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Jul 22, 2023
The 2018 film Book Club, which starred Jane Fonda, Mary Steenburgen, Candice Bergen and Diane Keaton, was a box office hit, earning over $104 million against a budget of $14 million. With cash like that a sequel was ordered and now five years later the four readers reunite in Book Club: The Next Chapter. This installment sees Vivian (Fonda) inviting her pals to her wedding in Italy, where hi-jinks ensue. Who really needs an excuse to hang out with these four great actresses? Universal has released the movie on Blu-ray and I had a chance to take a look.
The 1080p AVC encoded digital transfer is presented in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The video presentation has great detail in facial features, textiles and locations. The colour palette captures all the gorgeous hues of the Italian landscapes from sparkling blue waters, lush vegetation and beautiful architecture. Compression artifacts and digital noise are absent. Warning: watching this film night have you looking up flights to Italy.
On the audio side of things, you have the choice of an English DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack as well as Spanish and French DTS 5.1 tracks. Subtitles are available for English SDH, French, and Spanish. Though the dialogue-driven comedy has the mix a bit front heavy, the surrounds do some work with ambient sounds and the odd effect. The score is bright and dialogue is clear and well prioritized in the mix.
In the US, the Blu-ray set also comes with a digital code and a DVD. The Canadian release I was sent for review did not include a digital code, which seems to be a hit and miss option here. There are three short featurettes that look at revisiting the story, the fashion and the foursome in Italy.
Fans of these four actresses or those looking for a light comedy that doesn’t involve vulgarity and explosions will be served well by Book Club: The Next Chapter. Great audio and video and the visuals of Italy earn this Blu-ray release a recommendation.
Jul 05, 2023
Everybody likes to take a trip to the Big Apple and Ghostface is no different as Scream VI sees the latest killer head to New York City along with the most recent survivors. The cast of this latest slasher includes the returning Melissa Barrera, Jasmin Savoy Brown, Mason Gooding, Jenna Ortega, Hayden Panettiere and Courteney Cox as well as Jack Champion, Henry Czerny, Liana Liberato, Dermot Mulroney, Devyn Nekoda, Tony Revolori, Josh Segarra, and Samara Weaving. Paramount Home Entertainment has just released a Scream VI 4K SteelBook and I had a chance to take a look.
The 2160p HEVC / H.265 encoded native 4K digital transfer with Dolby Vision and HDR10 is presented in a 2.39:1 aspect ratio. The 4K resolution gives the digital transfer extra clarity and detail in the facial features, textiles and environments. The Dolby Vision HDR’s colour grading lends to brighter whites and darker blacks, with detail not suffering in the shadows and darker scenes. The rest of the colour palette includes popping primaries and natural skin tones. There are no signs of digital noise or compression artifacts.
On the audio side of things, you have the choice of an English Dolby Atmos soundtrack that folds back to Dolby TrueHD 7.1, as well as German, Spanish (España and Latin American), German, French (France and Canada), Italian and Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks. Subtitles are available for English, English SDH, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish, and Dutch. The surrounds, always important for good ol’ jump scares, are put to good use with sound effects and ambient sound and the subwoofer gives extra oomph to the proceedings. Music is dynamic and mostly placed in the front speakers, while dialogue is clear and centred.
The Scream VI 4K SteelBook also comes with a Blu-ray copy and a digital code. Bonus materials include an audio commentary by directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, producer Chad Villella, and writers James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick. There’s a look at the franchise’s move to NYC, looks at the characters, franchise history, and behind-the-scenes featurettes. The collectible SteelBook case has Ghostface peering through a subway window on the front, an apple stabbed by a knife on the back, and Ghostface and the New York skyline in the interior.
The Scream VI 4K SteelBook combines great audio and video with a collectible case and a nice selection of extras. Though recommended for fans and collectors, if SteelBooks don’t rock your world, a regular 4K release with slipcover is also available.
Jul 04, 2023
It’s been twenty-five years since Truman Burbank (Jim Carrey) realized his life was a show in Peter Weir’s The Truman Show, which also stars Ed Harris, Natascha McElhone and Laura Linney. Paramount Home Entertainment has released The Truman Show (25 Anniversary Edition) on 4K and I had a chance to take a look.
