Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse Blu-ray Review

Release Date: December 3rd, 2010
Disc Size: 45.4 GB
Film Size: 31.6 GB
Film Rating: PG-13
Region: A
The Video
The Twilight Saga: Eclipse’ releases on Blu-ray with a 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 video presentation. This version includes a DVD copy of the film, which made for a great comparison. As expected, the Blu-ray release is a massive improvement from the DVD which is presented on a DVD-9.

Detail while a bit soft at times can be very impressive. There are plenty of scenes in which very wrinkle and texture comes through clear as can be. The improvement in clarity found on the Blu-ray release is very easy to appreciate when you realize how unsatisfying the film looks on DVD.

I liked the film’s colors, which appear intentionally subdued, but nowhere as cold looking as ‘Twilight.’ The colder looking sequences are reserved only for the actual cold and snowy scenes, which are towards the end of the film. Black levels are inky and strong throughout.

While I wasn’t always dazzled by the high-def presentation, this is definitely an improvement. The transfer itself didn’t feature any actual technical issues; I guess it just depends on how much you love the look of the film itself. I liked the look of the film and I think the Blu-ray presentation presents the look accurately. 8/10.

The Audio
Summit Entertainment has included an English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track as the lossless option. Also included is a Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital audio track. Optional subtitles include English SDH and Spanish.

The audio mix is definitely strong on this release, a massive improvement from the mix found on ‘Twilight.’ For those that do not remember, the audio mix for ‘Twilight’ was incredibly front heavy and actually brought down certain sequences in the film because it was so underwhelming with surround use.

The mix included on this release is thankfully excellent, providing an immersive and exciting audio experience that will please viewers of all ages. Dialogue is presented front and center, crisp and clear as it should be.

The film’s surround use is constantly present, used for both effects and the film’s music. The surround use moments can be quite impressive, although they are just a bit short of reference. Overall I was more than pleased by the track included and I think most viewers will be as well. 9/10.

The Extras

Side A (Blu-ray Disc):

Audio Commentary
With Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson.

Audio Commentary
With Stephenie Meyer and Wyck Godfrey.

The Making of “Eclipse” 6-Part Documentary (HD)
  • Part 1: Introducing David Slade (4:35)
  • Part 2: Pre-Production: Setting the Stage (12:28)
  • Part 3: The Heart of Eclipse (14:27)
  • Part 4: The Dark Side of Eclipse (8:57)
  • Part 5: Lights, Camera, Action (24:31)
  • Part 6: Post-Production: Leaps in Technology (23:09)
The Making of “Eclipse” 6-Part Documentary (Picture-in-Picture version)
The same behind-the-scenes footage listed above is included via a picture-in-picture mode that will appear on the lower right of your screen throughout the film.

Deleted Scenes and Extended Scenes (12:34) (HD)
Include optional commentary by Director David Slade. Two deleted scenes and six extended scenes are included in high-definition.

Jump To… (HD)
This feature lets you watch just the scenes you love over and over again, included are:
  • Edward
  • Jacob
  • The Love Triangle
  • The Cullens
  • The Wolfpack
  • The Humans
  • Victoria’s Army
  • Action Sequences
Photo Gallery (Images)
View production images and stills from The Twilight Saga: Eclipse. You can view in full frame mode, slideshow mode, or by selecting a specific image thumbnail.

Music Videos (8:40) (SD)
  • “Neutron Star Collision” by Muse
  • “Eclipse (All Yours)” by Metric
Bookmark your favorite scenes and return to them later via scene selections.

BD-Live (Internet connection required)
Connect to the Summit Entertainment BD-Live portal to access new special features and trailers. At the time of writing, special features are “coming soon” while plenty of Summit Entertainment trailers are readily available for HD and SD download.

Side B (DVD):

DVD version of the film
Summit Entertainment has chosen to release ‘The Twilight Saga: Eclipse’ in both a movie-only edition Blu-ray release as well as a special edition combo pack release. The combo pack is like previous combo releases from Summit Entertainment and is basically a flipper disc.

I had no issue with playback watching the Blu-ray release on two different Blu-ray players over the weekend. The DVD copy of the film includes two audio commentary tracks (found on the Blu-ray side as well).

PLEASE NOTE: the movie-only Blu-ray release of Eclipse is as the title suggests, movie-only…so if you want these features you will have to buy this combo pack edition reviewed here.

I am very pleased by the high quality of the extras included. I love that Summit Entertainment included the documentary with two viewing options; personally I enjoyed watching it as a standalone HD version compared to the Picture-in-Picture track.

There is plenty of behind-the-scenes footage to see and the audio commentaries were enjoyable from what I previewed of them. The ‘Jump To’ feature is pretty pointless to me, but I guess some die-hard fans will appreciate the feature to satisfy their needs. 8/10.

The Movie
The Twilight Saga: Eclipse’ is the third film in a series of films based on the extremely popular series of novels from author Stephenie Meyer. If you haven’t heard of ‘Twilight’ series then you are likely living under a rock, but many critics would likely consider you lucky.

I have never read the novels, nor have I ever been intrigued enough to take the time. My relationship with the film adaptations has definitely been interesting, receiving a fairly mixed reception from myself and even worse reception from actual critics.

After spending the weekend with ‘The Twilight Saga: Eclipse’ I have to say I actually enjoyed it. The film is not a masterpiece whatsoever, there were a couple of moments that made me cringe just a little, but overall I was not expecting to enjoy it as much as I did.

