Tag Archives: Blu-ray News

BLU-RAY REVIEW: Eagle Eye, Michelle’s Take

Blu-Ray Review: Eagle Eye, EclipseMagazine Michelle Alexandria's Take

I have two quick Blu-ray reviews for you. First up is last fall’s Eagle Eye featuring EM Favorite and “discovery,” Shia LaBeouf, solidifying himself as an A list action star. I’m still not entirely convinced this is the route he should be going with his career, yes you can’t turn down Transformers or Indian Jones, but I think he should have thought long and hard before taking this on.  Eagle Eye is an almost blatant rip-off of Will Smith’s Enemy of the State.  I didn’t like this when I saw it in the theater and on Blu-ray it somehow works for me. I have more patience for watching stupid stuff at home than I do in a theater. But this movie really requires you to shut your brain off, there’s no chemistry between LaBeouf and Michelle Monaghan and the action scenes felt really generic.

Video

The video quality on this Blu-ray is of course excellent. The full 1080p really shows. I didn’t notice any artifacts in it, which is as it should be considering this is a new film. But I have to say it until I’m blu (pun intended) in the face, I HATE letter boxing. I have this beautiful 46-inch Bravia, why do I have to still put up with half my picture being cut off?  The problem is the color palette is pretty dull, all blacks and blues, nothing that makes you standup and take notice. I watched The Duchess right after this one and the difference is stark. This is one of those films that I don’t think needs to be on Blu-ray, I don’t really see much of a difference in picture quality from this and the standard definition version. And when studios charge you 50 percent more for the Blu-ray then the picture really needs make you go wow. This is a nice transfer, but the film itself is just really plain.

Audio

The Dolby 5.1, True HD Audio sounds great. My room shook doing the explosions…

Features

The menu navigation is plain as can be, but well laid out and simple to follow.

  • Deleted Scenes – You get three deleted scenes and an Alternate Ending, each scene is only about a minute each. (HD)
  • Asymmetrical Warfare the making of Eagle Eye (25 Mins, HD)
  • Eagle Eye on Location Washington, DC (6 Mins, HD) – Since I live in DC, I really liked seeing my city on display. It’s funny that when films are shot here, we rarely here it about it, other than maybe a small item in the Post or when they shut down entire neighborhoods.  What sucks is they don’t feature anyone from the DC Film Commission in the clip.
  • Is My Cell Phone Spying on ME (9 Min, HD) – A feature about big brother spying on people.
  • Shall We Play A Game? (9:25, HD) – A cool featurette where Eagle Eye director D.J. Caruso sits down with his mentor Director John Badham who did War Games.
  • Road Trip (3 Min, HD) – About the Car Stunts.
  • Gag Reel (7 Min, HD)
  • Photo Gallery
  • Theatrical Trailer

The features are actually more intriguing the film. Really enjoyed all of them, but again, Dreamworks did nothing special for the Blu-ray version there’s nothing here that really showcases the format, although I do appreciate getting all of them in HD.

Conclusion

Eagle Eye actually works much better in a home environment than it did for me in the theater. I’m glad I gave it another try, my issues with the film still remain, but it’s more tolerable. The Blu-ray is a nice enough edition to add to your collection – only if you can find it on sale for like $18, it’s not worth the premium Blu-ray $40 retail (Dreamworks is out of their ever loving minds, putting a $40 suggested retail price on this thing) – you can currently pick it up on Amazon for $18. If you are on the fence, pick up the DVD version, there really isn’t a real difference between the two.

Blu-ray Grades

  • Movie Grade – C
  • Video – B-
  • Audio – A
  • Menu Navigation – A
  • Features – B-

Final Overall Grade B-

EM Review by
Michelle Alexandria
Originally Posted 02.03.09

BLU-RAY REVIEW: Rent Final Broadway Performance

Blu-Ray Review: Rent - The Fina Performance
Blu-Ray Review: Rent - The Final Performance

For a show that I claim to hate, I have somehow managed see the show at least three times – not on broadway, though. As I’ve said on numerous occasions, I hate almost all the characters because they are whiny, pretentious and self involved. But the high points outweigh the story. After all of these years, I still love all the big songs like Take Me or Leave Me, Seasons of Love, One Song, I’ll Cover You and La Boheme. The show had it’s final Broadway performance last September and the folks at Sony Home Video captured the moment on a beautiful Blu-Ray package. The picture and audio is sharp and clean, that I feel like I’m in the audience. The final performance brought back a lot of the stars from the original production (who were also featured in Movie version) including: Idina Menzel (Maureen), Wilson Jermaine Heredia (Angel), Adam Pascal (Roger), and Tracie Thoms (Joanne). It made watching the final performance sort of bitter sweet.  I wish all Broadway and Theater shows put their performance on DVD and especially Blu-Ray. Yes you can’t beat the experience of seeing a show live, but hey, live shows on Broadway are outrageously expensive – $200 – $400 and they sit there and wonder why revenue is down. This Blu-ray really brings the performance home and actually makes me want to catch Rent the next time in NY, oh wait… The whole point of this performance is, its the curtain call.  One of the cool little special features is an 8 minute Curtain Call with the original cast doing a surprise appearance singing Seasons of Love. The Camera pans around to all of the people in the audience crying and I’ll admit it, it got to me.

