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I think the technical term for this is EGADS! Please be patient as we curse and yell at a database mixup that deep sixed dozens of our database entries. We need to clean up or recreate them one by one. Should be fun...

Jan 07, 2024

Billions: The Complete Series DVD review

Billions, which ran for 7 seasons and 84 episodes, follows US Attorney Chuck Rhoades (Paul Giamatti) as he investigates the financial dealings of hedge fund manager and philanthropist Bobby Axelrod (Damian Lewis). The series also stars Maggie Siff, Malin Åkerman, Toby Leonard Moore, David Costabile, Condola Rashād, Asia Kate Dillon, Jeffrey DeMunn, Kelly AuCoin, Corey Stoll, Daniel Breaker, Sakina Jaffrey and Toney Goins. Paramount Home Entertainment has released a Billions: The Complete Series DVD set and I had a chance to take a look.

Billions: The Complete Series coverart

When a series is released on DVD, people always wonder why it’s not on Blu-ray, especially when some of the past season releases were on that format. It almost always boils down to market forces. DVDs are still cheaper to make and still sell more than Blu-ray and 4K, so the studio would have made an educated guess about which format would make them the most coin. Still, as far as the DVD format goes, Billions looks pretty good here with a nice colour palette and good detail in the image. With 84 episodes spread over 28 discs, there isn’t much to complain about in regards to compression artifacts.

On the audio side of things, there’s Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. Subtitles are available for Englsih SDH. Though the soundtrack can be a little front-focused at times, the surround channels do get some use with ambient sounds and directional effects. Even the subwoofer gets some use. Dialogue is always clear and centred.

Billions: The Complete Series DVD is spread over 28 discs. A digital code is not included. There’s roughly an hour of extras, including behind-the-scenes featurettes and a look at the cameos.

Fans of the series who don’t want to be subject to the whims of streaming services will enjoy adding Billions: The Complete Series DVD to their home entertainment library.

Jan 06, 2024

Butcher’s Crossing Blu-ray review

Butcher’s Crossing, from director Gabe Polsky, stars Nicolas Cage as Miller, a grizzled buffalo hunter in 1870s Colorado who is looking for one big haul of hides. The writing is on the wall, as the number of bison has been decimated by relentless hunting. To make his expedition work, Miller needs financing and that’s where Will Andrews (Fred Hechinger) comes in. Andrews, from a privileged background, has dropped out of Harvard to experience life in the West. Miller is willing to show Andrews that life, as long as he pays for it. Miller is obsessed (a comfort zone for Cage) and drives his team hard, risking life and limb to get the perfect haul of hides. The film, which also stars Jeremy Bobb, Paul Raci, Xander Berkeley, Rachel Keller, Amber Rose Mason, Harper Hofstad, Beckett Hofstad, Duncan Vezain, Gabriel Clark and Zuzu Weingart, has been released by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment on Blu-ray. I had a chance to take a look.

The 1080p AVC encoded digital transfer is presented in a 2.00:1 aspect ratio. It’s a really good looking video presentation with sharp details in the grizzled faces, worn and dirty clothes, and gorgeous landscapes. The colour palette is natural and ranges from snowy whites to greens and reds. Black levels are deep. There are no real signs of compression artifacts or digital noise.

On the audio side of things, Butcher’s Crossing comes with an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack with subtitles are available for English SDH and French. The soundtrack immerses you into the landscape with good use of the surrounds, while the horse and herds of bison are served well by the subwoofer. Dialogue is clear and centred.

The Blu-ray disc does not come with a digital code nor does the release have any extras.

Butcher’s Crossing looks and sound great and has good performances from Cage, Hechinger and the cast. Bleak, slow-paced and at times grisly, the Butcher’s Crossing Blu-ray is not for everyone, but if the story interests you, it’s worth a look.

Dec 13, 2023

Dumb Money Blu-ray review

Craig Gillespie’s Dumb Money is a comedy-drama based on the short squeeze of Gamestop stock back in January of 2021. If “short squeeze” isn’t in your vocabulary, I’ve linked to an article that should help explain it, but in short (no pun intended), large hedge funds had shorted Gamestop – the shopping mall video game store – hoping to cash in on its demise. When a YouTuber and retail investor named Keith Gill (Paul Dano) invested his life savings into the stock and posted about it on reddit, others began to follow suit, driving the price up, which directly affected the hedge funds whose shorting only makes money when the stock goes down. I’ll stop the explanation there as what happened next is the meat and potatoes of the script. The film, which also stars Pete Davidson, Vincent D’Onofrio, America Ferrera, Nick Offerman, Anthony Ramos, Sebastian Stan, Shailene Woodley, and Seth Rogen, has now been released on Blu-ray by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

The 1080p AVC encoded digital transfer is presented in a 2.39:1 aspect ratio. It’s a great looking digital transfer with excellent detail in facial features, textiles and environments. The colour palette is strong and black levels are deep with good detail in darker scenes. There are no compression artifacts or digital noise to speak of. It’s just a pleasing visual presentation.