I thought the film is fairly boring during the first 30 minutes, but fortunately it does not stay that way. My issue with the first two films aside from the melodrama and mediocre acting was the pacing. I remember checking the time constantly throughout the first two films, but not this time.
Kristen Stewart has definitely improved her acting skills since the last film; her personality which makes an appearance in all her films is improved and makes it a far more enjoyable experience. While I hated Kristen Stewart in the past, I am starting to like her just a little.

Robert Pattinson is a great actor who doesn’t always have the best material to work with, but he does provide a great performance that Is fortunately taken down a notch due to some cheesy dialogue throughout. I am still not convinced about Taylor Lautner, but I did find it funny how many shirtless scenes he had in the film, ‘Vampires Suck’ was right in that regard (Which is an awful film).

The special effects and makeup are also greatly improved from the first film, especially the makeup. The terrible makeup efforts from the first film (the vampires whitening in particular) are no longer an issue in ‘Eclipse’ and the special effects are quite impressive as well.

Overall I thought ‘The Twilight Saga: Eclipse’ was the most well-balanced of the three films released so far and while I didn’t love the movie, I definitely found it entertaining. I am sure many will disagree strongly with me, but if I like something I am not going to lie about it. 7/10.

The Blu-news Summary
The Twilight Saga: Eclipse’ is a surprisingly enjoyable film with a great Blu-ray combo pack release. The video and audio are strong as are the extras. Overall the Blu-ray release is ‘Highly Recommended’ to fans and definitely ‘Worth a Look’ to all others.

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

IMAX: Under the Sea 3D Blu-ray Review

Release Date: November 16th, 2010
Disc Size: 14.3 GB
Film Rating: G
Region: ABC

The Video
IMAX: Under the Sea’ debuts on Blu-ray 3D with a 1080p MVC video presentation, the 2D version of the film is also included on the same disc via a 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 video presentation. The disc takes up less than a BD-25, but it does take up more space than the original Blu-ray release. The film is 41 minutes in length, so not too much space is needed.

Please note, to view the 3D version of the film, the following are required: A 3DTV, 3D Blu-ray player and 3D glasses. As mentioned, the disc will work on your regular Blu-ray player and television with a 2D viewing option included on the disc.

I have watched the original 2D Blu-ray release a few times now and I have always been impressed by the level of detail found within the high-def presentation. The film has always had an impressive level of 3D pop, even when not in 3D so I was definitely excited to check out the actual Blu-ray 3D release.

This is one impressive disc, but it also has a couple of small issues. The 3D effects in this film are some of the most effective I have experienced (when done right) and there were moments which it really did look as if sea creatures were swimming outside of the television screen.

I did experience some slight ghosting issues with both a Panasonic and Samsung display. The issue is certainly noticeable, but it is not a constant or very annoying issue. I am curious to see if the issue will still be present with future 3D glasses, which I am sure will feature somewhat of an improvement.

The film’s colors and level of detail are simply stunning like the previous Blu-ray release. The level of pop and dimension is incredible in both 3D and 2D. The film definitely has that ‘made for 3D’ look which benefits nicely when actually presented in 3D, but it looks incredible in 2D as well. 9.5/10.

The Audio
Warner Home Video has included an English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track, which is the lossless option included for both the 3D and 2D presentation. Also included are French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital audio tracks. Optional subtitles include English SDH, French and Spanish.

First off, thank you Warner Home Video for included a lossless mix. I really enjoyed the high-def clarity of the previous release and the identical mix is included this time as well. The documentary features narration by Jim Carrey which is crisp and clear at all times.

Surround use is constant with the many sounds of the underwater sequences or the ocean waves when above water. The mix manages to immerse into the experience with a level of clarity that cannot be denied.

Overall the mix is top notch. No, it does not compare to the mix on a feature film, but this is very good for a documentary. Technically I found the audio mix to be flawless in presenting the material, but in comparison to the best mixes on the Blu-ray format it doesn’t stand out. 8/10.

The Extras
No extras are included on this Blu-ray 3D release. The extras that were included on the original 2D Blu-ray release are not included on this release. The extras included on the previous release, NOT included on the Blu-ray 3D release are:

Filming IMAX: Under the Sea (7:17) (SD)
This is a quick but entertaining behind-the-scenes look of production. The feature isn’t extensive by any means, which would have been a neat addition.

Expeditions (12:07) (SD)
  • Papau New Guinea – New Britain
  • Papau New Guinea – Milne Bay
  • South Australia
  • The Great Barrier Reef
  • Indonesia
I did enjoy the behind-the-scenes featurette included on the previous Blu-ray release. The ‘Expeditions’ features are nothing memorable and really won’t be missed. Unfortunately the lack of extras does drop the overall value of this release, definitely makes it easier to wait for a price drop. 0/10.

The Movie
I did not see ‘IMAX: Under the Sea’ in theaters, but I really enjoyed the original Blu-ray release. I knew a 3D release was inevitable and Warner Home Video didn’t take long with the release, launching it among their first wave of Blu-ray 3D releases.

The film is short, but quite enjoyable for the 41 minute runtime. ‘IMAX: Under the Sea’ is directed by Howard Hall and narrated by Jim Carrey. What I loved most about ‘Under the Sea’ is the up-close look at the many sea creatures with such incredible clarity.

