Detail is wonderful, the initial flyovers of the Spanish plaza coming across particularly well as the rooftops, streets and inhabitants of those streets below coming across sharp and detailed. It's the same within the plaza itself; there are thousands of extras and each individual is there for all to see. Textures on the rooftops and the building walls are detailed and quite stunning indeed. Even the quickly edited car scene towards the end sharpness and detail is still apparent, in the bustling city streets and narrow alleyways; no smearing in effect with these quick transitions. Scene depth is excellent due to the detail on offer and there are times when you feel you could reach around objects on screen; the bodyguards on the podium for instance, the President's helicopter near the underpass.
Contrast is excellent, with good delineation between light and dark. This is Spain though in the noon sun and blacks are not the order of the day; white though are pristine and contained within borders never blooming over to their adjacent objects.
There is some shadow work in say the television producers broadcast unit and these are more than adequate enough to show good detail in the distant corners or going under the production desks. A very good transfer indeed only slightly let down every now and again by a little enhancement of that brightness fluctuation.
From the outset a wall of sound emanates from all of your speakers, the score from the fronts and the rears allowing the user to be completely immersed in this film; it's loud and distinct but it never feels intrusive and as such you're not distracted by it. Dialogue is firm, somewhat shallow at times, but in the main distinct only a few times becoming somewhat shaky due to the ongoing machinations of other sounds from the other speakers. Certainly during these times I thought a volume boost would not have been a bad thing.
The full stage is wide and incredibly deep, and low tones get a good workout here from the multiple explosions heard, the car chase and crashes and from the score itself which at times does go quite deep indeed. The higher tones shouldn't feel left out though as the crack of pistol shots and whipping of helicopter blades still come across distinctly so there is more than adequate tonal range here.
Steerage from back to front and panning from left to right is on the whole handled well enough but there are a couple of times when this could have been engineered a little better. There are a few instances where you can hear helicopter blades behind you and to your left and think you'll see a helicopter come flying in but as the camera pans around the helicopter suddenly appears in front in the distance with the blades still drifting in from your surround stage; this at times I found a little off putting.
- Commentary with director, Pete Travis.
Travis is there really discussing the film on a scene by scene comparison, Mexico City for instance stepping in for Spain. Location shoots, actors and scenes chosen are all discussed. Often he reiterates the fact that this is apolitical, the president not being affiliated to any one political party of the day. He respects the writing of Levy indicating it wouldn't have been the same film without him. He comes across as a confident director who knew what he was doing on this shoot and that perhaps bodes well for any future films that he may be involved in.
- 3 Featurettes.
An Inside Perspective - 0:26:43, Plotting an Assassination - 0:15:59, Coordinating Chaos - 0:07:27. Covering the production, writing and characterisation and stunts respectively. In the first two there are small snippets from cast and crew discussing their own viewpoint on this feature. It's obviously a self congratulatory affair but never becomes too sickly sweet. There's some good information contained within here which is not discussed in the above commentary. The second and third of these three perhaps the most interesting as it discusses how all rewrites of the script had immense changes to the other sections and the stunt feature is quite interesting showing some of the work which goes into making safe, believable stunts. All are in 1080p using the MPEG-2 codec.
- Surveillance Tapes - 0:00:42
A throwaway piece with Pete Travis filming himself.
- Vantage Viewer: GPS tracker.
Re-watch the film with this feature turned on and during certain crucial scenes a pop up window appears in the lower section of your screen. From here you can choose which other vantage point to look at. Navigate from character to character using the chapter skip/previous buttons. Once a character is highlighted their vantage point is shown a window in the lower left hand section of your screen. I felt this was a good use of the technology applied to this film and shows how the editing of the film was tight enough within the individual sections to pull this off.
Trailers for 21, Persepolis, Prom Night, The Other Boleyn Girl, Made of Honor, Across the Universe and Steep. All shown in HD.
Not a bad set of pertinent extras really, the commentary is an enjoyable enough affair with Travis coming over with perhaps more weight and confidence seeing this is his first mainstay feature, the GPS PiP addition is interesting in so far it perhaps shows what can be done with BluRay's technology and opens up the field for features other than just a standard PiP commentary track. The featurettes are the standard EPK fodder but still give up good information about the movie. Not bursting to the seams, but what is there is tight and well put together.
Not a bad introduction I would say from both Travis and Levy. Yes they need to learn how to satisfactorily end a film and still have the audience begging for more but as an introductory piece from them both then it's not a bad shout at all. The start and middle of this film will keep you guessing and riveted to your seat, you'll want to see that next scene to try and piece together the individual pieces of this puzzle yourself. That's always a good thing.
The video and audio are good examples of what can be done with HD material but there are better examples out there if you look around; they're just let down by some basic flaws, on the whole though they do their job well enough. The disc set itself again could be more fleshed out in the extras front but there's enough information in there to make you feel you've had your money's worth.
A good enough watch and one I can recommend, whether it has multiple viewings is somewhat difficult to say; for some it will and others not - me I fall into the latter camp, I enjoyed, and at times really enjoyed it, but I can't see me going back to it. Still a good watch though for a popcorn Saturday evening and still recommended.
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