Friday, December 31, 2010

Avatar 3D Blu-ray Review (Panasonic Exclusive)

Disc Size: 46.6 GB
Film Rating: PG-13
Region: A
The Video
Avatar debuts on Blu-ray 3D (via Panasonic) with a 1080p MVC video presentation, both a 3D and 2D viewing option are included. Please note, to the view the 3D version you must have a 3D display, 3D Blu-ray player and 3D glasses. The disc will work on a regular Blu-ray player if you would like to view the film in 2D.

Going into the 3D experience I had the highest of expectations, Avatar was the defining 3D title in theaters and was surely the most anticipated release on the Blu-ray 3D format. I understand that not everyone loves the Blu-ray 3D format, some even felt the need to ‘rant’ about it on Twitter on how it won’t ever succeed and how they will NEVER buy a 3D setup (which I think will eat their words).

As for the comments regarding 3D ultimately failing? I have to say, I certainly don’t care. The 3D experiences I have had this past year have been extremely impressive, exceeding my theatrical experiences and were worth every penny of the setup investment.

Avatar 3D is stunning from beginning to end. Colors are incredible as always and detail is as sharp as the original Blu-ray release (which took up the entire disc). Avatar once again manages to make full use of the disc with the 3D and 2D presentation.

The 3D depth in the presentation is simply incredible. You are no longer watching a movie; you are looking into an open window where everything dazzles. Blu-ray 3D was made for films like Avatar to truly shine, the regular Blu-ray releases look great, but Avatar in 3D makes the 2D presentation look like a joke.

Ghosting is kept to a minimum, with only a few seconds present throughout the entire film. Depending on your display, it may not even be an issue. The only real negative aspect of Avatar on Blu-ray 3D is that it makes me want a 3D projector so much more now. 10/10

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

The audio on this release is very impressive and has been one of my favorite mixes on the Blu-ray format. The film’s audio not only features an impressive level of clarity, but is also one of the more immersive tracks on the format.

The film’s sound design is impressive even on DVD, but everything is a drastic improvement on Blu-ray. Dialogue is always easy to understand and well balanced even during the louder action scenes. The film’s special effects pay attention to every speaker and really immerse you into the movie.

The film’s beautiful score by James Horner comes through beautifully; it actually gave me chills at times. While the mix is a bit similar to past scores from James Horner, there is no denying the beauty of the music or the quality.

Avatar on Blu-ray sounds great and is an easy improvement from DVD. There is no way one could be turned off by the quality of the mix. There are more than a few impressive mixes on Blu-ray, but that shouldn’t keep Avatar from receiving a top level score. 10/10

The Extras

Like the original Blu-ray release, there are no extras included. Expect a Blu-ray 3D release with bonus features in late 2012. 0/10

The 3D Movie
'Avatar' is back on Blu-ray with the most anticipated Blu-ray 3D release this year. It was just a month earlier when viewers were treated to the extended edition on Blu-ray, which while great, I would take the theatrical 3D experience included on this release any day.

What can I say? I love 'Avatar'. The film is often criticized and I DEFINITELY understand why not everyone embraces it the way I do, but perhaps the 3D experience makes it that much more forgivable when it comes to flaws.

The movie’s storyline isn’t very original. I’ve seen comparisons to Pocahontas, Ferngully and Dances with Wolves. That being said, I thought the movie took bits and made a great film, although I do love all the compared films. The film’s massive environments and unique locations make the movie stand out and add a very unique quality to the film.I still think the movie is awesome in every aspect and it is definitely the type of movie I am always up for watching. The film is a popcorn flick done right, not awful like Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (which I have never been able to make it through).

The characters were great and the world was like nothing I have ever seen before. I do think very highly of James Cameron and I love the drastic push in technology that came with Avatar, surely affecting films to come and perhaps influencing future 3D presentations.