The original Blu-ray release always featured such impressive clarity that it actually had 3D depth and pop and I knew it would benefit nicely from a 3D experience. To be honest, the film in 3D actually enhances the experience even more with some incredible ‘in the room’ moments with certain sea creatures.

The biggest complaints I have seen in regards to this film are the heavy focus on cuttlefish and the narration by Jim Carrey. I actually didn’t mind either, but I will admit Jim Carrey’s narration was not as satisfying as those found on other ocean documentaries.

The documentary isn’t the most informative I have seen, but I did enjoy the family appeal of the content. This documentary includes some of the best underwater footage I have seen and with such great clarity and detail that will engage viewers of all ages.

Overall I enjoyed the documentary very much; it is a visual experience that anyone with interest should see in 3D or 2D. I watched the original Blu-ray release on my high-def projector (which is fantastic), but the Blu-ray 3D experience is also an experience worth having. 8.5/10.

The Blu-news Summary
IMAX: Under the Sea’ is an entertaining documentary with a great Blu-ray 3D release. The video presentation is stunning in both 3D and 2D, the audio mix is also quite impressive. No extras are included on this release. Overall the Blu-ray 3D is 'Recommended' to fans of the film and ‘Worth a Look’ for those just interested in some underwater 3D content.

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The Official 2010 FIFA World Cup Film 3D Blu-ray Review

Release Date: November 16th, 2010
Film Rating: Not Rated
Disc Size: 23.1 GB
Region: ABC

The Video

The Official 2010 FIFA World Cup Film in 3D’ debuts on Blu-ray 3D with a 720p MVC video presentation. Please note, to view this 3D release, you must have the following: A 3DTV, 3D Blu-ray player and 3D glasses. If you do not have the proper setup, the disc will not play.

The presentation looks good considering it is footage from a live sports event. If you pause a frame you may be disappointed, but in motion I thought it looked good. The 720p resolution of the presentation is due to the cameras used when it was filmed.

Colors are satisfying, at times they do feel a bit less vibrant, but that was expected from a sports event. Detail levels aren’t incredible, but the clarity improvement from standard-definition is nice. The biggest issues I had with the presentation were mainly the clearly lower resolution sources, but complaining won’t fix what has already been filmed.
I saw World Cup footage in 3D earlier this year, I can’t say I remember everything like it was yesterday, but the 3D did seem to look better on Blu-ray than I remember from televised games. The film is a collection of highlights, which of course don’t call for things flying out of the screen.

The 3D effects are very heavy on depth, which is quite immersive. No, the effects aren’t as impressive to the level that they have been implemented in actual films, but there is definitely something very neat about it. We certainly get the looking through a window feel throughout; very rarely do things look flat (aside from interviews).

Overall I am very pleased by this 3D release, despite a few issues. Those going in with high expectations may be a bit disappointed with the video presentation and resolution, but those who enjoyed the games in 3D as they aired will certainly find the appeal just as good if not better on Blu-ray 3D. 7.5/10.
The Audio

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has included an English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track as well as a German 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track. No subtitle options are included.

The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is certainly a strong one, considering the material. Yes folks, the vuvuzela is back and louder and clearer than ever before as the noise fills your surround setup. Kidding aside, the mix is quite dynamic in general and I am very pleased.

There isn’t very much important dialogue throughout the film, but when there is it is always easy to understand. There is definitely surround use throughout, generally reserved for audience cheers and footage from fireworks events.

Overall this is a very solid mix. I am very pleased that Sony Pictures Home Entertainment included a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track for the release as I can see why one would think it wouldn’t be necessary. The mix won’t dazzle by any means, nor compares to that of a feature film, but it sounds as good as one could expect. 7.5/10.
The Extras

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 3D Sneak Peek (1:32) (3D-HD)
This is a quick peak of the 3D Blu-ray release, which is reviewed here.

Open Season 3D Sneak Peek (1:30) (3D-HD)
This is a quick peak of the 3D Blu-ray release, which is reviewed here.

Expectantly so there are no actual special features relating to the film itself included. The 3D trailers are neat, but chances are you have those discs by now…if not what are you waiting for? They are both terrific. The lack of extras is disappointing, but there isn’t too much one could expect from a highlight film. 1/10.
The Film

“Experience the journey of the most-watched sporting event in the world as it was meant to be seen: in dynamic and vibrant 3D on Blu-ray™. Relive the action and intensity of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ as though you were actually in the stadium witnessing all the drama and athletic skill. The greatest players in the world--supported by the most passionate fans--met up on the biggest stage in sports and made history as the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ enthralled South Africa and the world.”

That is the synopsis from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment for ‘The Official 2010 FIFA World Cup Film' on Blu-ray 3D. I can remember the ‘2010 FIFA World Cup’ well, at the time it was basically my life with doing everything I could to make sure I didn’t miss a game.

I was able to view footage from various games in 3D and it was one of the reasons which sold me on 3D. The 3D effects were not popping out towards the screen as commonly assumed with 3D, but it opened up a window of dimension like never before. The experience was very enjoyable to say the least.
When Sony Pictures Home Entertainment announced a 3D release of a highlights film, I was quite excited. I didn’t know what to expect from the release as I have never owned a sports highlights film, although I did have some full game collections from other sports.