The 2160p HEVC / H.265 encoded native 4K digital transfer with Dolby Vision and HDR10 is presented in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The video presentation is leaps above the 2008 Blu-ray release. That release is widely regarded to be terrible, with excessive digital noise reduction, but this time around Paramount has done right by the movie. It looks gorgeous. Shot on 35mm film, the digital transfer retains the filmic qualities of the original with a pleasing film grain that hasn’t been digitally scrubbed to death. The image has great detail in facial features, textiles and sets. The colour palette is natural and the image has bright whites and deep blacks that don’t lose the detail in the darker scenes. The Truman Show looks amazing on 4K.
On the audio side of things, you have the choice of an English Dolby Atmos soundtrack as well as English Dolby TrueHD 7.1, German and French Dolby Digital 5.1 and Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 tracks. Subtitles are available for English, English SDH, French, German, Japanese, Portuguese, and Spanish. The heights only get some occasional usage, but the soundscape does use the surrounds for environmental sounds and the odd effect. The score sounds good and dialogue is clear and centred.
The Truman Show 4K also comes with the aforementioned Blu-ray copy and a digital code in the US, while once again there is not a digital code offered in the Canadian version I was sent for review. The extras are all on the Blu-ray disc and consist of some behind-the-scenes featurettes, deleted scenes, a photo gallery, theatrical trailers and TV spots.
The Truman Show 4K combines great performances with amazing visuals and great sound. Though it would have been nice to see some new extras celebrating the 25th anniversary, that’s just a quibble and this set earns a hearty recommendation.
Jul 03, 2023
Paramount Home Entertainment has just released a South Park: Seasons 21-25 box set which assembles the previously released seasons and I had a chance to look. The set, which does not contain the Post COVID Special, has Cartman, Kyle, Stan and Kenny dealing with everything from vaping to immigration, social media and the pandemic.
The 1080p AVC encoded digital transfer is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio. The video presentation looks great with the 2D animation full of colour and sharpness in the lines. The colour palette is bold and bright. Though there might be some occasional colour banding, the presentation os free of digital noise and compression artifacts.
On the audio side of things, you have the choice of an English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack and English Dolby Digital 2.0 track. Subtitles are available for English SDH. It’s a nice soundtrack with dialogue mostly centred in the mix and environmental effects populating the surrounds. Music is clear and dynamic.
The eight-disc Blu-ray set does not come with a digital code. There are some extras including audio commentaries, pop-up trivia, concept art and deleted scenes.
Fans of the series will be pleased by the audio and video presentation as well as the collection of extras. If you don’t already own the individual seasons, you’ll want to add South Park: Seasons 21-25 to your collection.
Jul 02, 2023
Your Honor stars Bryan Cranston as Michael Desiato, a respected New Orleans judge. When his son is involved in a hit and run, it begins a series of events that reveal what lengths Desiato will go to in order to protect his family. It was originally intended to be a miniseries, but a second and final season was ordered. Paramount has released both the second season as a standalone release and a complete series set as well. I had a chance to review the Your Honor: The Complete Series DVD set.
I’ve been through this before, but here’s a refresher. You may wonder why Your Honor: The Complete Series is on DVD. Well, DVD is still the top seller and the studios are generally reluctant to release TV series that don’t have huge following or ravenous fans on the more expensive to make Blu-ray format or they use their series to lure you into subscribing to their streaming service. With that in mind, Your Honor: The Complete Series is a pretty good looking DVD. The 16:9 video presentation won’t have the excellent clarity and colour depth of a Blu-ray, but still, it looks as good as the DVD format can look.
On the audio side of things the set has an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack with subtitles for English SDH. Dialogue is clear and centred, while the surrounds do get some work with environmental ambience and sound effects.
Your Honor: The Complete Series does not come with a digital code. As for extras, there are some deleted scenes, character studies and short behind-the-scenes featurettes.
Fans of the series will find that the Your Honor: The Complete Series DVD gives them an audio and video experience that does well within the limits of the DVD format.
Jun 15, 2023
Warner Brothers has just released The Venture Bros. – The Complete Series on DVD. This Adult Swim animated series premiered in 2004 and ran for seven seasons. The final season of the 82 episode run ended in 2018, and it was announced that work on a eighth season ended when the show was cancelled in 2020. For the uninitiated, the show follows the lives of fraternal twins Hank and Dean Venture and their super-scientist dad Dr. Thaddeus “Rusty” Venture as they deal with their supervillain nemesis, The Monarch. The WB likes disclaimers, so here goes: Though Warner Brothers provided me with a copy of this release to review, the thoughts and opinions below are mine.
