H D - S E L E C T

A view on HD DVDs by Yunda Eddie Feng


Introduction: Hello, Beaver readers! I became a serious cineophile in 1994 when I saw Schindler's List on my birthday. I realized that movies weren't just for fun--they could be serious art, too (even mainstream popcorn flicks if they're made with skill). Although I have a BA in English, I went to grad school for an MA in Film Studies. There, I met my mentor Dr. Warren Buckland, who shares my interest in Steven Spielberg's artistry (Spielberg and art aren't mutually exclusive). I helped edit Dr. Buckland's book Directed by Steven Spielberg: Poetics of the Contemporary Hollywood Blockbuster. I also contributed a chapter to Dr. Buckland's forthcoming anthology of essays about "complex storytelling" movies--movies that avoid classical linear storylines in favor of temporal disruptions, unreliable narrators, metatheatrical/"self-aware" references, etc.

Eddie's Home Theatre:
Sharp 30-inch LCD TV (1280x768 resolution)
Toshiba HD-A2 HD-DVD player
Oppo OPDV971H SD-DVD player
Pioneer 7.1 DD/DTS receiver
Harmon Kardon speakers (5.1)

(I'm using the HD-A2's optical audio connection to obtain DTS 5.1 downmixes.)

Yunda Eddie Feng







Bruce Almighty HD-DVD

(Tom Shadyac, 2003)

Universal (USA)
Review by Yunda Eddie Feng

Universal (USA)
1.85:1 1080p
102 minutes
Audio: DD Plus 5.1 English, DD Plus 5.1 French
Subtitles: Optional English SDH, French
Extras: audio commentary by director Tom Shadyac; deleted scenes with optional audio commentary; outtakes; “The Process of Jim”; trailer; My Scenes
Released: 12 June 2007
HD-DVD case
20 chapters

Bruce Almighty might’ve sounded like a good idea (Jim Carrey as God!). However, what’s to be gained from an omnipotent character? We’re supposed to learn that being all-powerful isn’t so fun. Well, of course! When you can do anything and everything, what’s there left to challenge and amuse you? No matter. Bruce Almighty raked in hundreds of millions of dollars, and while a direct sequel seemed unlikely, Universal lucked out.

Steve Carell played Evan Baxter, a victim of Jim Carrey’s pranks in Bruce Almighty, and didn’t have much to do. Since 2003, Carell has become a major star in his own right with roles in The 40-Year-Old Virgin and TV’s The Office (the American version). Thus, we’re now going to get 2007’s Evan Almighty, a $200-million-plus piffle that is going to tell us exactly the same thing as its predecessor did--it’s nice to be mortal.

God help us.

The 1.85:1 1080p video image is bright and cheery. There are a few print defects, but they’re not serious. Some viewers may object to bright colors appearing a tad “hot” (especially on LCD TVs), but mercifully, white-on-white motifs are used infrequently.

While there are a few heavy and impressive surround sound effects when Jim Carrey conjures thunder-and-lightning, the Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 English track sounds like the mixes for comedies in general. You get a lot of dialogue from the center channel, some nice music spreads across the front, and a few thuds from the subwoofer when automobiles appear. The rear channels have a few animal noises and wind whooshes, but they stay fairly quiet.

You can also watch the movie with a DD Plus 5.1 French dub. Optional English SDH and French subtitles support the audio.

Director Tom Shadyac directed Jim Carrey in three movies, so he has a lot of praise for the star in his audio commentary. Shadyac’s praise for Carrey can also be found in “The Process of Jim”, which is a brief look at Carrey’s improve style. There are about 30 minutes of deleted scenes and outtakes, and you also get the theatrical trailer.

An insert advertises other Universal HD-DVDs.


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