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Movie Renter's Guide
 

Number 144 - March, 2007

Part I

Staff

 


Now Playing
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Planet of the Apes (2001) (Blu-ray) Nine Inch Nails: Beside You In Time (Blu-ray/HD DVD)
Reign of Fire (Blu-ray) Broken Arrow (Blu-ray)
The Prestige (Blu-ray) Ladder 49 (Blu-ray)
Flight of the Phoenix (2004) (Blu-ray) Vertical Limit (Blu-ray)
Chain Reaction (Blu-ray) Assault on Precinct 13 (HD DVD)

Number 144 - March, 2007 - Part I

Number 144 - March, 2007 - Part II

Number 144 - March, 2007 - Part III

Movie Reviews Index

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20th Century Fox

2001, Color, Rated PG-13, 1 Hr 59 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

1080p

 

English DTS-HD MA 5.1

French Dolby Digital 5.1

Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1

 

Directed by Tim Burton


Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Tim Roth, Helena Bonham Carter, Michael Clarke Duncan, Kris Kristofferson, Estella Warren, Paul Giamatti

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

Yes

Sex

No

Language

Mild

"Planet of the Apes (2001)" (Blu-ray)

Synopsis

It is the year 2029: Astronaut Leo Davidson boards a pod cruiser on a Space Station for a "routine" reconnaissance mission. But an abrupt detour through a space time wormhole lands him on a strange planet where talking apes rule over the human race.

With the help of a sympathetic chimpanzee activist named Ari and a small band of human rebels, Leo leads the effort to evade the advancing Gorilla Army led by General Thade and his most trusted warrior Attar. Now the race is on to reach a sacred temple within the planet's Forbidden Zone to discover the shocking secrets of mankind's past - and the key to its future.

Commentary

I've always had a weird opinion of Burton's remake of this classic science fiction tale. For some reason I never think I like it much if someone just asks me about it, but whenever I watch it, I end up enjoying it.

The production value was quite good, but a lot of it didn't feel like an authentic Burton film, at least until they get on the planet. I love the makeup work by Rick Baker though, and Roth is superb as always as the bad guy. Ultimately I think it falls a bit short of the original, but it is one of the better remakes of recent memory.

Technical

This is a film that looked really good on DVD and pretty decent on D-Theater. The presentation here doesn't seem to be too much different from the D-Theater version, but it falls short of Fox's better catalog releases. The image has a softness to it that can be distracting at times. It isn't nearly as bad as the recent release of Broken Arrow, but not as good as I would have expected given the age of the film. Consistency is probably the biggest issue since the image can look quite good at times.

Well, if the video has some shortcomings, the audio certainly doesn't and probably makes up for it. The DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix has incredible range and presence, and I am looking forward to watching this one again when we can take full advantage of the lossless encode. Surrounds are used aggressively, and the bottom end is extremely pronounced. This is definitely a soundtrack you can use to show off your home theater with.

Extras

Extras include a feature commentary and the trailer.

- Kris Deering -

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Touchstone

2002, Color, Rated PG-13, 1 Hr 42 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

1080p

 

English Uncompressed PCM 5.1

English Dolby Digital 5.1

French Dolby Digital 5.1

Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1

 

Directed by Rob Bowman


Starring Matthew McConaughey, Christian Bale, Izabella Scorupo, Gerard Butler

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

Yes

Sex

No

Language

Mild

"Reign of Fire" (Blu-ray)

Synopsis

It is twenty years in the future, and earth has been devastated by vicious fire-breathing dragons. The last vestiges of humanity now struggle for survival in remote outposts.

In a ruined castle in the English countryside, Quinn is desperately trying to hold together a band of frightened, restless survivors. As a boy, Quinn watched his mother die protecting him from one of the beasts, and is still haunted by the memory.

One day, a group of Americans show up, led by a brash, tough-guy named Van Zan. He claims to have discovered a way to kill the dragons once and for all, and enlists Quinn's help. But doing so will force Quinn to confront his own frightening memories. This, and Quinn's responsibilities to those who are under his protection, results in a battle of wills between the two men.

Commentary

Very few dragon movies ever impress me. I am actually surprised you don't see more fantasy films with dragons in them since everyone seems to like them. I saw this film in theaters and was surprised to find a solid fantasy action film. The actors provide great performances and the special effects of the film never get out of hand or become the focus, a problem with too many films nowadays. Sure, there is some rather over the top action at times, but it isn't near as bad as most of the action fluff we see nowadays.

Technical

A very film-like transfer from Touchstone here. This is a very dark film, so you will see film grain and some noise. But the nice thing is, it fits the mood of the film. Compression never seems to be an issue, and I didn't notice any banding at all. Detail is consistently good, even in low light shots, and depth is excellent. Another solid job from Buena Vista.

