

Theatrical Trailer (2:33) (HD)

Blu-news Summary
The Soloist is a beautiful film filled with beautiful music and most importantly a beautiful story. The leads both do great jobs as their characters and portraying the most unexpected friendship of friendships. While Jamie Foxx did get on my nerves a bit, it definitely wasn't as bad as I had expected it to be.

Despite loving the film, I don't see myself watching it again, at least anytime soon. It's one of those films we have all probably encountered where we think 'Wow that was a good movie' but at the same time be able to live without seeing it again.

The Blu-ray release is top notch, featuring impressive video and audio, as well as good extras. The Blu-ray release is 'Highly Recommended' for fans of the film and 'The Perfect Rental' to those just curious.

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Additional Screenshots:



17 Again Blu-ray Review

Disc Size: 18.6 GB
Film Size: 15.6 GB
Film Rating: PG-13
Region: Free

Video
17 Again comes to Blu-ray with a 1080p VC-1 video presentation. The beginning of the film has a filtered look to show a flashback of a character while in high school, so don't be shocked by the odd video quality at the beginning (Screenshot available at the bottom of the review). After the flashback the presentation is much much better, despite a few scenes where the colors seemed a bit drained.

The film is also quite a bit soft at times, but not too bad. The majority of scenes were fine though, detail was fantastic sharp and colors were nice and vibrant. I was very pleased overall with the look, it's not amazing but it's not bad either. 8/10.

Audio
A 5.1 Dolby TrueHD audio track is included and is fairly average. Dialogue was clear, while the film relied on very little effects. The film's music was light but pleasant, expanding into the surround area. The track is not impressive, but it definitely gets the job done. You can only expect so much from a comedy. Fans of the film will be pleased. 8/10.

Extras

Disc 1:

Zac Goes Back (12:31) (HD)
Zac Efron and the cast and crew talk about the film, from specific scenes (basketball) to the characters.

Going Back To 17 (3:14) (HD)
The cast and crew talk about high school and their experiences.

Way Cool Tell-All Trivia Track
A pop-up trivia track featuring facts about the film and cast, as well as '80s trivia.

Breakin' Character Outtakes (3:25) (HD)
See the goof-ups both on and off set.

Zac's Dance Flashback (2:10) (HD)
A deleted '80s dance sequence from the film, with explanations from the cast and crew.

Additional Scenes (16:06) (SD)
13 deleted scenes are included and are fairly average, only for big fans of the film.

BD-Live:
Zac's Commentary
Tom Lennon and Melora Hardin Unfiltered: Two Comedic Improv Masters Come Together
Zac Attacks: Mike and Ned's Hilarious Battle with Medieval Science-Fiction Weapons)

Disc 2:

DVD Copy of the film
Digital Copy of the film (Compatible with iTunes and Windows Media)

Blu-news Summary
17 Again was a surprisingly funny comedy, that anyone with interest in the film should enjoy quite a bit, whether it be a rental or a purchase. The cast is very funny, and while the film's plot was a bit silly, it's still enjoyable.

The Blu-ray release features good video, pleasing audio, and a good amount of bonus content. 17 Again is 'Worth A Look.'

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Additional Screenshots:

Flashback Opening Scene Screenshot: