Friday, June 24, 2011

Death at a Funeral (2007) Blu-ray Review

Release Date: June 7th, 2011
Disc Size: 30.4 GB
Film Size: 29.2 GB
Film Rating: R
Region: A
The Video
Death at a Funeral’ debuts on Blu-ray with a 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 video presentation. The 2007 film looks fantastic in high-definition and thankfully the print is in great condition, free of any damage or dirt and specks.

The overall clarity is impressive and makes for an obvious improvement from standard definition, from beginning to end. There really isn’t one scene that could be confused for DVD quality, detail is always strong.

Colors are pleasing and black levels are solid throughout. The film looks as good as one could expect in high-definition and this is certainly a very respectable high-def transfer. 8/10

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

The audio mix included is satisfying, however I didn’t find it as impressive as I would have hoped. This is a comedy, so I didn’t expect very much surround use, but I did expect fantastic clarity. While dialogue is generally easy to understand, it lacked the high-def oomph typical with a lossless mix, it felt very limited.

Overall this mix is definitely more appreciated than just a standard Dolby Digital audio track, but this is certainly not among the best lossless mixes you will hear. It gets the job done, but I wish dialogue was crisper. 6/10

The Extras

Audio Commentary
With Director Frank Oz.

Audio Commentary
With Writer Dean Craig and Actors Alan Tudyk and Andy Nyman.

Gag Reel (7:47) (SD)
This is very funny gag reel and there is plenty to see.

Theatrical Trailer (2:19) (HD)
The film’s theatrical trailer is included in high-definition.

The extras included are all DVD ports, but thankfully nothing appears to be missing. The theatrical trailer inclusion is always welcome and the two audio commentaries are very fun and informative. 5/10

The Movie
I was hoping ‘Death at a Funeral (2007)’ would receive a Blu-ray release, especially after seeing the remake. I have never seen this original film, but I found the humor of the remake to be far better than I expected, so of course my expectations were high.

‘Death at a Funeral’ is a wacky film that had me laughing from beginning to end. The entire film takes place in one day at a funeral service and the humor and drama that surrounds the event. We are introduced to many different family members as they all struggle with their own hilarious issues.The characters are fantastic, and I realized one of the actors reprises his role in the remake as well. I love the humor; a lot of it is intentionally stupid, so stupid it’s actually smart. The entire film is just so funny, and I certainly prefer it over the remake now that I’ve had the chance to watch both films.

‘Death at a Funeral’ is an absolutely hilarious film that is definitely worth watching. I dare you to try to watch the film and not laugh, it’s pretty much impossible. I loved it; the movie is harmless fun and has very good replay value. 9/10

The Blu-news Summary
Death at a Funeral (2007)’ is incredibly hilarious with a good Blu-ray release. The video presentation is strong while the audio mix gets the job done. The extras included are enjoyable as well. Overall this Blu-ray release is easily ‘Recommended’ for the film alone.

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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Original Sin Blu-ray Review

Release Date: June 7th, 2011
Disc Size: 38.4 GB
Film Size: 37.7 GB
Film Rating: Unrated
Region: A
The Video
Original Sin’ debuts on Blu-ray with a 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 video presentation. The video presentation is certainly a mixed bag, but I wouldn’t put the blame on the transfer for the issues as the high-def encode appears to be quite healthy.

The film is 10 years old, so I expected some slight aging, but many shots certainly look far older due to specks and dirt that pop up on a regular basis. There are also many wide area shots which are quite blurry, almost as if the camera shot them out of focus, but this isn’t really an issue with regular scenes.

Despite the dirt and specks, there is still plenty that I found enjoyable about the video presentation. Many scenes were impressive looking, with sharp detail and excellent clarity. Unfortunately, the film looks that more inconsistent because of the drastic differences.

This Blu-ray release is certainly an improvement from the DVD release, depending on the scene you will find a moderate to undeniable and impressive difference. Overall it is clear that MGM has not properly preserved the film, which is a shame to see on any film.

I think fans of the film that have put up with the DVD will appreciate the upgrades found with the Blu-ray release, but don’t go in expecting to be impressed during the film’s entire run time. Ultimately, this one is in need of a cleanup already, and I don’t think it will be seeing one anytime soon. 5.5/10

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

The lossless audio track included is certainly the most superior aspect of this release, featuring a nice engaging mix that focuses on presenting dialogue as crisp and clear as possible. The film does make some moderate use of the surround speakers, which I thought was just right.

This is certainly the best the film has ever sounded and I don’t really have any complaints. For a 10 year old film it met my expectations and many times sounds like it was recorded just yesterday. This won’t make for demo material, but it’s certainly very good. 7.5/10

The Extras

Audio Commentary
By Director Michael Cristofer

Music Video (1:47) (SD)
“You Can’t Walk Away From Love” by Gloria Estefan

Original Theatrical Trailer (2:09) (HD)
The theatrical trailer is presented in high-definition, which is a nice surprise.

