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HD DVD review: A Scanner Darkly

HD DVD
A solid presentation of an extremely flawed film, this HD DVD release of A Scanner Darkly should please those who enjoyed the film. While this is not a title that shows off the prowess of high definition to any great extent, it is an undeniable improvement on the standard definition release and, if nothing else, a curious novelty in that it is one of only a tiny number of animated (or, in this case, quasi-animated) titles to be available in HD.

A revolutionary technique or just a gimmick? I ponder Richard Linklater’s curious live action/animation hybrid A Scanner Darkly, released on a solid HD DVD by Warner. Review courtesy of DVD Pacific.

 
Posted: Saturday, April 14, 2007 at 4:02 PM | Comments: 5 (view)
Categories: Animation | Cinema | HD DVD | Reviews
 

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 8, Episode 2: The Long Way Home, Part Two

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 8

Written by Joss Whedon; Illustrated by Georges Jeanty

Well, this is better than the first episode - a lot better actually, in virtually every way imaginable, although the first few pages did give me cause for concern. The plot is, initially at least, rather disjointed, flicking between various locations and attempting to draw parallels between the lessons of three different “teachers” to the junior Slayers. The first of these is Giles, who makes a not unwelcome return, although he seems to be both written and drawn more like the Giles of Season 1 than the more rounded, developed character who emerged later during the show’s duration. The second of these is Buffy, who, for some reason, looks rather unlike Buffy in these panels (although she certainly talks like Buffy). The third, alas, is Andrew, who is annoying even in comic book form. Actually, I thought he was Jonathan reincarnated at first, given the manner in which he is drawn, but as soon as he opened his mouth I found myself convulsing in horror as memories of Seasons 6 and 7 came flooding back. Actually, while we’re on the subject, why is Andrew serving as a mentor to the Slayers? Why is he qualified to do this? Why isn’t he in jail yet?

Elsewhere, the army nonsense continues to give me worries that Season 8 is going to be another Season 4-style clumsy amalgamation of science and magic, although it consumes less than three pages in this particular episode. There are some amusing lines of dialogue, and a couple of panels in which Georges Jeanty’s artwork comes impressively close to capturing the essence of the characters as embodied by the actors in the TV series (the manner in which Buffy tucks her hair behind her ear on page 15 is very Gellar-like). There’s also a genuinely unsettling dream sequence which, if filmed, would have been highly effective. Oh, and there’s Giant Dawn taking a bath in a highland loch… although she looks considerably less emaciated than Michelle Trachtenberg.

I’m sufficiently interested in the story now to want to see how it develops. The final panel promises some interesting pyrotechnics in the next instalment (although I’m not quite sure why Willow is dressed as a ye olde medieval wench, Once More With Feeling style). Whedon even has the balls to mention Tara’s name in this episode (in comparison with Season 7, where it took until Episode 7 for that forbidden word to be uttered). There’s also a fan letter at the end of the comic where a young lady named Alissa warns the author, in no uncertain terms, that she will have his head on a pike if he doesn’t bring back her favourite witch. Given that they posted this letter, I have a feeling they’re going to go somewhere with this.

7/10.

 
Posted: Friday, April 13, 2007 at 6:53 PM | Comments: 3 (view)
Categories: Books | Buffy the Vampire Slayer | Reviews | TV
 

HD my left walnut

As most people will be aware by now, there have been some amazing high definition transfers on both HD DVD and Blu-ray, and some rather less than amazing ones. When you’re working with a native resolution of 1920x1080, you’d better hope that your master is of the highest quality, because little flaws that would go unnoticed in standard definition will stick out like sore thumbs. The two titles most commonly dragged out for a public for a ritual flogging are Sony’s House of Flying Daggers and The Fifth Element on Blu-ray, transfers that are generally regarded to constitute a decidedly miniscule improvement on their DVD counterparts. Indeed, even Sony have apparently realised this, given that they are currently in the process of preparing a new version and setting up a disc replacement programme.

Unfortunately, it seems that the crown for worst HD transfer must pass from Blu-ray to HD DVD. AV Science Forum member Xylon recently started providing side by side comparisons of standard definition and high definition titles, many of which admirably demonstrate the undeniables improvements that are possible in HD with even the least visually inspiring films. Unfortunately for certain less than proficient reviewers, however, these highly effective demonstrations have shown up their amateurish postulating for the sham that it is. These screenshots serve to confirm many of the opinions I’ve been expressing for a while now, e.g. that Batman Begins looks underwhelming, while Serenity looks fucking incredible.

The shit really hit the fan a few days ago when Xylon posted a comparison of Steven Soderbergh’s Traffic, released last September on HD DVD by Universal. When initially released, many people commented that the transfer looked less than stellar. Such individuals were quickly put in their place by being told that Traffic intentionally looked rough and grainy, and that they shouldn’t expect 3D whizz-bang effects and crystal clarity from every title (a sentiment that I fully agree with). Now, however, Xylon’s screengrabs demonstrate the truth that dare not speak its name:

Traffic DVD

Traffic HD DVD

Traffic on HD DVD is a 480i upconvert.

Not only that, it actually looks worse than the DVD, with additional ringing and what appears to be even less fine detail. I really am absolutely flabbergasted, especially given some of the reviews that have emerged. The notorious Peter M. Bracke of High-Def Digest gave the transfer a 4/5 and said this:

Bottom line, this HD DVD transfer delivers. The source material is as good as the film stock allow, with no major defects visible such as print tears or distracting blemishes, though grain is intentionally excessive for much of the film. Black levels are consistent throughout, while contrast is all over the map. Some story threads have whites so blown out that fine detail is all but obscured, while others are bathed in darkness or excessively saturated colors. Thus, there is some noise and smeared hues, but again it appears intentional. Overall detail and depth to the image is about as good as can be expected. No, I was never blown away by the presentation as I’ve been with other HD DVD releases, but then I never anticipated otherwise.

The infamous Joshua Zyber of DVD Talk, meanwhile, rates it 3/5, and claims that

The disc looks exactly like the film is meant to look, and it actually has some fascinating textures, but this just isn’t the type of movie you buy for crystal clear HD image quality. While certain scenes show off the High-Def fairly well (primarily the blue-filtered Michael Douglas segments), on the whole there isn’t much fine object detail or depth. Aside from some minor edge ringing in a few scenes, the disc represents the movie’s intended style faithfully and I can’t fault it for that, but most viewers will probably not find it a huge upgrade over standard DVD.

Sorry, but the comparisons speak for themselves, and, coupled with some additional screen captures from a still crummy-looking but undeniably superior 720p broadcast version, it’s difficult to imagine anyone trying to claim that Universal have done anything other than screw up royally. Unfortunately, this is not the case: Zyber is currently ransacking what little dignity he has left by attempting to poo-poo the screenshots and tell us that what we’re seeing is untrue.

Josh Zyber, Peter Bracke: please consider retracting your reviews. The visual evidence speaks for itself, and not even the most blinkered individual could attempt to claim, based on the screenshots in question, that the Traffic HD DVD is anything other than a standard definition upconvert. Reviews such as these bring this profession into disrepute and mean that prospective buyers cannot make an informed decision about their purchases. Worse, they give lazy distributors ample reason to pump out any old garbage and charge a premium for it rather than spend money on new, decent-quality masters. Based on these phenomenally misguided reviews (and I’m sorry, but in this particular instance, we are talking about fact, not opinion), I highly doubt that I will ever trust a single article from these two writers ever again.

More ill-informed reviews:

DVD “Authority”
Upcoming Discs

One thing that should be remembered, however, is this: as ignorant, ill-informed and damaging as these reviews are, they are the small fry in this debacle. The people who should truly be hanging their heads and grovelling for apologies are Universal, who blew a 480i master up to 1080p, slapped it on a disc and had the nerve to sell it as “The Look and Sound of Perfect”.

