L  e  n  s  V  i  e  w  s

A view on Blu-ray and DVD video by Leonard Norwitz


Directed by Alfonso Cuarón
USA / UK
2006

While the Academy was busy choosing between the various Best Picture nominees for 2006, finally giving Martin Scorsese his overdue statue (for my money, that would have been for The Aviator not The Departed), I was feeling left out that year on behalf of Alfonso Cuaron's adaptation of P.D. James' novel, Children of Men.   I think I was ready for a crack, however slim, in the bleak night of our planet's international politics.

The time is the near future when our species becomes infertile - for what reason the movie remains mum. It has been 18 years already since the last birth of a human child.  It is a time when every citizen makes the youngest person alive a celebrity of hope - for future generations, perhaps.  The look of the film, the sets and art design, the photography, is as bleak as the chances for our survival.  Anarchy is rampant.  Immigrants are rounded up and caged as if they were prisoners of war.  England, more a police state than anything resembling the parliamentary government of former times, has closed its borders to immigration and is at war with a rebel group who supports immigrant rights. 

Theo Faron (Clive Owen) has a history with the leader of that group, Julian (Julianne Moore), their having lost their child to this plague.  Julian and Luke (Chiwetel Ejiofor) want Theo to arrange for passage and escort a young woman named Kee (Clare-Hope Ashitey) to a refuge in some mystical community that no one is certain exists.  This requires some serious dodging of Homeland Security troops, rebels and black marketeers.  The violence they negotiate , at times sudden and arbitrary, is not for the faint of heart, nor is the desperation of its protagonists.

Clive Owen was exactly the right choice for the part: his persona from Croupier (which shows you where I came in) through his characters in the TV series Second Sight to Gosford Park, The Bourne Identity and Sin City all reeked of a weary, single-minded cynicism.  I could feel Theo Faron's reluctance to commit to anything, let alone this dismal chance at a Logan's Run.  But once committed, his sense of purpose becomes the engine for Cuaron's masterfully shot action scenes and the heart for our species' redemption.

Leonard Norwitz

Posters

Theatrical Release: September 3rd, 2006 - Venice Film Festival

Reviews       More Reviews       DVD Reviews

DVD Comparison:

Universal Pictures Video - Region 2,4,5 - PAL vs. Universal - Region 1- NTSC vs. Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray

(Universal Pictures Video - Region 2,4,5 - PAL LEFT vs. Universal - Region 1- NTSC MIDDLE vs. Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray RIGHT)

DVD Box Cover

Distribution Universal Pictures Video - Region 2,4,5 - PAL Universal Pictures Video - Region 1 - NTSC Universal Pictures Video - Region FREE - Blu-ray
Universal Pictures UK have released a 2-disc Special Edition PAL edition that appears to have the exact same extras as the Region 1 DVD - but spread over 2 discs. The NTSC appears to be about a $8.50 savings.

Runtime 1:44:36 (4% PAL speedup) 1:49:04 1:49:14.756
Video 1.85:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 7.73 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s
1.85:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.48 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 34,279,267,517 bytes

Feature: 30,544,195,584 bytes

Codec: VC-1 Video

Total Average Bitrate: 37.28 Mbps

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate: PAL

Bitrate: NTSC

Bitrate: Blu-ray

Audio English (Dolby Digital 5.1), DUB: German (Dolby Digital 5.1) English (Dolby Digital 5.1), DUBs: Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1) DTS-HD Master Audio English 3611 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3611 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509
kbps / 24-bit)
DTS Audio French 768 kbps
5.1 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit
DTS Audio German 768 kbps
5.1 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit
DTS Audio Italian 768 kbps
5.1 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit
DTS Audio Spanish 768 kbps
5.1 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit
DTS Audio Spanish 768 kbps
5.1 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit
DTS Express English 192 kbps
2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / 24-bit
DTS Express English 192 kbps