An audio commentary, music video and theatrical trailer are the only bonus features to be found on this release. The extras were ported over, but it’s a shame nothing new was included. 3.5/10

The Movie
10 years since it's original release, ‘Original Sin’ debuts on Blu-ray high-definition. Angelina Jolie and Antonio Banderas star in this sexy attempt of a thrilling drama, which ultimately fails to have any serious impact on viewers.

It has been years since I last saw the film, long enough for me to forget about the film completely. When the title was announced for Blu-ray I was certainly looking forward to revisiting, but shortly after starting the film it all came back to me. Angelina Jolie has always shown particular strength in dramas and action films, but even she failed to save the film. Antonio Banderas is certainly a respectable actor and his performance in this film is likely as good as it gets, in a role that is hard to believe regardless of the actor.

The film’s strongest aspects are the sex scenes, which also tend to run a little long. The film’s leads do have good chemistry, but the storyline ripped straight out of a soap opera or cheesy love novel just isn’t that great.

‘Original Sin’ isn’t awful (despite my criticism), but it does fail to be memorable. Without the revealing sex scenes, this one wouldn’t have anything to be remembered for. The film’s leads still make for a decent viewing experience, but we certainly have seen both leads in far better movies, adding to the disappointment. 6/10

The Blu-news Summary
‘Original Sin’ features a satisfactory video presentation with a very pleasing audio mix. The extras included are DVD ports, which I’m glad are included. Overall this Blu-ray release is ‘For Fans Only.

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Sunday, June 12, 2011

Red Riding Hood Blu-ray Review

Release Date: June 14th, 2011
Blu-ray Disc Size: 28.9 GB
Film Rating: PG-13
Region: ABC


Red Riding Hood is available on Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD, On Demand and for Download 6/14!

The Video
Red Riding Hood’ debuts on Blu-ray with a 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 video presentation, featuring both cuts of the film via seamless branching. I found the clarity of the film to always be great, you won’t ever confuse the presentation for a standard DVD, but detail isn’t always as sharp as I would have liked.

Colors are nicely presented, although the film does have a darker look. Black levels are nowhere as inky as I would have liked, generally looking a bit more grayish. The look of the film as a whole just doesn’t blow me away, and perhaps it is just the way the film is intended to look (much like Twilight does).

The presentation can be impressive and is impressive throughout, it just doesn’t reach the demo levels I’m used to with a typical new release film. Overall there is a significant improvement to be found, despite the disappointing aspects. Once you pop in the DVD, you will be much happier with the Blu-ray release.

Warner Home Video’s transfer does have a few issues to be found, but overall I think the film was intended to have the look that we see on this Blu-ray release. I may sound a bit too critical in my review, but there are plenty of positive aspects, overall I enjoyed this Blu-ray release very much. 7.5/10

The Audio
Alternate Cut: An English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is the only audio option included on the alternate cut of the film. Optional subtitles include English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese.
Theatrical Version: An English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is the lossless audio option included. French, Spanish and Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital audio tracks are included on the theatrical version. Optional subtitles include English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese.

The audio mix is strong, just as I had hoped. Dialogue is crisp and clear, always easy to understand. The film’s audio effects can be a bit front-focused at times, but definitely opens up whenever the real action happens.

The film’s score comes through clearly, making fantastic use of the surround speakers. The most exciting audio moments are the moments when you anticipate the wolf, and when the wolf actually appears. Overall this is a very impressive mix, with many demo worthy moments. 9/10

The Extras
Disc 1 (Blu-ray Disc):
Secrets behind the Red Cloak (PiP)
This is a Picture-in-Picture commentary by Catherine Hardwicke, Amanda Seyfried, Shiloh Fernandez and Max Irons, plus storyboards and conceptual artwork. This feature is available only for the Theatrical Version.
Behind the Story (HD)
  • The Reinvention of Red Riding Hood (5:25)
  • Red Riding Hood: Red’s Men (3:18)
  • Red Riding Hood: Making of the Score (11:00)
  • Before The Fur…Making of the CGI Wolf (0:40)
  • Casting Tapes (7:24)
  • Rehearsals (5:52)
  • Red Riding Hood in 73 Seconds (1:28)
Deleted Scenes (4:18) (HD)
Four deleted scenes are included and presented in high-definition.
Gag Reel (2:37) (HD)
This gag reel consists mostly of people falling or bumping into things.
Music Videos (HD)
  • “The Wolf” – Fever Ray (2:20)
  • “Just A Fragment of You” – Anthony Gonzales & Brian Reitzell (3:07)
Easter Egg (0:26) (HD)
After ‘Music Videos’, click right to a blank space, then click enter. This is a joke feature in which the director argues with the Big Bad Wolf on casting… really stupid.
BD-Live (Internet Connection Required)
Preview trailers for other Warner Home Video releases and view features from other films.

Disc 2 (DVD):
DVD copy of the film
Digital Copy of the film
Compatible with iTunes and Windows Media devices.