The film is not incredibly long, running just 64 minutes in length. Some may find it a bit short; others may find it just right. I thought it was a decent runtime, but of course I always want more. The highlights tend to focus on the most successful teams competing. Those hoping for U.S. footage will be sorely disappointed, blink and you will miss it.

The World Cup is certainly an event to look forward to and the highlights included are very enjoyable. We get to relive some great goals and failed opportunities throughout various teams. While this release doesn’t include any full games, it is still an enjoyable film with some of the most memorable moments from 2010. 8/10.
The Blu-news Summary

The FIFA 2010 World Cup Film’ is a great collection of highlights with a strong Blu-ray 3D release. The video and audio are strong considering the material. There are no real extras to speak of, but at least something was included. Overall this Blu-ray 3D release is ‘Recommended’ to anyone enjoyed the 2010 World Cup.
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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Polar Express 3D Blu-ray Review

Disc Size: 44.5 GB
Release Date: November 16th, 2010
Film Rating: G
Region: ABC

The Video
'The Polar Express' comes to Blu-ray for the third time, this time in 3D! The 3D version of the film features a 1080p MVC encode, the 2D version of the film is also included on disc for those without a 3D setup quite yet via a 1080p VC-1 video presentation.

Please note, to view the 3D version of the film you need the following: A 3DTV, 3D Blu-ray player and 3D glasses. As mentioned, those without a 3DTV can still enjoy the 2D version included on the same disc.

Watching the film entirely on a Panasonic 3D plasma television, I have to say I was very impressed by the 3D presentation of the film. The film definitely gets an added sense of depth to the image that is very appealing.

Colors are vivid and alive; blacks are deep and generally very inky. The level of detail can be fantastic at times, but like previous releases, I do think the image looks a tad bit soft at times. The level of detail appears to be from the material itself and not a bad transfer.

I was happy to see a minimal level of crosstalk present throughout. There are certainly some light moments, but I didn’t find it very much of an issue at all. The crosstalk is certainly more present on a Samsung LED I additionally previewed scenes on, but it really is not bad at all, nowhere near the mess that is ‘My Bloody Valentine’ on Blu-ray 3D.

The presentation features some great moments of 3D pop throughout in which we do feel like items are flying outside of the screen (such as the golden ticket flying through the air). Mostly, the film looks more like looking through a window filled with dimension rather than constant items flying through the window at us.

The video presentation looks quite great overall. The 2D presentation features no noticeable improvements or faults over the previous Blu-ray releases. The 3D Blu-ray release has added pop which makes it easier to forgive the look of the film when it looks weaker.

I have always thought ‘The Polar Express’ looked cheap at times, despite using the enjoyable motion-capture technology. As stated, detail levels can be very good (demo level at times), but other times I was left wanting more. While I do think the 2D video presentation is a bit disappointing as always, I do think the 3D mode is an extremely impressive experience. 9/10.

The Audio
An English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is included for both versions of the film. Also included are French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese and Korean Dolby Digital mixes. Optional subtitles include English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese and Korean.

On the original Blu-ray release we had a lossy Dolby Digital track, the second release we saw the addition of a Dolby TrueHD track, and now we have an English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track that sounds absolutely fantastic.

Dialogue is presented front and center, crisp and clear as expected. The film’s sound effects while front heavy at times make sure to give plenty of love to the surround speakers. The surround use is definitely immersive throughout.

The film’s beautiful music sounds crystal clear and can be light and pleasant or loud and aggressive, whatever a scene calls for it brings with great detail. I think everything sounds terrific and a drastic improvement from the Dolby Digital track we once had to put up with. 9/10.

The Extras

You Look Familiar (SD)
Tom Hanks reveals the motion-capture technique and his feelings about this kind of acting experience. (4:12)

A Genuine Ticket to Ride
  • Intro (2:06)
  • Performance Capture: A technical look at the performance-capture technique. (2:15)
  • Virtual Camera: Learn how the shots were controlled using camera and boom-like tools in the animation software. (1:56)
  • Hair and Wardrobe: A look at how hair and wardrobe were created using computer-generated images (CGI). (2:22)
  • Creating the North Pole: Why the filmmakers decided to make the North Pole a more industrial site for producing millions of gifts. (1:43)
  • Music: Introduces us to computer Alan Silvestri and Songwriter Glen Ballard. (3:00)
  • True Inspirations – An Author’s Adventure: Artist and Author Christ Van Allsburg reveals his background artistic ideas and how Polar Express came to be written. (5:30)
  • Behind the Scenes of “Believe”: Takes us into the studio while the song was recorded. (4:25)
Flurry of Effects (SD)
  • All Aboard: Motion-capture session of the boy boarding the train. (1:01)
  • Hot Chocolate: Motion-capture session of the train crew singing and service hot chocolate to the kids. (2:10)
  • Hobo On Top Of the Train: Motion-capture session of the boy and the hobo on top of the train. (2:52)
  • I Believe: Motion-capture session of the boy meeting Santa Claus. (1:24)
  • Goodbye: Motion-capture session of the boy getting off the train and saying goodbye. (1:24)
Trailers (SD)
  • Theatrical Trailer (1:03)
Additional Footage (SD)
  • Additional Song: The deleted song “Smokey and Steamer” presented in rough animation. (7:05)
  • Josh Groban at the Greek: A live performance by the singer of the end title song. (4:34)
  • Meet the Snow Angels: The filmmakers’ sentimental childhood recollections of Christmas. (2:45)
The extras included on this release are enjoyable, but they are included in standard-definition. Considering they were produced in 2004, I am not surprised, it isn’t realistic to expect high-def extras. I wish the theatrical trailer was included in high-def, but thankfully nothing is missing.

