This 1080P high definition disc comes encoded using the AVC MPEG-4 codec with the film being presented in a theatrically correct 2.40:1 ratio.
All the primary colours are very true to form and are generally presented in quite a convincing fashion. The shots of the open green fields early on are a joy to behold and as the movie develops the tones tend to darken down. In a way it befits the darker nature of some of the later aspects of the movie. Detail is prevalent throughout and close ups can reveal some terrific textures. Skin tones are also not so far off the mark.
The blacks for the most part are deep enough but not best in class. Contrast is pretty good but coupled with the blacks there is a tendency for them to collapse when looking for the finer details in the shadows. Once again in the early part of the film this is not so problematical but does become so more towards the latter half of the film.
If there are problems they all stem from an over zealous use of edge enhancement. What is meant to be cinematic grain takes on an over processed life of its own as does the revelation of ringing. Unfortunately though this is one of those transfers that Sony have passed through the digital mill with a vengeance and the outcome has more than its fair share of inconsistencies as a result.
It's still quite bewildering though as there are some shots that are as clean as a whistle and are truly stunning. If it had been a better movie I guess I would have been more forgiving but as it is I can't.
Joan of Arc clearly had a message from God to deliver and she was keen for it to be heard. The lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack makes sure that you hear everything she had to say and more. You're offered it in English, French or Portuguese and they all sound as good as each other.
If the video aspects were disappointing then the audio really does try to crank it up to compensate. Eric Serra's score is thumping and atmospheric and is pumped out to accompany the movie in true to form fashion. Dialogue is crisp and clear and everything is quite audibly loud. You'll hear all the swords, horses and the crunching of battle in full fat mode.
Whilst dialogue is front centric, nothing much else is. The rear channels are filled with life at every opportunity and I have to say you really do get a bang for your buck in 5.1 mode. It's a very immersive experience and it's incredibly impressive. The battle scenes are hard hitting and crunching and the LFE kicks in to give your sub a work out when need be. Sure it doesn't hit the depths that will stir the seat of your pants but given the volume of all else that is going on I think you'll be pleased enough.
I'm afraid apart from a promotional trailer about the Blu-ray high definition medium there are no extras to speak of on this disc. You do get a BDLive portal which takes you to the usual Sony site but there was nothing inspiring there of note either.
The story of Joan of Arc, the Maid of Orleans certainly has enough importance about it to be worthy of a place in known history. Astonishingly she achieved so much, especially considering all of this happened in the 15th century but she remained a short lived character. She never outgrew her teens and was burnt at the stake labelled a heretic at the age of 19.
Luc Besson has tried to make an epic that was worthy of this French heroine's feats. In short, I personally think he failed in the attempt. The movie is not a definitive version by a long stretch and it begs for a far more intelligent modern day remake. Given that she was canonised by the Catholic Church some 500 years later and given that there was a clear acknowledgement of her religious importance this really has to be counted as a missed opportunity for Besson.
It's not all bad though and the film does have its moments that will keep you entertained enough in parts. Much of it is let down by some very mediocre performances by actors who should have known far better of their trade. If there was a particular finger of blame though it would have to point at Luc Besson for casting Milla Jovovich in the lead role. She may have been his wife at the time but it's sometimes far better to keep your domestic and business lives well apart.
The blu-ray comes with an excellent soundtrack, a questionable video performance and a distinct lack of extras. Given the story you may want to give it a watch but you would be hard pressed to want to make this a permanent feature in your home.
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