I was very impressed by the extras included. The picture-in-picture commentary was a nice surprise, and I loved all the behind-the-scenes footage included as well. The DVD and Digital Copy are a nice addition for fans of the film, making it the obvious choice. 8/10

The Movie
I did not see ‘Red Riding Hood’ theatrically; the film didn’t start off with the greatest reviews so I chose to stay away. The film’s trailers also didn’t particularly do anything for me either, but I have always found Amanda Seyfried to be a great actress in every role she has taken on.

I went into the film with low expectations to be honest, and perhaps that is why I was quite surprised that I actually enjoyed the film. Directed by Catherine Hardwicke, you definitely get a lot of Twilight vibes from the film.

The Twilight similarities can be found throughout the film, whether it is story, characters or look. The story has a bit of a love triangle, and there is certainly a lot of mystery to it. Some of the lines are a bit cheesy like you would see in a Twilight film as well.

While it does have plenty of Twilight similarities, I actually enjoyed it a lot more than I did Twilight. The film is certainly made to appeal to teenage audiences, so it doesn’t get too extreme, but I thought it was well done for a PG-13 film.The film is based on the classic Little Red Riding Hood tale, but I would say loosely based. All the major connections to the classic story are here, but there are so many differences to be found that I can’t say they are very similar at all.

‘Red Riding Hood’ hasn’t received a very positive critical response, but my job isn’t to go along with what everyone else is thinking, even if I come across as stupid. Personally, I liked it. Sure, there are cheesy lines and some storylines that didn’t go anywhere significant, but I still found it to be enjoyable.

The mystery in the film may be obvious to some, but it also may throw you off from time to time. I think it is a fun popcorn flick that some may be pleasantly surprised by, I certainly was. For a teen-targeted film, I certainly have seen far worse, just don’t go in with the highest of expectations. 7/10

The Blu-news Summary
Red Riding Hood’ is a fun popcorn flick with a good Blu-ray release. The visual presentation is definitely satisfying and the audio mix will impress throughout. The extras are both entertaining and informative, and there is quite a bit to see. Overall this Blu-ray combo pack is ‘Recommended’ to anyone who enjoyed the film.

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Friday, June 10, 2011

Sports Illustrated Swimsuit 2011: The 3D Experience Blu-ray Review

Release Date: June 7th, 2011
Disc Size: 11.6 GB
Film Size: 10.1 GB
Rating: Not Rated
Region: ABC
The Video
Sports Illustrated Swimsuit 2011: The 3D Experience’ comes to Blu-ray 3D/Blu-ray on one disc via a 1080p MVC video presentation. I was very surprised when this was announced for Blu-ray 3D release, but the more 3D content the better, and this one is particularly easy on the eyes.

The models are now filmed in 3D, but sorry guys, this one doesn’t exactly pop. Depth however is fantastic; many scenes look as if you could easily reach into the television screen, and touch the sand, or whatever else your ‘heart’ desires.

The 3D presentation as a whole is everything you could ask for. Beautiful scenery, great lighting and of course some of the top swimsuit models of the moment. There really is nothing I could complain about, it certainly isn’t the most impressive release, but considering the content, I don’t see how it could be much better. 8.5/10

The Audio
An English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is included as the lossless and only audio option. Optional subtitles include English, English SDH, Chinese Traditional, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Swedish.

This isn’t one title that I expected impressive audio from, and we don’t get anything particularly impressive here. Dialogue (aside from visuals) is of most priority and is crisp and clear from beginning to end, whenever the models or photographer choose to speak.

The beaches in the background can be heard lightly throughout the surround speakers to create a little immersion, but other than that it is a fairly basic audio mix. I wasn’t impressed, but I didn’t expect to be impressed. The audio gets the job done nicely; I don’t think it could be any better either. 7/10

The Extras

Bookmark your favorite scenes and return to them later.

Only bookmarks are included, which I can’t complain about. 1/10

The 3D Experience
Sports Illustrated Swimsuit 2011: The 3D Experience’ brings the annual Sports Illustrated models, for the first time filmed in Full HD 3D. The 3D feature isn’t exactly necessary for the material, but it certainly makes for a strong selling point, particularly among younger male audiences.

Previously available on the Playstation Network Store for rental or purchase, you can now own the entire special on Blu-ray 3D. The special isn’t very long, which is why Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has priced the release at a more attractive MSRP.
What can I say? If you like bikini models, tropical locations and perhaps appreciate great photography (ha), you will find plenty to love about this release. Personally this is one type of special that is better in 3D; otherwise I don’t think I would have cared to check it out.

This 3D experience is very affordable, so anyone who is interested in checking it out should have very little to think about. This certainly isn’t among the most impressive 3D releases we have seen, but I am sure it will find an audience on Blu-ray 3D. 8/10

The Blu-news Summary
Sports Illustrated Swimsuit 2011: The 3D Experience’ features a good 3D presentation and fitting audio experience. The lack of extras didn’t bother me with this release. Overall this Blu-ray 3D release is ‘Worth a Look.

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