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xXx: State Of The Union Blu-ray Review

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by AVForums Aug 16, 2008

  • Movies review

    2
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    xXx: State Of The Union Blu-ray Review
    SRP: £17.99

    Picture

    Correctly framed at 2.40:1 and given a 1080P makeover using the AVC system, the picture quality on this 50gig dual layer Blu-ray disc from Sony is a little bit of a mixed bag. That's not to say it isn't good - the film has probably not looked as good since it's premier - but have an issue with the colours, particularly fleshtones.

    Fleshtones are overcooked and inconsistent throughout. One minute, Peter Strauss looks like he's been covered in orange paint and had his lips done by Maybelene, the next he look tanned and healthy. Willam Dafoes character suffers from the same anomalies - but they are the only two that seem to have a problem. Ice Cubes skin sometimes looks a little on the red side but other African Americans look brown...I'm not sure whether or not this is deliberate, but it sure does spoil the film even more.


    The rest of the colour palette is solid and bright. The lush green grass of the opening scenes contrasts nicely against the bare mud patches and the white picket fence.

    Black and white levels are also nice and stable throughout and the action never disappears offscreen when the lights dim.

    Detail is on view in abundance but this also brings a bit of a dampener to the party - it shows up the special effects for what they are - terrible. The bullet train sequence looks like it was lifted direct from a video game and there appears to have been no attempt made to even make the sequence look real and it's so easy to tell the live action from the CGI.


    With a terrible main feature and inconsistent picture quality, is there anything here to save this disc from going straight to the bargain bin...?

    xXx: State Of The Union Picture

    Sound

    Well if there is, it's not the sound - but it oh so could have been!

    Delivered via a Dolby True HD soundtrack (which is the only English mix available on the disc), it's loud. From the off, when the terrorists break into the NSA underground HQ using a new type of mine, you know that the neighbours are going to give you funny looks next day. But it's the loudness that spoils it - that and the insistent rap music. I may be showing my age here, but trying really hard not to switch the movie off was made even harder by the never-ending rap score pouring through all 5.1 channels. I love movie music - I've got dozens of CD's containing some of the best scores ever written - but this is the stuff that should be confined to MTV and not rammed down the throats of the general movie viewing public.


    Rant over - the rest of the sound mix is actually not that bad. All 5.1 channels are utilised to good effect - no, make that excellent effect. Dialogue is anchored to the centre channel and is clear and audible throughout. Being an action film (and one that rarely lets up), the surround channels are in constant use and split surround effects are used in abundance. The subwoofer is also used constantly throughout and the bass is deep and loud - but not very well controlled. I employ an Audyssey EQ system in my theatre - and for the first time since installing it, I heard boom and distortion from my subwoofer. Some people may like it - personally, it just added to the non-enjoyment factor of the film...however, pure bass heads and most home cinema fans will probably lap it all up in their stride.


    So, the sound quality has upped the ante slightly - but hasn't really done enough to get the whole package the right side of five out of ten for me at the moment...lets check the extras package out.

    xXx: State Of The Union Sound

    Extras

    The extras package on this disc has been lifted straight from the region 1 and 2 Standard Definition DVDs. All of the featurettes are presented in SD and have Dolby Digital stereo sound - good start.


    Watching the film was bad enough - but for good measure, Sony have included two commentaries on the disc - so in the interest of accurate reporting, I sat through them both. I'll be knocking on the boss's door for my medal first thing Monday morning...


    Commentary with director Lee Tamahori and Simon Kinberg explains just about everything to do with the movie including their casting decisions and why they chose that particular special effects company. I half expected to hear the police kick the door in half way through and charge Tamahori with two counts of killing off special agents...unfortunately, that didn't happen and he is free to do the same again.


    Commentary with the Visual Effects Team - worth listening to just to see if there's an apology in there somewhere. (I'll save you the hassle - there isn't)


    from Convict to Hero (48.46 SD) is a feature detailing the way in which Ice Cube was trained for his role in the film. It's two parts - Boot Camp and Special ops - but there is a play all option. It's OK - but it just shows just how miscast Cube was in the first place...


    Featurettes (19.39 SD) which is split into three parts

    The Bullet Train Sequence breakdown explains how the visual effects completely ruined the film with this scene - though they seem to think they have done quite a good job. This particular feature includes some interactive content that enables you to choose between the storyboard, pre-rendered or greenscreen stages of the scene and compare it to the finished article.

    Top Secret Military Warehouse explains how the team came up with some of the ideas for the weapons used in the film.,

    xXx According To Ice Cube is an interview with the main man - and he thinks the film is pretty good to...


    Deleted Scenes (02.25 SD) that for once include a commentary as to why they were left out. Pace reasons were the main excuse.


    Trailers for the movies Men In Black and Close Encounters Of The Third Kind which are both presented in High Definition.


    Blu-ray Live Content which wasn't up and running at the time I wrote this review.


    So - unless the Blu-ray live content is absolutely out of this world - and so far, it hasn't been - the extras package keeps in line with the rest of the disc content - not very good.

    xXx: State Of The Union Extras

    Verdict

    The biggest problem I had with xXx: The Next level is the fact that it's left wide open for a third instalment. Now, I haven't checked lately to see if one is in the pipeline, but if they do decide to produce another xXx movie, in the words of the great Comic Book Guy - “I shall log onto the interweb and register my disgust world-wide immediately!”

    It's terrible - plain and simple. No direction, poor script, wooden acting...I could go on but I won't.


    As a Blu-ray package, I'm afraid it doesn't fair much better. The picture quality is good to average. Detail is high but colours are a little overcooked - fleshtones suffer and a few of the actors look like they have been out in the sun far too long.

    The soundtrack, whilst well engineered, is so over the top it will tire you out. The continuous rap music takes over the whole soundstage and makes everything confusing and muddy.

    The extras package is a direct port from previous Standard Definition releases so bring nothing new to the table.


    I certainly can't recommend this as an upgrade from one of those SD versions if you have one - I probably really shouldn't recommend it at all - avoid.

    The Rundown

    Movie

    3

    Picture Quality

    6

    Sound Quality

    6

    Extras

    5

    Overall

    5

    5
    AVForumsSCORE
    OUT OF
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    You want this Total 0
    You had this Total 0

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