Evans Above

Jun 27, 2019

Game of Thrones: The Complete Collection available in a Premium Blu-ray Set on December 3rd

If you or a family member are lamenting the end of Game of Thrones, fear not, as Game of Thrones: The Complete Collection will hit store shelves on December 3rd, 2019.

Game of Thrones: The Complete Collection

Game of Thrones: The Complete Collection limited-edition collectible set

Avid collectors will want this premium version, a limited-edition set packaged in a wooden shadow box case, featuring beautiful, multi-layered panel designs by Robert Ball that summarize the Game of Thrones story. Each season is represented by a different layer, showcasing iconic characters and memorable moments from the show, all clambering toward the Iron Throne. The set also contains a “Hand of the King” pin clasp, which holds all nine custom plated disc sleeves.

This premium edition’s Blu-rays also feature an exclusive two-part Game of Thrones: Reunion Special hosted by Conan O’Brien. Shot in Belfast in front of an audience, the special features cast members from the final season including Kit Harington, Emilia Clarke, Sophie Turner and more, as well as previously departed fan-favorites like Sean Bean, Jason Momoa, Mark Addy and others.

Additional bonus content includes all-new deleted and extended scenes, animated histories and lore pieces, fascinating behind-the-scene featurettes, audio commentaries and the documentary featured on DVD in two parts, Game of Thrones: The Last Watch, by filmmaker Jeanie Finlay.

HBO will also release Game of Thrones: Season 8 in a stunning 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray Steelbook, and the single season DVD/Blu-ray. Additionally, Game of Thrones: The Complete Series will also be available on DVD/Blu-ray without the collectible packaging. These sets are loaded with extra content and will also be available to own on December 3rd.

Please note, fire-breathing dragons are not included. They kept melting the Blu-rays.

Jun 22, 2019

Cinderella Signature Collection Blu-ray review

Cinderella, Disney’s 1950 animated classic, is now the ninth film to be given the Signature Collection treatment. I had a chance to look at the Blu-ray/DVD/Digital combo. As with most other Signature Collection releases, the video and audio presentation is the same as the previously released Diamond Edition. The difference lies in the extras, which includes some new content and removes some others.

The AVC-encoded 1080p transfer is in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio, just slightly different from the theatrical release’s 1.37:1 ratio. Film purists might notice the pretty complete removal of film grain, but this is probably necessitated by a modern audience used to digital-to-digital transfers. It’s a beautiful transfer. The colour palette is attractive, whether presenting the pop of primary colours or the subtlety of pastel hues. Contrast and sharpness are on point. The edges of the animated line art are crisp and the beautifully painted backgrounds this era of Disney is known for couldn’t look more gorgeous. There really aren’t issues with digital banding or artifacting either. To put it simply, it’s a presentation worthy of Disney’s talented cel animators.

On the audio side of things, we get an English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 soundtrack, an English DTS-HD Master Audio Mono track and French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks. Subtitles are available in English SDH, French and Spanish. Film purists will be happy that this release comes with DTS-HD Master Audio version of the movie’s original mono audio mix. Dialogue, music and effects all are clean and crisp despite being in the same mix. Those who want their surround sound to get a bit of a workout will be happy that the team at Disney also gives them a 7.1 surround track and manage to put a 1950 soundtrack into an ambient soundscape.

So, on to the extras, which is where this set differs from the previous Diamond Edition. First off, a DVD version of the disc is included as well as a Movies Anywhere digital code. There are two new extras: an audio commentary comprised of archival discussions by Walt that also features picture-in-picture storyboards and artwork and a short trivia presentation hosted by Ruth Righi and Ava Koelker from Disney’s Sydney to the Max. Removed from the previous edition are extras like a personalized digital storybook called Bibbidi-Bobbidi-You, Tangled Ever After, deleted scenes, a look at songs that didn’t make the cut, a tutorial on digital copies and a look at 3D Blu-ray’s with Timon and Pumbaa from The Lion King. Losing these is probably not a big deal. Legacy extras that did make it to the disc include an intro from Diane Disney Miller, a 38 minute making of doc, an alternate opening sequence, a series of featurettes on the animators, storyboards, theatrical trailers, a look at Fantasyland and clips from the Mickey Mouse Club. A handful of other extras are available online.

If you own the Diamond edition, you may want this one in order to get the “commentary” extra with Walt and the storyboards. If you don’t own the previous Diamond Edition, then you will want this version as to call Cinderella an animated classic is an understatement and the film is a must have for lovers of the genre and Disney.

Tim Burton’s live action Dumbo Blu-ray review

Depending on your point of view, Disney is either looking for ways to revisit its animated classics with live action remakes or plundering its past to try and make new money off of old and tested material. With Dumbo, Disney heads back to the 1941 tale of a baby circus elephant who can fly. This time the ringmaster is Tim Burton, who brings his trademark style to the visuals in this story. You can now take it home. We had the chance to check out the Blu-ray/DVD/Digital combo set. A 4K version is also available.