Update, April 12th, 2007 09:08 PM: A separate thread has now appeared at AVS, with the topic starter demanding (rightfully so) that Universal acknowledge their screw-up. Unfortunately, Mr. Zyber is continuing to make a fool of himself by refusing to admit the obvious.

 
Posted: Thursday, April 12, 2007 at 6:49 PM | Comments: 8 (view)
Categories: Cinema | DVD | HD DVD | Reviews | Technology
 

HD DVD review: Children of Men

HD DVD
Presenting one of 2006’s best films with a stellar transfer and audio, and some genuinely informative extras, this HD DVD of Children of Men is one of the best high definition releases I’ve seen so far, and one that gets my unreserved recommendation. In fact, I’d even go so far as to recommend that those who are currently not yet HD DVD-ready pick up a copy, if they don’t already have a copy of the DVD, given that the DVD side includes all of the content from the stand-alone release.

One of the most powerful films of the last year arrives in high definition. I’ve reviewed Universal’s HD DVD/DVD combo of Children of Men, given a stellar audio-visual presentation and some insightful extras.

 
Posted: Wednesday, April 04, 2007 at 9:52 PM | Comments: 8 (view)
Categories: Cinema | DVD | HD DVD | Reviews
 

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 8, Episode 1: The Long Way Home, Part One

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 8

Written by Joss Whedon; Illustrated by Georges Jeanty

It feels weird to be writing a new Buffy review, not least because of the rather drastic change of medium: from television to comic book. In a sense, it’s a good idea: realistically speaking, there’s no way the series can ever continue in televisual form, unless most (if not all) of the characters ended up being recast. At the same time, though, this means that it’s difficult to see the comic as anything more than a poor man’s substitute. That’s perhaps overstating the case a bit, and, to be fair, the graphic novel format does offer some benefits not available to a TV series - for one, the scale and ambition of the locations, monsters and battles is now limited to the author’s imagination and the artist’s ability rather than the budget. That said, it naturally lacks a great deal of what made the show enjoyable, not least the performances of the various regulars.

Not constrained by such bothers as actors’ contractual obligations, Joss Whedon does something a little different with this season premiere, choosing to showcase a limited number of his characters. Buffy, Xander and Dawn are the only three regulars to appear, along with a handful of new character who will presumably be relegated to supporting roles as the “season” develops. Unfortunately, these new characters are all either forgettable or annoying. We have an irritating, clichéd army general, Krull, and a whole gaggle of new Potentials (actually, I suppose they’re technically full-blown Slayers now), who somehow manage to be just as annoying as their live action counterparts. Worse, the extent to which technology is showcased in this season premiere (we are introduced to Buffy and various other Slayers parachuting out of a helicopter, brandishing firearms) is giving me flashbacks to Season 4’s more cringe-inducing moments. The artwork is also not as good as it could have been: it’s technically sound, but the characters don’t really look much like the actors who played them in the show, and the colour palette has a weird “gooey” pink and yellow style (a shame, because the cover art for this and the various upcoming episodes that have been previewed is excellent).

It’s also short. The story is a mere 24 pages, with several large full-page or half-page illustrations, and I read it in less than 10 minutes. Allowing for dramatic conventions and the naturally slower pace of filmed narrative, I suspect that, were this episode filmed, it would last for around 20 minutes at most. Perhaps my expectations were a little high, but the fact that this was marketed as a new “season” did make me think that each “episode” would be something close to the equivalent of a full episode (or at least half of one) of the show. I’m also not that much of a fan of Whedon’s decision to have Buffy and Xander “narrate” much of the episode through their inner thoughts, although I suppose it’s a necessary evil given that, unlike the show, he can’t rely on the performances of the actors to convey what their characters are feeling.

That said, the tone is still clearly Buffy. There are some funny lines, a couple of Buffy’s trademark mid-combat quips, and some nice scenes between Buffy and Xander, and Buffy and Dawn (who has undergone certain, er, transformations since our previous encounter with her, in more ways than one). The final frame also sets up a nice cliffhanger with the reintroduction of a previous character: a certain witch. That’s all I’m saying.