I was hoping Warner Home Video would have included some 3D extras, but unfortunately nothing new was produced for this release. Perhaps we will see a re-release in 2014 to celebrate its 10th anniversary. Until then, this is a solid package with informative features. 7/10.

The Movie
Warner Home Video didn’t take long to bring ‘The Polar Express’ to Blu-ray 3D, which has already received two different Blu-ray releases in the past. I never saw the film in theaters, but I did watch the film on DVD and both of the previous Blu-ray releases.

To be honest, ‘The Polar Express’ has never been one of my favorite holiday films. I thought the film was okay on DVD and I did pick up the original Blu-ray release simply for hopeful demo material (which it ultimately isn’t). The anaglyph 3D included on the second release made for another purchase, but ultimately it failed to deliver like the presentation included on this 3D disc does.

The film is directed by Robert Zemeckis, who most recently directed Disney’s ‘A Christmas Carol.’ His love for motion-capture technology is clear with his productions and while I do think the technology has improved since this release, I wasn’t always impressed at the time.

I love motion-capture because it does provide great movement and facial details; however I just find the look odd at times. Perhaps I am a little too used to the high quality of Pixar productions that it makes the motion-capture films harder to enjoy.

The film stars Tom Hanks who plays various main roles throughout the film, each performance different from the other. I do think the performances are good, but the characters tend to be forgettable, definitely keeping this one from ever becoming a holiday classic.

The film definitely has an audience, but I still don’t love the film. I think the story is touching and a good time overall, but something feels missing. I think the story is charming overall, but I think the characters themselves are the biggest upset about the film.

I can understand why the film has its fans; it makes for a harmless and fun viewing that can be enjoyed by the entire family. If you are looking for an entertaining holiday film in the weeks to come, I would certainly recommend ‘The Polar Express,’ but I would be lying if I said there wasn’t better. The 3D experience definitely makes things a bit more fun however. 7.5/10.

The Blu-news Summary
The Polar Express’ is an entertaining holiday film, but far from the best. The 3D Blu-ray release is great, featuring a strong video and audio presentation. The extras included are entirely in standard-definition, but thankfully everything is ported from previous releases. Overall the Blu-ray 3D release is easily ‘Recommended’ to those looking for some great 3D content.

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Monday, November 15, 2010

A Christmas Carol: 4-Disc Combo Pack Blu-ray Review

Disc 1 Size: 46.6 GB
Disc 2 Size: 33.7 GB
Release Date: November 16th, 2010
Film Rating: PG
Region: A
The Video
The Blu-ray 3D disc features a 1080p MVC video presentation. The Blu-ray disc features a 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 video presentation. I received the 3D release weeks before the 2D release, but I did want to wait to review until I had final/full product in hand.

Both the 2D and 3D versions of the film feature stellar video presentations. The film is done via motion capture technology, which is also used in films such as ‘The Polar Express.’ Motion capture is a neat technology and it looks great in high-definition, but something about it turns me off at times.

The 2D and 3D versions of the film feature great color reproduction, solid black levels and terrific detail. The film is quite dark and I was very pleased by the level of clarity and improvement found on the high-def versions over the DVD.

The 3D version of the film gives an added life to the film with a 3D experience that cannot be missed. To view the 3D experience you need to have a 3DTV, 3D Blu-ray player and 3D glasses. I compared the presentation among several Plasma and LED/LCD 3D televisions and the results are impressive on any display.
The presentation features some very slight crosstalk during the presentation, which I found to be more noticeable on the LED/LCD televisions. The Plasma televisions featured some very brief moments of crosstalk as well, but the difference was definitely clear between the displays.

The presentation definitely gets added depth which really sucks you into the experience. Everything has dimension and separation. The film has fun 3D moments throughout the entire film, it is constantly present in one way or another and it looks superb.

Some viewers may notice some black lines appear on the sides of the screen during certain moments in the film. This is not a technical issue, rather a way for certain 3D effects to have maximum 3D pop while preventing

Regardless of viewing choice, you are certainly in for a treat. The slight crosstalk present will likely be a non-issue with future televisions and better glasses, but to be honest it was not bad at all. The film looks great in high-definition and becomes even more immersive in 3D. 9.5/10.

The Audio
An English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is the lossless option included. Also included are an English 2.0 Dolby Digital Descriptive Video Service, as well as French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital tracks. Optional subtitles include English SDH, French and Spanish.

The audio mix included is quite impressive, featuring a great level of clarity and immersive use of surround speakers. Dialogue is generally front heavy as expected, but the quality makes it always easy to understand every word spoken.

The film’s surround use is impressive during the more intense moments of the film. At times surround use does leave a bit to be desired, with surprisingly light use occasionally. The mix perhaps could have been better, but it is certainly more than solid.

Overall I was quite impressed. We have definitely seen better surround use mixes lately, and while this one comes close, it does leave a bit to be desired. I don’t think very many viewers will find themselves disappointed by this otherwise top notch mix. 9/10.

