Evans Above

Feb 01, 2020

Parasite Blu-ray review

South Korean film Parasite made history when its cast won Best Ensemble in a Motion Picture at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, marking the first time a foreign language film took home that statuette. The Academy Award Best Picture nominee is now available from Universal Home Entertainment. I had an opportunity to review the Blu-ray edition.

The 1080p AVC-encoded video presentation is presented in the theatrical release’s 2.39:1 aspect ratio. Shot digitally, the transfer is crisp and detailed. Skin details show off every pore and hair, while environmental and textile surfaces have great detail in the various settings of wealth and squalor. The colour palette does have many muted elements, but there are splashes of colour in some places that pop off the screen. Contrast is excellent and the black levels are deep. There is a smattering of digital noise in some of the low-light scenes. All in all, this is an excellent video presentation.

On the audio side, the Canadian version I reviewed had Korean and French 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio tracks and subtitles in English and French. It’s my understanding that the U.S. version lacks the French audio track and subtitles. The use of the surround channels is very good at providing ambient details that put you in the story’s environment. The musical score is dynamic and while mostly in the front speakers does make use of the surrounds and subwoofer. The dialogue is clear, centred and well prioritized.

The U.S. version of the movie comes with a digital copy code for Movies Anywhere, while the Canadian version does not. The disc also comes with a roughly twenty minute question and answer featurette with director Bong Joon Ho.

Critically-lauded and featuring an excellent video and audio presentation, Parasite is a worthy addition to your home library. Though some may be wary of a foreign language film without an English dub, it’s important to be reminded of director Bong Joon Ho’s words when he accepted Best Foreign Language Film at the Golden Globes: “Once you overcome the 1-inch-tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films. I think we use only just one language, the cinema.”

Jan 14, 2020

Krypton: The Complete Second and Final Season Blu-ray review

The TV series Krypton took DC Comics fans 200 years back before the birth of Superman and follows the life of his grandfather Seg-El, whose family has been banished by the Zod clan. Throughout the series, Seg-El tries to unite a band of resister to restore hope to Krypton, and with the help of a time-traveler from Earth, try to save the events that will lead to his grandson’s eventual birth. Fans were disappointed when the Syfy network canceled the show in August of 2019, but luckily both seasons are available on DVD, Blu-ray and Digital. I had a chance to review the Blu-ray/Digital set of Krypton: The Complete Second and Final Season. Disclaimer: Though Warner Bros Home Entertainment provided me with the set to review, the opinions expressed are my own.

The 10 episodes of the final season are contained on two Blu-ray discs. The 1080p AVC-encoded transfer is presented in the original 1.78:1 aspect ratio. It’s a pretty good video presentation, though scenes and settings tend to be on the darker, drabber side. Krypton isn’t a planet on a tourist’s list of lush green places to visit. The images are clear and there is good detail on skin, textile and surface textures. As mentioned, the palette is on the drab side (perhaps there’s a part of the colour spectrum called “downtrodden”) but black levels are good and deep. There’s only a smattering of digital noise throughout the presentation.

On the audio side of things, the season comes with an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track. Subtitles are available in English and French. Though there’s a good use of the surround tracks that will put you in the scene, it appears that dialogue is not always properly prioritized.

As for extras, the 2 disc set does come with a digital copy code. There are also two featurettes. Villains: Modes of Persuasion lets you know what makes your favourite DC baddies tick. In The Fate of Superman, executive producer David S. Goyer reflects on Superman’s lineage and how his grandfather Seg-El balanced the survival of his home planet against that of the entire universe.

Krypton: The Complete Second and Final Season has solid but not spectacular video and audio presentations. Casual DC fans will probably give it a pass, but if your a fan of the series or a DC fan who needs everything, you’ll want to add this to your collection.

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil Blu-ray review

When Maleficent: Mistress of Evil was in cinemas last year, I said that though it shied away from fully exploring some of its themes (genocide anyone?) it was anchored by strong performances by Angelina Jolie and Michelle Pfeiffer. You can judge it for yourself as it’s now available for your home collection. I had the opportunity to review the Blu-ray combo pack.