Ultimately, while reading the comic, I did my best to dramatise it in my head as a regular episode of Buffy, and it’s based on this interpretation that I’m going to review it. Had it aired on TV, I would probably have described it as an extremely ambitious and technically impressive but thematically jarring episode. The characters feel like the ones we know and love (or hate, as the case may be), but the situations in which they find themselves feel a bit like a betrayal of the world and rules established by Whedon and his writers in the show. As such, I award it a cautious…

5/10.

 
Posted: Monday, April 02, 2007 at 7:11 PM | Comments: 2 (view)
Categories: Books | Buffy the Vampire Slayer | Reviews | TV
 

DVD review: Peter Pan: Platinum Edition

DVD
It wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to consider Peter Pan to be the most disappointing release yet in the Platinum Edition series. While Disney has released other, poorer DVDs, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to expect something more from a line that the studio itself claims delivers “state-of-the-art bonus features” and top-notch audio-visual presentations. Those who don’t already own this title on DVD should pick this release up, if only for the inclusion of the mono audio, but those who have one of the earlier editions would be advised to consider whether it’s worth it in the long run.

Following the the second star to the right, I’ve flown away to Never Land to do battle with the nefarious Captain Hook in a review of Disney’s recent Platinum Edition release of Peter Pan

 
Posted: Sunday, April 01, 2007 at 11:18 AM | Comments: 0 (view)
Categories: Animation | Cinema | DVD | Reviews
 

DVD review: Asterix and the Vikings

DVD
Despite these criticisms, Asterix and the Vikings leaves an overall impression of being one of the better adaptations of the series. We’ve been starved for traditional animation lately, and to see a new film that is not only hand-drawn but also drawn well is a rare treat indeed. Still, if you’re already a fan of the book, don’t expect this adaptation to convey the depth and tone of the source material, although, conversely, it may give you a newfound appreciation for what Goscinny and Uderzo were able to achieve in only 44 pages that the filmmakers struggle to convey in 75 minutes. That said, a new Asterix has been a long time in coming, and I only hope we don’t have to wait another 12 years for the next one.

I’ve reviewed the UK DVD of Asterix and the Vikings, the latest animated feature starring the wily yellow-whiskered Gaul, given a decidedly unimpressive release by Optimum.

 
Posted: Tuesday, March 13, 2007 at 1:02 PM | Comments: 0 (view)
Categories: Animation | Cinema | DVD | Reviews
 

Blu-ray review: American Psycho

Blu-ray
Looking at this Blu-ray release of American Psycho, I am left with the unshakable feeling that Lions Gate put the least possible amount of effort into it. With a shoddy transfer that should never have been allowed through quality control, and a greatly pared-down array of extras, this disc really should not have been released in its current state.

I’ve provided a review for the transfer, audio and bonus content of Lions Gate’s recent Blu-ray release of American Psycho.

I haven’t reviewed the film itself this time round, just the technical elements of the disc. American Psycho is a film that demands an in-depth treatment which, at the moment, I don’t really have the time, inspiration or motivation to give. Therefore, rather than waffle out a couple of putrid paragraphs, I’ve skipped the film portion of the review so I can get the word out regarding this crummy-looking disc as quickly as possible. If you’re interested in reading about the film itself, I recommend D.J. Nock’s coverage of the standard definition release. It’s an appraisal that I more or less agree with 100%, and it’s better than anything I could have written within a reasonable time frame.

 
Posted: Friday, March 09, 2007 at 8:27 PM | Comments: 0 (view)
Categories: Blu-ray | Cinema | Reviews
 

DVD review: Waking the Dead: Series 4

DVD
Waking the Dead is one of these shows that can rub people the wrong way. Many viewers dislike the character of Boyd and his temper tantrums, and the manner in which Trevor Eve portrays him (although, in comparison with the most recent series, he is an absolute saint here). Others find it confusing for the sake of being confusing (again, this may be true of later series, but the cases presented here are for the most part, logical). I consider it an excellent series, however, and one which, at least at this stage in its life, could be relied on to deliver solid entertainment week in, week out. It may be resembling CSI more and more with every year that passes (there’s always something slightly painful about an older child aping its younger siblings), but it’s nice to see a home-grown crime series which doesn’t insist on insulting its audience’s intelligence.

