Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Sherlock Holmes Blu-ray Review

Disc Size: 35.7 GB
Film Rating: PG-13
Region: ABCThe Video
Sherlock Holmes comes to Blu-ray with a 1080p VC-1 video presentation. I watched the film on my high-def projector setup and was definitely satisfied by the detail which is found on the Blu-ray release. However, not all is perfect in the HD world of Sherlock Holmes.

I definitely had an issue with the soft glow found throughout the movie, something which is present on many Warner Bros. new release films such as The Time Traveler’s Wife and 17 Again. Past the glow we get a very pleasing level of detail, but the movie does look a tad bit softer than I would have hoped.

The film’s colors are generally very appealing, but I did think black levels could have been slightly inkier at times. Despite the annoying aspects of the presentation, a quick comparison with the DVD and you find a nice upgrade in all aspects.

While Sherlock Holmes isn’t a high-def stunner, there are many scenes which viewers will find impressive. The movie looks good and would easily recommend the high-def presentation as the DVD is significantly less impressive. Most viewers should be satisfied by this release at the positives outweigh the negatives. 8/10.

The Audio
An English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is included as the lossless option. 5.1 Dolby Digital audio tracks are included in French, Spanish and Portuguese. Optional subtitles include English, French, Spanish and Portuguese.

I expected at least a decently-impressive mix, but the results are more than just decent. The mix is extremely active and makes sure to pay attention to the surround speakers. Some may find the surround moments a bit overpowering at times, but that would be the biggest complaint I think anyone could have.

The quality of the mix is very good, everything is presented as clear as one could expect. Dialogue is crisp and always easy to understand. The clarity of the music and effects are also pleasantly clear throughout.

The mix is definitely one of the more immersive tracks I have experienced recently and found myself very impressed by the amount of attention that was paid to even the smaller details. I don’t think the audio could have sounded any better and will easily impress. 10/10.

The Extras

Disc 1:

Maximum Movie Mode (HD)
This is an interactive viewer experience in which the entire film is examined. Included are Walk-ons with Director Guy Ritchie, Focus Points, PiP, Storyboard Comparisons, Still Galleries and more.

Drawbridges & Doilies: Designing a Late Victorian London (5:00) (HD)
Production Designer Sarah Greenwood and Co. confess to the challenges of creating a “reel” 1895 London with a Guy Ritchie edge.

Not A Deerstalker Cap in Sight (4:15) (HD)
Costume Designer Jenny Beaven, plus cast & crew reveal privileged information on updating an icon.

Ba-Ritsu: A Tutorial (3:58) (HD)
Learn the imaginary martial art form developed for Sherlock Holmes that incorporates elements of Wing Chun, Jujitsu and plain old movie magic.

Elementary English: Perfecting Sherlock’s Accent (4:04) (HD)
Robert Downey Jr. voiced Sherlock Holmes in “received pronunciation” (RP) with the help of celebrated Dialogue Coach Andrew Jack.

The One That Got Away (3:44) (HD)
In “A Scandal in Bohemia,” Sir Arthur Conan Doyle hinted about one woman who had gotten the better of the sleuth. Rachel McAdams and others testify about the female touch in this film.

Powers of Observation & Deduction (4:01) (HD)
Producer Lionel Wigram imbued the story with hundreds of details tying the film to the Sherlock “canon.”

The Sherlockians (3:03) (HD)
The experts at a “Sherlockian” conference in New York explain why Sherlock Holmes is one of fiction’s most enduring characters.

Future Past (3:08) (HD)
This is a look inside the process of re-creating a past that no longer exists.

Sherlock Holmes: Reinvented (14:07) (HD)
Witness how Guy Ritchie and Robert Downey Jr. reinterpret the master sleuth.

Warner Bros. BD-Live
Today (April 1st) at 9:00PM EST (6:00PM PST), viewers will simultaneously watch the movie with Robert Downey, Jr. and hear an interactive Q&A where fans can submit questions about the blockbuster film, directly from their homes. The LCS will also post questions and answers in text form.