The 1080p AVC-encoded Blu-ray transfer is in the theatrical release’s 2.39:1 aspect ratio. If Jolie and Pfeiffer are the stars of the story, then the colour palette is the star of this video presentation, boldy and cleanly popping off the screen. The lush greens of the fairy forest, the rainbow of royal attire, and the striking red of Maleficent’s lipstick against her pale screen are all visually stunning. Excellent black levels are matched with great shadow detail in the movie’s darker moments. Textures, whether it be skin, fabric or fortress, are all perfectly and clearly detailed. Real and CGI characters and settings blend seamlessly. It’s an excellent video presentation with no noticeable digital noise or compression artifacts.

On the audio side, your ears have the choice of an English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 soundtrack, an English 2.0 Descriptive Audio track, and French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks. Subtitles are available in English SDH, French and Spanish. Like many recent Disney home releases, you may need to increase the volume above its reference level to fully feel its dynamic range. The soundscape makes great use of the surrounds in both ambient and directional effects and the low frequencies provide a solid floor when needed. The orchestral score is lush and clear and dialogue is centred and well-prioritized.

The Blu-ray combo pack also comes with a DVD copy and Movies Anywhere digital code. There are a few short featurettes exploring things like characters and visual effects, as well as outtakes, extended scenes and a music video by Bebe Rexha.

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil has a stunning video presentation, very good audio, and a smattering of extras. Fans of the film, Disney collectors and fans of Jolie and Pfeiffer will want to add it to their home entertainment library.

Dec 17, 2019

Abominable Blu-ray review

In Abominable, a group of friends come across a young yeti they name Everest and embark on a journey to get him back to his family and home. As they trek across China, they discover their own bravery and learn about themselves in an adventure for the whole family. You can join their quest too as Universal Home Entertainment has released it for your entertainment library. I had a chance to review the Blu-ray, DVD and Digital combo pack.

The disc’s 1080p AVC-encoded transfer is released in the theatrical version’s 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The video presentation is as beautiful as a mug of hot chocolate on a cold winter’s day. Crisp and full of detail, the animation exhibits great textures from the characters to the environments they’re in and Everest’s fur simply looks amazing. The colour palette is bright, the black levels are deep with good shadow detail, and the white in the snowy scenes doesn’t clip. There is no evidence of compression artifacts or digital noise.

On the audio side, your ears have the choice of English Dolby Atmos and TrueHD 7.1 soundtracks as well as French and Spanish Dolby Digital 7.1 tracks and an English DVS Dolby Digital 2.0 descriptive video track. Subtitles are available in English SDH, French and Spanish. The surround usage puts you in the environment, with excellent ambient sound throughout. There’s good use of low frequencies and the musical score is dynamic. Dialogue is clear, centred and properly prioritized.

As to the extras, we start off with both a DVD copy and a digital copy code. There is commentary from the production staff, deleted scenes and a bunch of featurettes that include two original shorts, cast interviews, animation techniques and drawing and cooking lessons.

From beautiful visuals and sound to a good collection of extras, adventurers of all ages will want to add Abominable to their home media collection.

Dec 10, 2019

Judy Blu-ray review

Judy, coming out on home video on December 24th, 2019, is a movie saved by a stellar performance. The movie focuses on a time in 1968 when Judy Garland performed a series of shows in London shortly before her death. It flashes back occasionally to Judy’s early years, when her life and career were in the hands of the extremely controlling Louis B. Mayer. We see the start of her dependence on pills – some doled out by the studio – and this background infuses the Garland we see portrayed by Renée Zellweger. Facing issues with money that lead to issues with custody of her two youngest, Garland takes on – but can barely complete – a series of shows in London. While the story is interesting, the script feels a bit small in comparison to the performance of its lead. While a sweeping biopic is in order for such a conflicted talent, this film just touches on a small timeframe and doesn’t get us too deep. It’s a small screen movie anchored by a big screen star. Zellweger’s performance as Garland is amazing. You forget she’s Renée, and for that reason fans of Garland, fans of Zellweger or just fans of strong performances might want to add Judy to the home media library. I was able to review the Blu-ray combo pack of Judy thanks to Lionsgate.

The 1080p AVC-encoded transfer is in the theatrical release’s 2.39:1 aspect ratio. The video presentation is top-notch and has excellent clarity and detail with excellent textures in the fabrics and environment. The colour palette swings from the bold primaries of the bigger production numbers to the more muted moments in homes and hotels. Black levels and shadow details are very good.