With the sixth series of Waking the Dead having recently drawn to a close, I’ve taken a look at the Cold Case Squad’s fourth series, released on DVD by 2 Entertain.

 
Posted: Thursday, March 08, 2007 at 11:38 PM | Comments: 0 (view)
Categories: DVD | Reviews | TV | Waking the Dead
 

Cold Eyes of Fear

Cold Eyes of Fear

Italy/Spain: Enzo G. Castellari, 1971

A young lawyer, Peter Baddell (Gianni Garko), picks up an Italian party girl, Anna (Giovanna Ralli), during a night on the town, and takes her back to his uncle’s country retreat for a bit of slap and tickle. Once there, however, they find the butler dead and themselves being held at gunpoint by two thugs, Quill (Julian Mateos) and Welt (Frank Wolff), both of whom have unsavoury plans for uncle dearest (Fernando Rey).

This film has been described as Castellari’s only giallo - he tends to be better known for his poliziesco titles, such as Street Law and The Heroin Busters - but that description is a little misleading, as it has more in common with exploitation shockers like The Last House on the Left, Night Train Murders or The House on the Edge of the Park (all of which, incidentally, came along after this) than any of Argento or Martino’s efforts. Indeed, the most traditional giallo moment comes at the very start of the film, in which a knife-wielding killer disrobes a terrified blonde starlet; even this, though, turns out to be nothing more than a play being put on for a crowd of pompous yuppies. Is it just me or is Castellari poking fun at his audience?

Cold Eyes of Fear

As with Aldo Lado’s Night Train Murders, Cold Eyes of Fear observes a tension between superficial consumerism-fuelled lifestyles and brutal, unprovoked acts of cruelty, creating a false air of civility and then tearing it down: it’s the feigned politeness of the two thugs, combined with the occasional sudden burst of violence, that makes them disturbing. On the other hand, they’re never quite as brutal as one would normally expect from an exploitation film of this variety (they give their hostages so many second chances that it becomes a little ridiculous). The film is definitely tense, though (with my copy, cropped to 1.85:1 from its original 2.35:1, arguably even more claustrophobic than Castellari must have originally intended), although it does begin to lag a bit in the second half. Even so, Castellari still manages to overdo the fisticuffs for which his police thrillers are so famous. And, of course, in the end it does the predictable “Who are the real savages?” role reversal for which these films are so well-known.

I’m not sure I’d call this essential viewing by any stretch of the imagination. I liked it, but Castellari’s poliziesco thrillers are better. It ultimately lacks a Franco Nero or Fabio Testi figure to give it that extra kick. 6/10

PS. You can read another review of this film, by Keith Brown, at Giallo Fever.

 
Posted: Thursday, March 08, 2007 at 3:00 PM | Comments: 8 (view)
Categories: Cinema | Gialli | Reviews
 

HD DVD review: Babel

HD DVD
One of the better modern films to see a high definition release gets an excellent presentation on HD DVD. The lack of extras is disappointing, but, given that this sparsity matches the film’s standard definition counterpart, it’s hard in this particular case to feel too short-changed. It may not be the sort of material to show off the full capabilities of your home theatre setup, but it’s a solid representation of its source material, and as such, Babel gets my unreserved recommendation.

Courtesy of DVD Pacific, I’ve reviewed the HD DVD release of Babel, the third instalment in Alejandro González Iñárritu’s loose trilogy of fractured narratives. The film receives an excellent presentation from Paramount.