The 480p DVD release is a bit of a shame, considering the last five seasons had been released on Blu-ray and it would have been nice to have a complete Blu-ray set. A Blu-ray would have added some extra punch to the clarity and colour reproduction, but with 82 half-hour episodes, 4 specials and bonus features spread over 14 discs, the video has some room to breathe, so we’re not dealing with much in the way of compression artifacts. It’s a good looking DVD.
On the audio side of things, the first season has an English Dolby Digital 2.0 track, while the remaining seasons are Dolby Digital 5.1. English, French and Spanish subtitles are available for seasons 1 and 2, with English SDH for seasons 3-7. The 5.1 track is quite pleasing, with some nice action in the surrounds and some extra oomph in the low-end. The score is dynamic and the dialogue is clear and overall it’s a good DVD audio presentation.
As mentioned, The Venture Bros. – The Complete Series is spread over 14 DVD discs. There is no digital code. The discs are loaded with bonus features like the four specials, deleted scenes, episode commentaries, promos and other fun bits.
Though it would have been great to see a Blu-ray presentation, The Venture Bros. – The Complete Series on DVD does have very good sound and video and a nice collection of extras. If you’re a fan of the series, or of adult animation in general, this set will be up your alley.
Jun 14, 2023
Criminal Minds aired its fifteenth and presumably final season in 2020. The series was then revived (as opposed to rebooted) in November 2022 on the Paramount+ streaming service. It was given the subtitle Evolution, so since this is a revival, this season is actually called Criminal Minds: Evolution – Season 16. I think I need a nap after following that logic. Paramount is releasing it on Blu-ray and DVD in the US, but for some inexplicable reason, Canada is only getting a DVD release. Maybe the detectives can solve that mystery for me.
This latest season, which is ten episodes, follows the Behavioral Analysis Unit as they deal with a network of serial killers formed at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. The main cast features Joe Mantegna, AJ Cook, Kirsten Vangsness, Aisha Tyler, Adam Rodriguez and Paget Brewster.
The standard definition DVD release is presented in a 16:9 aspect ratio. Though obviously the Blu-ray version would have greater detail, colour presentation and shadow detail, the DVD that I was given for review is still quite good for a DVD presentation of a TV show.
On the audio side, there’s an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. Subtitles are available for English SDH. It’s not the most immersive track, but there is some good surround usage. Dialogue is clear and centred.
The three disc DVD set does not come with a digital code. There’s about 35 minutes worth of extras that look at the revival and some production aspects.
If you’re a fan of Criminal Minds, then picking up Criminal Minds: Evolution – Season 16 is an easy decision. Obviously, if you’re in a country where the Blu-ray is available, you’ll want to get that version.
Jun 05, 2023
Paramount is releasing a 4K SteelBook of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds – Season 1 and I had a chance to take a look. (It was delayed a month in Canada, not sure about the US.) If you’re thinking it was just a few months ago that there was a standard Blu-ray release, you be right. I “reviewed”:https://www.digitalhit.com/evansabove/archives/2023/3/12/star-trek-strange-new-worlds—-season-one-blu-ray-steelbook-review that release back in March. Paramount knew the demand for a 4K presentation was there, so here we are.To reiterate the storyline, the Paramount+ series Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is a spin-off of Star Trek: Discovery that follows Captain Christopher Pike and the crew starship Enterprise in the decade before the original series. Anson Mount plays Pike, while Ethan Peck and Rebecca Romijn portray Spock and Number One. The cast is rounded out by Jess Bush, Christina Chong, Celia Rose Gooding, Melissa Navia, Babs Olusanmokun and Bruce Horak.
The 2160p HEVC / H.265 encoded native 4K digital transfer with Dolby Vision and HDR10 is presented in a 2.39:1 aspect ratio. If the earlier Blu-ray wasn’t already enough of an upgrade over the show’s streaming presentation, the 4K takes it a step further. Obviously, there’s the extra clarity and detail provided by the additional resolution, but the HDR is the real star with the expanded colour depth and contrast adding extra visual oomph to the colour palette and specular highlights. It’s a gorgeous presentation.