Perhaps the many questions left by the film will be explained in Avatar 2 and likely Avatar 3 when the time comes. Overall I think we can all admit the movie is far from perfect, but the 3D experience kicks everything up a notch and makes for one of the very best 3D film experiences this year (if not the best). 10/10

The Blu-news Summary
Avatar on Blu-ray 3D is simply incredible. The video and audio presentations are top notch, making this one of the best (if not the best) 3D experiences of 2010 and likely 2011 as well. The title is exclusive to Panasonic at the moment, but if you can get your hands on this it is definitely ‘A Must Own’ 3D release.

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Deadwood: The Complete Series Blu-ray Review

Release Date: Nov. 23rd, 2010
Discs: 13 Blu-ray Discs
TV-Rating: TV-MA
Region: A
The Video
'Deadwood: The Complete Series' debuts on Blu-ray with a 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 for each episode throughout the series. HBO has previously released catalog releases such as ‘The Sopranos: Season One’ which some considered disappointing, but I found it to be very strong considering the year it was produced, how it was filmed and the look of the show itself.

‘Deadwood: The Complete Series’ looks fantastic in high-definition. The show has a distinct and fairly dark look which translates to Blu-ray very well. There is a nice layer of grain throughout the presentation which gives the show a distinct and very appealing look.

Colors are well presented and rich. Black levels are also very solid and generally quite inky. Certain scenes are a bit softer in comparison to the overall sharp presentation, but I expected it. The show’s look may not appeal to everyone, but I think it looks fantastic. 9/10

The Audio
HBO has included an English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track for each episode in the entire series. Also included are Spanish and French 2.0 DTS audio tracks. Optional subtitles include English SDH, Spanish and French.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this catalog release of ‘Deadwood: The Complete Series.’ HBO has always been a leader in quality with their TV on Blu-ray releases, so I didn’t think this release would be any different, but there is always the possibility of disappointment. Fortunately, ‘Deadwood’ does not disappoint, it actually is extremely impressive.

TV on Blu-ray generally hasn’t made for the most immersive audio experiences, although there are certainly a few expectations which really did impress. ‘Deadwood: The Complete Series’ features one of the best audio experiences for a TV show on Blu-ray yet, with active surrounds use and excellent clarity.

Dialogue is front heavy, as expected, but the clarity is strong and sounds as if it was newly recorded. Surround use is filled with immersive effects of the environments. The film’s music also leaves quite the impact throughout your surround speakers, with incredible clarity and power.

Overall I am not disappointed whatsoever by the mix. I definitely didn’t expect it to sound this good and it easily trumps most TV on Blu-ray releases in the audio department. ‘Deadwood’ has never sounded so good and makes for one of the best audio experiences this year. 10/10

The Extras

Season One:

Disc 1 (Blu-ray Disc) (43.2 GB):
  • Episode 1 Audio Commentary “Deadwood” with Creator David Milch.
  • Episode 4 Audio Commentary “Here Was a Man” with Molly parker and Keith Carradine.
Disc 2 (Blu-ray Disc) (40.0 GB)
  • Episode 5 Audio Commentary “The Trial of Jack McCall” with Brad Dourif and Robin Weigert.
Disc 3 (Blu-ray Disc) (43.3 GB):
  • Episode 12 Audio Commentary “Sold Under Sin” with Ian McShane and Timothy Olyphant.
Disc 4 (Blu-ray Disc) (21.1 GB):
  • Making Deadwood: The Show Behind the Show (13:37) (HD)
  • The Real Deadwood (25:32) (HD)
  • The New Language of the Old West (29:52) (HD)
  • An Imaginative Reality (27:54) (HD)
Season Two:

Disc 1 (Blu-ray Disc) (40.2 GB):
  • Episode 1 Audio Commentary “A Lie Agreed Upon, Part I" with Timothy Olyphant and Ian McShane.
  • Episode 1 Audio Commentary “A Lie Agreed Upon, Part I" with Molly Parker and Anna Gunn.
  • Episode 3 Audio Commentary “New Money” with Creator David Milch.
Disc 2 (Blu-ray Disc) (39.8 GB):
  • Episode 5 Audio Commentary “Complications" (formerly “Difficulties”) with Executive Producer/Director Gregg Feinberg.
  • Episode 7 Audio Commentary “E.B. Was Left Out” with Kim Dickens, William Sanderson, and Dayton Callie.
  • Episode 7 Audio Commentary “E.B. Was Left Out” with Powers Boothe and Garret Dillahunt.
Disc 3 (Blu-ray Disc) (38.4 GB):
  • Episode 10 Audio Commentary “Advances, None Miraculous” with John Hawkes and Paula Malcomson.
  • Episode 11 Audio Commentary “The Whores Can Come” with Timothy Olyphant and Anna Gunn.
  • Episode 11 Audio Commentary “The Whores Can Come” with Ian McShane and Paula Malcomson.
Disc 4 (Blu-ray Disc) (22.3 GB):
  • The Real Deadwood: 1877 (21:24) (HD)
  • Trusting the Process with David Milch (27:24) (HD)
  • Mr. Wu Proves Out (21:53) (HD)
  • The Wedding Celebration (21:36) (HD)
  • Deadwood Daguerreotypes (Images)
Season Three:

Disc One (Blu-ray Disc) (38.8 GB):
  • Episode 1 Audio Commentary “Tell Your God to Ready for Blood” with Executive Producers Gregg Fienberg & Mark Tinker.
Disc Two (Blu-ray Disc) (38.8 GB):
  • Episode 5 Audio Commentary “A Two-Headed Beast” with Jim Beaver, Sean Bridgers and W. Earl Brown.
Disc Three (Blu-ray Disc) (37.0 GB):
  • Episode 9 Audio Commentary “Amateur Night” with Robin Weigert.
  • Episode 12 Audio Commentary “Tell him Something Pretty” with Series Creator David Milch.
Disc Four (Blu-ray Disc) (9.79 GB):
  • Deadwood Matures (20:21) (HD)
  • The Education of Swearengen and Bullock (20:21) (HD)
  • Deadwood Daguerreotypes (Images)
Series Bonus Disc:

Disc 1 (Blu-ray Disc) (31.1 GB):
  • The Meaning of Endings: David Milch on the Conclusion of Deadwood (22:47) (HD)
  • The Real Deadwood: Out of the Ashes (29:18) (HD)
  • Q&A with Cast and Creative Team (Courtesy of the Paley Center for Media) (1:03:31) (HD)
  • Deadwood 360 Tour (7:35) (HD)
  • Al Swearengen Audition Reel (As Performed by Titus Welliver) (10:12) (HD)
The extras included on this release are fantastic and HBO was ported all previous DVD features for this Blu-ray release and upconverted all standard-definition material to look its very best. There is a great amount of content to be seen and the bonus series disc includes over two hours of additional content. For a TV on Blu-ray release I found it extremely impressive and provide hours of entertainment after you finish the series. 10/10

The Series
Deadwood: The Complete Series’ consists of all three seasons from the memorable HBO western. The show was created by David Milch and stars Ian McShane, Timothy Olyphant, Molly Parker, Paula Malcomson, John Hawkes, W. Earl Brown, Brad Dourif and more.

The show is based on real characters and real events. It takes place in Deadwood, South Dakota, a location historically known for its corruption and high level of crime. The show had a very interesting premise and had plenty to work with, but unfortunately ended after only three seasons.

HBO has always been known for incredible television, with hit series such as ‘The Sopranos,’ and ‘Sex and the City’ to name just a couple. Recently they have had great success with shows like ‘True Blood’ and ‘Boardwalk Empire,’ both which I enjoy very much. ‘Deadwood’ I would consider to be one of HBO’s finest television shows with some of my favorite characters.
‘Deadwood’ features some of my favorite characters from a television series and for me really was television event. Each episode is something to look forward to and with this series set you don’t have to wait for the next episode.

The show is gritty, daring and very unique. Admittedly, I have never been a fan of TV westerns from the past, but I love ‘Deadwood.’ Some may avoid the show thinking it may not appeal to them due to the setting of the series, but I urge everyone to give the show a fair chance.