On the audio side of things, there’s an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack. Subtitles are available for English SDH, French, and Spanish. It’s a front-heavy mix, and as dialogue is key here it’s clear and prioritized in the soundscape. The surrounds are given some light work with ambient sounds, while the subwoofer only kicks in when the soundtrack starts kicking.

The Dumb Money Blu-ray comes with a digital code, though once again the Canadian release does not get a digital copy. Extras include an audio commentary by screenwriters Rebecca Angelo and Lauren Schuker Blum, a behind-the-scenes featurette, a look at the casting, and some deleted scenes.

The Dumb Money Blu-ray starts off with a great cast led by Paul Dano and combines it with an excellent presentation and a small collection of extras. It captures one of the big financial stories of 2021 with humour and never drags. Recommended.

Nov 23, 2023

Oppenheimer 4K review

Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer stars Cillian Murphy as Robert Oppenheimer, the theoretical physicist who is often called the “father of the atomic bomb” for his work leading the Manhattan Project in its development of nuclear weapons during World War II. The biographical film also stars Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, Robert Downey Jr., Florence Pugh, Josh Hartnett, Casey Affleck, Rami Malek and Kenneth Branagh. It was the third highest-grossing film of 2023 (behind Barbie and The Super Mario Bros. Movie) and its release on the same weekend as Barbie led to the cultural/marketing phenomenon known as Barbenheimer, in which cinema audiences were encouraged to see both films on the same day. Universal has now released Oppenheimer on 4K and I had a chance to take a look.

The 2160p HEVC / H.265 encoded native 4K digital transfer with HDR10 is presented in shifting aspect ratios that go between 1.78:1 and 2.20:1. Nolan is a physical media fan, so rest assured that the utmost attention was paid to the transfer of this film. The image is crystal clear, with unbelievable detail in facial features, textiles, environments and the mostly practical visual effects. The colour palette is vibrant, from reds and greens to the flaming orange of the atomic bomb. The image has brilliant whites and deep blacks with no loss of detail in the shadows.

On the audio side of things, you have the choice of an English DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack as well as French and Spanish DTS 5.1 tracks. Subtitles are available for English SDH, French and Spanish. Getting into why Nolan doesn’t currently do Atmos mixes for his movies requires some extracurricular reading, so a 5.1 soundtrack is what we get. It’s a powerful mix with plenty for your surrounds to do and powerful LFE usage as well. The score sounds great and for the most part the dialogue is well prioritized in the mix.

The Oppenheimer 4K set comes with three discs: the movie on 4K, the movie om Blu-ray and a Blu-ray disc with the bonus features. A digital code is included in the US, but once again, the Canadian version is lacking a digital code. The extras include a 72 minute doc on the making of the film, an 87 minute doc on Robert Oppenheimer, a featurette on the inclusion of black and white IMAX scenes, a Q&A panel with Christopher Nolan, Kai Bird, Dr. Kip Thorne, Dr. Tom Mason, and Dr. Carlo Rovelli, and multiple trailers.

A great cast directed by Christopher Nolan combined with stellar audio and video and impressive extras make the Oppenheimer 4K easy to recommend.

Nov 17, 2023

Universal Home Entertainment 2023 gift ideas

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment have a trio of new releases they’d like you to consider for your holiday season purchasing and they range from a nostalgic classic to office Xmas party hijinks to an angry Santa bent on retribution. Let’s take a look at the releases…

In celebration of the film’s half-century, we get the American Graffiti 50th Anniversary Edition 4K. Directed by George Lucas before he headed for flights of fantasy in the stars, this 1973 film is a coming-of-age story set against cars, neon, girls, and rock’n’roll. Four friends are enjoying their last night of summer freedom. Curt (Richard Dreyfuss) and Steve (Ron Howard) are heading to the East Coast for college. Curt is having second thoughts, while Steve plans to give the “let’s see other people” speech to his girlfriend, Laurie (Cindy Williams). Toad’s (Charles Martin Smith) task of taking care of Steve’s car starts off on the wrong foot, while their drag racer friend, John (Paul La Mat), faces a challenge from newcomer Bob Falfa (Harrison Ford). Growing up is never easy.