On the audio side of things, you have the choice of an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack and a French Dolby Digital 5.1 track. Subtitles are available for English SDH and French. The surrounds put you into the action so firmly that you’ll probably check your bank account to see if your Starfleet salary has been deposited yet. The score is bold and dynamic and dialogue is clear and centred.
The first season is spread over three discs. There is no digital code or Blu-ray copies. In one extra, Anson Mount takes us through his portrayal of Captain Pike. There’s a look at the production design, an exploration of the storylines and characters, commentary by Anson Mount and Akiva Goldsman, deleted scenes and a gag reel.
In my review of the Blu-ray, I said that Star Trek: Strange New Worlds – Season One combined excellent audio and video with stories that echo the style of the original series. Moving to 4K only enhances the visual presentation, so if you’re a diehard fan, or you don’t already own the Blu-ray, this is worth getting. If you already picked up the Blu-ray, it’s a personal decision between you and your wallet.
Jun 03, 2023
The Paramount+ series Tulsa King stars Sylvester Stallone as Dwight “The General” Manfredi, a New York mafia capo who has just been released after twenty-five years in prison. His boss sends him to watch over Tulsa, Oklahoma, which might as well be on a different planet to the New York mobster. The dramedy follows Manfredi as he builds a crew and begins to realize that maybe his mob family no longer has his best interests in mind. Over the nine episodes of the first season, he must deal with a new locale, new foes, and a world that’s changed in the quarter of a century since he was last free. Paramount has released a Tulsa King: Season One SteelBook and I had a chance to take a look.
The 1080p AVC encoded digital transfer is presented in two aspect ratios: 2.00:1 and 2.35:1. This is an artistic choice by the director to give you a different feel during changing locales. The video presentation has good detail on the usual suspects (facial features, textiles and environments) and there’s only the occasional moments of softness in some scenes. It’s a warm colour palette that brings out the dusty Oklahoma landscapes and vegetation. Black levels are quite good too, with no real loss of details in the shadows.
On the audio side of things, the disc comes with an English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack. Subtitles are available for English SDH. The surrounds put you into the landscape nicely with ambient sounds. The score is clear and dynamic, while dialogue is clear, centred and well-prioritized in the mix.
The two-disc Blu-ray set does not come with a digital code. There are small featurettes for each of the nine episodes that delve into the characters and plot points, as well as other extras that look at the story origins, Stallone and the cast, costume design, stunts and locations. The SteelBook artwork features Stallone’s Manfredi and the show title on the front, a burning plane ticket on the back, and a shot of Manfredi at a bar in the interior of the case.
With an enjoyable performance from Stallone, good video and audio, and a nice selection of extras that you don’t usually see on TV releases, the Tulsa King: Season One SteelBook is a good addition to your collection.
May 23, 2023
Bonanza was a TV juggernaut second only to Gunsmoke as the longest-running Western series. It first broadcast on September 12, 1959, and ran until January 16, 1973. It was the first TV Western to air in colour and NBC’s parent at the time, RCA, used its popularity to drive the sales of colour TVs. Now Paramount has released Bonanza: The Official Complete Series on DVD. All 431 episodes and 14 seasons in one hefty set. If you’re new to the show, it follows Ben Cartwright (Lorne Greene) and his three sons, Adam (Pernell Roberts), Hoss (Dan Blocker) and Little Joe (Michael Landon). The quartet run the Ponderosa ranch in Nevada. Seeing a piece of TV history like this available on physical media is amazing.
The series was restored and remastered from the original 35mm film elements. Seeing as film elements were available, it would have been nice to see this on Blu-ray, but that’s just a wish not a complaint. The scenery and other elements look great here and show that a well done DVD can still look great with good detail and a pleasing colour palette. The series is in a 4:3 aspect ratio.
On the audio side, all seasons come with an English Dolby Digital Mono soundtrack and season nine to fourteen also feature a Spanish Dolby Digital Mono track. It sounds really clean and each full-length episode has its original music.
This DVD set is spread over 112 discs and yes that’s one hundred and twelve discs. This includes a bonus disc that includes over two and a half hours of rarely seen interviews, promos, photos and other footage and bloopers. Just the bonus disc alone is a treasure trove of rare TV.
If you love the show or you’re a completist who wants to own a piece of TV history, then Bonanza: The Official Complete Series DVD set is highly recommended.