The Extras

Disc 1 (Blu-ray 3D Disc) (46.6 GB):

Mr. Scrooge’s Wild Ride (2:34) (3D-HD)
A brief making of the film presented in 3D, love the inclusion of an actual 3D extra.

Blu-ray 3D Sneak Peek (3D-HD)
The 3D trailer which plays before the menus can also be found via the special features.

Disc 2 (Blu-ray Disc) (33.7 GB):

Behind the Carol: The Full Motion-Capture Experience (PiP)
This is a feature length picture-in-picture experience which allows you to watch the final product alongside the motion capture footage. This feature Includes optional commentary by Director Robert Zemeckis.

Capturing Dickens: A Novel Retelling (14:43) (HD)
An obnoxious woman who plays many of the heavier character roles throughout the film takes us through a behind-the-scenes look of the film. Crew interviews are included throughout as well.

Countdown to Christmas Interactive Calendar
An interactive calendar which was quite dull from the minute I spent on it.

On Set with Sammi (1:53) (HD)
Actress Sammi Hanratty (who has various roles in the film) takes on a behind-the-scenes look of production.

Deleted Scenes (8:52) (HD)
Six deleted scenes are included and include an introduction via the play all option.

Discover Blu-ray 3D with Timon & Pumbaa (4:14) (HD)
An animated short starring Timon & Pumbaa, they explain Blu-ray 3D and the benefits.

Learn How to Take Your Movies on the Go (1:04) (HD)
An instructional video for those who have never redeemed a Digital Copy.

Disc 3 (DVD):

DVD copy of the film
With select bonus features from the 2D Blu-ray disc.

Disc 4 (DVD):

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

The extras included on this initial release are definitely great. This is the ultimate combo pack, with a Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Copy version of the film included. The picture-in-picture track is very neat and the other features are satisfying as well. I love that Disney included a 3D exclusive feature in 3D, hopefully more studios begin to do this. 7.5/10.

The Movie
Disney’s 'A Christmas Carol' is a film I did get to view in a 3D theater. I have to say, I wasn’t very excited about the film when the trailer was released, but I was convinced by friends to go see it upon release. I actually found great enjoyment from the film, despite being another ‘Christmas Carol’ film.

Disney’s take on the classic Charles Dickens story is done via motion capture technology. Motion capture is something I do enjoy, however I do prefer purely animated material. At times I feel motion capture lacks polish, despite the impressive body and facial movements and details.

Jim Carrey stars as Mr. Scrooge as well as a number of other characters throughout the film. Supporting cast members also play various characters in the film as well, most characters are rather generic but Scrooge and few others are played quite well.I was very impressed by the environments which take us back in time. The scenes look very authentic and surprisingly lifelike at times. Obviously a great deal of attention was paid to the little details in the environments and I definitely took notice throughout, it is hard to miss.

Disney’s ‘A Christmas Carol’ is a fun adaptation which certainly ranks highly among the many film adaptations. This film will be a great way to introduce younger audiences to a timeless holiday story, which doesn’t wander far from the novel.

I wouldn’t call the film a masterpiece, but it certainly surpassed my expectations in every way. This is a well done family film that should be enjoyed by everyone this holiday season. There is definitely a lot to love about Disney’s ‘A Christmas Carol’ in either 3D or 2D. 8.5/10.

The Blu-news Summary
A Christmas Carol’ is a fun holiday film with a great Blu-ray 3D combo pack release. The video presentation is terrific, the audio is fantastic and the extras are enjoyable. Overall the Blu-ray 3D combo pack is ‘Highly Recommended’ to all.

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Clash of the Titans 3D Blu-ray Review

Disc 1 Size: 39.3 GB
Disc 2 Size: 38.2 GB
Release Date: November 16th, 2010
Film Rating: PG-13
Region: ABC
The Video
The 3D Blu-ray presentation features a 1080p MVC video presentation. The 2D Blu-ray presentation features a 1080p VC-1 video presentation. To view the 3D version, you must have a 3DTV, 3D Blu-ray player and glasses; otherwise the disc will not load.

Warner Home Video has included a 2D version of the film on a 2D Blu-ray disc, which appears to be identical to the Blu-ray disc released earlier this year, features and all. Those who are familiar with the original release know exactly what to expect, a mixed bag.

The video presentation on both the 2D and 3D versions of the film are generally strong, however there is some evident edge enhancement throughout which is annoying. The edge enhancement is far from the worst we have seen, but it is definitely there.

Both versions of the film feature very pleasing colors and a pleasing level of detail throughout. Blacks are generally solid and quite inky. An included DVD reveals a noticeable upgrade in clarity and pretty much every aspect of the video quality.

The film was released theatrically in 3D, however it was one of the worst 3D experiences I have had in a theater. The film was not shot in 3D, but was a quick conversion job from the studio to drive potential 3D viewers.‘Clash of the Titans’ in 3D left a bad taste in my mouth. I don’t believe every film should be made in 3D, in fact I think 3D films should be reserved for animated films and films which would actually benefit from a 3D presentation, add something to the story or the way it is presented.

It appears Warner Home Video has gone back and fixed a few of the issues present on the theatrical 3D release for this Blu-ray 3D release. The release is far from perfect, but I definitely found it to be a much more enjoyable 3D experience than the one I experienced in theaters.

