At least the Director of Photography knows how to make movies! Yes, it does look a bit more Downton Abbey than Hollywood, but it is still a polished presentation and on the whole looks superb. The dark shots of the Bristol Taverns exude lots of shadow detail and the natural skin tones and grubby life on board are satisfyingly realistic. Much use of Tilt Shift Photography and artificial focus is evident, particularly with some medium length shots of principle actors. Whether this was planned or used as a cheap fix where depth of field was struggling a bit is a moot point, but it is effective none the less. The 16:9 ratio is less successful. This movie really would have benefited from a wider aspect as many shots look closed in and lack the panorama and scale that makes movies really immersive.
Authored to disc using AVC MPEG4 @ 24FPS, the transfer is very clean with no real problems. I did notice a serious amount of false contouring around the 50 minute mark of part 2, with a graduated blue sky tripping my plasma up quite horribly.
“Adequate” was the first word that came to mind when assessing the sound track. The dialogue is always crisp and clean and never buried in special effects, but surround is limited and probably too subtle for most. Dolby Digital 5.1 is only to be expected for a release aimed mainly at Sky, as this is the best quality the platform supports. The music score is pleasant enough, being mainly electro-folk and keyboard derived pseudo symphonic. If anyone has ever heard the guide music tracks that are used when feature films are being edited and then replaced prior to release, they will appreciate that this is rather too close to a temporary track for comfort.
I did notice frequent lip sync issues, to the point that I went through the settings on my system to ensure I had not accidently added an audio delay somehow. I see very few Blu-rays with Dolby Digital 5.1, so I also checked the disc on another machine and TV just to make sure that it was not an issue with my main system. My opinion is that the issue is with the disc.
A fairly standard making of program is included – all 4 minutes of it, along with an equally short look at the ship used and a behind the scenes look at a fairly minor stunt. Each of the principle players contributes a short interview, adding up to another 9 minutes or so. The trailers included are actually for Glee and Neverland, not the movie itself. They are both poor transfer SD, so just not worth the effort. The menu has been made with care though and is up to the expected standard.
A film that is disappointing in so far as it does not add up to the sum of its parts. Fantastic, expensive sets and locations, a real sailing ship that was sailed across the Atlantic specially, a top notch cast and a piece of literary work that has entertained generations. Unfortunately the delivery is lack lustre, the pace too slow and the lack of interest in putting the Blu-ray together is all too evident.
Technically the release is nothing special. The transfer is good, but the lip sync issues spoil the viewing experience and the video effects get wearing after a while. All in all, very little to recommend.
Our Review Ethos