This 13-disc set is incredible and I love the sturdy and attractive packaging. ‘Deadwood: The Complete Series’ makes for the perfect gift for a family member, friend or even yourself. If you have yet to experience ‘Deadwood,’ now is the time, with beautiful high-def clarity. 10/10

The Blu-news Summary
Deadwood: The Complete Series’ makes for one of the most enjoyable TV on Blu-ray experiences yet. The Blu-ray release is incredible, with a top notch video and audio presentation. There are also hours of bonus features to be seen and heard. This Blu-ray release is a ‘Must Own’ for any fan of the series and ‘Highly Recommended’ to anyone new to the series.

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Original Christmas Classics Blu-ray Review

Release Date: Oct. 12th, 2010
Disc 1 Size: 8.12 GB
Disc 2 Size: 13.6 GB
Disc 3 Size: 12.6 GB
Region: A
The Video
Frosty the Snowman,’ ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,’ and ‘Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town’ debut on Blu-ray with 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 video presentations. The films have been digitally remastered, which isn’t always a good thing or an improvement, but they definitely improve upon the DVD releases I have in my collection.

These specials premiered between 1964 and 1970 and the material definitely looks aged with scratches and dirt popping up, although nowhere as bad as it could have been. Colors are presented nicely, rich and vibrant in all three films.

At times the video quality is a bit soft, so we don’t get to appreciate the fine details of the characters and environments, but when a scene allows it looks pretty fantastic. The textures of certain characters and their felt looking clothing were impressive to see.

‘Frosty the Snowman’ is the animated special and benefits nicely from a high-def transfer as well, with solid character outlines and fantastic clarity. The film looks very strong on Blu-ray, but the animation lines did jitter very briefly during quick sequences. The issue isn’t overly annoying, but it is noticeable.

‘The Original Christmas Classics’ overall look very good on Blu-ray. Could they have been better? Yes. A more extensive cleanup would have made for an even more impressive presentation for all three, but the remastering done is very respectable and actually presents colors accurately for the first time (that blue coat was always green). 7.5/10

The Audio
Frosty the Snowman’ and ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ feature English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD audio tracks. They also include English 2.0 Stereo, Spanish and French Mono tracks. ‘Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town!’ features an English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD audio track, as well as an English 2.0 Stereo and Spanish Mono track.

I am very grateful that Classic Media included a lossless track for each special and they all sound great. Surround use is present on each, but it is minimal, as expected and as it should be. The source material appears to be in pretty good condition, with hiss kept to a minimum.

Dialogue is presented front and center, and is always easy to understand. The sound effects are more front heavy, but do make surround use appearances on occasion. Overall I am very happy with all three mixes. They are far from the best mixes on Blu-ray, but considering the age of these specials I doubt they could be much better. 7.5/10

The Extras

Disc 1 (Frosty) (8.12 GB):

Frosty Returns (22:58) (SD)
The animated sequel is included in standard-definition, looking at the material it looks like it was never produced in high-definition to begin with, which is likely why it isn’t included in high-def. Either way, it is a welcome addition.

Disc 2 (Rudolph) (13.6 GB):

No extras are included for ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.’

Disc 3 (Santa) (12.6 GB):

No extras are included for ‘Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town.’

Disc 4 (CD):

The Original Christmas Classics Songs on CD
  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
  • Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree
  • Santa Claus is Coming to Town
  • Jingle Bells
  • Frosty the Snowman
  • A Holly Jolly Christmas
  • Jingle Bell Rock
There aren’t many extras included, but the CD addition was a nice surprise as it isn’t advertised on the packaging. The ‘Frosty Returns’ special isn’t great, but is also a welcome addition. All three specials are packaged in a slip box in individual Blu-ray cases. 3/10

The Films
The Original Christmas Classics’ are now on Blu-ray, and to be honest I didn’t expect to see them on the Blu-ray format yet (especially considering how many films have NOT released on Blu-ray yet). Classic Media has included ‘Frosty the Snowman,’ ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,’ and ‘Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town’ in the collection and all three are holiday favorites.

