The MPEG-4 encode of Smith's visually stylish film provides a transfer that is certainly accurate to the way that I saw it look on the big screen. I remember massively blown-out whites, a high-contrast sheen to the exterior shots that could, at times, be distracting, and great facial detail for some of the more intense close-ups.
Well, the 2.40:1 image is pretty much spot-on in all these respects.
Grain is retained and the picture is smooth, vivid and colourful - if you like whites, blues and greens, which dominate the palette, that is. Blood is an emotional trigger aesthetic, as opposed to just a splashy shock effect, so reds, when they come, are also suitably thick and vivid. What is nice is the depth and variety of blues that are on offer, from the seascapes to the sky, there is a sharp sense of vitality to them. The greens of the suburban lawns and the muted smear of spilled paint on the floor, the frightened pale blue of Jess' eyes and the smooth shades of the passing vehicles on the road all contrast significantly against the boosted whites that press down upon the image.
Interiors aboard the lost liner present an altogether different visual spectrum. Warm wood and dulled brass take centre-stage below decks as the image becomes subdued and occasionally murky with shadows. The effect that Smith presumably wants is that when we suddenly go outside and onto the deck again, we are almost as blinded by the sunlight and the dazzle as the characters are meant to be. Edges of objects - distant railings, the sides of the ship, the horizon etc - can and often do melt in the glare. Again, this is all intentional, and exactly what I recall from the film's theatrical presentation.
Detail can be absolutely terrific at times. The blades of grass being watered on the lawn, the sand and the little crabs scuttling over it, the nasty hole in the back of one character's head and, most impressive of all, the little freckles and the eye-lashes on Melissa George, whose wide eyes will come to occupy the screen on numerous occasions. The material on the sack-mask and the working parts on the shotgun, the spraying jet of blood from a slashed throat and the layers in Jess' increasingly bedraggled hair all have a good degree of finite separation. It is only when we view things in the middle- to the background of the frame that the picture loses some of its integrity. The interiors of the Aeolus aren't the stuff of hi-def gold, that's for sure, and it is also true that the film's three-dimensionality - as evidenced by shots of long, arrowed corridors, and figures moving about right at the periphery of the frame beyond a character in extreme close-up - isn't all that striking. But this is still a very fine transfer of a purposely difficult image.
The most major aspect of all this is, undoubtedly, the deliberate high-intensity whites. Right from the start, there is a heavy, nuclear dazzle to the picture that is intentionally squint-inducing for the external scenes. The oft-used image of a seagull has the poor thing, and its buddies, singed with the embrace of white-out clouds and sunny blitz that will, for some, take a bit of getting used to. But this is not a fault of the transfer, only part and parcel of Smith's and DOP Humphreys' desires to create a dream-like miasma of the Florida coastline and the uncertain, untrustworthy sea that lies beyond it.
With no DNR and only some faint aliasing to speak of, Triangle gets a strong 8 out of 10.
There can no such qualms about the TrueHD track that sails alongside the image. This is incredibly detailed, highly evocative and powerful, and ensures that your system gets a thorough workout.
I made the remark earlier that the film doesn't really maximise on the ghost-boast side of its premise, thematically speaking, but the audio experience that First Look's disc presents us with is one of hugely skin-prickling, breath-snatching delight. Forgetting the awesomeness of the storm sequence, for a moment, the ship is festooned with expertly steered voices, clangs, thuds and eerie music from gramophone records that filter around the 5.1 configuration with majestic and very realistic ease. If the gunfire and planes flying overhead wowed me with Che's DTS-HD MA 5.1 track, then the precision-positioned voices that can be heard around corners, on decks above or below, or behind us, are an equally scintillating display of all-round, totally immersive and natural-sounding acoustics. They have distance, echo and clarity, as do footsteps and the opening/closing of doors that are signalled all around you. Excellent.
And then there is the gunfire. And the impact of shotgun blasts, the landing of bodies on hard iron surfaces and the clanging of axes and crowbars in vigorous duelling. Again, the steerage during such kinetic and galvanising episodes is practically faultless. Those flesh-ripping and wood-splintering blasts have an enormous amount of clout, and a ferocious metal-on-metal impact later on delivers the goods too. Sub-activity is great. There is a steady bass presence for the ship and for the score, throughout, but the sub, itself, is utilised properly and with conviction on several occasions, most notably during the big storm near the start which literally crashes in through the lounge, with weight and detail amidst the chaos. And with unsettling surround usage frequently punctuating the film, as well, you've got a full-on audio track that is sublime and eerie when called for, powerful and shocking at times, and genuinely authentic right across the board.
Christian Henson's minimalist and synth-ambient score is wonderfully distributed around the set-up, too. The haunting lullaby that we hear on occasion also extends beautifully and clearly. It would be wrong to suggest that the musical presentation is “warm”, considering how bleak and disturbing it wants to be, but the spread and detail of the music is another fine example of the excellence on offer with this TrueHD track.
There is also a Dolby Digital 2-channel stereo track that I did get round to listening to, just in case it was actually a commentary track that First Look had forgotten to list on the packaging or the menu screen. It isn't, sadly, but it does present a very clear, and still quite punchy representation of the film's soundtrack. But, obviously, it is no substitute for the lossless option, which is stunning. It should be noted that the UK release of Triangle actually carries a DTS-HD MA 5.1 track, but I cannot imagine that it sounds any different to this variation.
Tremendous stuff, folks.
Bermuda Triangle, huh?
Well, I guess all those extras from the UK release got whisked off into the dimensional vortex, then, because this US counterpart offers us absolutely nothing of value.
Quite frankly, I'm disgusted at this pathetic show from First Look and would urge those interested in the film, and able to play Region B discs, to invest in that one ... and not even contemplate this.
A host of previews and a brief set of interviews with Smith, his producers, and with the ever-pouty Melissa George do not provide anywhere near enough background on this production.
This naff omission makes a travesty of Triangle, I'm afraid.
Massively let down by a dearth of extra features, this US release of Triangle floats a high-sheen image on a wave of superlative sound design, and those who just want to revel in the film's exquisite paranoia will be more than happy with that. However, if you want a bit of background on the story and to hear something other than the rather lame on-set sound-bites from a couple of cast members revolving simply around the characters that they play, then this edition is going to be the one to avoid. So, hopefully, you are able to play Region “B” locked discs, as this “A” disc is all at sea in terms of bonus material.
But the transfer is a corker that I can't imagine is any different which version you opt for. Boasting wonderful audio and a blinding picture - literally blinding in some scenes - that makes absolutely no errors in its leap from the cinema to Bu-ray, First Look must be congratulated upon its presentation. Yet, it is the film, folks, that carries the accolades. With an utterly convincing performance from Melissa George and some wonderful twists and turns, Triangle's guilt-trip knock-on effect is spellbindingly wrought. Yes, it has been done before - and a little too closely for comfort, some would say - but there is a wonderful mood and an emotional kick in the teeth to this film that goes beyond those earlier kindred spirits. It can't hold up to intense scrutiny, of course, but it will make you think about it, and it will keep you turning its events over in your mind even five or six times down the road from now - in your own loop, you could say.
After Timecrimes and Moon, this was another cerebral and moving fantasy/thriller that sought to engage the grey cells as well as the heart - and totally succeeded. Demanding some involvement of your own and certainly rewarding in terms of repeat disc-spinning, Christopher Smith's conceptual bamboozler plays some intricate mind-games. The US disc loses the extras of the UK version, but the film is what counts. An enigmatic beauty ... Triangle, as a movie, comes highly recommended.
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