There are still issues however, which keep this far form a stunning 3D presentation. The most annoying issue would have to be the faster action sequences throughout the film. They were definitely a pain in theaters and they are a pain here, with too much movement to keep up with.

The action sequences while impressive at times just looked far too strange and it actually was painfully annoying at times. The sequences are quick, but they definitely were distracting from the overall experience. The 2D version of the film is difficult enough to keep up with really.

Overall I was pleasantly surprised by the improvement found on this 3D Blu-ray release from my awful theater experience. The presentation is still far from perfect, but it is more enjoyable than I anticipated. If studios are going to convert films into 3D, I certainly expect better efforts in the future. 7/10.

The Audio
An English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is the lossless option included on both the 3D and 2D Blu-ay discs. Also included are French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital audio tracks. Optional subtitles include English SDH, French and Spanish.

The English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track definitely adds to this experience. Dialogue is presented crisp and clear at all times. Surround use is fantastic, with immersive moments from beginning to end. The mix features impressive direction and excellent clarity.

The mix definitely keeps the film interesting, the action sequences are a surround sound dream. Little details pop up throughout the surround speakers even during quieter moments which left me very impressed by the experience as a whole.

Overall I am extremely impressed by the mix included. There are definitely better audio mixes on the format, but it is hard to be even slightly disappointed by this mix. Fans of the film and audiophiles in general will enjoy this almost perfect mix. 9.5/10.

The Extras

Disc 1 (Blu-ray 3D Disc) (39.3 GB):

No extras are included on the Blu-ray 3D disc, just the 3D version of the film. For the 2D version of the film and 2D extras, see ‘Disc 2.’

Disc 2 (Blu-ray Disc) (38.2 GB):

WB Maximum Movie Mode (Picture-in-Picture)
This is an entertaining picture-in-picture track which plays while you watch the film. A good amount of behind-the-scenes footage is included throughout.

Focus Points (35:02) (HD)
Sam Worthington is Perseus
Zeus: Father of Gods and Men
Enter the World of Hades
Calibos: The Man behind the Monster
Tenerife: A Continent on an Island
Actors and their Stunts
Wales: A Beautiful Scarred Landscape
Bringing Medusa to Life
Prepare for the Kraken!

Sam Worthington: An Action Hero for the Ages (7:56) (HD)
This feature goes behind-the-scenes with actor Sam Worthington and the extensive work it took to prepare for the role.

Alternate Ending (5:23) (HD)
The film’s alternate ending is included and presented in high-definition; the ending includes some unfinished special effects.

Deleted Scenes (18:11) (HD)
Deleted scenes are included in high-definition, watching them will quickly make you realize why they were deleted.

BD-Live Portal
Watch the latest trailers from Warner Home Video.

Disc 3 (DVD):

DVD copy of the film

Presented in 2D.

Digital Copy of the film
Presented in 2D. Compatible with iTunes and Windows Media devices. Expires November 14th, 2011.

The extras included on this release are great. Warner Home Video has released this combo pack edition with a 3D Blu-ray disc, 2D Blu-ray disc, DVD and Digital Copy version of the film. The extras included on this release are fantastic, I wish Warner Home Video had included some 3D extras however….perhaps a look at the 3D conversion. 7.5/10.

The Movie
Hollywood has been remake crazy lately, needless to say, it was no surprise that ‘Clash of the Titans (2010)’ came along. In this situation, I was not upset by remake news whatsoever. To be honest, I actually found the ‘Clash of the Titans’ from 1981 to be dull and particularly cheesy now.

The film was definitely in need of a good update. What we get with this remake is a solid wannabe epic that is ultimately forgettable. Sam Worthington stars as Perseus, you may also know him from ‘Avatar’ fame. Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Gemma Arterton and others co-star.

My relationship with ‘Clash of the Titans (2010)’ has been love/hate. I saw the film theatrically, but I couldn’t get myself to get through the entire film on Blu-ray upon initial release. The film while not awful just didn’t interest me anymore.I definitely think the unfortunate 3D experience turned me off to the film. I did take the time over the weekend to revisit the film and while my 3D experience was much better (as was my experience with the German release), I still think the film is rather bland overall.

The film is something I would call a decent popcorn flick. The action sequences can be impressive, as well as the many special effects. The storyline itself is no better than the original, considering the special effects and updates in technology, it should have been better than the very dated original.

I do think I was too harsh on the film initially, like many films I did enjoy the film much more upon repeated viewing. Overall I think this is a somewhat decent film considering the imperfect original, but ultimately it doesn’t deliver the epic film I had hoped for. 6/10.

The Blu-news Summary
Clash of the Titans (2010)’ is a solid but forgettable film. The Blu-ray release is good, featuring a decent video presentation and strong audio mix. The extras are definitely enjoyable and I loved the behind-the-scenes footage. Overall the Blu-ray 3D release is ultimately ‘Worth a Look’ to those seeking 3D content.

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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Peanuts Holiday Collection Blu-ray Review

A Charlie Brown Christmas Disc Size: 9.69 GB
A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Disc Size:
9.32 GB
It's The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown Disc Size: 9.55 GB
Film Ratings: Not Rated
Release Date: October 5th, 2010
Region: ABC
The Video
'The Peanuts Deluxe Holiday Edition' come to Blu-ray with 1080p VC-1 video presentations for all three releases. The box set includes the three previously individual releases of 'A Charlie Brown Christmas,' 'A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving,' and 'It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.'