The Rankin/Bass holiday specials still air on a yearly basis on television, but there many younger audiences who have never seen these specials. I love this set as it is a perfect way to introduce your children, your young relatives or perhaps friends to these holiday classics.

The stop-motion classics ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ and ‘Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town’ are the strongest of the three films included. All three actually hold up very well, especially ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.’
‘Frosty the Snowman’ does suffer a bit in comparison, with a fairly strong story which just falls a bit short of the others when it comes to heart. It would have been interesting to see if the film was produced via stop-motion rather than hand-drawn animation.

Overall this is a fantastic collection and I suspect even the youngest of audiences will embrace these holiday classics. I shared this collection with a nephew of mine who had never seen them and he loved all three of them. 9/10

The Blu-news Summary
The Original Christmas Classics’ is a great collection with respectable video and audio presentations. There aren’t many extras, but there never were in the past, but the CD is a nice addition. Overall this collection on Blu-ray is ‘Highly Recommended’ to any fan of these specials as they have never looked or sounded better.

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Monday, December 20, 2010

Resident Evil: Afterlife 3D Blu-ray Review

Release Date: Dec. 28th, 2010
Disc Size: 43.4 GB
Film Rating: R
Region: ABC
The Video
'Resident Evil: Afterlife' debuts on Blu-ray 3D with a 1080p MVC video presentation, the 2D version of the film is also included on the disc. Please note, to view the 3D version of the film you must have a 3DTV, 3D Blu-ray player and 3D glasses. If you do not have a 3D setup yet however, your regular 2D setup will work just fine in playing the disc in 2D.

I had the chance to see the film theatrically in 3D, and to be honest I found the presentation quite underwhelming as a whole. The trailers made the James Cameron (Avatar) connection, which was smart, but it just didn’t live up to the hype.

Can it be? The Blu-ray 3D release is actually BETTER than my theatrical 3D experience, that is what I think. The 3D effects on the Panasonic 3D Plasma I viewed were great and I especially loved the lack of crosstalk present on the release.

I know many say crosstalk is an issue with the hardware and not the actual disc, which is possible. I have had some incredible 3D experiences with minimal crosstalk and certain experiences with more serious crosstalk/ghosting, and yes the display did affect my viewing experience.

I have had a chance to compare 3D films across LCD/LED, Plasma and DLP and my preference is Plasma. LCD/LED featured far more noticeable ghosting, DLP featured no ghosting and Plasma featured minimal to no ghosting. I do prefer the quality of Plasma in overall clarity and detail however, but regardless of display you will not be disappointed by Resident Evil: Afterlife on Blu-ray 3D.

I viewed the film entirely on my Panasonic 3D plasma television and I did not experience crosstalk/ghosting even once. I also previewed scenes from the film on a Samsung LED display which also featured no crosstalk/ghosting, while other films did feature plenty.

I do think display plays a big part on crosstalk/ghosting effect we see on occasion, but I wouldn’t rule out the transfer completely as the latest presentations are far better than launch releases such as ‘My Bloody Valentine’ or ‘Monsters vs. Aliens’ on Blu-ray 3D.

‘Resident Evil: Afterlife’ features a very strong transfer with sharp levels of detail and excellent overall clarity. Colors are strong throughout and were never underwhelming, black levels stayed inky throughout. The film looks great in 3D or 2D so you cannot go wrong with either version.

I will say that certain special effects sequences are a bit softer than the overall presentation, but it isn’t too much to complain about. The 3D pop is excellent and I do feel they incorporated the 3D very nicely in the film, mixing a nice level of depth and gimmicky pop throughout (the pop in this film is very fun, like the film).

Ultimately, if you plan to go 3D in the near future I would easily recommend the Blu-ray 3D release for the presentation alone. As mentioned, you can view the 2D version of the film in your regular Blu-ray player while you wait to upgrade your setup.

