PictureThe disc presents a theatrically correct widescreen 2.40:1 1080p transfer that has the AVC MPEG-4 encode. Seriously impressed with this picture, particularly the detail which is pin sharp. The many landscape views are just glorious in their clarity, rich mountains ranges with rolling hills, the pebbled shore line the ripples of the loch; this is what HD is all about. I swear when the camera was panning high over the rooftops I could still make out individual grass stems in the meadows. Close up detail is just as sharp, skin, the shed interior, the dining table, the wood grain in the furniture, spectacularly seen.
Colours have been deliberately muted somewhat but they never wash or bleed; greens are still vibrant though, check out the afore mentioned grasses, or the army's uniforms. The sleek greys of the heavy guns, with their metallic sheen contrast wildly with the blue/greys of the skies. Some of the night scenes do tend a little blue, a product of the digital colouring no doubt, but this is intentional and should be seen as such. Blues also grade very well with nigh on any banding once Crusoe dives deep into under water. Skin tones are pale, but again in keeping with the natural look of the film.
Brightness is set to give so deep wonderful blacks, frame depth is plenty, witness Angus first searching for Crusoe in the shed. Contrast too is set well, there is no boosting and there is never any detail lost.
Digitally there are no compression problems and with only the faintest whisper of edge enhancement visible; the original print is clean and free from any defects excepting a light smattering of grain occasionally. In all this is a spectacular print though it does lack that pop we've come to associate with reference quality, but this is as near as it gets. Somehow eight doesn't seem enough, if our scoring allowed I'd call this one 8.9.
SoundPlenty of sound tracks to accompany this disc; English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Surround, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Czech Dolby Digital 5.1, Hungarian Dolby Digital 5.1, Polish Dolby Digital 5.1 and Russian Dolby Digital 5.1, I concentrate on the English. Another terrific offering from Sony with plenty of engaging surround effects to help, place you in the centre of the action. Particularly well realised with the various slapstick destruction scenes of the shed and house where crashes and smashes zing around the room. Directionality is given to the various troop movements and ambience is never far behind. Wind, rain, waves thunder all provide very satisfying surround effects.
Tonally there is a very good range, bass is deep enough to hold everything together well; however LF effects are no where near as deep as they could have been, whilst the artillery shots are bombastic they don't really have the resonance one has come to expect with reference quality. The machine gun on the boat too seemed particularly weedy in my opinion. No such problems with the dialogue though, which is natural sounding through out, given a wee bit of directionality but unfortunately did quieten off during the climatic storm making it a little difficult to hear exactly what was going on.
James Newton Howard's score comes across with gusto and again goes some way into filling the room with its sweeping melodies, again tonally well realised and with decent separation. In all a strong and atmospheric sound track.
- Making of featurettes - 1.16.55
A set of chaptered making of featurettes with a convenient play all function is really the way to watch this and they have a natural flow. Starting off with Myths and Legends, Donald Simpson regales us with the tale of the kelpie a malevolent water beastie that disguises itself as a horse to lure victims into the water before it move into more familiar territory of the legend of Loch Ness, its genesis and the monster hunters that even now still seek out to photograph it. The following features, Setting the Scene, The Characters, The Story, Water-works: Creating The Water Horse andCreating Crusoe are more traditional making of's with the usual cast and crew interviews, behind the scenes filming, locations, casting, CG effects etc. etc. Actually pretty well done with most having interesting stuff to communicate but let down a little by the padding with film clips.
- Deleted scenes - 0.06.43
A selection of eight scenes, mostly extensions, that add nothing to the finished film, no reason given for there excise, but, looking at them, timing would be my guess.
- BD Exclusive: Virtual Crusoe game
Using BD Java this is a bit like those tamagotchi virtual pet games; keep three meters full (hunger, mood, energy) to help Crusoe grow. As slow as it is boring.
The making of feature is presented in 1080 HD with is very pleasing to the eye, even if it strays off into promotional material a little, thankfully there is little back slapping and it zips along quite well giving plenty of information. Perhaps this selection of extras could be viewed as a little light what with no commentary etc. but actually I felt it was in keeping with the fluffy nature of the film.
VerdictPart coming of age, part war but all magic, The Water Horse is a spellbinding modern fairy tale twist on the Loch Ness monster story. With superb performances from all of the main cast but especially from Alex Etel this is wonderful family entertainment containing enough characterisation, empathy and action to have kids both old and young cheering for at the screen. Superlative effects and an all round sense of fun, there is much to see, hear and applaud.
As a Blu-ray disc the set presents terrific sound and vision, a truly wonderful experience and whilst the extra content is a little light it is nevertheless in fitting with the film, I for one will be spinning this one time and again.
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- Making of featurettes - 1.16.55