Again, let me reiterate, I hate all the characters in this production, not a single sympathetic one. Sure we’re supposed to feel for Angel, but when we’re introduced to her, she sings happily about some old rich woman paying her to kill her neighbor’s dog. Right away, I hated her. Not to mention the song is stupid and terrible – crass, commercialized pop drivel – the same thing the show espouses against. The only one who I thought was sympathetic was Benny because all of his former “friends,” completely turned on him when Benny decided to try and make something of himself. He was bending over backwards to help these people, let them stay Rent free for a year, tried to work out a compromise so he could build his condos and he got “spit” in the face for his efforts even tho their condos were as good as the coal harbour condos for sale I once saw in a website. The show tries desperately to make him the bad guy and the symbol of “greed,” and “commercialism,” but he wasn’t.

The Blu-Ray extras include –

The Wall (HD, 6 Minutes) – A short featurette about the back staged Wall of the Theaters. It’s just the camera panning over the names with an instrumental version of “I’ll Cover You” in the background, pretty nice and kind of moving, because again, you realize this is it, another NY Institution is gone.

  • Rent The Final Days on Broadway (HD, 36 Mins) – A 36 minute documentary on the last days of Rent.
  • Casting (HD, 7:50) – A discussion with the Casting Directors about the show.
  • Jonathan Larson PSA (HD, 5:53) – A short PSA about Rent creator’s Jonathan Larson’s Foundation.
  • Trailer
  • The Final Lottery – (HD, 9 Min) – About the final Lottery for people trying to secure tickets for the final performances. Apparently, they gave away tickets to the first two rows for $20.  And it’s something they did from the beginning, which was a cool gesture.  It’s one of those “secret” things that NY Insiders know – and I spent half a year living there and never knew.
  • BD-Live – Lame

There’s nothing wrong with these featurettes, they are excellent (except BD-Live, ugh) but they don’t do anything to truly showcase or distinguish the Blu-Ray format from regular DVDs.

Conclusion

As I write this review, I’m starting to convince myself that the characters really aren’t that bad, what sells the show for me are the high points. They still resonate today, all of these years later and it’s sad to know that Rent’s gone from Broadway. It just seems like one of those things that would always be there. This Blu-Ray does a perfect job of capturing those final moments. But I have to say, I’m really annoyed that Sony didn’t include Digital Copy on this disc or really take advantage of any of the interactive features. Yes the picture and audio are fantastic, but Sony are the creators of the Blu-ray format so they have a special obligation to make every one of their discs be a showcase – especially when they expect people to pay a premium price for it. The Blu-ray retails for $38.95 and the Regular DVD $24.95.  Both will hit the streets, February 3, 2009.

Grades –

  • Movie – B
  • Picture – A
  • Audio – A
  • Features – C

Final Overall Grade – Bc

BLU-RAY NEWS: Best Blu-rays of 2008

BLU-RAY NEWS: Best Blu-rays of 2008
BLU-RAY NEWS: Best Blu-rays of 2008

2008 started off great for Blu-ray backers when they won the non-war with HD-DVD.  We consumers expected this fight to last awhile but was surprised when it barely lasted a year. I was firmly on the HD-DVD side of the fence. They had clear standards, when you purchased an HD-DVD disk you knew what to expect in terms of features. I also thought that competition would be good for consumers. Plus the the Blu-ray group still didn’t have a handle on what should be standard and what shouldn’t be. Then they finally released the profile 1.1 spec which included picture in picture and Ethernet ports as standard features on all players. Later in the year they issued the 2.0 spec which brought along BD-Live.

At the time of the announcement I wrote one of my patented screeds saying how it would be bad for consumers, that prices of Blu-ray disks were way too high and that, without competition, there was no way they would come down. Of course my screed made the Internet rounds and I was ridiculed and lambasted on popular websites like the AV-Forums, but guess what – I was right. Exactly what I predicted would happen, did happen. The price of players didn’t go down, the cost of movies actually went up and you have Netflix charging an extra buck to cover their Blu-ray costs.  I mean really, $39 for Superbad?

Even though they released a lot of new feature enhancements, most of the major Hollywood studios are content to just release HD catalogue films with very little additional features that take advantage of the format. It amounts to nothing more than double dipping and for this privilege they are charging $10  – $15 more and they wonder why consumers aren’t jumping on the BD Bandwagon.

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INTERVIEW: Paul W.S. Anderson talks Death Race, Blu-ray Love and confirms Resident Evil 4

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For some reason fanboys seem to have an irrational hatred of British director Paul W.S. Anderson who is best known for directing several successful video game films including Mortal Kombat and helming the Resident Evil franchise which will be shooting it’s 4th installment sometime next year. He also did Alien Vs. Predator which James Cameron once called the 3rd best Alien films.  Sure his films always has a much lower budget than most sci-fi film, but Anderson is a technical director who knows how to make a smaller budget film seem bigger than they are. Even though I’ve always hated the games, I’ve been a fan of Anderson’s R.E. films (and generally I don’t like Zombie movies either).  So it was a pleasure to have a quick conversation with him last week. I really wanted to ask him about Aint It Cool News’ irrational hatred and personal attacks against him, but ran out of time.  Here’s what I learned.