Warner Bros. BD-Live community members who have registered and signed up at the Sherlock Holmes LCS registration page – – will receive an emailed invitation to participate in the event. WB BD-Live registered users who own the Blu-ray Disc and have signed up for the BD-Live LCS event will be able to insert the disc, connect to WB BD-Live and logon to the LCS at this designated time to participate in this exciting event.

Disc 2:

DVD Copy of the film

Digital Copy of the film
Compatible with iTunes and Windows Media.

The extras are quite extensive and presented in an impressive way. Maximum Movie Mode is always an impressive way to present the film and makes an audio commentary something of the past. The Focus Points will likely be entertaining to most viewers. The DVD and Digital Copy is a nice addition that definitely adds value to the package.

Please note that the Blu-ray Combo Pack is available only for a limited time and will eventually become a standard Blu-ray release. The version I am reviewing is the combo pack version which will be available at all retailers upon initial release. 8/10.

The Movie
Sherlock Holmes is an extremely popular character that has finally been given a major motion picture. The film is directed by Guy Ritchie, a man who in my opinion has made some great films as well as his share of terrible films.

The film stars Robert Downey Jr. as Sherlock Holmes and Jude Law as Dr. Watson. The film also stars Rachel McAdams as part of the supporting cast. The movie always looked promising but unfortunately did not have a chance to see the movie theatrically.

Going into the Blu-ray release I had some good expectations about the film and by the end I was quite satisfied by the film. The story features a great mix of tension and humor, much like Pirates of the Caribbean films.

The film is over two hours long but I think the film is presented with such great pacing that it never really becomes evident unless you have a limited amount of time. The movie’s story is very fun and easily sets itself up for a sequel.

Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law in particular definitely help add to the film. They definitely help give the characters life and I don’t think the casting could have been better. Robert Downey Jr. will charm viewers with the great humor he brought to the part. Jude Law is also a great addition and is very likeable as his sidekick.

Reception to the film has been generally positive, but I do think many over-analyzed the movie just a bit. The movie is definitely more of a popcorn flick, but is definitely a bit smarter than the typical popcorn flick. Everything about the movie is fun and extremely entertaining. The movie is not a masterpiece in cinema, but it is fun. 8/10.

The Blu-news Summary
Sherlock Holmes Is a fun movie that I think most viewers will enjoy. The Blu-ray release is good, featuring a pleasing video presentation and immersive audio experience. Extras are also impressive, making this release easily ‘Recommended’ to all.

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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

An Education Blu-ray Review

Disc Size: 30.4 GB
Film Size: 23.0 GB
Film Rating: PG-13
Region: A & C
The Video
An Education comes to Blu-ray with a 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 video presentation. The movie looks quite good in high-definition, but is still far from the best looking films on Blu-ray. The video presentation is a bit more on the subtle side; detail is good but not spectacular. Colors are also intentionally on the muted side, but once in Paris the colors really come through nicely.

The film features a thin layer of natural grain and is overall a softer a presentation. I’ve watched the film a few times already on Blu-ray and did never come across any technical issues with the presentation. Sony Pictures has provided a healthy presentation that is likely true to the source.

Regardless of being a bit on the softer side, there is still quite an improvement to be had by the Blu-ray release over the DVD. What is a bit disappointing on Blu-ray is even muddier on DVD, so those wanting to own this release should definitely go with the Blu-ray presentation.

While I wish I could say the transfer is extremely beautiful on Blu-ray, I can’t because it just isn’t. That being said, everything appears to be accurate to intention and I could not imagine the film looking much better. The film looked very natural and I think most viewers will be quite pleased by this high-def presentation. 8/10.

The Audio
An English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is included; no other audio options are included. Subtitle options include English, English SDH and French. I knew that this film was going to be a very subtle surround mix if that based on the film itself and what we get on Blu-ray is quite good.

The film of course is extremely dialogue driven and is presented front and center. The film’s beautiful music comes through clearly as well, mostly in the front left and right speakers, but does expand even more during certain scenes.

