DreamWorks brings to us a brilliant widescreen 2.35:1 MPEG-4 AVC High Definition transfer.
As you would expect from a recent production, the transfer is free from any blemishes or dirt to mar the visuals. There is also a lovely grain to the film which adds much cinematic quality as well as a genuine authenticity to the onscreen image.
There is no evidence of edge enhancement nor any visible form of DNR. For the most part the image is clean and sharp but there are times where the picture tends to soften up. Blame cannot lie with the disc for this, as this would be down to the camera techniques and softer focus employed whilst filming. There is some obvious use of CGI, especially in the kiting scenes and admittedly whilst it's not great, it doesn't significantly deter from the overall enjoyment, which is astonishingly good.
The colour palette has a welcome sense of realism about it although the temperature does err towards the cooler side of things. Colours are portrayed with resolute solidity and there is a vibrancy across the colour spectrum where needed. The scenes in Peshawar for example are colourful without being overboard and the backdrops of Afghanistan always paint a faithful rendition of what the country is all about.
Blacks remain deep and the contrast sets them off suitably so. The high definition detail is not found wanting in any regard and shadow delineation is also excellent.
The Kite Runner is presented in a beautiful manner and the transfer looks absolutely gorgeous. I doubt that this wonderful film could possibly look any better than this on the smaller screen.
The disc comes with a DolbyTrueHD 5.1 soundtrack that is mastered in Dari and subtitled in English by default. Whilst there are a few English spoken scenes, this is not the mainstay of the film.
Dialogue is centre channel orientated and in short, sounds extremely authentic. The timbre and tone of the vocals are virtually spot-on and along with the clarity you would swear that the actors were standing in the same room as you when they speak. There's a wonderful crispness to the whole soundtrack and it screams quality.
Sound staging across the front stereo channels is good but predictably there's not much going on with the rears. The movie though is not completely devoid of any sound effects. In the kiting scenes for example you'll hear the kites flapping as they cut through the air as well as the swirling of the wind all around. It's the distinct clarity of the audio that helps it achieve some richly deserved praise.
Mid-range levels are well extended. LFE does kick in occasionally to remind you that the audio has a firm underlining but it's the refined mid and upper low levels that extend their bass presence. You'll soon appreciate that there aren't any significant technical deficiencies to mark this soundtrack down.
In fact there's precious little to dislike about this soundtrack and along with the wonderful Alberto Iglesias score there's much enjoyment to be derived from it. A thoroughly excellent effort all round
The disc comes with an Audio Commentary and three visual extras presented in Standard Definition. The Theatrical Trailer is the only extra presented in High Definition.
Audio Commentary - Marc Forster, Khaled Hosseini and David Benioff step to the mic and provide the commentary to the film. It all starts off awkwardly with a little hesitancy from all the parties concerned, but they soon start to open up. I personally would have liked a more rounded commentary as all three tend to continually revolve around the novel itself. It's an interesting listen but not as engaging as perhaps it could have been?
Words from the Kite Runner - (14min 25secs) - Marc Forster does the introduction and Khaled Hosseini takes up the reigns. Hosseini relates the story pretty much to his own life and what inspired him to write it and how it was constructed in his mind. The narrative and commentary is accompanied by various scenes from the film to keep the flow going.
Images from the Kite Runner - (24min 39secs) - This one is very much your run of the mill extra. Cast and crew speak about the film and you get to look at some behind the scenes action along the way. The locations and settings are varied and it's just as interesting a view upon the interesting cultures they were surrounded by.
Public Service Announcement with Khaled Hosseini - (1mins 18secs) - The writer introduces the film and makes a few poignant remarks about Afghanistan; a country at a troubled crossroads in its life.
Theatrical Trailer - (1mins 59secs) - A cinematic trailer of the film itself.
The Kite Runner is a fantastic film. It's constructed beautifully and it takes you on an epic voyage that charts what human friendship and discovery is all about. As humans we all do wrongs and make mistakes, but it's not the mistakes that count; it's what we do to try put them right which eventually makes us even more humane.
I've not read the novel and I'm not sure if the film is actually far better than the book or vice versa. In any case that's academic as the film itself is brilliant and ranks as an instant classic. I can see myself coming back to watch this film many times over and if you like me, like it at first viewing, I guess you will do to.
DreamWorks have put together an appealing blu-ray disc. The visual quality is thoroughly excellent and the audio has an equally satisfying crispness about it; entirely befitting the film itself. If anything it's the extras that are sadly the only real chink in the armour here. Some of the content is ok but it's not as informative an accompaniment as some of you might hope for. Still, it's not something I can overly criticise the film for, but I must detract marks for a missed opportunity to complete the package.
I can safely say that films as good as this don't come about very often. It's a great story and its onscreen adaptation has been flawlessly strung together. The Kite Runner is certainly a rarity and already one of my favourite films this year. I doubt there'll be many better so it naturally comes highly recommended as one to add to your collection.
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