 
Posted: Monday, March 05, 2007 at 5:17 PM | Comments: 1 (view)
Categories: Cinema | HD DVD | Reviews
 

Blu-ray review: Flightplan

Blu-ray
Flightplan is one of the better-looking Blu-ray releases I’ve seen so far, with any visual flaws being inherent in the master rather than the fault of incompetent encoding. Once again, though, HD customers are being short-changed in terms of extras for no apparent reason. With an efficient codec like VC-1, and 50 GB of available space, there should be no reason to lose a few standard definition extras, but Disney have somehow managed to do so anyway. The Blu-ray exclusive extras, meanwhile, are not impressive enough in their own right to entice people to double-dip.

Jodie Foster trades one enclosed space for another, this time becoming trapped in a plane rather than a Panic Room. I’ve reviewed Disney’s Region A release of Flightplan, which, in comparison with the DVD, gains a solid transfer but loses some extras.

 
Posted: Friday, March 02, 2007 at 3:08 PM | Comments: 0 (view)
Categories: Blu-ray | Cinema | Reviews
 

DVD review: Perversion Story

DVD
Given that more than ten minutes of important material are missing from this release, it’s difficult to call Severin’s DVD of Perversion Story definitive. It is, however, a legitimate cut of the film, and as such it still gets my recommendation, albeit with the warning that, if you are already familiar with the film in its more widely available English form, you are likely to find some of the instances of missing footage rather distracting. Until a more complete edition comes along, though, Severin’s package is probably the best way to view this long-lost giallo gem.

Better known as One on Top of the Other, Lucio Fulci’s long-lost first giallo finally arrives on DVD from Severin Films as Perversion Story. I’ve reviewed their 2-disc release, courtesy of DVD Pacific.

I’ve also made my comparison available in HTML form here, with some handy screen captures to illustrate some of the differences.

 
Posted: Friday, March 02, 2007 at 12:31 PM | Comments: 0 (view)
Categories: Cinema | DVD | Gialli | Reviews
 

DVD review: Masters of Horror: Pelts

DVD
Anchor Bay have put together a decent package for Pelts. The film is one of the weakest products to which Argento has ever attached his name, but it’s hard to find fault with the transfer or the quality of the (admittedly somewhat limited) extras. In any event, Argento completists are going to want to own this no matter what, so it gets the strongest recommendation I can give, considering the quality of the film itself.

Dario Argento cashes a pay-cheque with Pelts, his contribution to the second season of Masters of Horror. I investigate Anchor Bay’s R1 DVD, courtesy of DVD Pacific.

 
Posted: Saturday, February 24, 2007 at 3:01 PM | Comments: 0 (view)
Categories: DVD | Dario Argento | Reviews | TV
 

Blu-ray review: Enemy of the State

Blu-ray
Disney’s Blu-ray release of Enemy of the State screams “catalogue title”. With no additional extras and a transfer based on an old master that really isn’t of an acceptable standard in 2007, this is yet another release that’s difficult to recommend to all but the most ardent fans of the film. While it’s undoubtedly better than the standard definition DVD, it could, and should, have been so much better than this.

Continuing DVD Times’ high definition coverage, I’ve reviewed the Blu-ray release of Enemy of the State, a rather underwhelming disc with paltry extras and a disappointing transfer.

 
Posted: Sunday, February 18, 2007 at 3:45 PM | Comments: 0 (view)
Categories: Blu-ray | Cinema | Reviews
 

DVD review: This Film is Not Yet Rated

DVD
It’s an oft-overused statement, but I’m going to say it anyway: This Film is Not Yet Rated is something that anyone with any interesting films, mainstream or independent, needs to see. The MPAA’s decisions have such an impact on the viewing experiences of every filmgoer, regardless of whether or not they live in the US, that people really should be more aware of just how what they can or cannot see is decided. The documentary does suffer from a handful of oversights, and it doesn’t even pretend to be unbiased, while the DVD itself is hardly a technical masterpiece, but don’t let those provisos dissuade you from seeking it out.

I’ve reviewed the recent R1 release of This Film is Not Yet Rated, a documentary exposing the practices of the notoriously clandestine MPAA.