There are some moments which I thought could make some great surround use moments, including music performance moments and the dog race. The music scenes in the film such as the orchestra performance and the woman singing in the club came through beautifully and did pay attention to the surround speakers. The dog race was definitely one of the most exciting moments of the mix though, as the race traveled throughout the surround speakers and we definitely got a feel for the environment in which the characters were in.

Overall this is a great track for such a dialogue heavy film. The mix could have sounded lifeless but that is not the case. While the mix won’t necessarily amaze, it certainly is the best I imagined the film sounding. There were no issues I had quality-wise and am more than satisfied by this lossless mix. 8/10.

The Extras

Audio Commentary
With Director Lone Scherfig and Actors Carey Mulligan and Peter Sarsgaard.

The Making of An Education (8:59) (SD)
This is one of the weaker making of features I have seen in a long time, featuring very little behind-the-scenes footage and is unfortunately in standard-definition.

Walking the Red Carpet (8:26) (HD)
Footage and interviews from the Hollywood premiere.

Deleted Scenes (16:12) (SD)
Eleven deleted scenes are included and are presented in standard-definition.

Theatrical Trailer (2:25) (HD)

Previews (HD)
Previews are included for many other Sony Pictures Home Entertainment releases.

BD-Live Portal
Download the latest trailers for upcoming Sony Pictures theatrical and Blu-ray releases.

The extras included on this release are a bit disappointing, such a good film deserved so much more. The red carpet footage was even better than the making of and the deleted scenes were hard to enjoy due to the lower quality. The audio commentary is quite entertaining though and definitely the highlight of the disc. Hopefully we see a release in the future with many more extras. 4.5/10.

The Movie
An Education is finally on Blu-ray. The movie has traveled from film festival to film festival, including the 2009 Sundance Film Festival which I had the opportunity to attend. The film is one that when I initially saw I had no real idea to expect as I had never heard of the film before. The movie was definitely a smaller production but the story is one of the best of 2009.

The film takes place in England in 1961 and stars Carey Mulligan as Jenny Mellor. Jenny Mellor is a girl that has put a significant priority on education, but also due to the way her parents raised her. She is a smart girl and is always the one raising her hand to answer the questions in class.

Her life seems very much planned out and organized as far as what she wants to do in life, that is until she meets David Goldman (Peter Sarsgaard). David quickly charms the young school girl and quickly gets on the good-side of her parents as well.

David is an older man who makes Jenny feel special, takes her to places she could never afford and do things she could never imagine having the opportunity to do. She quickly learns about the many fun things in life that she felt she was missing out on and begins to think that maybe a school education isn’t for her.

The film travels throughout their relationship and gives her a hard and real education on life. Jenny’s story is not something that is new or groundbreaking as it happens to many young adults, all with different consequences and outcomes.

The performances in the film are great and Carey Mulligan’s performance definitely stands out among those of other actresses of 2009. While she did not win an Oscar for her performance, she was nominated and honored with Meryl Streep, Helen Mirren, Sandra Bullock and newcomer Gabourey Sidibe of Precious.

An Education is a beautiful coming-of-age film that I know many will love if they only give it a chance. An Education is not one which I would label with a target audience, the film is timeless and something that is relatable in the 1960s and to many even current times. I love An Education and is easily one of the best of 2009. 9/10.

The Blu-news Summary
An Education is a beautiful film that everyone should see. The Blu-ray release is good, featuring an accurate video presentation and good audio mix. The extras on this release are what is most disappointing. The film and the high-def presentation help make this one ‘Highly Recommended’ to all.

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Saturday, March 27, 2010

A Nightmare on Elm Street Blu-ray Review

Disc Size: 36.3 GB
Film Size: 23.1 GB
Film Rating: R
Region: ABCThe Video
A Nightmare on Elm Street comes to Blu-ray with a 1080p VC-1 video presentation. I was expecting a pretty good transfer to be honest, especially after hearing fairly good things about the previous Canadian release which I’m sure many of you major Elm Street fans imported.

One issue that I read about with the Canadian release is that it featured DNR and Edge Enhancement, which varied on intensity from scene to scene. With the U.S. release we do not have to deal with DNR and EE and the film looks very natural and grainy.