2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / 24-bit
Subtitles English, German, Dutch, None English, Spanish, French, None English, Chinese, Dutch, French, German, Greek, Italian, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Universal Pictures Video

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1

Edition Details:

• "Men Under Attack" Featurette (7:35) 

DVD Release Date: January 15th, 2007

Keep Case
Chapters: 20

Release Information:
Studio: Universal Pictures Video

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1

Edition Details:

• Deleted Scenes (2:21)

• Featurette: The Possibility of Hope - (27:14)

• "Children of Men" - comments by Slavoj Zizek (5:44)

• "Under Attack" Featurette (7:35)

• "Theo and Julian" (4:39)

• Futuristic Design (8:37)

• Visual Effects: Creating the Baby (3:06)

DVD Release Date: March 27th, 2007

Keep Case
Chapters: 20

Release Information:
Studio: Universal Pictures Video
 

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 34,279,267,517 bytes

Feature: 30,544,195,584 bytes

Codec: VC-1 Video

Total Average Bitrate: 37.28 Mbps

Edition Details:

• Deleted Scenes (2:21)

• Featurette: The Possibility of Hope - (27:14)

• "Children of Men" - comments by Slavoj Zizek (5:44)

• "Under Attack" Featurette (7:35)

• "Theo and Julian" (4:39)

• Futuristic Design (8:37)

• Visual Effects: Creating the Baby (3:06)

Blu-ray Release Date: May 26th, 2009
Standard
Blu-ray Case
Chapters: 20

 

 

Comments:

Cuarón is a director who holds incredible promise and the manner of creation of this polarizing film almost equals its content. Highly unforgettable - the political imagery is wielded with a formidable and heavy hand. This is unlike any of his other work and dissimilar to much produced recently. Its exploitive violence is matched by its stark messages. A film well worth viewing if you are in prepared - although you really can't be.

****

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION: Universal - Region FREE Blu-ray - May 09':

Image: 9/9

The first number indicates a relative level of excellence compared to other Blu-ray video discs on a ten-point scale.  The second number places this image along the full range of DVD and Blu-ray discs.

 

Once again, we are confronted with a movie highly manipulated in post production. Even though shot on film, the digital intermediate helps create the topography that permeates a generally yellow-filtered, somewhat desaturated image where I found no evidence of artifacts, enhancements, oversharpening, brightening or crushing.  By any measure it is an outstanding representation of the theatrical intention for the home theatre.

 

Audio & Music: 9/8

When bombs burst, we jump, but the usual accompanying bass boost is not much in evidence here, relying instead on realistic surprise more than faux-effect.  As the protagonists proceed under fire, the ordinance comes in and across from all directions, and again we duck to avoid the ricochet, already to late for the direct hit.  The dialogue in such moments is a bit hushed – perhaps "crouched" would be the right word.

 

Operations: 8

The menu is laid out like other Universal Blu-rays. Arrows tell you which way to direct your remote, and the bonus feature instructions are detailed and intuitive. The chapter menu includes buttons for U-Control in case you want to approach those functions from that point, but once in, there can be big spaces between bits. 

 

Extras: 7

Like many Universal Blu-rays, U-Control is on board with picture-in-picture to comment on behind-the-scenes production or peruse the front pages of contemporary newspaper articles, notices, warnings and commercials.  The other extra features are the same as we saw on the DVD. There may not be a commentary, but some of the docu-featurettes are choice and fascinating.

 

Recommendation: 9

Children of Men was one of those movies that gave me pause about being an early adopter of Blu-ray in preference to HD-DVD, which Universal embraced exclusively.  I can't say the picture quality is any better (not having ever seen it) but the uncompressed audio certainly must be, as it was over the DVD.  A thoughtful film – worth seeing more than once, thus the recommended purchase. Thumbs Way Up.

Leonard Norwitz

LensViews

May 15th, 2009

 

 

***

ADDITION: Universal Region 1- NTSC DVD - March 07' - Image-wise I see no significant difference. Universal are pretty consistent with parity between their PAL and NTSC editions. The NTSC is again progressive and anamorphic. There are some audio and subtitle option differences but both original 5.1 tracks sounded excellent.

