My review copy of the HD DVD release of The Bourne Ultimatum arrived yesterday. My brother had actually bought the UK version about a week earlier, so we’d already watched the film, but will be doing so before I write my final review, for two reasons. First of all, I haven’t seen this film on the projector yet, and the experience is always better when the image fills your entire field of vision. Secondly, it features a different encode: the transfer for the UK version comes without any burned-in location type or subtitles (for non-English dialogue) to facilitate international distribution. These are then generated by the player in your language of choice. As a result, the two discs feature different encodes, so it could be that the US release has flaws not apparent in the UK one (the UK transfer scored a perfect 10/10, as it happens). Either way, I vastly prefer the “burned-in” location type and subtitles: it’s more authentic, and the UK version ends up looking rather stupid due to a few minor timing errors and the fact that the “typing in” sound effect accompanying the location type is still present, despite the text itself merely flashing on to the middle of the screen, subtitle-style. It’s a shoddy practice that happens all too often with European DVD (and now, it would seem HD) releases, and it just cheapens the whole package. There will be a review soon, hopefully before Christmas.
We watched the first film in the trilogy, The Bourne Identity, tonight, and I was once again reminded of the fact that it is, in my opinion, by far the best instalment in the series. Much of this comes from Franka Potente’s character, who gives the audience a point of identification that it just doesn’t have in the stone-faced Matt Damon, but a lot of it also has to do with the photography and editing. I’m not a fan of Paul Greengrass’ trademark “shakycam” and rapid cutting, which is all over The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum, and, watching Identity, I found myself wishing that Doug Liman’s comparatively restrained touch had been extended to the entire trilogy.