I was expecting the print to be a bit dirtier so I was very pleased to see it was in surprisingly good shape. Yes dirt and specks do pop up occasionally, but I was definitely expecting to see a bit more dirt. I think I had that mindset due to previous catalog horror titles on the format featuring plenty of dirt, but luckily that is not the case with A Nightmare on Elm Street.

The clarity of the release is very nice; the image always features that appealing high-def pop and upgrade from DVD. Past the healthy layer of grain we get a fairly impressive detailed image, with moments that range from average to extremely impressive.

The colors on this release are also very appealing and black levels stay quite strong throughout. While not everyone will be dazzled by the high-def presentation of the movie, I am definitely glad that Warner/New Line decided to skip the DNR and EE as we definitely could have been in for a very disappointing experience.

A Nightmare on Elm Street looks very good in my eyes and I think most viewers will be very pleased if not impressed by the high-def result. The films is an 80’s horror flick with plenty of grain, if you have a problem with the look of most movies from the 80s or are a grain hater, then you definitely want to lower your expectations a tad. Overall I’m very impressed by this high-def presentation and perhaps I am being a bit generous with the score, but I definitely didn't expect the film to look as good as it does. 8.5/10.

The Audio
An English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is the lossless option on the disc. The original English Mono audio track is included as well as French, Dutch and Italian. Subtitle options include English, French, Dutch, Italian, Spanish and many more.

I went with the English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track and I really had no idea what to expect, it was a nice surprise when I saw it come up on my receiver. The results are surprisingly impressive, while the quality does sound a tad dated particularly in dialogue aspects, the mix is far more immersive than I expected.

The audio is remixed from the original mono track and while it could have been painfully obvious, it really isn’t. Dialogue stays front and center pretty much the entire time, which is fine, but there are moments when certain whisper moments could have been placed towards the rear speakers.

The surround use is pretty much made up of audio effects and music, both which are used in very strong ways. There are times where I found the mix to be very chilling and it made me look over my shoulder quite occasionally. The audio effects are mostly sounds of the environments, but it definitely adds a nice touch to the mix.

At times certain dream sequences did sound a bit weaker, particularly dialogue which would slightly crack at times. This was a bit annoying but to be expected, most scenes feature very crisp and clear dialogue despite the films limitations.

Overall the audio is very enjoyable if you set your expectations accordingly. A Nightmare on Elm Street will never compare to a new release, but the 7.1 mix included definitely does its best to work with its limitations and provides a surprisingly immersive audio experience for a horror catalog title. 8/10.

The Extras

Audio Commentary
With Wes Craven, Heather Langenkamp, John Saxon and Jacques Haitkin.

Audio Commentary
With Wes Craven, Robert Shaye, Robert Englund, Heather Langenkamp, Amanda Wyss, Ronee Blakley, Sara Risher, Jacques Haitkin, John Burrows, Charles Bernstein, Rick Shaine, Patrick McMahon, Jim Doyle, David B. Miller and David Del Valle.

Focus Points (HD)
To view focus points, watch for the ‘disc’ icon during the movie and press “enter.” View aspects detailing the making of the movie, also included within the featurettes.

Never Sleep Again (49:55) (HD)
This is an extensive behind-the-scenes look of the Making of ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street.’

The House That Freddy Built (22:48) (HD)
This is a feature about the legacy of New Line horror.

Night Terrors (15:58) (HD)
This is a feature about the origins of Wes Craven’s Nightmares

Fact Track
Watch the movie with texted pop-up trivia about the film, cast, crew and more.

‘Scary Ending’ Alternate Ending (1:39) (HD)

‘Happy Ending’ Alternate Ending (1:31) (HD)

‘Freddy Ending’ Alternate Ending (1:46) (HD)

Movie Money
Valid from 4/30/10 through 5/23/10, get up to $7.50 off one admission to see A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010).

I was expecting to see a bunch of standard-definition extras, but to my surprise the features included are in high-definition. The featurettes are all very good and I did enjoy the Fact Track included. There are definitely plenty of extras on this release and I think fans will be very pleased.