The 2160p HEVC / H.265 encoded native 4K digital transfer with HDR10 is presented in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The American Graffiti 4K video presentation is a slight upgrade from the 2011 Blu-ray release. Don’t mistake that for a ringing endorsement. Though there are a few moments where the image looks great and the HDR adds extra pop to the colours and neon, most of the time digital noise reduction has been so heavily applied that the characters look waxy and what could have been a nice filmic grain structure has been scrubbed smooth. Universal has released many excellent 4K transfers, so you can’t help but wonder if George Lucas’ revisionist way of dealing with his filmography is responsible for this outcome. Again, sometimes the image can look great, but so many times it doesn’t.

On the audio side of things, you have the choice of a new English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack as well as English, French, German, Italian, Japanese and Spanish DTS 2.0 tracks. Subtitles are available for English SDH, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish, Czech, Danish, Finnish, Korean, Mandarin (Traditional), Norwegian, and Swedish. The 5.1 soundtrack does a good job of moving the previous elements into the surround soundscape. Dialogue is clear, but the real star is the music from the Fifties and early Sixties.

The American Graffiti 50th Anniversary Edition 4K also comes with the 2011 Blu-ray and a digital code, though once again the Canadian version of the release is minus the digital code. What gives? It’s unfortunate that there are no new extras to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary, but all the extras from the 2011 disc have made the move over to the 4K. There’s an audio commentary from George Lucas, a 60+ minute behind-the-scenes featurette, screen tests and a theatrical trailer.

American Graffiti 50th Anniversary Edition 4K has its issues so if you’re buying for yourself or someone on your gift list, factor in whether the DNR issues will give you pause. It’s still a nostalgic film with a great cast and an amazing soundtrack.

Next up on the UPHE gift idea list is a 4K release of Violent Night. Now, if you asked Santa, “Hey, didn’t the Blu-ray for this film come out in January of 2023?”, the jolly old elf would tell you that was correct. Directed by Tommy Wirkola and starring David Harbour, Violent Night tracks a heavy-drinking Claus who has lost all Christmas cheer as fewer and fewer people believe him in. When the mansion he’s delivering to is attacked by mercenaries, the naughty and nice list kicks into action and Santa unleashes retribution that is anything but a silent night. The cast also includes Beverly D’Angelo, Alex Hassell and John Leguizamo.

The 2160p HEVC / H.265 encoded native 4K digital transfer with HDR10 is presented in a 2.39:1 aspect ratio. Great detail and the HDR grading really helps the colour palette from the warm reds and greens to the icy blues. Deep black levels with great detail in shadows and darker scenes. Santa has delivered a great visual gift.

On the audio side of things, you have full sleigh full of language choices. There’s an English Dolby Atmos soundtrack that folds back to Dolby TrueHD 7.1, a German Atmos track, French (France), Italian and Spanish DTS-HD HR 7.1 tracks, and French (Canada) and Japanese DTS 5.1 tracks. Subtitles are available for English SDH, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish, Czech, and Mandarin (Traditional). It’s a fun and powerful Atmos track with bullets and other action elements flying through the surrounds and height channels with the subwoofer giving the action plenty of bass floor.

The Violent Night 4K also comes with a Blu-ray copy and a digital code, though once again, Canada is apparently on the naughty list and doesn’t get a digital code in their version. We get an audio commentary from members of the production team, deleted scenes, and featurettes on various aspects of the production. Violent Night is a gory and deadly Christmas movie that’s a lot of fun as long as you realize that it’s not for all ages.

Finally, Universal is releasing The Office: Complete Christmas Collection on both Blu-ray and DVD. I had the opportunity to check out the DVD release. The collection highlights all seven of the holiday office party episodes from the wildly successful NBC version of the workplace comedy. I’ve linked to the Blu-ray version.

