Arriving on Blu-ray in a correct 2.40:1 aspect ratio and encoded at 1080P using the MPEG-4 codec, the picture quality on this dual layered disc is a bit of a mixed bag. The source print is in immaculate condition as one would expect from such a recent production but I found it wanting that little something - even if I couldn't pinpoint what that something actually was...
I think the main problem here is a distinct lack of fine detail - even in brightly lit open air shots. Small details like patterns on clothing weren't as razor sharp as they could be - and indeed have been on some recent Blu-ray releases.
So, lack of fine detail aside, who does the rest hold up? The colour palette is fully represented and each and every colour is pretty much spot on - there's not a trace of colour bleed or dot crawl anywhere to be seen. Due to the complete absence of edge enhancement, edges are sharp and well defined - but those in the background tend to bleed a little due to lack of minute detail.
Blacks are rock solid and deep. Detail in dark scenes is good and does suffer due to any form of black crush or lack of brightness.
Skin tones are spot on also - it's just a pity about that lack of sharpness in the overall picture which loses the overall score a mark.
The Air I Breathe comes packaged with a lossless DTS-Master Audio track alongside a Dolby Digital 5.1 number. For the purposes of reviewing (and to show off the DTS-MA capabilities of my newly upgraded PS3), I chose the lossless track.
First the bad news - the dialogue is, at times, inaudible. This was the second Blu-ray I watched with a DTS-MA track after upgrading the firmware in my PS3 and I found the problem on the other disc as well (Which was A Bridge Too Far, which is reviewed here). So, I dug the set up mic for my reference Onkyo 905 and run the Audyssey set up again - and had the same result...near silent dialogue. This is a very emotional film and a lot of the dialogue is whispered - it doesn't help when you are trying to follow the story.
As for the rest of the audio? I'm please to report that all is well on that side of the sound element. Seperation is total and absolute and the rear channels are used to great effect. There's not a great deal of action going on - but when it does kick in, so does the LFE channel - to great effect. Bass is tight and low but never dominates the stage.
I'm afraid that, like the picture section, due to a lack of attention to detail, I will be marking the sound down - and because it's the dialogue that suffers - and therefore the story telling - I'm going to have to dock it more than one mark.
The Blu-ray disc of The Air I Breathe comes packaged with the same extras bundled with the SD disc. All of the featurettes are in standard definition.
Commentary featuring director/co-writer Jieho Lee, co-writer Bob Derosa, director of photography Walt Lloyd and editor Robert Hoffman. What can I say about this commentary...? Oh yes - the rest of the crew must have loved working with this director so much that all fell in love with him...as the great Stan Lee would say - 'nuff said.
Deleted Scenes (5 mins) - a small collection of 4 deleted scenes that were quite rightly left on the cutting room floor. The film was slow enough as it is...
Outtakes. (2 mins) I felt really ackward watching these - the film is about tragedy and violence and the disc author decided to put some funnies in. They just don't fit in with the package.
Theatrical Trailer (2 mins) of the movie itself
It seems that the disc authors just threw anything they could find on the cutting room floor relating to the film and called them “extras”. Everything here constitutes to padding - apart from the commentary - which was back slapping.
The Air I Breathe goes head first into a genre that appears to have more critics than fans. Many have tried - only a few have succeeded. Out of the “intermingled lives” type of films, you can probably count on the fingers of one hand those that are worth revisiting. Momento, Crash and to an extent, Babel have all conquered this road.
The Air That I Breathe fails on at least two fronts. First up is a rookie director who seems to rely on his actors to sew things together. Luckily for him, he has one or two more that accomplished artists here that are able to do that for him - and it's the actors that ultimately make the film work.
Secondly, the quality of the Blu-ray disc is just not good enough. Picture quality is acceptable but not outstanding - it lacks a certain sharpness that seems to put a lot of scenes out of focus.
It comes with a lossless DTS-Master Audio soundtrack that appears to be four or five decibels short on the centre channel. Because of this, the dialogue is often missed and it actually took me two attempts to watch the movie through - I tried re-calibrating my sound system to compensate.
The extras package was swept up from the cutting room floor and most of them have no business being here in the first place.
The Air I Breathe is a difficult film to watch - it's slow, and because of the dodgy dialogue volume, sometimes hard to follow - very hard to recommend I'm afraid
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