The AVC-encoded 1080p transfer is in the theatrical release’s 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Shot digitally, the video presentation is full of crisp, sharp details. The period costumes look amazing, from the textures of the textiles, to the detail of the stitching. The environmental details also look great, whether it be the hay on the ground to the circus tent soaring above the action. The faces of the actors are equally sharp and detailed, as are the elephants and other CGI-created effects. The circus is reflected in the colour pallete with strong hues and the black level is deep. Low light level scenes still hold detail. There is some digital noise throughout the film, especially in lower light scenes.

On the audio side, your ears have the choice of an English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 soundtrack or Spanish and French Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks. Subtitles are available in English SDH, French and Spanish. Like many recent Disney releases the soundtrack is a bit on the quiet side at standard reference levels, but cranking up the volume a bit fixes that issue. Dialogue is clear and well centred, and the music is clear and dynamic. While the surrounds do a great job of putting you in the centre of the action, the soundtrack is hampered by an underwhelming amount of bass. With elephants around you’d expect a little more low frequency action to give their movements some oomph.

A DVD copy and a digital code start off the list of extras. We have a look at the cast, their performances and some of the circus training that was undertaken. There’s a behind the scenes on the creation of our title character. There’s also a music video from Arcade Fire, deleted scenes, Easter eggs and a gag reel.

The Dumbo disc provides an excellent video presentation, a slightly hampered audio presentation and a sufficient amount of extras. Tim Burton fans and Disney aficionados will want to add this to their libraries.

Jun 13, 2019

Us Blu-ray review

Writer-director Jordan Peele’s Us is a terrifying and thought-provoking horror film with psychological underpinnings, as a family meets their deadly doppelgängers. With a cast led by Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke, Peele shows that his previous outing, Get Out, was not a fluke and he’s a master at the rhythms and cadences of the horror/thriller genre. Now you can take the fear home with you as Universal releases Us in 4K and Blu-ray. I had a chance to review the Blu-ray/DVD/Digital combo.

The AVC-encoded 1080p transfer is in the theatrical release’s 2.39:1 aspect ratio. The detail and sharpness of the video presentation is amazing. Facial features reveal every pore and wrinkle while clothing, buildings and other environmental features also have outstanding detail. Though most of the film is in low light conditions, the colour palette is still accurate and black levels are deep with great contrast. Though there is some digital noise, it is neither distracting nor constant.

On the audio side, you get an English Dolby Atmos and Dolby TrueHD 7.1 soundtrack as well as French and Spanish Dolby Digital Plus 7.1 tracks. Subtitles are available in English SDH, French and Spanish. A horror film works best when the viewer is immersed in the experience and the soundscape here makes ample use of the surround channels to put you in the middle of the terror. The low-frequency elements are strong but not overpowering. Dialogue is clear and crisp in the centre channel.

To start off the extras, the Blu-ray comes with a DVD copy and a Movies Anywhere download code. Featurettes include a look at the family and their doppelgängers, the complexity of shooting each scene twice with the actors doubling roles, Peele’s love of horror and his influences, the social themes and doppelgänger mythology, a breakdown of key scenes, as well as deleted scenes and outtakes.

If you’re able to handle the terror of Us, then you’ll find the video and audio presentation and included extras to be a worthy addition to your home entertainment library.

Jun 10, 2019

Captain Marvel Blu-ray review

When I reviewed Captain Marvel, I said that it was a “great origin story, with growth and heart, coupled with great chemistry between the leads…” and now you have a chance to take it home with you. I reviewed the Blu-ray/Digital Code combo.

The AVC-encoded 1080p transfer is in the theatrical release’s 2.39:1 aspect ratio. Clarity and detail are present throughout, whether it be in costumes, environmental or structural components. The colour palette is neutral but when a colour is required to stick out it pops nicely. Skin tones are accurate and the black levels are deep. Taken from digital source material, the transfer is excellent and there is negligible digital noise or artifacts.

On the audio side, your ears have the choice of an English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 soundtrack and French, Spanish and Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks. Subtitles are available in English SDH, French, Portuguese, and Spanish. Like many recent Disney soundtracks, the audio level is a bit lower than reference levels, but adjusting the volume up a scootch provides a satisfying audio experience. The surround channels immerse the viewer in Vers’ world. Low end frequencies are used throughout for emphasis, though sometimes feel a bit muted. The music, full of some great 90’s tracks, is dynamic and clear and the dialogue is centred and clear as well.

The disc comes with a Movies Anywhere download code. Extras include a commentary track from writers/directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, a look at the physical and fight training Brie Larson went through, origin info for Nick Fury, a spot on everyone’s fave feline, Goose, deleted scenes and a gag reel.