‘Resident Evil: Afterlife’ features a high-def presentation that appears to be as accurate as can be, which is only improved with the Blu-ray 3D presentation which adds another level of dimension to an already enjoyable visual experience. The film looks great in 2D and is even better with the 3D effects. I was very pleased to see a total lack of ghosting/crosstalk from beginning to end. 10/10.

The Audio
An English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is the lossless option included for both the 3D and 2D versions of the film. An English Audio Descriptive Service, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital audio tracks are also included. Optional subtitles include English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Danish, Finnish, Hindi, Norwegian and Swedish.

Like the video presentation, the audio presentation is strong and impressive. The mix features a strong level of surround use throughout, I was particularly impressed by the great placement of the audio effects and the impressive direction of everything in general.

Dialogue was fairly front heavy, crystal clear throughout. The surround use moments were aggressive and exciting and help immerse you into the film and the 3D experience. The mix will have your room shaking when a scene calls for it; the film’s score is also incredible, I just love everything about it. 10/10.

The Extras

Undead Vision: Picture-in-Picture
View the film with a very enjoyable picture-in-picture track which provides plenty of behind-the-scenes footage and images throughout the film.

Audio Commentary
With Writer/Director Paul W.S. Anderson, Producer Jeremy Bolt and Producer Robert Kulzer.

Deleted & Extended Scenes (6:48) (HD)
Five deleted scenes and three extended scenes are included.

Outtakes (4:30) (HD)
This is a very fun collection of outtakes from the film.

Back Under the Umbrella: Directing Afterlife (6:43) (HD)
Writer/Director Paul W.S. Anderson talks about coming back for Afterlife since directing the first film and how this has been his favorite moviemaking experience yet.

Band of Survivors: Casting Afterlife (6:39) (HD)
The cast and crew discuss the new cast members and the roles they play.

Undead Dimension: Resident Evil in 3D (7:28) (HD)
The cast and crew talk about making the film in 3D and the challenges and benefits that come along with it. This is very cool to see and fans of the Blu-ray 3D format will enjoy it very much.

Fighting Back: The Action of Afterlife (5:32) (HD)
Actress Milla Jovovich and cast talk about the amazing stunts in the film and preparing for them.

Vision of the Apocalypse: The Design of Afterlife (7:28) (HD)
See the ideas and sketches made to ultimately create the film. Go behind-the-scenes of the sets and learn about their shooting locations.

New Blood: The Undead of Afterlife (7:32) (HD)
The crew talks about the undead evolving in the film. See behind-the-scenes footage of producing the makeup and look for the undead.

Pwning the Undead: Gamers of the Afterlife (6:12) (HD)
The cast and crew talk about incorporating the gaming feel and look more than ever with this latest Resident Evil film.

Sneak Peek of Resident Evil: Damnation (1:11) (HD)
See a sneak peek of the new original CG movie, which is planned for release on Blu-ray 3D and Blu-ray.

Previews (HD)
See high-def previews for ‘Takers,’ ‘Salt,’ ‘The Virginity Hit,’ ‘Faster,’ and ‘Ticking Clock’ from Sony Pictures.

BD-Live Portal (Internet Connection Required)
Download the latest trailers and clips from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

The extras included are great, but I wish Sony Pictures Home Entertainment packaged this release as a combo pack. A DVD copy while not necessary would have been a nice addition, and certain films (like this one) would be nice to have via Digital Copy. The featurettes included are all great and I loved all of the behind-the-scenes footage included. 8/10.

The Movie
Let me start off by admitting that I am a huge fan of the 'Resident Evil' series, in fact I am a huge fan of the zombie genre in general, whether it be films, TV or video games. 'Resident Evil: Afterlife' always looked disappointing to me since the first trailer for the film released.

I can admit that the ‘Resident Evil’ films aren’t exactly the smartest films, but I do think they are some of the most fun, particularly in the zombie genre. I love Milla Jovovich who has played the lead character Alice since the first film and I am glad she has plans to continue.