The seven holiday episodes included are:

  • Christmas Party – Holiday cheer is in short supply when Michael insists on doing a last-minute swap of Secret Santa gifts, and Jim becomes alarmed that his sweet and sentimental gift for Pam will end up in Dwight’s hands.
  • A Benihana Christmas – It’s a time for joy and goodwill toward others, but the staff is feeling none of it as Michael deals with a broken heart and Angela and Pam create rival Christmas parties.
  • Moroccan Christmas – It’s time for the annual Christmas party and a drunken Meredith gets into the holiday spirit by setting her hair on fire.
  • Secret Santa – Michael is outraged when Jim allows Phyllis to be Santa at the Christmas party, where holiday spirits are dampened by the company’s troubles. Meanwhile, Andy’s Secret Santa gifts to Erin backfire and Oscar has a secret crush.
  • Classy Christmas – Toby takes a leave of absence and corporate sends Holly to cover for him; Michael forces Pam to hold a second Christmas party on the day Holly arrives; Dwight challenges Jim to a snowball fight.
  • Christmas Wishes – Andy tries to make this year’s Christmas the best ever by granting each person’s holiday wishes; Robert California tries to drown his sorrows at the office party.
  • Dwight Christmas – When the party planning committee drops the ball on the annual Christmas party, Dwight gets everyone to celebrate with a traditional Schrute German Christmas.

On the DVD review copy I received, the seven episodes are spread over two discs. With room to “breathe”, the video presentation looks excellent for DVD and there was no sign of compression artifacts. Obviously, the Blu-ray version will have a sharper image with more detail.

On the audio side of things, both formats have an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack with optional English SDH subtitles. Dialogue is king in a sitcom and here it’s clear and centred. The surround channels are nicely populated with the ambient sounds of the office environment.

The Office: Complete Christmas Collection does not come with a digital code. There are audio commentaries featuring cast and production staff on three of the episodes and several deleted scenes.

If you don’t already own the complete series sets of this sweet, often awkward series, then The Office: Complete Christmas Collection is a great way to get the always entertaining holiday episodes.

And that’s it for the Universal gift guide for 2023. Happy holidays everyone!

Nov 09, 2023

For All Mankind: Season One Blu-ray review

The Apple TV+ science fiction drama series For All Mankind looks at an alternate timeline where the Soviet Union was the first to land on the moon. With morale at NASA damaged, the US ups the ante on the PR side and makes their pool of astronauts more diverse. The series spans stars Joel Kinnaman, Michael Dorman, Sarah Jones, Shantel VanSanten, Jodi Balfour, Wrenn Schmidt, Sonya Walger, and Krys Marshall. The series has been renewed for a fourth season and now Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has released For All Mankind: Season One on Blu-ray. I had a chance to take a look.

The 1080p AVC encoded digital transfer is presented in a 2.00:1 aspect ratio. The image is sharp and detail is abundant in facial features, textiles and environments. The colour palette is natural, whites don’t bloom and the black levels don’t crush with detail in darker scenes. The show is in 4K on streaming, so hopefully, if this sells well, we might see a 4K release in the future. That’s no knock on the Blu-ray image, which is just stunning.

On the audio side of things, there’s an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. Subtitles are available for English SDH, French and Spanish. The soundscape is front heavy, but surrounds are used for environmental atmosphere. The score, which includes some contemporary music, is bright, while dialogue is clear and centred.

The four-disc set includes no extras nor a digital code.

The For All Mankind: Season One Blu-ray combines a great cast, audio and video with a science fiction storyline that examines an alternate history to the space program. Recommended.

Nov 08, 2023

Star Trek: The Picard Legacy Collection Blu-ray review

Paramount is releasing Star Trek: The Picard Legacy Collection Blu-ray, a limited-edition box set that collects everything that the beloved Starfleet character Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) has starred in. Combining TV shows and movies with a bunch of fun collectibles, this set takes aim at Star Trek fans everywhere. I had a chance to take a look.

What does the set include? Let’s list everything:
  • 54 Blu-ray discs
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation – Seasons 1-7
  • Star Trek: Picard – Seasons 1-3
  • Star Trek: Generations
  • Star Trek: First Contact
  • Star Trek: Nemesis
  • Star Trek: Insurrection
  • Magnetic Captain Picard badges
  • 4 Custom Chateau Picard drink coasters
  • Custom deck of playing cards
  • The Wisdom of Picard: The Legacy Collection Edition book
  • New Legacy Collection cover art

That’s pretty much everything except a cup of tea with Patrick Stewart himself. The set is hefty, and I’m pretty sure I had to remember the ol’ lift with the knees advice when I picked up the FedEx box at the door. The set is packed into a sturdy black cardboard box with a red lid with gold lettering. You first see The Wisdom of Picard, a small hardcover book with new artwork and quotes. You get a set of badge magnets, drink coasters and a set of playing cards. The first two plastic cases contain Star Trek: The Next Generation, another holds Star Trek: Picard – The Complete Series, while the final case holds Star Trek: The Next Generation – 4-Movie Collection. All the enclosed materials have excellent Blu-ray audio and video presentations and contain over 35 hours of previously released bonus materials.

