The disc presents a theatrically correct widescreen 2.35:1 1080p 3D transfer and is Region locked to B.
Coming hot off the heels of the ‘hyper-real’ 3D of Resident Evil: Afterlife, an extremely effective, though in your face, 3D experience I was expecting something in the same vein - shot natively and with an eye to producing extremely immersive visuals I was not disappointed; Anderson has once again put the dimension into three dimensions. First thing to note is how solid people and objects look within the frame, they look ‘real’, see how Milady’s hood, or neck ruffle are set away from her head, or how the Musketeers' sheathed swords stretch into the frame, simple costume shots that bring a sense of depth to the image. Careful consideration to the frame set up places each object (or person) in 3D space, there is a clear sense of fore, middle, background and far distance; there is always something to hold the perspective, be it grass, a spear, branches or clouds enabling the brain to process the depth of the image. All landscape establishing shots are amazing, incredible depth into the screen denoting far, far distance; the various rooms within King Louis’ palace are rightly huge, and the camera position, together with the set dressing, show off this aspect with aplomb, indeed the shots looking up, along or down on these vast rooms showcase the best 3D of the film, really giving a sense of scale and size to the rooms. Tricks such as selectively lighting the torches going into Leonardo’s vault or placing rows of soldiers to layer towards the distant palace are utilised very effectively and gives a immense, and tangible, sense of depth into the picture. The 3D computer generated maps that the camera flies over and through are, again, a little gimmicky but it further enhances the immersive feel of the piece. Negative parallax is reasonably well catered for with swords, muskets, debris, smoke and clouds coming well out of the screen; but it is with the depth into the frame where this picture truly shines.
The magnificent 3D is well and truly backed up by an excellent picture; shot digitally the picture is bright, bold and very detailed. Just look at the intricate designs to the patterns of the various clothing weaves, you can trace the plaid easily, or the many tapestries or wall decorations that adorn the palace (both inside and out) or the texture of the wood ships, the sheen on the marble floors or the detail engraved into the chess pieces, this really is excellent stuff.
Colours are vivid and bold with primaries, at times, seeming to leap off the screen, check out the lush greens of King Louis’ gardens, or the rich redness of the carpet he walks on, the blues of his palace guard are just as striking. Flesh tones are also very natural looking.
Contrast and brightness are set to give a very bright image, this helps the 3D no end, but it still manages to demonstrate decent blacks, though the film seldom uses them; the lighting is such that there is always something seen in the background, even in the vault, dungeons, ship holds and other, normally, dark areas which while not totally realistic works wonders for the film.
Digitally there were no compression problems, nor is there any edge enhancement, though I did spot a wee bit of banding in some of the darker scenes, but certainly nothing to worry about. Using passive technology I spotted only one or two scenes of crosstalk, mainly to do with the extreme negative parallax associated with the swords and there were also a couple of instances of aliasing. In all, though, a thoroughly engaging picture.
Only the one track to choose from: English dts-HD Master Audio 5.1. To back up the stunning visuals we have a very immersive surround track that ticks most of the boxes. First up effects come thick and fast always mimicking the action on screen to really place you in the centre of the action; sword clashes, wind, water, rain, musket fire, horses, street ambience even reverb from the dialogue is piped through to the surrounds to give you a real sense of immersion. Bass is decent and strong with the sub having plenty to sing about; it doesn’t go quite as deep as the best and it isn’t quite as controlled or as tight as the very best, at times presenting more a wall of sound rather than a layered mix, but bass hounds should get much out of it. Dialogue is clear, natural sounding and given directionality when needed, however it is a little low in the mix meaning it can sometimes be a bit difficult to hear what is going on in the many fighting scenes – much as it would in the real world, I grant you, but it was apparent on more than one occasion and I felt myself straining at times. The score, again, makes full use of the surround field, even if it was too much like ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ for its own good. In the end this is a pretty decent track, it is boisterous and attention seeking (much like the film); even if it is not quite as controlled as the best, it will still give your system a thorough workout.
