Friday, March 19, 2010

The Twilight Saga: New Moon Blu-ray Review

Disc Size: 42.2 GB
Film Size: 31.3 GB
Film Rating: PG-13
Region: A
The Video
New Moon comes to Blu-ray with a 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 video presentation. Right from the beginning you will notice the very different look of the movie compared to the first. The first had a rather cold blue-green heavy color palette that was very distinct. The movie just looked extremely cold while New Moon looks much more film-like.

I was also glad to see the makeup artists have improved (or have been fired) since the last movie. The Blu-ray release of Twilight brought out so many flaws in the makeup that it was actually distracting and worth nothing. The vampires didn’t look lifeless; they looked like they all wore a full face of makeup to school.

While the movie does look more film-like, I wasn’t extremely impressed by the high-def transfer at first. I found detail levels to be quite strong throughout, but it doesn’t compare detail-wise to the best transfers on Blu-ray. Black levels while good were far from inky, which I had hoped.

Colors were quite rich and definitely look much better than Twilight on Blu-ray. The film has a thin layer of grain throughout and there is some good depth to be found. Behind the grain there is plenty of fine detail to be found, particularly facial details. The detail is there, but it doesn’t always stand out.

What I was most anxious to see was the upgrade from DVD. I opened up my DVD copy and expected an upgrade, but I wasn’t sure how big of an upgrade it would have. To be honest, I am very impressed by the high-def release when compared to the DVD.

While I did not love how every scene in New Moon looks on Blu-ray, the issues only become much worse on DVD. The DVD just looks so muted in comparison to the Blu-ray, even when upconverted. Certain scenes can look quite nice on DVD, but really is no competition to the high-def release.

While I’m sure the upconverted DVD will be fine by many, they won’t realize much better could be had until they experience the Blu-ray release. While the Blu-ray release isn’t among the best looking movies on the format, it appears to be accurate to intention overall and I am definitely pleased. 8/10.

The Audio
An English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is included as the lossless option. Other audio options include an English 2.0 Dolby Surround audio track as well as a Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital audio track. Optional subtitles include English SDH and Spanish.

So let’s be honest, I thought the mix for Twilight’s Blu-ray last year was quite underwhelming. The movie felt much more front heavy and cheap overall. The mix did feature surround use moments which were few and far between, leaving plenty to be desired.

This time around, it is clear that attention was paid to the audio mix. Surround use moments are now great and really allow you to be immersed into the movie much more than the first did. Whether it be dialogue, sound effects or music, it all came through extremely clear.

Dialogue like most mixes is presented front and center. The film’s audio effects on the other hand vary, some scenes are more front heavy as they are more fitting that way, but they also expand to the surround area in nice ways as well.

The film’s music is also very clear, the film’s score sounds beautiful and fills the front and surround areas nicely. The action sequences pack quite the punch and will absolutely delight your ears. The film’s quieter moments could have used a few more subtle environment effects, but this is a very solid mix and one that is far better than the one on Twilight. 8.5/10.

The Extras

Filmmaker Commentary
With Director Chris Weitz and Editor Peter Lambert.

The Journey Continues (1:05:29) (HD)
A 6 part documentary on the making of ‘The Twilight Saga: New Moon.’ They can be viewed as one long documentary or in individual parts. The entire documentary is over an hour in length and is presented in high-definition. It features all aspects of production and is really well done. Fans of the film or fans of behind-the-scenes will love this feature. It’s very extensive and any viewer will enjoy it. The parts are listed below:

1. Life after “Twilight”
2. Chris Weitz takes the helm
3. The subtle details
4. A look at production
5. It’s not magic
6. Ready for the world

“Meet me on the equinox” Music Video (3:48) (SD)
Performed by Death Cab For Cutie.

“Satellite Heart” Music Video (3:47) (SD)
Performed by Anya Marina.

Behind-The-Scenes Rehearsal (1:33) (SD)
Of “I belong to you” by Muse.

“Spotlight” Music Video (3:42) (SD)
Performed by Mutemath (from the “Twilight” soundtrack).

There are not as many extras to be found this time around, but mostly due to store exclusives. It feels like every store has their own share of exclusive content or packaging, but the bonus features included in this standard release are certainly of good quality.

I loved the documentary included; it covers all aspects of production and features so much behind-the-scenes footage of the film. Wal-Mart will have an exclusive ‘Ultimate Fan Edition’ which features a 7-minute sneak peek of Eclipse. Target will have deleted scenes as well as a few additional features. Best Buy will have an exclusive Steelbook version of New Moon, but no additional extras.

The standard version is good enough for me though. The documentary is great and leaves very little to be desired. It is a shame that the release ultimately is broken apart so stores can have their share of exclusive features, but it is smart marketing, I’ll give them that. 6/10.

The Movie
I’ve never read the Twilight books, I know plenty of people who have when they became extremely popular, but I never gave them a chance. The covers of the books themselves did look interesting, particularly that of Twilight, very Snow White style and haunting.

My very first experience in the Twilight series was when the film version of Twilight came to Blu-ray. I’ll admit I was curious, but overall reception appeared to be mostly embraced by tween and teen girls all over the world.

I thought Twilight was pretty good. The film is not a masterpiece in cinema, but I don’t think they ever meant it to be. The story was intriguing and I do tend to enjoy vampires related films, shows and novels. I thought the casting of Kristin Stewart was interesting, but I found her acting a bit mediocre (constantly featuring strange habits in her films such as biting her lips constantly).

When the second film in the Twilight Saga was coming out, I did make plans with friends to see it theatrically. I wasn’t very excited, but the theatrical trailer looked more than decent. I found New Moon to be extremely boring and definitely worse than Twilight. Looking back though, I do blame myself a bit for my initial experience. I was a bit tired and we did go see the film at midnight, perhaps if I had seen it with a clearer mind I would have enjoyed it more.

The Blu-ray release was my second time viewing the film and I found myself surprised that I did enjoy it much more than I remember. I do tend to enjoy certain films more a second time around, but I really don’t think I paid as much attention when originally viewing it. There were many scenes which I could not remember and the story felt far more interesting.

I did enjoy Twilight a bit more than I did New Moon, but they rank quite closely to each other. The film improves upon many of the issues I had with Twilight, but also brings plenty of its own. I thought certain scenes were boring and didn’t really add to the film.

Twilight fans will likely have a very positive reception to the film, everything I read from fans the days after its theatrical opening were positive. One person I noted saying ‘New Moon was the best movie I have ever seen.’ Which to be honest, poor girl must not have seen very many movies in her lifetime.

The movie is mediocre as a whole, but there are some great moments throughout. The movie features a complicated love triangle which I’m sure many girls in particular have made up their minds between Team Edward and Team Jacob.

Newcomers to the Twilight saga may want to rent the film first as it will not appeal to everyone. Fans of the first will likely find this sequel to be decent if not great, and die-hard Twilight film fans will definitely find plenty to love about New Moon.

I don’t know how accurate the film is to the book so I cannot say what could have been better, but it did receive some negative backlash from many fans of the novels. New Moon is not a masterpiece, but is certainly a satisfying film that fans of the first film will enjoy. 6.5/10.

The Blu-news Summary
New Moon is a bit inferior to Twilight, but it still makes for a decently enjoyable time. The Blu-ray release is good, featuring a nice video presentation and enhancing audio experience. The extras while fairly limited are very good. New Moon on Blu-ray is easily ‘Recommended’ to fans of the film and ‘Worth A Look’ to all others.

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