The movie and show elements of the Star Trek: The Picard Legacy Collection Blu-ray set are available individually, so who is this set for? If you or someone on your gift list is a huge fan of Jean-Luc Picard and you’re looking for a centrepiece for their physical media shelf, the case and collectibles make this a fun buy. In one fell swoop, you have Picard and his crew’s full adventures with great audio, video and supplementary features plus some fun Picard-related tchotchkes.

Nov 07, 2023

The Guns of Navarone 4K SteelBook review

Sony has released the 1961 action film The Guns of Navarone as a 4K limited-edition SteelBook. Sony last released it as a 4K two years ago; this version adds Dolby Vision HDR grading and a collectible SteelBook case. Directed by J. Lee Thompson, the films stars Gregory Peck, David Niven and Anthony Quinn as Allied saboteurs who must infiltrate a Nazi fortress to disable two long-range guns. The cast also includes Stanley Baker, Anthony Quale, Irene Papas, Gia Scala and James Darren. The film was nominated for seven Academy Awards and won for Best Special Effects.

The 2160p HEVC / H.265 encoded native 4K digital transfer with Dolby Vision and HDR10 is presented in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The remastered transfer looks excellent and true to its film source has a good grain level. Except for a few moments of softness here and there, it’s a crisp video presentation with amazing detail in the faces, uniforms and scenery. The colour palette is muted with greys and natural greens but the HDR grading adds to the differences between those colours. Black levels are deep and detail is present in darker scenes.

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 English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and DTS-HD Master Audio 4.0 tracks, French, German, Italian DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 tracks, Portuguese and Spanish (Castilian) Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks, and Czech, Hindi, and Spanish (Latin American) Dolby Digital 2.0 tracks. Subtitles are available for English, English SDH, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Arabic, Bulgarian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Icelandic, Korean, Mandarin (Simplified), Mandarin (Traditional), Norwegian, Polish, Swedish, Thai, and Turkish. The audio team has done a great job placing an older soundtrack into the Atmos world. Gunfire, explosions and other effects find their way across the soundscape and into the surrounds while the subwoofer adds some authority to explosions. Dialogue is clear and centred.

The 4K set also includes a Blu-ray disc and a digital code. The 4K disc has the option of showing the film with or without the roadshow intermission card. There’s also a main title progression reel which displays the early sketches for the main titles, and a theatrical trailer. The bulk of the extras are on the Blu-ray disc. There are audio commentaries by film historian Stephen J. Rubin and director J. Lee Thompson, an interactive dossier that discusses the film and the history, a look at the early aspects of production such as finding a director and cast, a look at the movie, its symbolism and connection to Greek mythology, cast and crew discussing the production and its legacy, a look at restoration efforts, a short piece on the score, various featurettes on shooting in Greece, and a message from writer/producer Carl Foreman. The collectible SteelBook case depicts the guns of the fortress on the rocky cliffs above rough seas, while a smaller image on the back depicts the fishing vessel the Allies used to get close to the fortress. There is no art on the inside.

A great movie, a great cast, great audio and video, a collectible SteelBook case and a large collection of legacy extras. The Guns of Navarone is a classic and entertaining action film and is highly recommended.

Black Hawk Down 4K SteelBook review

Ridley Scott’s Black Hawk Down is a 2001 film about the Battle of Mogadishu. In 1993, as part of the UN operations in Somalia, the US deployed Rangers and Delta Force troops to capture warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid, who was stealing Red Cross food shipments meant for the famine-starved citizens. When two Black Hawk helicopters crashed, the US forces on the ground suddenly found themselves outnumbered. The cast included Josh Hartnett, Ewan McGregor, Eric Bana, Tom Sizemore, William Fichtner, Jason Isaacs, Sam Shepard, Jeremy Piven, Ioan Gruffudd, Ewen Bremner, Hugh Dancy, and Tom Hardy. Sony released a 4K of the film back in 2019, but this 2023 release now includes Dolby Vision HDR and a limited-edition SteelBook case. 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 2.38:1 aspect ratio. The 4K scan is from the original camera negative and we get both the theatrical and extended cuts in this release. The grain structure is well defined and detail is in abundance, from faces to battle-worn uniforms and locations. The colour palette leans towards monochromatic, with a lot of dusty yellows and greys. Black levels are deep and there’s no lack of detail in shadows and darker scenes, nor is there much evidence of banding and crushing. It’s an excellent transfer.