- Filmmakers’ Commentary – with Director/producer Paul Anderson and producers Jeremy Bolt and Robert Kulzer, affectionately termed the three budgeteers! Anderson typically takes the lead during this chat rattling off facts, figures, information and trivia about the chosen topic, normally scene related, extremely quickly, then seems to sit back, meaning there are plenty of pauses during the talk. The other two pipe up to fill on the occasional gap, but this is really Anderson’s show. No denying his enthusiasm for the project and his dedication to it and the talk covers all the usual bases such as casting, location shooting, set building, effects and some chat about the use of 3D. A bit too bitty to be considered as a great talk, but it does flesh out a great deal of the making of featurettes below.
- Featurettes (08.44, HD) – Four making of features that can be watched individually or all together with the play all function:
- Paul WS Anderson's Musketeers – A brief look at the how the story was developed, why it was felt the time was right to bring the Musketeers back and the updating needed to bring it to a modern audience; has plenty of interviews with both cast and crew, though is way too short to have any real depth.
- Duke – Orlando Bloom talks about his first outright villainous part and how he prepared for it.
- 17th Century Air Travel – A look at the real sets built for the Airships and how it made the filming easier and gave the actors tangible space in which to work.
- Uncovering France in Germany – A look at the many real locations used and how the architecture of Bavaria is strikingly similar to that of France meaning it gives the film an air of authenticity hitherto unseen in any Musketeers film.
- Deleted and Extended scenes (14.14, HD) – Emphasis on extended here I think; some eleven scenes cut from the final film that can be played all together or watched individually with the play all function. As noted mainly a few seconds to a few minutes of extra dialogue to many existing scenes, nothing of note here. The scenes are: Where’s the key, Entering Da Vinci’s vault, Chess game, Queen Anne disputes the Cardinal, Buckingham’s arrival, Buckingham and the Cardinal in the War room, Queen Anne and Constance, Planchet and the horse (new scene), Tower of London, The Musketeers on the Airship, D'Artagnan and Rochefort fight (has the most extension to it, including unfinished effects work).
- Trivia Track – ‘Useful’ titbits of information that pop up so infrequently you have to keep checking that it’s actually on.
- 2D Blu-ray – The film in its 2D form, still an incredible picture with plenty of 3D pop – also contains all the extra material.
Paul W.S. Anderson’s latest vehicle is a retelling of the classic Three Musketeers tale, ‘updated’ for the modern audience. Anderson employs his usual frenetic storytelling and camera movements in a story that dips in and out of the original prose when necessary and adds retro-futuristic weaponry and crafts, such as repeating cannons, crossbows and airships; indeed the entire film requires a huge amount of suspension of disbelief, not only for the ideas presented but due to the story telling style. His action set pieces are suitably energetic, though there is more than a passing resemblance to his Resident Evil films, especially with Milla Jovovich as one of the main stars. The actors chosen are all young and enthusiastic, though there is little actual talent involved. But perhaps the worst aspect is the whole ‘made by committee’ ‘cash in on Pirates of the Caribbean’ ‘PG-13 made for the masses’ feel that the entire film has. And yet. The film is surprising enjoyable and rattles along with enough enthusiasm and energy to win over even the most stony of hearts – go with the idiocy of it all and you will find that it fulfils the most basic of all films, it actually entertains; and that enjoyment is enhanced by the simply wonderful 3D presentation.
As a 3D Blu-ray disc, EOne has put together a reasonable package; the 3D picture is simply stunning, both in its emersion and its detail/colour and brightness; one of the best representations of the format so far. The picture is backed up by a solid, if slightly over the top, surround sound track and a reasonable amount of extra features along with a 2D Blu-ray to cover all the bases.
Perhaps not to everyone’s taste and it was critically panned at the flicks, the film seems to just work on the home video format.
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