The disc is available for a really great price on and those planning to see the remake already will really be spending is easily under $10 on this disc if you use the movie money to make up for what you spent to see the film. 8/10.

The Movie
A Nightmare on Elm Street comes just in time for the inevitable remake to hit theaters. A Nightmare on Elm Street is not anything new to even the most casual of horror film fans; it’s quickly become iconic and definitely considered one of the scarier horror films of its time.

It really was so exciting for me to be able to revisit the film on Blu-ray as it has been a couple of years since I had last seen the movie. Going in again I expected the movie to be a bit cheesier in both acting and scares, but it actually held up much better than I expected.

The film stars Heather Langenkamp and Johnny Depp. Of course the real star of the Nightmare on Elm Street films is Robert Englund who made Freddy Krueger the iconic horror character that he is. Freddy Krueger begins to haunt the teens of Elm Street and can only hope they fall asleep, giving him the opportunity to actually kill them.

There are so many aspects which I absolutely love about A Nightmare on Elm Street. The movie does feature some stupid teens, but they are likeable unlike most horror films. The unique deaths and plot of the film also help the movie differ from the average ‘slasher’ film recipe. I think it helped future films with developing unique stories.

The remake is expected to be extremely similar to the original story, most of you who have seen the trailer have probably already noticed that many characters are in for the same scares/deaths as the original. I did think the Friday The 13th reboot to be quite enjoyable (I know that opinions will definitely vary) so I have faith that this remake will also stay true to the original elements of the film while providing a bit more effective scares.

A Nightmare on Elm Street is not a perfect film by any means, but the movie definitely holds up well for a horror film. Not everything is still as impressive as it likely was when it released theatrically, but there is still plenty to love about A Nightmare on Elm Street and legendary Director Wes Craven. You can’t call yourself a true horror fan without seeing A Nightmare on Elm Street. A Nightmare on Elm Street on Blu-ray is a must for any high-def horror fan. 9.5/10.

Screenshot Comparisons
Compare the previous Canadian release to the U.S. release. As you can see, fine detail and grain is missing from the Canadian release. Grain haters will likely find the Canadian release a bit appealing in comparison, presenting a 'clear' picture but missing significant detail. The U.S. release should be the clear choice for those wanting to own the film as it was meant to look.

Alliance (Canada) Blu-ray Top vs. New Line (U.S.) Blu-ray Bottom

Alliance (Canada) Blu-ray Top vs. New Line (U.S.) Blu-ray Bottom
Alliance (Canada) Blu-ray Top vs. New Line (U.S.) Blu-ray BottomThe Blu-news Summary
A Nightmare on Elm Street is one of the most impressive horror films of its time and still holds up very well today. The movie that haunted audiences in the 80’s is still strong and will leave even new viewers impressed. The Blu-ray release is great, featuring strong video and audio presentations. The extras are also very nice. Overall this Blu-ray release is a ‘Must Own’ for fans and ‘Highly Recommended’ to all others.

Additional U.S. Blu-ray Screenshots:

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Blind Side Blu-ray Review

Disc Size: 36.5 GB
Film Size: 29.9 GB
Film Rating: PG-13
Region: ABCThe Video
The Blind Side comes to Blu-ray with a 1080p VC-1 video presentation. The movie looks great in high-definition…for the most part. I watched the movie several times on Blu-ray, first on a regular HDTV and most recently on my high-def projector setup. Both times I was quite impressed but did not find the transfer perfect.

Colors were one of the most appealing aspects of the high-def presentations, they were always very rich and vibrant and compared to the best on the format. That being said, I did not find detail to be as impressive as I had hoped. Yes, most scenes do look very strong detail-wise, but softer scenes happen occasionally which makes the presentation feel a tad inconsistent.

The upgrade from the included DVD is very nice to see. Everything is notably improved and I am so glad Warner Bros. gave the film the healthy encode it deserved, this was a nice surprise to see the film alone could not fit on a BD25, partly due to runtime but if released in the past it would have likely had a smaller encode.

Overall the Blind Side looks great in high-definition. While it falls short of comparing to the best, I didn’t find a moment in the film that could be confused with standard DVD. The Blu-ray release will definitely please if not impress viewers. 8.5/10.