On the audio side of things, you have the choice of English Dolby Atmos soundtrack that folds down to Dolby TrueHD 7.1, as well as an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track, French (Canada), French, Italian, Hungarian, Portuguese, Spanish (Castilian and Latin American), Russian and Thai Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks. Subtitles are available for English, English SDH, French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Arabic, Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Greek, Hindi, Hungarian, Korean, Mandarin (Traditional), Norwegian, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Slovenian, Swedish, Thai, and Turkish. The soundscape is full of the action, with the sound of bullets, rockets, explosions and helicopters flying through the surrounds and height channels and placing your firmly n the scene. The subwoofer adds a powerful low end to the action as well. Dialogue is clear. A great audio presentation.

The 4K SteelBook of Black Hawk Down comes with three discs: The theatrical and extended cut on 4K, the theatrical cut on Blu-ray and a Blu-ray disc full of extras. There is also a digital code. The bonus features include audio commentary by director/producer Ridley Scott and producer Jerry Bruckheimer, audio commentary by author Mark Bowden and screenwriter Ken Nolan, audio commentary by Task Force Ranger veterans, “The Essence of Combat: Making Black Hawk Down” documentary, The History Channel Presents: “The True Story of Black Hawk Down”, PBS Presents: “Frontline: Ambush in Mogadishu”, eight deleted and alternate scenes with optional commentary, “Designing Mogadishu” featurette, production design archive, storyboards with optional commentary, Ridleygrams with optional commentary, Target Building Insertion: Multi-Angle sequence with optional commentary, Q&A Forums: BAFTA. Motion Picture Editor’s Guild and American Cinematheque, Jerry Bruckheimer’s BHD photo album, title design explorations with optional commentary, “Gortoz A Ran – J’Attends” music video by Denez Prigent & Lisa Gerrard, photo galleries, theatrical poster concepts, trailer, and TV spots.

The Black Hawk Down 4K SteelBook combines a powerful war film with excellent audio and video and a plethora of extras, all in a collectible SteelBook case. Recommended.

Nov 06, 2023

Gran Turismo Blu-ray review

Gran Turismo is based on the true story of a gamer who becomes a race car driver. Danny Moore (Orlando Bloom), a marketing exec at Nissan’s motorsport division, Nismo, pitches the idea of training the top players of the Gran Turismo racing game to be real drivers. The training is put in the hands of former driver Jack Salter (David Harbour). Teen Jann Mardenborough (Archie Madekwe) is one of the gamers who shows the most promise and makes the jump from racing on a TV to racing on asphalt. It’d be unbelievable if it wasn’t true. The cast also includes Darren Barnet, Geri Halliwell Horner, and Djimon Hounsou. Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has released it on both 4K and Blu-ray. I was given an opportunity to check out the Blu-Ray.

The 1080p AVC encoded digital transfer is presented in a 1.90:1 aspect ratio. The video presentation is sharp, with facial features, the cars and track and racing uniforms all exhibiting great detail. The colour palette looks natural, whether we’re looking at skin tones, the racing cars or the environment around the track. Whites are bright, while the black levels are deep and don’t lose detail in the shadows. It looks great and I imagine the 4K will look nicer still.

On the audio side of things, Sony has saved the Dolby Atmos soundtrack for the 4K. On the Blu-ray review copy I received, there’s an English, French and Korean DTS-HD MA 5.1 track as well as Spanish and Thai Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks. Subtitles are available for Englsh SDH, French and Spanish. The 5.1 mix is no slouch and the roar of the engines and squeal of the tires moves easily through the surrounds with the subwoofer giving a nice deep floor. The score is bright and dynamic, while dialogue is clear, centred and well prioritized in the mix.

The US review copy I received comes with the Blu-ray and a digital code. Once again, a digital code is not included in Canada. I’m not sure about other countries. Extras include extended and deleted scenes, a look at the real Jann Mardenborough, a piece on director Neill Blomkamp’s visual style, as well as featurettes on the cast, the shooting of the racing sequences, and the vehicles.

The Gran Turismo Blu-ray combines a very good Blu-ray audio and video presentation with a nice selection of extras. If you’re a big fan of the film, you may want to get the improved resolution and audio of the 4K.

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