On the audio side, the only audio track is an English DTS Master Audio 5.1 track. The U.S. version I was sent had subtitles in English SDH and Spanish. The performance recreations are dynamic and Zellweger and the backing band are perfectly mixed. Their is some usage of the surround channels to give us some placement in the environment and dialogue is clear and centred.

Besides a DVD copy and a digital code, Judy is a little light on extras. There’s a very short “making of” video, an image gallery and the theatrical trailer.

While the story barely touches so many aspects of this extremely talented but terribly tragic woman, I’ll still recommend Judy due to excellent video, strong audio and an award worthy performance by Renée Zellweger.

Apocalypse Now Final Cut 4K Blu-ray review

2019 marks the 40th anniversary of Francis Ford Coppola’s epic Apocalypse Now and to celebrate Lionsgate has released a 4K combo pack called Apocalypse Now Final Cut. Besides a new cut from the director, it also features the original theatrical release and the Apocalypse Now Redux cut Coppola did back in 2001. The Final Cut is shorter than Redux and longer than the theatrical release. This set was released back in August, but I recently had a chance to review it as part of Lionsgate’s gift guide suggestions.

The 2160p HEVC-encoded transfer is presented in the movie’s original 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The transfer is sourced from 4K scans of the original negatives and adjusted for both Dolby Vision and HDR10. The 4K versions look fantastic. Fine detail is evident throughout. Black levels and shadow detail are amazing which is great considering the movie’s many dark scenes. The 4K UHD colour palette is gorgeous, featuring oranges and yellows and rich jungle foliage. Original grain from the 35mm source is evident but the presentation has no noticeable compression artifacts and only a few defects from the original negatives.

Moving from your eyes to your ears, the 4K disc features English Dolby Atmos, Dolby TrueHD 7.1 and Dolby Digital 2.0 English SDH soundtracks. Those of you with Atmos setups will love the use of the height speakers, especially when the helicopters go overhead. Low frequency use during explosions and gunfire is sure to rattle your fillings loose and the surround speakers will immerse you in the story putting you in the middle of the environment. The score is dynamic and dialogue is clear and centred.

The Final Cut set I reviewed contains an army of extras spread over 6 discs and includes a digital copy code. Disc 1 contains an intro from Coppola and the 4K Final Cut version. Disc 2 contains the Apocalypse Now Redux cut and the original theatrical release in 4K. Discs 3 and 4 are Blu-ray versions of the first two discs. Disc 5 is a Blu-ray of supplemental videos and disc 6 is the 90 minute documentary Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse.

The extras spread over these discs include a Final Cut intro by Coppola, audio commentary on the Redux cut, an interview between Coppola and John Milius, an hour long conversation with Coppola and star Martin Sheen, a look at the casting, a look at the birth of surround sound, a look at the editing of the film, pieces on the music and sound design, Cannes Film Festival coverage from the Redux release, audio commentary on the Hearts of Darkness doc, a Q & A with Coppola and Steven Soderbergh, behind-the-scenes footage, a look at the remastering process, an image gallery of storyboards and a collection of photos and finally a series of trailers and radio spots.

With excellent video and audio presentations on the 4K versions and a plethora of extras, you really should add Apocalypse Now Final Cut to your home entertainment library.

The Cotton Club Encore Blu-ray review

Thirty-five years after its initial release, Francis Ford Coppola revisits the legendary Harlem nightspot The Cotton Club. Adding twenty-minutes to the story and changing its name to The Cotton Club Encore, Coppola’s film is a crime drama centred around the Harlem jazz club. I watched the film repeatedly when it first hit pay TV and you can’t go wrong with a cast led by Richard Gere, Gregory Hines, Diane Lane and Lonette McKee. The extra minutes restored to the release allow Coppola to explore some character moments cut from the theatrical release.

The 1080p AVC-encoded transfer is presented in the movie’s original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The film originally had a lot of grain and a preference for browns in the palette to give it an older look. However primary colours still have a chance to pop, especially in the production numbers in the club. Black levels are pretty good, though there is some crush present in some of the darker scenes. Detail is crystal clear, with amazing textures on facial features, wardrobe and environmental elements. Some of the newly added scenes have a slightly different look to them, making the added sequences and moments noticeable instead of seamless.