As mentioned earlier in the review, I did see the film theatrically in 3D. I was disappointed by the 3D experience in theaters, but the Blu-ray 3D made up for it nicely. I loved the film upon initial viewing despite the less than exciting trailers. While it won’t be winning any awards anytime soon, it still manages to be one of those films having me back for more and more, it’s so incredibly fun.The film continues where ‘Resident Evil: Extinction’ left off and leaves an ending which is an obvious opening for the next film in the series (please be soon). The ‘Resident Evil’ films are not the greatest films, but the films are my ‘Transformers’ (Enjoyed by many, but are special effects spectacles). Personally though, I can’t stand ‘Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen’ (I couldn’t even finish it upon repeated attempts), but I do love me ‘Resident Evil’ movies.

The film features impressive special effects, likeable new characters and opens up the way for possibly the biggest sequel yet. I love ‘Resident Evil: Afterlife’ and while I can admit it has plenty of flaws, I cannot lie and say I didn’t love every second of it. 8/10.

The Blu-news Summary
While not everyone will embrace the film like I did, I loved ‘Resident Evil: Afterlife’ for the fun experience it provides. The Blu-ray 3D release is great, featuring a top notch video and audio presentation. The extras are also very enjoyable. Overall this release is a ‘Must Own’ for those with a Blu-ray 3D setup, and easily ‘Recommended’ to those without.

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Fantasia / Fantasia 2000: 2-Movie Collection Blu-ray Review

Release Date: Nov. 30th, 2010
Disc 1 Size: 34.3 GB
Disc 2 Size: 39.7 GB
Film Ratings: G
Region: A
The Video
'Fantasia' debuts on Blu-ray with a 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 video presentation in its original aspect ratio, but can be viewed with DisneyView (a feature which adds painted borders to the sides in place of the black bars).

'Fantasia 2000' debuts on Blu-ray with a 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 video presentation which is also presented in its original aspect ratio, which takes up the entire screen and the reason DisneyView is not included for this presentation.

I had pretty high expectations for both ‘Fantasia’ and ‘Fantasia 2000’ when they were first announced for Blu-ray release. Disney has done a fantastic job with previous animated classics so I had no doubts whatsoever, but I was surprised to see how good both films look.

‘Fantasia’ in particular blew me away with the level of clarity, richness of colors, it is beautiful. The animation has never looked better and little details in the artwork can be appreciated like never before. This is really a drastic improvement from previous releases.

‘Fantasia 2000’ looks remarkable as well, but being a more recent film I wasn’t as surprised by the incredible upgrade the Blu-ray release provides. Everything looked fantastic, and there are no technical issues to be found with either release.

Both films look incredible and fans of either film will not be disappointed. Everything about the video presentation shines and makes for one of my favorite quality upgrades this year. I had high expectations, but Disney once again has surpassed them. 10/10.

The Audio
'Fantasia' debuts on Blu-ray with an English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track. French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital audio tracks are also included. Optional subtitles include English SDH, French and Spanish.

'Fantasia 2000' debuts on Blu-ray with an English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track. French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital audio tracks are also included. Optional subtitles include English SDH, French and Spanish.

This has been a great year for stunning 7.1 high-def tracks and I am very thankful Disney included 7.1 mixes for both films. ‘Fantasia’ and ‘Fantasia 2000’ are musical presentations so audio is extremely important and thankfully Disney has done both films justice.

The mixes are immersive as can be with surround use throughout. I was very impressed by the level of clarity in every segment. The mixes aren’t afraid to get loud either when a segment calls for it, if not prepared they may make you jump.

Both mixes are top notch and I could not have expected better. If you are a fan of either ‘Fantasia’ or ‘Fantasia 2000’ or likely both then must hear these films with high-def audio, it is truly a thing of beauty. 10/10.

The Extras

Disc 1 (Fantasia) (Blu-ray Disc) (34.3 GB):

Hate black bars? View the film with custom painting borders by Harrison Ellenshaw.

Disney Family Museum (4:06) (HD)
The daughter of Walt Disney takes us inside the Walt Disney family museum.