With great video, excellent audio, and a bunch of good extras, Captain Marvel is a great addition to you home theatre library.

Apr 15, 2019

Glass Blu-ray review

M. Night Shyamalan’s Glass unites three characters that he’s introduced us to before. In Unbreakable, we met David Dunn (Bruce Willis) and Mr. Glass (Samuel L. Jackson), two men whose physical attributes set them up to be the perfect hero and villain combo. In Split, we met The Horde (James McAvoy), a violent offender with multiple personalities. Brought together in an institution run by Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson), the trio are set for more superhero/supervillain stories that exist outside the DC and Marvel universes. With the home entertainment release you can now add Glass to your library. We had a chance to preview the Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Download combo set.

The 1080p AVC-encoded transfer is in the movie’s original 2.39:1 aspect ratio. The video presentation is, in a word, excellent. Details, whether they be human or environmental, are crystal-clear with great textures on skin, clothing and structures. In lower light scenes there is only rare digital noise and contrast and black levels are well presented. The colour palette, depending on the scene or character can be neutral to richly robust. Skin tones are excellent as well. In terms of the video presentation, if you get bored with saying excellent, you can try awesome or perfect as well. It’s up to you.

On the audio side, your ears will get treated to English Dolby Atmos and Dolby TrueHD 7.1 tracks as well as Spanish and French Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks. Subtitles are available in English SDH, French and Spanish. Those with an Atmos setup will enjoy good overhead effects like rolling thunder. The other surround speakers will immerse you in the world that Shyamalan has created. Your subwoofer will also be put to good use with powerful responses to each punch and thud. The musical presentation is well done and dialogue is clear and centred. An excellent audio presentation.

On the extras side, you get a DVD copy and a Movies Anywhere digital code as well as a nice collection of short featurettes. There’s an alternate opening, a collection of deleted scenes, character studies and a look at various aspects of the production.

Combine a story that opens itself to more exploration with fantastic video, audio and extras and you know that Glass should be part of your home entertainment library.

Mar 19, 2019

Mary Poppins Returns Blu-ray review

When Mary Poppins Returns hit theatres, I said my quick take was this: “Emily Blunt and Mary Poppins Returns both had big shoes to fill. It’s a perfect fit.” You can now take the fantastic English nanny home as Disney releases both 4K and Blu-ray versions. I had a chance to preview the Blu-ray combo pack.

The 1080p AVC-encoded transfer is in the film’s original 2.39:1 aspect ratio. The video presentation reflects the moods of the two real and fantasy worlds very well. The early London scenes are dark and dreary, populated with gray and washed-out blue tones, street lamps reflecting puddles left by the dreary clouds above. When Mary takes her young charges off to the more fantastical places and animated worlds, the colours pop. Details, whether it be on clothing, furniture, faces, or trees are crisp and complex and the animated lines are clean. Skin tones are natural and the black levels and contrast are spot on. Very little digital noise or artifacts are seen throughout.

On the audio side, your ears have their choice of an English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 soundtrack and Spanish and French Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks. Subtitles are available in English SDH, Spanish and French. Like all recent Disney home releases, the soundtrack is a little quieter than most reference levels, but again, the solution is just to turn it up a little. Just as Mary Poppins likes the children to be active for their health, your surround speakers will have a good workout, putting you in the centre of the action. It’s a musical and the soundtrack does not disappoint, with great tone in the music and clarity in the lyrics. Your subwoofer won’t get the same workout that it might in a Star Wars film, but when it is used it makes sense. Dialogue is clear and centred.

Mary Poppins was always able to pull amazing items out of her bags and her Blu-ray is stuffed with extras too. Besides a DVD version and a digital download code, the set also comes with a sign-along mode that puts lyrics up during the songs, a look at Dick Van Dyke’s cameo and the cast reactions, bloopers, a collection of shorts focusing on the shooting of the musical numbers, a deleted song, “The Anthropomorphic Zoo”, sung by songwriter Marc Shaiman, a lengthy featurette on the making of the film, and some deleted scenes.

Mary Poppins Returns is a lovely, sweet film that’s been given an excellent video and audio presentation by Disney. Well worth adding to your collection.

Feb 26, 2019

The Little Mermaid 30th Anniversary Signature Collection Edition Blu-ray review

The Disney animated classic The Little Mermaid is now celebrating its 30th year with the release of a 30th Anniversary Signature Collection Edition. I had a chance to preview the Blu-ray combo version of the release, the eighth in the Signature Collection line.

The 1080p AVC-encoded Blu-ray transfer is in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio. This a new transfer and it looks great. The colour palette is full of deep ocean blues, bold reds and the rich purple of our villainess Ursula. The contrast is excellent and there’s a slight grain from its film stock origins. The lines of the hand-drawn animation are crisp and those beautiful Disney backgrounds look fantastic. This is a wonderful transfer with little evidence of encoding artifacts.