On the audio side, the U.S. version that I reviewed had a Dolby Digital TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack, with subtitles available in English, English SDH, and Spanish. Dialogue is clean and centred, the score is dynamic and music, dance, and ambient sounds make good use of the surrounds.

The disc is a bit light on the extras. There’s a DVD version, a digital copy code, an intro by Coppola and a Q&A featuring Coppola and cast members Maurice Hines and James Remar. I would have loved to have heard a commentary track by Coppola.

As a fan of the remarkably talented Gregory Hines, I’ve always liked this film a lot. With added time giving the plot a little more room to breathe and good audio and video presentations, I’d recommend adding The Cotton Club Encore to your home entertainment library.

The Peanut Butter Falcon Blu-ray review

In The Peanut Butter Falcon, a young man with Down syndrome escapes from the assisted-living facility he lives in and begins a quest to train at the pro wrestling camp of his favourite wrestler, the Saltwater Redneck. He’s joined by an on-the-run fisherman and chased by a social worker. As their road adventure continues the pair try to convince the social worker to join them. The film received several festival awards and stars newcomer Zack Gottsagen, as well as Shia LaBeouf, Dakota Johnson, John Hawkes, Bruce Dern, Jon Bernthal and Thomas Haden Church. I had a chance to review the Blu-ray release courtesy of Lionsgate.

The 1080p AVC-encoded Blu-ray transfer is presented in the theatrical release’s original 2.39:1 aspect ratio. The image has good detail on facial features, fabrics and environments. The colour palette is naturalistic and black levels are deep. It’s a very nice looking transfer with no real evidence of digital noise or compression artifacts.

On the audio side, the U.S. version of the disc I received came with an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack. Subtitles were available in English SDH and Spanish. The Avengers aren’t in this film so you shouldn’t expect explosions and mayhem coursing through your surround speakers. What you should expect is a really nice ambient soundscape surrounding you with insects and rustling leaves. The score does not overpower and dialogue is clear and well-prioritized.

This is a low budget film, so don’t expect hours of extras. There’s a short “making of” video, a theatrical trailer and a photo gallery. A digital copy code is included.

The Peanut Butter Falcon is a small film that garnered love at various film festivals. It’s a charming story with a really good cast and excellent audio and video presentations. Take a break from the blockbusters that monopolize cinemas and give this film some love and support by adding it to your home media library.

Dec 03, 2019

Game of Thrones: The Complete Eighth Season Blu-ray review

HBO’s Game of Thrones has been a cultural phenomenon through its eight seasons, a must-see don’t-bother-me appointment with your couch for fans of epic sagas and dragon enthusiasts alike. The eighth season’s conclusion has sparked debate between dedicated viewers who battle through the night discussing its merits. I’m not here to referee that battle, but to discuss the technical merits of the Game of Thrones: The Complete Eighth Season Blu-ray set that HBO Canada sent us.

The 1080p AVC-encoded transfer is in the original 1.78:1 aspect ratio. The video presentation is great in brighter scenes, with amazing detail and clarity on skin and hair as well as the textile, environmental and building surfaces. Darker scenes (and there are a lot of them) do tend to experience some digital noise and the blacks are not deep blacks but rather murky. The colour palette leans towards a lot of grays and cool blues with some yellows and browns thrown in for good measure.

There is an army of choices when it comes to the audio presentation. Your ears have a choice of English Dolby Atmos and Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks as well as French, Latin Spanish, and German Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks and Castilian Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese Dolby Digital 2.0 tracks. Subtitles are available in English SDH, French, German, Portuguese, Latin Spanish, Castilian Spanish, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, and Swedish. The audio is excellent. Those of you with Atmos equipment will find the height channels nicely used in the soundscape. The surround channels put you in the middle of the action so well that you might want to prepare for battle and the low frequencies give a lot of oomph to the proceedings. Dialogue is crisp and clearly presented.

Besides coming with a digital copy code, there are quite a few extras spread over the three Blu-ray discs. Each disc comes with commentary tracks by various members of the production staff. Each episode comes with a recap, a preview and in-episode text pop-ups providing extra data to the viewer. Featurettes include “When Winter Falls” which gives background on the Battle of Winterfell, “Duty is the Death of Love” which does the same for the series’ finale, “Game of Thrones: The Last Watch” an almost 2 hour doc with cast and crew discussing the series, and a group of addition backgrounders. There are also deleted scenes.

