Freedomland Blu-ray Review
PicturePresented in it's theatrically correct aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and given a 1080P makeover using the AVC system, the picture quality on this BD50 dual layered disc outshines the actual film in just about every way it possibly can.
Colours are solid throughout without a hint of bleed anywhere to be seen. A lot of the scenes appear to be washed out and bleak. But that appears as though that was the way it was made and it does bring a certain atmosphere to the proceedings.
Indoor scenes under fluorescent lighting are bright and vibrant and flesh tones are just about spot on.
We move to the night scenes, the detail onscreen never falters and shadow detail is high.
There's a certain amount of grain in some of the outdoor scenes that some people may find cause to complain about. Personally, I like it as it gives the picture a more filmic look and tells me that any form of DNR nastiness has been left out - quite rightly too.
All in all then, a fine effort on the picture front from Sony, which easily more than matches their recent releases.
SoundLossless sound is becoming the norm on the majority of Blu-ray discs released by most studios lately. Not long ago, you could class a lossless track as an extra almost - not so today. And I'm glad to say that Freedomland is no exception. Presented in Dolby True HD 5.1, the soundtrack never shines, but it does glow somewhat...
Freedomland is a dialogue heavy film. The story relies on the viewer being able to hear everything that's going on onscreen to be able to follow the storyline. And it does this with aplomb.
Dialogue is crisp and clear and anchored firmly to whatever channel it's meant to come from. Surround effects are few and far between and are used mainly for outdoor ambience effects.
The LFE channel is also used sparingly and is mostly saved for the score.
There really is very little to say about this track except that it does what it's supposed to very well indeed. It's no demo track though
ExtrasMy apologies for the delay in posting this extras section - but the disc contains some BD Live features that I've never had the pleasure of exploring in the past - the features don't go live until the disc is released so I have only just been able to gain access to them. More later. First of, the disc offers up the same set of featurettes that came on the SD DVD already released. All of these featurettes are presented in SD with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound.
Adapting Himself - Writing Freedomland (08.56) reveals that the film is actually based on an event that happened in the US in 1995. The outcomes are different though so if you know what happened, this isn't a spoiler...
Race On The Job (12.22) is a series of interviews with black and white America police officers. It's really not comfortable to watch and seems to be making an excuse for what's actually contained in the film.
It appears that one of the guys interviewed was actually the base for Samuel L Jacksons character, Lorenzo.
The Look Of Freedomland (12.29) is another extremely dull vignette detailing how the film makers came up with the look and feel for the film.
Deleted Scene - You Can't Hit Her (04.39) shows another of the films taboo subjects, wife beating. This scene is actually screaming out to be in the film and should never have been left out.
Trailers for the Blu-ray versions of Men In Black, Close Encounters Of The Third Kind and Surfs Up - all presented in HD.
BD Live is a feature that will require you to be in possession of a profile 2.0 Blu-ray player to be able to access them. I used a Playstation 3 that worked fine - but seemed to take an age to connect the first time. After that though, connection time is cut in half. But - is it worth it?
First of all - and the most surprising thing - I found nothing relating to the film on the disc on the Live site. Instead, I was treated to the following:
Spotlight On... - Blu-ray itself. (Almost) everything you wanted to know about Blu-ray.
Previews on a few Sony Blu-ray discs already released.
My Downloads - which is essentially the area where anything you download in the future will be stored. There's room for trailers and a few scenes.
User Profile - is where you create your profile and give Sony all your information - like your e-mail address...
FAQs - is where (almost) every question you want answered about is...er...answered...(didn't we do this already...?)
Return To Disc Menu is - quite frankly - the most useful area of the Blu-ray Live facility at the moment. It does hold promise though.
So - all in all, nothing special in the extras department then. If anything, one of the featurettes makes for even more uncomfortable viewing than the film...
VerdictFreedomland is not a nice film. Nor is it very good. It deals with a lot of subjects that most people would rather sweep under the carpet and pretend didn't exist - but for some, they are a part of their everyday life. Racism. Drugs. Murder. The problem is, by the end of the film, I just didn't care and I'm ashamed to say that the only reason I watched it through to the bitter end is because I was reviewing it for you fine folk. IF I had rented or brought it, it would have gone back long before the third act.
However, thankfully my job entails a lot more than reviewing just the film. The picture quality on this disc is very good indeed and is certainly up there with the recent masterpieces that Sony have released.
Also included is a Dolby True HD 5.1 lossless track that fulfils its task on all fronts with merit.
The extras package is really nothing to get excited about. One of the featurettes about racism in the US police is as uncomfortable to watch as the film itself.
I suppose whether you should buy this disc or not boils down as to what is important to you - the individual viewer. If you like shiny pictures and half decent soundtracks, then go out and buy. If however, and I suspect this is the majority of you, the film itself is the most important part of any disc package, then I can only recommend that you stay well away...
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £17.99
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