The video presentation on each release is quite similar. Each of these releases do look a bit dated, however they still look very good considering the source material. Naturally, each release improves upon the other as they were produced years apart from each other.

Colors are very satisfying and an improvement from DVD. The clarity of each film is nice with sharp animation that I do find an improvement from their included DVD versions.

Each release includes a bonus short film, which also look very good. The most impressive looking special is 'Mayflower Voyagers' which is the youngest of the included specials.

Overall I think these are excellent high-def presentations considering the material. These are made for television specials, not even ‘feature’ films so I actually think they look much better than they could have looked. 8.5/10.

The Audio
An English 5.1 Dolby Digital audio track is included for 'A Charlie Brown Christmas.' Optional subtitles include English (SDH).

English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is included for 'A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving' is the lossless and only audio option included. Optional subtitles include English (SDH) and French.

An English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is the lossless option for 'It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.' A Spanish 1.0 Dolby Digital track is also included. Optional subtitles include English (SDH), French and Spanish.

Unfortunately, Warner Bros. did not update the audio found on the original Blu-ray release of 'A Charlie Brown Christmas' which released the year before the other two titles on Blu-ray. The latter two feature English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio tracks which sound great considering the source material.

The Dolby Digital track on 'A Charlie Brown Christmas' certainly gets the job done. However, the audio did not bring me into the experience at all. The quality while certainly decent just doesn't compare to a lossless mix. I do think the audio could have had a slight improvement in overall clarity if a DTS-HD Master Audio track been included.

The English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio tracks included on 'It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown' and 'A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving' sound significantly better, particularly dialogue. Dialogue has a nice level of clarity which just isn’t there on the DVD versions or the Blu-ray release of 'A Charlie Brown Christmas.'

There is some slight cracking found on all three releases, but that was definitely expected considering the age of the specials. All the mixes are very front heavy, but expectantly so. There is some light surround use from time to time, notably from ‘Mayflower Voyagers’ but it is all very light and fitting, The music is also quite nice, although plays second to the dialogue/effects.

I do have a rule now in which I cannot give a lossy track more than a 5/10. In this situation we have two great lossless mixes and one disappointing lossy mix. Overall I am much more pleased than disappointed as Warner Bros. did two releases justice which outweigh the disappointing audio mix on 'A Charlie Brown Christmas'. 7.5/10.

The Extras

A Charlie Brown Christmas Features:

Bonus: It's Christmas Time Again, Charlie Brown (23:00) (HD)
Another Charlie Brown Christmas special is included, and definitely makes this package sweeter. This special is presented in high-def as well, and looks better than the main feature.

A Christmas Miracle: The Making of A Charlie Brown Christmas (15:59) (SD)
See how the Charlie Brown Christmas special came to be in this very nice and informative featurette.

Trailers (1:19) (SD)
A trailer for the 'Classic Christmas Favorites' collection, which is not available on Blu-ray, but definitely should have been.

DVD copy of the film

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Features:

Bonus: Mayflower Voyagers (HD)
A second TV special is included on this release with English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio.

Popcorn & Jellybeans: Making a Thanksgiving Classic (12:27) (SD)
I love this featurette. The voice cast and crew share their memories from working on the special as well as unique challenges that came with the production.

DVD copy of the film

It's The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown Features:

'It's Magic, Charlie Brown' TV Special (HD)
A second TV special is included on this release with English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio.

We Need a Blockbuster, Charlie Brown (13:58) (SD)
This is a very entertaining and informative behind-the-scenes feature about the film. We hear great stories about the pressure put on the animators/writers in creating another blockbuster as well as changes and issues that happened during production.

DVD Copy of the film

Warner Bros. has packaged all three individual Blu-ray releases in an attractive and festive box set. Each release is individually packaged with their own 2-disc case and respective cover art. There are 3 cases in the set, each including their main special and bonus special on one disc, the second discs are DVD versions of each release.

Overall I am very pleased by the bonus features. Previous DVD extras are included, nothing appears to be missing. Nothing new was produced for these releases, but I do appreciate that the bonus specials are included in high-definition with lossless audio on two of the three. 6/10.

The Holiday Collection
The 'Peanuts Holiday Collection' includes three different releases: 'A Charlie Brown Christmas,' 'A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving' and 'It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.'

Each release includes their main special as well as a bonus special, listed in the features above. I have loved each individual release as stated in my reviews of all three releases. This time around we get the same identical discs, packaged together in a cheaper and attractive looking box set.

I have always had a great love for all three releases throughout the years and I am very impressed that Warner Bros. released them on Blu-ray. The 'Peanuts' characters and world have become comic and television icons, with specials that air annually near their respective holiday.

I know I am not alone when I say that these specials are an annual tradition with my family. The specials are charming and always get me in the holiday mood, revisiting the specials I still feel the magic I experienced as a kid.

The 'Peanuts Holiday Collection' is the perfect way to release these, as all three are must owns in my eyes. This release makes for the perfect holiday gift for all ages, share it with your family this holiday! Charlie Brown sure knows how to make a holiday special. 10/10.

The Blu-news Summary
The 'Peanuts Holiday Collection' is simply holiday magic at its best. Three classics, one affordable price. The Blu-ray releases are very good, featuring strong video presentations and fitting audio mixes. This collection is 'Highly Recommended' to all.

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