The significant improvement is in the supplements. The NTSC, as well as including the 7:35 "Men Under Attack" featurette with input from Cuarón, cast and crew, in the PAL single disc - it also includes much more. On top of that shared extra we are given about 2:00 of deleted scenes, a good half-hour featurette called The Possibility of Hope with some interesting questions about the story, a 6 minute "Children of Men" which include comments by philosopher and culture critic Slavoj Zizek. Next is a short piece on "Theo and Julian" running a little over 4 minutes, some input from Cuarón - more production information on the Futuristic Design (8:37) and a little bit on creating the visual effects of the baby in the film (3:00). I am very keen on this film and I absorbed these extras enjoying the lot.

NOTE: The 2-disc SE in the UK seems to contain the exact same extras as the NTSC, but spread over 2 discs, and costs about $8.50 more.

Final note: Great film and the NTSC is the one to purchase (even ahead of the 2-disc SE from the UK).

***

I have been informed that my assumption was incorrect and the entire movie was shot on 35mm film. The DVD is progressive and anamorphic - it looks very strong. Aside from some occasional heaviness the image is pristine and is most probably theatrically true.

Your speakers get a full workout with the 5.1 track that is included (and a 5.1 German DUB). It appropriately sounds explosive and may shake your windows right out. There are optional English, Dutch and German subtitles. This PAL standard DVD is coded for region 2,4 and 5.

There is one extra (it includes optional subtitles) and it focuses on the inventive manner of filming - specifically the interior car scenes. It is quite ingenious with input from Cuarón, cast and crew.   

Gary W. Tooze

 

 



DVD Menus

 

(Universal Pictures Video - Region 2,4,5 - PAL LEFT vs. Universal - Region 1- NTSC RIGHT)


 
 
 
 

 


CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE BELOW TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Subtitle Sample

 

1) Universal Pictures Video - Region 2,4,5 - PAL TOP

2) Universal - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


 

Screen Captures

 

1) Universal Pictures Video - Region 2,4,5 - PAL TOP

2) Universal - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


 

1) Universal Pictures Video - Region 2,4,5 - PAL TOP

2) Universal - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


 

1) Universal Pictures Video - Region 2,4,5 - PAL TOP

2) Universal - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


1) Universal Pictures Video - Region 2,4,5 - PAL TOP

2) Universal - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


1) Universal Pictures Video - Region 2,4,5 - PAL TOP

2) Universal - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


More Blu-ray captures

 

 

Report Card:

 

Image:

Blu-ray

Sound:

Blu-ray

Extras: -
Menu: -

 

DVD Box Cover

Distribution Universal Pictures Video - Region 2,4,5 - PAL Universal Pictures Video - Region 1 - NTSC Universal Pictures Video - Region FREE - Blu-ray

 

About the Reviewer: I first noticed that some movies were actually "films" back around 1960 when I saw Seven Samurai (in the then popular truncated version), La Strada and The Third Man for the first time. American classics were a later and happy discovery.

My earliest teacher in Aesthetics was Alexander Sesonske, who encouraged the comparison of unlike objects. He opened my mind to the study of art in a broader sense, rather than of technique or the gratification of instantaneous events. My take on video, or audio for that matter – about which I feel more competent – is not particularly technical. Rather it is aesthetic, perceptual, psychological and strongly influenced by temporal considerations in much the same way as music. I hope you will find my musings entertaining and informative, fun, interactive and very much a work in progress.


The LensView Home Theatre:

 

BLU-RAY STORE        ALL OUR NEW FORMAT DVD REVIEWS

 





 

Hit Counter

 

DONATIONS Keep DVDBeaver alive:

Mail cheques, money orders, cash to:    or CLICK PayPal logo to donate!

Gary Tooze

Thank You!