Angels & Demons Blu-ray Review
With 'Angels & Demons' on Region B locked Blu-ray we have a first class 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 transfer framed in the widescreen 2.40:1 aspect ratio. You'd expect it to look good though, as it was taken from a very recent source with no dirt or dust evident. The lighting style used on the film is of the striking, very directional kind with bright highlights on one side of a face and shadow on the other, causing stark contrast. The transfer resolves this contrast well, with some deep blacks in the many dark night shots.
The detail is particularly good in close-ups and I recall finding myself marvelling at the skin pores on a Cardinal's nose. Skin tones are mostly of the brownish, Hollywood tan type and the image is consistently sharp throughout with no hint of ringing caused by over sharpening. Grain was not really noticeable, but with so much happening on screen you just wouldn't be aware of it.
As mentioned in the movie review, the colour of the Cardinals' robes just leaps off the screen at you as fully saturated reds with no bleed. I'd hate to see this scene on VHS.
Overall, a handsome image for a creatively lit movie.
The audio on 'Angels & Demons' excels in the DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix that makes full use of the surrounds in many scenes - as you'd expect from a blockbuster. One standout scene is where we're given a visual representation of the creation of anti-matter at CERN. As we fly alongside the particles in the Hadron Collider the sound swoops and swooshes as it's steered accurately around the sound field. Real Demo room stuff!
Hans Zimmer's pulsing, driving score is reproduced faithfully - providing a heartbeat for the movie while underlining the urgency with a hint of menace from the subwoofer. Dialogue is kept clear and crisp on the centre speaker throughout. On the opening news report we get the nasal pinching effect of a TV speaker as we're filled in on events that have occurred.
This is a sound mix of which the dubbing mixer should be justifiably proud.
'Angels & Demons' contains both the Theatrical version of the film with a running time of 2 hours 18 minutes as well as the Extended version which runs for an extra 8 minutes. My review is based upon watching the Extended version.
I could not find a Director's Commentary on the pre-release 'Testmold' disc submitted for review, but the following bonus features were present.
- Movie IQ
This is the first Sony release to use the Movie IQ BD Live feature and takes Blu-ray a step closer to fulfilling the functionality described before the format's release.
Movie IQ uses the Gracenote database to provide a scene specific graphic overlay on the right hand side of the screen. If you choose to watch the film with Movie IQ, a lightbulb glows on scenes to indicate there is information waiting to be viewed. On pressing the Enter key, text based data with cast and crew details, music track including composer, artist and album is displayed. There's even data about locations and filming details. Short clips can also be accessed. It's good, if a bit gimmicky, but film buffs will love it.
Naturally, you have to be connected to the internet to get this feature. Make sure the player used has the latest firmware and sufficient memory to support Movie IQ. Those using a PS3, shouldn't have a problem. Those with stand alone players need to ensure an SD card is present or suffer the "not enough storage space for a download" message.
This feature promises users the ability to hold on-line chats while watching a movie.
I'd gleefully castrate anyone who chats during a movie (on line or otherwise) and this feature is promoting it. You either watch the movie or you chat. Not both at the same time. If you don't pay attention during 'Angels & Demons' you'll miss an important part of the story.
- The Path of Illumination
This is an interactive resource/game featuring the locations used in the movie. Clicking on a location produces a pop up with background detail, a glossary of terms used in the film as well as access to clips involving the location and 'on set' footage.
- Rome was not Built in a Day (HD, 17mins 30s)
This interesting featurette shows Director Howard as well as the cast and crew explaining the problems and work involved in creating their own Vatican, including the Sistine Chapel using a mixture of CGI green screen and set construction. We see the creation of scenes from storyboard, through the animatic stage to the finished shots. The composition of Hans Zimmer's music is also featured.
- CERN- Pushing the Frontiers of Knowledge (HD, 14mins 52s)
A fascinating short about the people who built the Hadron Collider and, here, we're given a rundown on the operation of the particle accelerator as well as the 'big bang' theory. Director Ron Howard explains how they shot at the facility with a reduced crew.
- Angels & Demons: The Full Story (HD, 9mins 46s)
This very well cut together short gives us a good overview of the production, covering shooting in Rome, building the sets, dressing Vatican City (costumes), and the fire stunts.
'Angels & Demons' is blessed with an immaculate Region B locked 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 transfer framed religiously in the widescreen 2.40:1 aspect ratio. The contrast range produced by the directional lighting is faithfully reproduced and we're treated to good skin tones as well as some vibrant reds. Sharpness is also on par for such a recent release.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track soars with excellent use of the surrounds, while Hans Zimmer's music keeps the pace up and atmosphere threatening. Clear, crisp dialogue is locked to the centre speaker.
This is the first Sony release to feature Movie IQ, like having access to an Internet Movie Database while the film is playing. Several well made docos round off the package.
As a movie, it's an exciting thriller with Tom Hanks and co. deciphering the clues to save the lives of four kidnapped Cardinals and the whole of Rome. A competent follow up to 'The Da-Vinci Code'.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £24.99
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