The Dinosaur Project Blu-ray Review
The disc presents a theatrically correct widescreen 2.35:1 1080p transfer using the AVC MPEG 4 codec. Despite the film showing numerous cameras used to capture the footage, the actual filmed content as presented is all the same: clean, detailed and well presented. Detail is pretty sharp with good edges held well into the distance, the jungle flora shows up distinctly against the skyline or rocky ground surfaces, while skin textures look very natural and clothing has clear weaves. The camera equipment looks good enough to touch, while the dinosaurs themselves sit very well within the frame.
Colour is somewhat drab and concentrates on earthy hues, but this is totally intentional, though there is no wash or bleed. Blues grade very well, while the lushness of the green is toned down somewhat to give the whole film a near sombre look, reds appear rather infrequently but when they do are bold enough to stand out.
Contrast and brightness are set very well giving a decent depth to the image; whites are never overblown as testified by numerous cloud and water refection shots. Blacks are well defined and exhibit fair shadow detail, look to the night time attack or night vision sequences.
Digitally there is little to complain about, there are no compression problems or edge enhancement to worry about, though there were a few instances of banding and posterization during some of the more misty elements and aliasing was kept to the barest minimum. The picture had a very filmic look to it, in contrast to actual digital recordings, which, on balance, didn’t quite sit right with me considering the content and nature, however it is still a good looking picture.
The disc (oddly, though seemingly normal for Studiocanal discs) defaults to the English LPCM 2.0 track, but for the purpose of this review I concentrated on the English DTS-HD MA 5.1 track.
Due to the nature of the film there is very little in the way of bombast and effects as when ever anything that requires such sound happens the ‘cameras’ fail, this means the track mainly consists of dialogue and background effects, very little of which make use of the surround channels. Dialogue itself is clear and precise, only distorts intentionally, and is always audible. Effects, such as jungle creatures, insects and the like, do give a reasonable sense of ‘being there’, especially in the village huts at night, with the helicopter crash and underwater filming giving the best effects from the surround speakers – both of which utilise the sub the most with the only real LF effects of the film. Bass itself is handled well, but it seldom plunges any depths and won’t trouble any systems at all. There is no score either to fill out the blanks. In all it’s a functional track that delivers its information well but without any significant finesse.
- Evolution of The Dinosaur Project – A half hour featurette that details, pretty much in chronological order, the making of the film. Interviews are conducted with the principle cast and crew, including studio executives that talk of what drew them to the project and how they hoped to separate their film from all the other POV camera films out there. It does show the amount of work needed to pull off this kind of film with plenty of behind the scenes filming capturing the various tasks undertaken by the crew to provide a ‘seemless’ POV shot. Actually quite entertaining, if a little naive in their thoughts on how successful the film would become.
- Theatrical Trailer – yes the film did have a theatrical release!
The Dinosaur Project is a Point of View style film that tells the story of an ill-fated expedition into the Congo to discover the truth about a mythical river monster that’s been sighted many times. Whilst the idea is good, in a kind of cheesy way, the execution leaves a lot to be desired. The POV camerawork is unnecessary and clunky, and indeed this film probably would have befitted from being shot straight. But its biggest problem is its lack of focus on what it wants to be, with neither the tension needed to be horror, or the fun needed to be entertaining, it just sits in a horrible middle ground of ‘meh’ sinking under the weight of lofty ideas that come to nothing. It’s not a total loss, the effects are amazing and the characters do have some conviction to their purpose, but it's paced too quickly so there is very little to get your (ahem) teeth into.
As a Blu-ray it’s a very basic package; the picture is decent with good detail and colouring, while the sound is very functional without being over-stated and the short making of feature goes into a decent depth about how to make a POV film. Its presentation, though, is unlikely to win over anyone who didn’t think that much of the film.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £22.99