The uncompressed PCM soundtrack is VERY aggressive with some of the best surround soundstage use I've heard in awhile. Things can get on the overly loud side at times, which can be distracting, but dynamics never seem to suffer from it. The bottom end and atmosphere are constantly engaging, and the imaging throughout the film lends perfectly to the mood. I'm sure we'll be seeing lots of demos with this disc in the future.

Extras

Extras include some production featurettes, a interview with the director, and the trailer.

- Kris Deering -

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Touchstone

2006, Color, Rated PG-13, 2 Hr 10 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

1080p

 

English Uncompressed PCM 5.1

English Dolby Digital 5.1

French Dolby Digital 5.1

Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1

 

Directed by Christopher Nolan


Starring: Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Scarlett Johansson, David Bowie

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

Yes

Sex

No

Language

Mild

"The Prestige" (Blu-ray)

Synopsis

Robert and Alfred are rival magicians. When Alfred performs the ultimate magic trick, Robert tries desperately to find out the secret to the trick.

Commentary

Another one of the better films I saw last year, The Prestige is Nolan's latest and features a few of the cast members from his Batman film. This is definitely one of those movies that is better if you know very little about it, but I will say it is one that you should see if you haven't seen it already. The story is excellent, as is the production design, and Jackman may give his best performance to date here. The rest of the cast is spot on as well, except for maybe Scarlett, who seems to be on cruise control and mainly thrown in for some eye candy. Can't wait to see what Nolan has in store for us next.

Technical

Buena Vista is becoming one of the best studios out there for video presentations, and this is no exception. This is definitely one of the best images I've seen on Blu-ray to date. The image gives you that "looking through a window" feel with impeccable detail and depth. Contrast is excellent as well. The image doesn't have that somewhat fake razor sharp look that some digital productions do, but for a film shot on film it looks INCREDIBLE.

The 5.1 uncompressed PCM soundtrack is just as good, and this may be one of the only BD discs I've given perfect scores to in both picture and audio. Touchstone delivers the soundtrack in full 48/24 uncompressed PCM and the sonics are outstanding. I love the atmosphere of this film, and the sound design is aggressive when it needs to be and engaging all of the time. Even the subtle ambience of the locations is delivered better than most films I've seen lately.

Extras

Extras include a collection of behind the scenes featurettes and a look at the production design.

- Kris Deering -

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20th Century Fox

2004, Color, Rated PG-13, 1 Hr 53 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

1080p

 

English DTS-HD MA 5.1

French Dolby Digital 5.1

Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1

 

Directed by John Moore


Starring: Dennis Quaid, Giovanni Ribisi, Tyrese Gibson, Miranda Otto, Huge Laurie

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

Yes

Sex

No

Language

Mild

"Flight of the Phoenix (2004)" (Blu-ray)

Synopsis

A group of air crash survivors are stranded in the Mongolian desert with no chance of rescue. Facing a brutal environment, dwindling resources, and an attack by desert smugglers, they realize their only hope is doing the impossible: building a new plane from the wreckage of the old one.

Commentary

I've been meaning to see this film for awhile but I never got around to it. For some reason this Blu-ray release didn't find its way to my door until awhile after its release, but I'm glad it finally did. This is a remake of the classic film by the same name and is very entertaining. The cast does a great job of conveying the situation and the peril they face, and the production design does a superb job of putting you in the situation with them. A far better popcorn film than I was expecting.

Technical

This is one of Fox's better looking Blu-ray releases. There are a lot of moments in this film that bad compression could kill the visual experience, but the transfer holds together quite well. Detail is exceptionally good, and the depth of image at times is stupendous. I love the contrast of this image and how well the image holds up even in the bright light of the desert. Some of the darker scenes are a bit noisy with film grain, but I expected that since they are shooting primarily in very bright light and probably used film catering to that. I did notice one instance that some compression noise crept in at the beginning of the film, but that is the only time I had anything to complain about.

The film's sound design is EXTREMELY impressive and features some of the most intense infrasonic bass I've heard to date. The plane crash sequence is one of the best scenes I've ever heard for sound design and ranks up there with the pod race from Episode 1 and the end sequence from Saving Private Ryan in terms of intensity and sheer presence. My chest and stomach were feeling the effects of the bass in this scene like no other film I can think of. The rest of the film is equally as impressive in terms of atmosphere, dynamic range, and soundstage. There is some of the best demo material I've seen yet from any format on this disc and this soundtrack is pure reference material. I can't wait for the opportunity to hear this one with the full decoded lossless DTS sound.

Extras

A feature length commentary is included.

- Kris Deering -

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20th Century Fox

1996, Color, Rated PG-13, 1 Hr 46 mins.

 

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

1080p

 

English DTS-HD MA 5.1

Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0

French Dolby Digital 5.1

 

Directed by Andrew Davis


Starring Keanu Reeves, Morgan Freeman, Rachel Weisz, Fred Ward, Kevin Dunn, Brian Cox

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video