PictureHachi: A Dog's Tale comes to Blu-ray with a 1080p resolution encoded using the AVC codec and framed within a 1.85:1 aspect ratio.
From what I gather, this was filmed using the Panavision Genesis and this, coupled with the cinematography goes a long way to explain the overall style. It is clear that the TV movie/Hallmark look has been a basic template as colours are generally warm and the image is prone to touches of softness. It is akin to the mid afternoon low budget movies about runaway children and the like that favour a vague sheen to the picture which slightly hazes some of the finer details. It is by no means a bad image, merely depicting what I would assume the source material was intended to look like, but it is hard to get truly excited about it.
Skin tones follow the slightly reddish/pinkish push and can appear flushed, but also drop to the occasionally wan pallor during bright daylight scenes. There is a strange juxtaposition between night and day that leads to some crushing and blooming, though the latter seems more of an artistic choice than a flaw of the disc. Still, it does mean that fine detail takes a knock in certain portions of the film and in low level light the result is decidedly flat in nature, with high frequency and texture detail being obvious casualties.
This cannot be seen as test disc material due to the cinematic choices made, but there are thankfully no obvious post production manipulations that blight the image.
SoundThere is only one sound option available, that of an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.2 track.
Like the image, the audio is catered to the overall style of the material, with there being little that truly rouses the audience. The mix is front heavy, with a fairly wide soundstage and dialogue anchored to the centre channel and little discreet surround use. I found speech to need a slight volume increase to be consistently intelligible as there are a couple of instances where the level of the centre seems to drop, but at least the voices were naturalistic and warm.
The score by Jan Kaczmarek is the main worker of speakers as it is almost an ever present fixture of all but the most dialogue driven scenes. It emanates from the fronts in a surprisingly wide fashion and fills a room nicely, but the higher frequencies just aren't precise enough and fail to cut through with any crispness and resonate. Bass is non existent but for two occasions (a train and a thunderstorm) and even then it hardly shakes, but to demand such heavy rumblings from a family film would perhaps be a little churlish. It is what it is, a U certificate film with a similarly low key audio orchestration.
ExtrasThe making of Hachi: A Dog's Tale - 1080p - 17:51
A gentle and pleasant “making of” that lightly delves into the actors', director's and producers' reasons for getting involved in the production. Thankfully there isn't too much back slapping and we get to learn a little about the process of the dog training, which will probably be the main draw for dog owners.
Trailer - 1080p - 2:04
VerdictHachi: A Dog's Tale aims to be as family orientated as possible. It won't win any awards for complex drama or astound with the quality of the animal training as there are no real feats performed by the dog, but it does settle well in the middle ground of afternoon TV movie fare. When viewed with a cynical eye it is almost painfully unrealistic and simple, but for those with animals it'll likely strike a chord, if only in the final reel.
The disc is a perfect reflection of the film itself, being neither awe-inspiring nor offensive, but merely doing enough to facilitate the viewing experience. There are a few flaws in terms of wavering detail and the like, but nothing that'll distract those who are keen to watch the film. Extras are minimal to say the least, but I doubt there is much more that could have been added without going too far off at a tangent. As a disc it does enough and goes no further.
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