The Day After Tomorrow Blu-ray Review
PictureThis was the first Fox disc I have had the chance to sample in HD - and I was certainly extremely impressed with the transfer on offer here. The image is certainly a stunner, although I am not entirely sure it is one that is destined to become a reference disc for your collection.
The film is presented in a 1080P AVC / MPEG 4 transfer in the original aspect ratio of 2.40:1. The transfer is presented on a 50GB dual layer disc.
The first thing to note here is that the print is absolutely pristine. Whether sweeping over Artic Ice fields in the opening scene, or showing an intimate fire lit scene in an old library, the transfer is always absolutely clear of dirt, grain or artefacts of any kind. One thing that is an absolute pleasure to see is that the CGI is also handled extremely well - never looking out of place or superimposed. This is a super-clean transfer.
Detail is also breathtaking, particular in long distance shots of the destruction of Los Angeles. There is one scene where a survivor opens the door of a room only to find himself gazing out onto the destruction. As the camera pulls back, just let your eyes wonder over the devastation that has been wreaked. There is detail here that was never present in the SD release. This is also apparent at the end, when the helicopter is flying to catch up with the party trekking across the ice. You can make out the distant specs of the people a lot further away than you could in the SD release.
The Day After Tomorrow uses quite a stylised colour palette, especially in the latter scenes in New York, which are shot through a blue filter - so whilst the colour may be accurate to what the director intended, they are not always the best example as demo material.
The one reason why I am mystified as to why many reviewers are giving the transfer such high marks is because the image just seems to look a little flat to me. There does not seem to be that almost three dimensional “pop” that we are used to seeing from the best transfers on the format. This may well be a consequence of the original film-making process, and therefore true to the Director's vision - but having re-watched the original SD release as a comparison there does not seem to be that much of an improvement in this area of the transfer.
Potential purchasers should not be put-off, however. The image is certainly not amongst the worst I have seen, and is certainly sharper and more detailed than previous releases. I just feels it lets itself down in one crucial area.
SoundJust one word. Stunning. But one word does not a review make.
From the very moment you boot up this disc, you can tell that the sound is going to be something special. Even on the menu, the effects buzz around the whole sound field amazing you with the aggression and the positioning. Once you start the film up, your ears will be treated to sonic delight. I feel I would go so far as saying that this is the best sound mix my ears have ever heard on my home setup.
The track driving this aural pleasure is a DTS Master Quality Lossless Master Audio track, and from the opening scene when the ice collapses under an Arctic exploration team, to the final piece of dialogue the sheer attention to detail is breathtaking.
What particularly impresses me with this mix is the way that the sound designers have concentrated on placement. On too many action films, the sound designers feel that filling all five speakers with sound at the same time equals surround sound. Here, however, every speaker is treated with the loving care that it deserves. During a hail storm, every single speaker is used and you will find yourself cringing as hail lands behind you to the left and right as well as the front left and right. The same with the Tornado scenes, as you can clearly see one tornado move from rear right to front left whilst others are constantly wreaking their sonic destruction from a more solid position.
If anything, like the film, the sound track tails off a little in the second half, but even here the sound design is still excellent, with the score mixed extremely well alongside the dialogue and FX.
Even amongst all this destruction, dialogue is clear and precise and well anchored to the front channel. The Sub also gets a big work out here, performing above and beyond the call of duty - and shaking the room at the correct moments.
As I said before, this is probably the best soundtrack I have yet heard on a disc. I once said that I do not consider perfection attainable, which is why I wont award tens. However, this is a soundtrack that took me back to the days when every new released stunned me, as my ears were unused to true Surround tracks. For that reason, I am going to bow down to the majesty of this soundtrack and give it a full ten out of ten. I will be using this to demonstrate my sound gear for a long time to come, I would imagine.
ExtrasIt is an absolute disgrace that so much good stuff that was originally on the DVD release have been missed off here. All the “making of” documentaries, and the fascinating scientific climate change documentaries that taught me so much in the early days are significant by their absence here. It is becoming frustratingly common place. When HD formats offer so much storage - I cannot see why this stuff goes missing.
What we get instead is a selection of “HD exclusive” extras that are extremely clever but cannot see any of them being any more than a novelty. However, we start with some of the original extras that HAVE made the transition successfully.
These are mainly the two commentaries The first is by the Director and Producer. Whilst offering some genuine insights into the making of the film, delivery tends to be dry and there are too many periods of silence. The second commentary, by the co-writers, editor, and production designer, is mainly about the special effects and is mind numbing. The material covered here was dealt with far more effectively in the featurettes on the DVD.
Finally we have the deleted scenes which are certainly interesting to see, but were definitely cut for a reason. This is a one-watch extra.
And this is all that has survived the SD release. This does mean plenty of room for HD exclusive extras. The first one is a ”Global warming Interactive Trivia Quiz”. Taking place over the entire length of the film, you have to answer 60 questions with your temperature going up or down depending on how well you do. Whilst I admit the cleverness of this, I dispute the effectiveness of it. Are you REALLY going to want to spend two hours completing this quiz? You can skip to the next question if you want, but this just makes the film disjointed as you miss key scenes.
Finally, we have the ”Global warming Trivia Track” which pops up key facts during the film. Again, this is interesting - but is not a substitute for the missing documentaries.
VerdictThe Day After Tomorrow is an enjoyable Saturday night popcorn flick which exploits current ecological fears to construct a old fashioned disaster movie. The opening hour is certainly riveting, but it rather loses its way after that, as the unusual plot device means the film chooses to ignore the global drama instead focussing on a more intimate family one. This, coupled with a cheesy over-simplified ending spoils such a promising beginning.
However, the film is served by a well-above average transfer, and possibly THE finest sound mix I have yet heard on a home cinema system. Sadly, all the quality extras from the SD release are MIA here, and although we do get some clever HD exclusive extras the actual real-world value of these is questionable.
If you are looking for a disc that will provide you with a decent Saturday night's entertainment, or a disc to show off your sound system then this is a definite purchase. However, whilst you may find yourself returning to this film every few years or so, it is certainly not going to be one that you watch every couple of weeks.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £24.79
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