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Spin the Disc Optical Technology at its Best and Worst,2005:5a9a8a8d48f2c0b53ba4f0f74ca72bdb Textpattern 2009-01-19T18:06:14Z Adam Raffee Adam Raffee 2007-08-04T18:54:00Z 2009-01-19T18:06:14Z Dark Water,2007-08-04:5a9a8a8d48f2c0b53ba4f0f74ca72bdb/55fe287f1a723e6d6df81095f199f970 <p>Dark Water is an atmospheric film horror film starring the beautiful Jennifer Connelly playing a downbeaten divorcĂ©e who encounters creepy problems when she’s forced to move into a new apartment building. It features the same themes as the Ring: water as a ghostly manifestation, a little girl who needs peace, and it’s no surprise since it was written by the same author. The emotion of the film is surprisingly effective especially at the end, but as a whole, the film leaves your unfulfilled. There are only a few surprise moments along the way (which I don’t care for personally anyway) but there’s a really scary moment near the end featuring a blue robe. It, like the film, is scary more for the atmosphere and the psychology of the scene, but I found it very effective. As for video, the film looks pretty good in 1080p in a 2.35:1 transfer. The image is muted, dark and as expected, the colors don’t pop. I didn’t notice any real problems with the image but it’s not the best image I’ve seen on Blu-Ray. The audio is fine and features a 5.1 uncompressed track as well as regular Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks, including Spanish and French. The supplements are meager as well featuring two deleted scenes and two analysis of scenes by the production crew disappointingly in standard definition. In the latter we see another scene that was cut from the film, the so-called “Wall of Water.” The menus are okay, featuring text that pops up as you select it—nothing mind blowing—which is surprising considering the cool choices the designers could have went with a watery theme. An audio commentary would have been a welcome addition. We also get Buena Vista’s Movie Showcase that supposedly selects demo material from the film. Like all Disney (Buena Vista) Blu-Ray films it features annoying antipiracy commercial with horrendous music, a carryover from their DVDs, which frankly I didn’t think is needed given all the DRM on Blu-Ray discs. Overall, the movie is worthy of a purchase for fans of the film but given the lack of extras, for everyone else, this is a worthy rental. </p> <p><center> <img src="/images/10.jpg" alt="" /> </center></p> Adam Raffee 2007-07-26T18:03:00Z 2007-07-28T22:49:49Z It was Minty ...,2007-07-27:5a9a8a8d48f2c0b53ba4f0f74ca72bdb/e34d9cff6d1d9548f27c7c9cc3f1af3e <p><B> Zodiac (2007) </B></p> <p>Zodiac is hands down one of the best films I’ve seen in 2007. It was an unexpected movie from my favorite director and despite this I went into the theater expecting the worst because of the dry subject matter. Thankfully, this movie was nothing like my expectation. While it runs a little over 2.5 hours long, I never felt a minute of it. The movie is edited so tightly, the excitement never dissipates. </p> <p>Because I eagerly awaited the DVD, I was somewhat disappointed to find that this release would not have any supplements or be accompanied by a high definition version as originally planned. The silver lining to this is that with a little patience, David Prior, producer of such Fincher discs as Panic Room and Fight Club, will give us the Zodiac SE in 2008, which is expected to be a 2 disc set and hopefully will be packed with extras. This release is also expected to coincide release with the HD versions, which were postponed only today (the theatrical cut was originally expected on release day, July 24th 2007, then September 18th, and now sometime in 2008). </p> <p>What we get here is a DVD-9 fully devoted to allowing Zodiac to breath and because of its running time, that’s a good thing. The 2.40 anamorphic video looks very good. There is no print damage as the movie was shot in HD video and I presume this a direct digital to digital transfer. Much of the movie takes place in the dark and in the shadows, a challenge for any DVD. Compression artifacts and edge enhancement are kept to a minimum and on most monitors this will appear great. On a 720p front projector the image looks perfect. On a high resolution 1080p+ monitor, the compression artifacts are noticeable near the top of the frame but not distracting. Colors are muted as per the intention of the filmmaker to convey the 1960s/70s atmosphere. There are some noticeable moire patterns in certain scenes (Dr. Toschi’s plaid suit, the push in over San Franscisco Bay, The Oil Refinery exterior, etc.). Overall, a very good image. That said, I can’t wait for this to arrive in HD, I’m sure it will look fantastic. </p> <p>The audio is clear and there are some nice surround effects but they’re subtle and not overwhelming as to be expected in non-action movie. </p> <p>As mentioned earlier, there are absolutely no supplements, a disappointment to be sure. I can’t wait for 2008 to see the SE with the directors cut, and to see this film in HD. While this movie is fantastic and the urge to double dip is monumental, I’d recommend waiting for the SE if you can manage it. </p> <p><center> <img src="/images/9.jpg" alt="" /> </center></p> Adam Raffee 2007-07-14T21:58:00Z 2007-07-28T22:45:26Z St Elmo's Fire,2007-07-14:5a9a8a8d48f2c0b53ba4f0f74ca72bdb/2bf3e3151300f03f99f5a5cdde02c386 <p>Growing up, I’ve heard a lot about St. Elmo’s fire and have often heard the Jack Parr song so when the opportunity came to review the film and disc for this site, I took it. I was hoping for a gem I’d missed all these years and surely because the name was so familiar to me, it had to be a classic. Unfortunately, I could not complete the review. Some time into the film, the actors all broke out into song, and Rob Lowe started playing the saxophone. I stopped the disc. Was it because