As it’s a musical, how does The Little Mermaid treat your ears? There’s an English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 soundtrack as well as Spanish and French Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks. Subtitles are available in English SDH, Spanish and French. It’s a challenge putting an older film’s stereo soundtrack into the modern surround soundscape, but Disney’s sound engineers have done quite a good job. The dialogue and song vocals are crisp and clear and they’ve managed to move enough effects into the surround channels to create some good immersive moments. The low frequencies are also used sparingly but to good effect.

The combo pack also comes with a DVD and a digital download code. As with other Signature Collection discs, the extras get a bit of a makeover, with some new material introduced, some old material excised and some legacy material moved to digital only. A new featurette called Alan Menken and the Leading Ladies has Disney leading ladies Jodi Benson, Paige O’Hara, Judy Kuhn, Lillias White, and Donna Murphy talking about their collaborations with Menken on various classic projects. There are new looks at the voice actors discussing their characters, looks at Walt’s collectibles collection, a new music video,as well as audio commentary from writers/directors Ron Clements and John Musker and composer Alan Menken. The digital-only content includes a plethora of song content including several karaoke tracks.

Couple a classic story, great songs and characters with a newly remastered video presentation, a great 7.1 update on a stereo soundtrack and a ton of extras and you’ll find that The Little Mermaid 30th Anniversary Signature Collection Edition is a worthy addition to your home entertainment library.

Feb 25, 2019

Ralph Breaks the Internet Blu-ray review

When Ralph Breaks the Internet was in its theatrical release, I said that it had “sugary visual delights for the youngest audience member and food for thought and big laughs for their older siblings and parents.” Now that fun is available for your home entertainment library. I had a chance to preview the Blu-ray version of the film.

The 1080p AVC-encoded Blu-ray transfer comes in the film’s original 2.39:1 aspect ratio. As the original is digitally produced, the resulting transfer is clean with crisp details throughout. The colour palette, especially in the cyber worlds, pops with bold colours in the more fanciful areas of the Internet. Contrast and black levels are excellent. There are no obvious digital noise issues in the visual presentation.

On the audio side of things, your ears get an English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 soundtrack as well as French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks. Subtitles are available in English, English SDH, French and Spanish. As is the trend with most recent Disney home entertainment releases, the soundtrack is a bit low when played at a reference volume, but cranking it up a bit rectifies the situation. Your surround channels are given quite the workout whether it be a subtle bit of placing you in the environment or subjecting you to some crazy part of the cyber scene. When low frequencies do kick in, they do so with quite a thump. Music is dynamic and the dialogue is clear and centred.

As for bonus features, Ralph Breaks the Internet comes with both a DVD copy and a Movie Anywhere download code. There’s a look at Easter eggs hidden within the movie, a piece on how music is used for structural and narrative purposes, cat videos, a half-hour featurette on the making of various scenes, a collection of deleted scenes, and music videos from Imagine Dragons and Julia Michaels.

Great picture, great sound, good extras and a sweet, funny, and emotional story. Ralph Breaks the Internet is a welcome addition to your home entertainment library.

Jan 28, 2019

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms Blu-ray review

Disney has delivered an excellent audio and video presentation with the home entertainment release of The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. For those who love the story origins, love all movies connected to Christmas, or simply must have all of Disney’s output, here’s a look at the home entertainment release, available as a Blu-ray combo pack.

The 1080p AVC-encoded transfer is in the original 1.85:1 aspect ratio of the theatrical release. Shot on film, it’s a gorgeous digital transfer. Textural details are amazing, whether it be faces, clothing or environmental details. The image is sharp and the colour palette works whether it’s the more muted confines of dusty attic to the more punchy colours of the Four Realms. Skin tones are accurate and black levels in the darker scenes are deep with good shadow detail. There’s no digital noise to discuss. Disney has done a stellar job with this Blu-ray transfer.

On the audio side, we get an English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 soundtrack as well as French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks. Subtitles are available in English SDH, French and Spanish. Like many recent Disney releases, you’ll have to crank the volume a little bit more than you might with discs from other studios. The music, so important to this production, has excellent clarity and dazzles throughout the soundscape. The surround channels are given a great workout and envelopes the viewer in the fanciful lands our heroine visits. The low-end doesn’t blow you away, but provides the necessary oomph when needed. Dialogue is clear and centred.

Besides a DVD copy and a digital download code, the disc is a bit light on extras. There’s a conversation with ballerina Misty Copeland, a look at costumes and set design and a couple of music videos.

Big on eye candy and light on story, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is nevertheless a fantastic audio and video presentation for home entertainment. Avid collectors will no doubt pick it up, but casual viewers might want to give it a pass.

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