The Audio
An English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is included as the lossless option. Also included are French, Spanish and Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital audio tracks. Subtitle options include English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese.

I never expected to be impressed by the audio quality of The Blind Side, but I found myself pleasantly surprised. No, this mix won’t compare to any of your favorite demo materials now, but it presents everything in a far better way than I anticipated.

The film could have been a very front heavy experience, and while it can be, the mix pays attention to the surround speakers and definitely helps add to the many environments in the movie. Whether it be a busier scene at the school or a quiet bedroom, everything just sounds great.

The clarity of dialogue was superb and the film’s music comes through lightly but beautifully. The film’s audio effects manage to incorporate the surround speakers nicely and it feels so fitting you may not even notice how attentive the mix is.

The reason the track won’t stand out to many is because it has very little to work with as far as creating an exciting audio experience from beginning to end. That being said, it works with what it has and creates a far more immersive experience than I expected.

The track isn’t demo material, but there is no way one could be disappointed by the high-def audio mix. It provides a clear upgrade from DVD in every aspect and I don’t think it could have sounded much better. There are far more impressive audio mixes on Blu-ray, but also because they have the best material to work with. 8.5/10.

The Extras

Disc 1:

The Real Michael Oher: An Exclusive Interview (10:03) (HD)
Hear from the real Michael Oher, whose personal life is the base for The Blind Side.

Acting Coaches: Behind the Blind Side (4:52) (HD)
Go behind-the-scenes of filming the coach scenes. As you may already know, the actual coaches of the time played their characters in the film.

The Story of Big Quinton (13:41) (HD)
This is a feature about Quinton Aaron, who plays Michael Oher in the film. He was basically unknown before being cast as the lead actor.

Sideline Conversations with Sandra Bullock & Leigh Anne Tuohy (5:11) (HD)
A series of interviews between Sandra Bullock & Leigh Anne Tuohy includes the following features/discussions:
Becoming Leigh Anne
First Meeting
Tuohy’s on Set

Sideline Conversations with Director John Lee Hancock & Author Michael Lewis (27:37) (HD)
A series of interviews between Director John Lee Hancock and Author Michael Lewis includes the following features/discussions:
Book to Screen
Finding the Blind Side
Gender Identity
Meeting Leigh Anne
Michael Oher
Sandra and Leigh Anne
Why the Blind Side

Deleted Scenes (7:08) (HD)
Four deleted scenes are included and are presented in high-definition.

Disc 2:

DVD Copy of the film

Digital Copy of the film
Compatible with iTunes and Windows Media.

The extras included on this release are really great and informative. I do wish an audio commentary was included, but the features do answer a lot of behind-the-scenes questions. The DVD copy being included is also a nice addition that I’m sure many viewers will appreciate.

Please note that the Blu-ray Combo Pack is available only for a limited time and will eventually become a standard Blu-ray release. The version I am reviewing is the combo pack version which will be available at all retailers upon initial release. 8/10.

The Movie
The Blind Side is a film I have come to love more and more upon several viewings (as if my theatrical experience was not great enough). I watched the film theatrically upon its opening, I read a bit about the story before and I definitely have a lot of love for Sandra Bullock. Not only is she talented, but she’s quite attractive as well.

When I finished the film the first time I knew it was going to receive Oscar buzz quite quickly, Sandra Bullock was great in the movie, but also had great material to work with. I’m a sucker for inspiration sports flicks, and while The Blind Side doesn’t always put the focus on the sport itself, it makes it even an enjoyable experience for those who are not a fan of sports.

The film of course is about NFL’s Michael Oher and his difficult life growing up. It’s not all pain when a well-off family comes across him and takes him in to live with them temporarily. Leigh Anne Tuohy (Sandra Bullock) quickly forms a connection with Michael Oher and takes him in permanently as if he were always her child.

Leigh Anne Tuohy provides him with many opportunities, including educational and recreational. All these things he couldn’t even dream of based on how he was living and growing up before, his background set him up for failure. Anyone can make somebody of themselves, but when your mother has her own issues and you come from a bad environment, it makes it quite hard to succeed as a teenager when you didn’t learn very much as a young child.