I couldn’t identify with the so-called brat pack? It’s true that I’ve never felt more alienated from a group of characters but this is not the reason I couldn’t continue. Individually, I’ve enjoyed performances from each of the actors in this film. It’s just that everything seemed hyperbolic. The characters were exaggerated stereotypes and rather nasty and the disorganized story provided little reason to continue watching them. The 80s never seemed so 80s. Rob Lowe was wearing eyeliner, dammit! I’ve had this sensation before, when I saw the Lost Boys a few months ago for the first time. So, faithful readers, I cannot complete this review. It’s probably the only movie I’ve stopped because of sheer disgust, and I’ve seen plenty. As for the disc specs, the movie was anamorphic, and from what I saw the picture seemed pleasingly enough for a catalog release. Audio was Dolby 4.0 and was front centric. I never made it to the supplements. But if you want to be really self destructive, this disc can be had on the cheap. Frankly, I think all copies should be burned. I’m shaking as I write this and I don’t know why. </p> <p><B>UPDATE:</B> I just found out that Joel Schumacher directed both films (the Lost Boys and St. Elmo’s Fire). I don’t know what it is about his films that make me react so viscerally against them. I almost turned off <i>The Lost Boys</i> when that muscled-longhaired oiled-up lead-singer from a rock band entertained beach goers. Like I said the 80s were never that 80s. I’m sure there are positive aspects to his films to be found somewhere. It’s just that I’m not willing to look for them.</p> <p><center> <img src="/images/8.jpg" title="Stay away from this film" alt="Stay away from this film" /> </center></p> Adam Raffee 2007-07-12T04:59:00Z 2007-07-28T22:46:43Z That was bad ...,2007-07-12:5a9a8a8d48f2c0b53ba4f0f74ca72bdb/5bf2353df590f7c5dce180533220e1df <p><b> Pulse (1988) </b></p> <p>Pulse is a wonderful little curiosity from the late 1980s. HBO used to rerun it all the time, but as a horror film it doesn’t have much gusto. Still the film is worth a look for nostalgia alone. Joey Lawrence plays David, who is visiting his father from Colorado, where he lives with his mother (divorce was a big theme in 1980s films). David begins to experience strange happenings and in true horror film fashion, the mysteries escalate. Only an old man, memorably played by Charles Tyner (The Outlaw Josey Wales), knows the truth. Joey also meets Stevie, a young boy from the neighborhood, who is played by Joey’s real life younger brother, Matthew. The interaction between the two brothers is fun to watch, and watching little Matthew say “that was bad” all the time always makes me chuckle. Video wise, Columbia gave this disc a surprisingly good looking 1.78:1 anamorphic transfer which was supposedly mastered in high definition. This was a welcome surprise since I didn’t expect such a neglected movie to get a release at all, let alone an anamorphic transfer. Audio is Dolby stereo which is acceptable. There are unfortunately no special features. Pulse is an oft-neglected film from the 1980s that is worth a look if you’re a horror fan or simply an 80s movie junkie. Some might say it is boring but as a B movie fan, I am thrilled this is available on DVD. </p> <p><center> <img src="/images/6.jpg" title="Pulse ... a late 80s classic" alt="Pulse ... a late 80s classic" /> </center></p> Adam Raffee 2006-08-13T01:51:00Z 2006-08-13T02:33:54Z The 2005 Academy Award Nominated Shorts,2006-08-12:5a9a8a8d48f2c0b53ba4f0f74ca72bdb/a6d96107860798bcf3f8d6ab01d4f0b9 <p>After the Academy Awards aired in 2006, I really wanted to see some of the short films nominated in the Best Live Action Short category. Unfortunately, only one was available on the Internet, Cashback. However, Magnolia films had acquired the rights to these films and had been screening them across the US. Shortly thereafter, to my relief, they were available from the iTunes Music Store as a video download for $1.99 each. Recently, Magnolia Films released a DVD containing all the live action short films. All five nominated films are presented: Our Time is Up, Ausreisser, The Last Farm, Cashback, and Six Shooter. Some look better than others. Ausreisser and The Last Farm are widescreen but are presented as a letterboxed picture inside a 16:9 Windowbox. Why, I have no idea. Perhaps the source elements were video but given that these were all screened theatrically, it makes me wonder. Both of these non-english films are presented with burned in subtitles. Cashback, Our Time is Up, and and Six Shooter are anamorphic widescreen, but Six Shooter looks much more filmlike than the rest. This may again be a source element issue. Also presented are some of the animated short film nominess winner The Moon and the Son, Badger, and the Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello. Missing are Pixar’s excellent One Man Band and 9 Two additional animated shorts are presented as special features including the excellent Fan and the Flower and Imago. There’s not much else on the disc except for forced previews which was a little unexpected given this is an independent studio. The video quality ranges from poor to excellent and the audio is stereo, which is to be expected since these are not big-budget films. The menu system was one of the most awful I’ve ever used, however, and the authoring of the disc was unnecessarily complicated (Magnolia should look into better authoring software). Overall, I’m glad to have these films on disc given that they may have never been seen at all were it not for this release but I think Magnolia films could have done a much better job presenting them on DVD. I would wait till this disc drops in price or perhaps give it a rental if you can find it at your local video store. </p> <p><center> <img src="/images/4.jpg" title="2005 Oscar Short Films" alt="2005 Oscar Short Films" /> </center></p>