The Schultheis Notebook: A Disney Treasure (13:51) (HD)
The daughter of Walt Disney shows us some books used for the production of Fantasia.

Interactive Art Gallery (Images)
Choose a gallery from the menu using the arrow keys on your remote control and skip back/forward buttons to page up and down.

Audio Commentary
With Disney Historian Brian Sibley.

Original DVD Audio Commentary
Interviews and story note recreations by Walt Disney, hosted by John Canemaker.

Original DVD Audio Commentary
With Executive Producer Roy E. Disney, Conductor James Levine, Animation Historian John Canemaker and Film Restoration Manager Scott MacQueen.

Disc 2 (Fantasia 2000) (Blu-ray Disc) (39.7 GB):

Musicana (9:21) (HD)
See ideas for planned future Fantasia productions which never happened.

Dali & Disney: A Date With Destino (1:22:18) (HD)
This feature talks about Dali & Disney working together, which many consider total opposites. This feature is very entertaining and very extensive.

Destino (6:31) (HD)
The animated short film which was started in 1946 has been completed and is included in high-definition.

Disney’s Virtual Vault (Internet Connection Required)
Connect to BD-Live to access classic DVD bonus features not included on the discs. I am not a fan of this process because Disney could discontinue the service eventually and the features would be gone.

Original DVD Audio Commentary
With Executive Producer Roy E. Disney, Conductor James Levine, and Producer Don Ernst.

Original DVD Audio Commentary
With the Directors and Art Directors for each segment.

Disc 3 (DVD):

DVD copy of ‘Fantasia.’

Disc 4 (DVD):

DVD copy of ‘Fantasia 2000.’

The extras included on the release are very entertaining, however I found the 4-disc set somewhat underwhelming. The classic DVD bonus features are included via BD-Live, which is an interesting choice, but I don’t see why they weren’t included on the disc.

The additional DVD copies of the film are nice, but considering that ‘Fantasia’ and ‘Fantasia 2000’ aren’t first picks among most children, I doubt they will get very little playtime if any….still it is a nice addition. I like the new featurettes included, which are worth the time viewing. 8/10.

The Films
Fantasia’ and ‘Fantasia 2000’ debut on Blu-ray as a 2-movie collection. The titles were originally announced as two separate Diamond Edition Blu-ray releases, as well as introduced a new film or feature titled ‘Fantasia World.’

Disney ultimately chose to release the films together as a collection on Blu-ray, dropping the ‘Diamond Edition’ label and dropping ‘Fantasia World’ in the process as well. What could have been leaves me somewhat disappointed, but it is better to have than to not have at all in this situation especially.

‘Fantasia’ has always been a favorite musical film of mine. The segments are all very unique and the music is simply beautiful, though I can understand why not everyone has loved it. ‘Fantasia 2000’ was a great follow-up, which I know many who claim to enjoy it even more than ‘Fantasia.’
It is slightly disappointing to see that ‘Fantasia’ has once again been released via its cut form, cutting out the cute character named ‘Sunshine’ due to racism/stereotype controversy. While I can understand why people might be upset by the character, it was a representation of a time and I think we can all move on from it. Personally though, I don’t find it offensive.

Disney could have and should have included both the original film presentation and the cut presentation to please those offended by the original presentation. Perhaps they could have included a message which plays prior to the film with an explanation of both versions.

Either way, the missing character doesn’t really have any serious effect on the story, though it is odd to see the cropped segments like always. Ultimately though, I don’t think it should be a reason to skip this release as it is just seconds of an otherwise incredible presentation.

Revisiting the films on Blu-ray was a very enjoyable experience and I noticed many little details I don’t remember noticing before. The films hold up extremely well and while not everyone will embrace them, I do think they are deserving of every bit of recognition they receive. 10/10.

The Blu-news Summary
'Fantasia / Fantasia 2000: 2-Movie Collection' is a great collection with fantastic video and audio presentations. The 'Sunflower' controversy still exists, but this collection still comes 'Highly Recommended.'

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