  • Anderson loves the Blu-ray format and thinks that if you put a movie on it, you should use it to its fullest extent.  When he purchases a Blu-ray and it’s barebones he feels cheated (amen brother) and that his movies are always successful and have a longer shelf life as DVDs and now Blu-rays because he always strives to use the medium to it’s fullest extinct. In our short conversation we talked extensively about this and he’s really proud of the Death Race Blu-ray release, as well as the work he put into the upcoming Event Horizon Blu-ray as well.  He said if you pay double for a Blu-ray you should get more.
  • On the Death Race Blu-ray there is this cool multi-angle (7 Camera) feature that let’s users re-cut one of the major action sequences in the film. As proof of Anderson and Universal’s commitment to the Blu-ray format, this featured cost $750,000 to produce.  Through BD-Live you can upload your new cut and there will be contests where he and the movie’s editor will judge the best cut.
  • There will be a Resident Evil 4 film and they are working on it now.  When asked about some critics irrational hatred of him, he said he doesn’t care what critics think. Especially when they don’t even get the film. One Critic questioned who the audience for the first Resident Evil film was, then when the sequel came out said that he killed the franchise.
  • It took him ten years to get Death Race made.  Famed B-Movie director/producer and the creator of the original Death Race film, Roger Corman distributed Anderson’s very first film in America, so he’s always been an inspiration for him and has impacted his career.  When you work on a project this long, it showed people that he was committed to getting it done.
  • Death Race is actually a prequel to Roger’s film.  He wanted to do a contemporary version because he loved the idea of using Cars as “these big war machines,” and the first movie didn’t have the budget to really do it properly.

He only gets nervous when he sees a film with an audience for the first time. He makes his movie for an audience and when they don’t like it he feels gutted.
Death Race hits the streets Dec 23, on Blu-Ray ($39.99 retail) and an Unrated DVD Version (29.99).

Blu-Ray News: New Blu-Ray Announcements

Caspian

The Chronicle’s of Narnia: Prince Caspian was one of my top five favorite films of this year, I saw it twice in the theater and watched it again when I flew to London. It holds up well to repeat viewing. And as a general rule I hate talking animal movies. The Blu-ray version in will include enhanced BD-Live functionality (have I said recently how much I think BD-Live is a waste of time?), a DisneyFile (A digital copy of the movie so you can copy the movie to your iPod), something called Circle Vision which will give you a 360-degree look behind the scenes of the castle raid sequence and get unique access to the secrets of how this latest adventure to Narnia was pulled off.  It’s all a part of CIRCLE-VISION INTERACTIVE: CREATING THE CASTLE RAID.  First, start off in the CIRCLE-VISION preview lobby, and choose to get a private tour of the castle raid from Director Andrew Adamson, Producer Mark Johnson, or a number of other key filmmakers and artists who brought the latest adventure to NARNIA to life.  Then, select one of the exclusive CIRCLE-VISION experiences to be virtually transported to the set in the Czech Republic.  The moment you enter these panoramic worlds, you will be able to turn in any direction, and fully-explore how this compelling sequence was painstakingly created.  Discover a myriad of progression reels, developmental animatics, 13 audio commentaries, pop-up facts, slide shows, and a treasure trove of behind-the-scenes footage with cast and crew that is revealing, interesting, compelling, funny and exclusively accessed through this new-reimagining of a classic idea. The Blu-ray will come in a 2 Disc or 3 Disc version and hit the streets December 2, 2008  $35- 40.  The complete Press Release is after the break. 

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BLU-RAY NEWS: Dark Knight Blu-Ray details

TheDarkKnightBlu-Ray

I talked about the Dark Knight Blu-ray release a few months ago, the folks at Warner’s sent over another Press Release regarding the Dec 9th launch. In a shameless move to make sure I get my free copy. Here’s the official press release. All kidding and kissing up aside, this release does look pretty amazing. The 2 Disk Blu-ray includes a Digital Copy of the film, BD-Live (which is usually a complete waste of time), and several featurettes. But there are no deleted scenes or any commentary tracks (if there are, they aren’t listed in the Press Release.)  The Blu-ray streets Dec 9 for 35.99. 

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BLU-ray News: Pineapple Express goes Blu, Jan 6th

Pinapple Express is coming to Blu-ray, January 6, 2009. It’s going to be full featured disk with an unrated version, deleted scenes, fifteen behind-the-scenes featurettes and a bonus Digital Copy of the movie for playback on PC, PSP™ and iTunes. Also coming with BD Live functionality. Which at this point I could care less about, has there ever been an implimentation of BD Live that wasn’t craptastic? What I want to know is why doesn’t any of the studios support the picture in picture stuff? This why I always thought HD-DVD was a better format, there were actually standards, you always knew what you were getting.  Anyhoo, on paper this seems like it’ll be a pretty nice package. The full press release is after the jumpity jump. 

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