The film was not well received by all critics, but there are specific reasons which I can see why it would turn off some viewers. I have read someone compare the film a bit to Forrest Gump meets Water Boy, which to be honest I found the comparison very extreme.

I believe there was some negative response from Michael Oher originally on how they were setting up his character in the film, but everything was resolved and the family became very supportive of the movie and its many publicity events. I definitely don’t think Michael Oher or his family would still support the film if he still thought he was being portrayed wrong. Yes, money talks, but that was never a problem for the family so I don’t think that was the resolution.

I thought The Blind Side was a very inspirational film in so many aspects and the casting in the film just feels right. I loved the Tuohey family and I love that Sandra Bullock was not relatable to her many previous characters, which many actors tend to do.

She really became her character and we quickly got that warm motherly feel with her throughout. Nothing felt acted, it felt so real and was very touching. I was so excited when she won Best Actress at the Academy Awards this year as she definitely deserved it. This was her first Oscar nomination and her first win throughout her very successful career.

Upon repeated viewings on Blu-ray, I have come to love the movie more and more. The film is one that is definitely for everyone and appropriate for all ages despite a few moments of fitting language. I loved every aspect of the movie and I quickly fell in love with the characters and the story.

The Blind Side has quickly become of my all-time favorite movies and definitely one of the best from 2009. The film is over two hours long but not once have I found myself checking a clock or my phone throughout several viewings. The movie is extremely entertaining and something I think many will come to love if they give it a chance. 10/10.

The Blu-news Summary
The Blind Side is one of 2009’s best films, featuring a great video and audio mix. The extras on this release are also entertaining and the DVD copy inclusion is great. The Blu-ray release is of course a ‘Must Own’ for fans of the film and ‘Highly Recommended’ to everyone else.

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Monday, March 22, 2010

Free Willy: Escape From Pirate's Cove Blu-ray Review

Disc Size: 18.9 GB
Film Size: 16.9 GB
Film Rating: PG
Region: ABC
The Video
Free Willy: Escape From Pirate’s Cove comes to Blu-ray with a 1080p VC-1 video presentation. Before I talk about the video presentation, I do have to say that the film definitely had a lower budget and therefore it doesn’t look as impressive as a theatrical release film.

The quality of the film definitely compares to many TV shows on Blu-ray. No, don’t expect Lost, but think Smallville. The quality is certainly good in high-definition, but never compares to the best. Detail levels are a bit disappointing at times, but there is a nice amount of clarity throughout.

The colors on this release are a bit on the softer side, nothing is particularly vibrant or rich, but are definitely passable. My biggest complaint has to do with certain moments which appeared a bit on the sharper side, almost as if edge enhancement were present at times.

The comparison between the included DVD showed that the Blu-ray was a clear improvement throughout (of course), but this film doesn’t feature a massive upgrade from DVD like many of my recent comparisons. Those on the fence should definitely stick with the Blu-ray though as the DVD is included anyway, you might as well get both versions in one package.

Free Willy: Escape From Pirate’s Cove won’t be known for its high-def visuals, but the film looks quite good overall. The film’s lower budget is something I definitely understand so I did not expect to be dazzled by the visuals in the film. 7/10.

The Audio
An English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is included as the lossless option. The other audio track included is a French 5.1 Dolby Digital audio track. Optional subtitles include English SDH, French and Spanish.

First off I have to say thank you to Warner Bros. for listening to consumer complaints and stepping up their game in the audio department. Even this year we have seen a couple of DTV releases with lossy Dolby Digital audio tracks included.

While I do understand not all titles get a massive upgrade from a high-def mix, I do think it is something that should be mandatory. Blu-ray discs cost more for consumers and we should expect more than just an upgrade in video quality.

Whether it is a minimal upgrade or massive upgrade, there should be no reason to not include lossless audio. I was definitely very pleased to see a DTS-HD Master Audio mix included for Free Willy and while the results are not entirely impressive, there is a clear upgrade from DVD.