With very good video, excellent audio and a fantastic collection of extras, Game of Thrones fans who have been buying each season along the way will want to add this set to their collection. If you’ve watched the show on TV but haven’t purchased it before, or if you are completely new to Game of Thrones, the series is also available in a complete series package, including a limited edition version with some amazing extras.

Dec 02, 2019

Warner Bros 2019 Holiday Gift Guide

Warner Bros has a great catalog of film and TV series, so the holiday season is always a great time of the year to check out what items they’re offering would make great presents. Whether you’re buying for a loved one or looking to spend some of the gift cards you’ve received, Warner Bros Home Entertainment probably has something for your shopping list.

The Peanuts gang has turned 70 – good grief! – so WBHE has released the Peanuts Holiday Collection 70th Anniversary Limited Edition set. This release is comprised of animated holiday specials packaged in a limited edition Snoopy doghouse gift set. It includes It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving and A Charlie Brown Christmas, as well as six additional Peanuts specials (It’s Magic, Charlie Brown, Charlie Brown’s All-Stars, The Mayflower Voyagers, Play it Again, Charlie Brown, It’s Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown and It’s Flashbeagle, Charlie Brown.) that are re-mastered/restored, plus brand-new special features. The nine Blu-ray specials also come with a digital copy as well as an exclusive Snoopy figurine and a Charlie Brown holiday book. Limited to only 25,000 copies, the Peanuts 70th Anniversary Holiday Collection Limited Edition has a suggested retail price of $99.99 in the U.S. and $141.00 in Canada.

There’s also a new Christmas movie, A Cinderella Story: Christmas Wish which puts a yuletide spin on the Cinderella story. The film stars Laura Marano, Gregg Sulkin, Barclay Hope and Hallmark Channel favorite Johannah Newmarch as the cruel stepmother. A Cinderella Story: Christmas Wish will be available on Blu-Ray Combo Pack for $24.98 SRP ($34.97 in Canada) and DVD for $19.98 SRP ($24.99 in Canada) as well as on Digital for $19.99 SRP. Check out our review.

Bazinga! You’ll definitely spend all day calculating the correct formula to get your hands on The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Series which lets you bring home all twelve seasons of this hit sitcom. The Complete Series features all 279 original episodes and comes in three formats: DVD ($179.99 U.S.) and a premium Limited Edition Blu-ray ($249.99 U.S. SRP). The complete set has nearly 12 hours of extras and a bonus disc with three new featurettes! The special Limited Edition Blu-ray Boxset comes in a beautiful lay-flat book with a fun pop-up and includes a digital copy. Check out our review of the Limited Edition Blu-ray.

If you want to add a little mystery to your holidays, then check out the Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! The Complete Series Limited Edition 50th Anniversary Mystery Mansion. Packaged in a limited edition collectible mystery mansion gift set it includes all 41 episodes of the original series, Scooby-Doo! Where are You!, released on Blu-ray for the first time and comes with a digital copy. The set also includes some featurettes as well as an exclusive Scooby-Doo Funko keychain and a mini Scooby-Doo Encyclopedia. The set has a suggested retail price of $89.99 U.S.

Batman Beyond, the animated series that introduced us to an aging Batman and his new protégé, is celebrating it’s 20th anniversary and Batman Beyond: The Complete Series Limited Edition makes a perfect gift for the Caped Crusader fan in your family. Remastered for the first time on Blu-ray, the limited edition includes all 52 episodes plus the feature film Batman Beyond: The Return of the Joker and a Batcave full of extras. Check out our review of the deluxe edition of the limited set.

Finally, we round out our Warner Bros gift guide with another entry in the Batman story and take a look at Gotham: The Complete Series. All five seasons are now available on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital. The series takes a look at the early police career of Commissioner Gordon and shows us his first encounters with Bruce Wayne and some soon-to-be supervillains. The Blu-ray set has a U.S. suggested price of $112.99. Check out our review.

With so many offerings, we’re pretty sure that Warner Bros will have something for someone on your gift list.

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