 
Posted: Wednesday, February 14, 2007 at 12:05 AM | Comments: 0 (view)
Categories: Cinema | DVD | Reviews
 

HD DVD review: Brokeback Mountain

HD DVD
The original DVD of Brokeback Mountain felt rather empty in terms of extras. Even in this more feature-packed variant, it still feels as if the bonus materials are only scratching the surface, providing a strangely superficial look at what is as much a cultural event as a movie. As such, in conjunction with the very disappointing transfer, this release really doesn’t feel as if it’s all that it could have been, although it is undoubtedly the best home video iteration of the film thus far.

Courtesy of DVD Pacific, I’ve reviewed the HD DVD/DVD combo release of Ang Lee’s Oscar-winning Brokeback Mountain, presented here in a package replicating all of the extras from the recent 2-disc Collector’s Edition DVD.

 
Posted: Tuesday, February 06, 2007 at 2:01 PM | Comments: 0 (view)
Categories: Cinema | DVD | HD DVD | Reviews
 

Blu-ray review: Silent Hill

Blu-ray
All things considered, Sony has delivered a stellar audio-visual presentation for Silent Hill’s high definition debut, but the complete lack of bonus materials makes it difficult not to feel a bit short-changed. Still, if all you’re after is the best home theatre presentation of the film, this release will not disappoint.

As one of the earliest Blu-ray discs, Sony’s Region 0 release of Silent Hill met with considerable consternation from reviewers. But is it really as underwhelming as was made out? I set the record straight at DVD Times.

 
Posted: Friday, February 02, 2007 at 10:02 PM | Comments: 0 (view)
Categories: Blu-ray | Cinema | Reviews
 

I’ve been a bad little boy

Playstation 3

What better piece of equipment to play the excellent-looking Silent Hill Blu-ray Disc on than the world’s best Blu-ray Disc player, the Playstation 3? The ugly hunk of junk (and it is really ugly) arrived today, shortly behind a £64.96 customs charge, which I strongly intend to contest, given that the declared value of the package, $129 US (which isn’t what the item cost, I know, but it’s what was listed on the package and invoice, so it’s what Thieves & Excise should have gone by), converts to a mere £65.61 - and I don’t know about you, but £64.96 doesn’t sound like 17.5% (the VAT rate in the UK) of £65.61.

Anyway, despite its alarming obesity and general unattractiveness, the PS3 handles surprisingly nicely. The games don’t interest me in the slightest, but, as an all-in-one media centre, it looks to be impressively versatile, with a slick menu interface and a solid range of features. One slight annoyance is that, in order to get the PS3 Blu-ray remote (which must be purchased separately - I did) to work, you need to update the firmware, but this is easily achieved by simply connecting the machine to the Internet via the Ethernet port. Still, this isn’t much use for those without Internet access (or those without an Ethernet connection). Controls are, on the whole, far more responsive than the Panasonic DMP-BD10 (which Lyris has recently reviewed here), and the price of the PS3, along with its support for picture-in-picture functionality (which none of the currently available stand-alones support), make me wonder why anyone would choose to buy a stand-alone Blu-ray player.

 
Posted: Friday, February 02, 2007 at 5:00 PM | Comments: 5 (view)
Categories: Blu-ray | Cinema | Games | Reviews | Technology
 

Blu-ray review: Fantastic Four

Blu-ray
Fantastic Four arrives on Blu-ray with a superb, demo material certifiable audio track. However, the sheer lack of material contained on this disc, combined with the lacklustre visual presentation, make the £28.99 RRP frankly outrageous. For fans of the film this will no doubt be an essential purchase, despite the loss of several extras in comparison with the DVD release, but probably only once the price is reduced.

For DVD Times’ first ever Blu-ray review, I take a look at 20th Century Fox’s recent Region B UK release of Fantastic Four

 
Posted: Friday, February 02, 2007 at 1:35 PM | Comments: 0 (view)
Categories: Blu-ray | Cinema | Reviews
 
 

 
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