The quality of the DTS-HD Master Audio track is quite good, with dialogue being priority. When compared to DVD the upgrade is clear, lossy dialogue usually sounds very dull and lifeless in comparison. Surround use is minimal throughout, but to be honest I didn’t expect much surround use.

The quality of the mix is good and while it doesn’t always impress audio-wise, it still is a very respectable DTV mix. The audio never felt lifeless, but there were very few moments where audio stood out to me. Younger viewers won’t really care though, but I’m sure adults will appreciate this decent mix. 7/10.

The Extras

Disc 1:

On the Set of Free Willy: Greetings from South Africa (7:38) (HD)
This featurette goes behind-the-scenes of filming. It also features cast and crew interviews and touches on the story as well.

Meet My Wild Co-Stars (3:10) (HD)
Bindi Irwin hosts this feature in which she talks about the many animals she got to work on the film with, featuring plenty of behind-the-scenes footage.

Bindi’s First Movie Video Diary (4:28) (SD)
See Bindi’s video diary while working on the film, featuring more behind-the-scenes footage.

Fact Track
This is a texted pop-up trivia track about the film, cast, crew and more.

Deleted Scenes (2:08) (HD)
Two deleted scenes are included and are presented in high-definition.

Outtake – Kirra Talks To Willy (1:29) (HD)
This is a collection of outtakes from shooting the feeding scene.

Disc 2:

DVD Copy of the film

Digital Copy of the film
Compatible with iTunes and Windows Media.

The extras included on this release are very family friendly and something that will appeal to audiences of all ages. The behind-the-scenes footage is very interesting and entertaining. The included DVD and Digital Copy are a nice inclusion as well and something I think any parent will appreciate. The choice between the DVD or Blu-ray version of the film should be very clear by now.

Please note that the Blu-ray Combo Pack is available only for a limited time and will eventually become a standard Blu-ray release. The version I am reviewing is the combo pack version which will be available at all retailers upon initial release. 7/10.

The Movie
Bindi Irwin (daughter of the late Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin) makes her film debut in Free Willy: Escape from Pirate’s Cove. This is the 4th film in the Free Willy series, although has no relation whatsoever to the previous three.

The film comes from Warner Premiere, which is part of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. Hollywood is running out of ideas so they tend to go back to popular franchises and produce remakes and even DTV sequels.

When Free Willy: Escape from Pirate’s Cove was announced, I was definitely not looking forward to it. I am a big supporter of family content on Blu-ray, the more the better. The thing that kept me apprehensive is how dreadful most DTV sequels of popular franchises have been, even not so popular ones.

I also failed to realize that Bindi Irwin was the star of the film until just a couple of weeks ago. I was actually surprised as I always saw the girl on the cover as an older actress, but was clearly mistaken. Bindi Irwin has had success on television but being her first film, I had no idea what to expect.

Upon viewing Free Willy: Escape from Pirate’s Cove, I found myself pleasantly surprised by the talent of young Bindi Irwin. There are a couple of scenes in which her acting was bit mediocre, but as a whole it was far better than I anticipated.

She definitely has a glow about her in the film and I think we will see her in many more film projects in the future. I do think she helps make the film far more enjoyable than it could have been and she also is very likeable.

The latest Free Willy film doesn’t swim too far away from the original, it features the same rescue style story, only not as epic as the original. I was a bit bugged by the CGI Orca used during underwater sequences, but perhaps they did not find it very cost effective for a DTV release.

The story is cute and something I think families will definitely find enjoyment from. This movie definitely has some charming moments throughout that I was surprised by. This is not a great movie by any means and the lower budget is clear throughout, but the quality as a whole is actually not bad compared to most DTV films. I am not rating this film in comparison to all films as it would definitely rank lower, but rather children films. 7/10.

The Blu-news Summary
Free Willy: Escape from Pirate’s Cove will easily appeal to family audiences, particularly younger children. The Blu-ray release is good, featuring a good video presentation and pleasant audio mix. The extras on this release are definitely entertaining, and the DVD copy is a definite plus. Overall this combo pack release is ‘Recommended’ to those with children.

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