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

 

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ALL OUR NEW FORMAT DVD REVIEWS

 

 

Daylight HD-DVD

(Rob Cohen, 1996)

Universal (USA)
Review by Yunda Eddie Feng

Universal (USA)
1.85:1 1080p
115 minutes
Audio: DD Plus 5.1 English, DD Plus 2.0 stereo French
Subtitles: Optional English SDH, French
Extras: audio commentary by director Rob Cohen; “The Making of Daylight”; “The Featurette”; music video; trailers; My Scenes
Released: 12 June 2007
HD-DVD case
43 chapters

The Film: Director Rob Cohen is very well-represented on HD-DVD. Logistically, this makes sense since most of his features career has been spent on Universal’s productions, and Universal is the only major Hollywood studio to support only HD-DVD and not Blu-Ray. The Fast and the Furious and Dragonheart are already on HD-DVD, and it’s safe to expect Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story, The Skulls, and The Mummy 3 on HD-DVD, too.


 

Daylight is the latest Rob-Cohen project to hit HD-DVD. Disaster flicks based on realistic scenarios aren’t really imaginable in the post-9/11 world, but we got a smattering of them during the 1990s. Heck, we got two volcano movies (Dante’s Peak and Volcano) and two falling-heavenly-objects movies (Deep Impact and Armageddon). Daylight’s contribution is a workman-like hustle through a collapsing tunnel without exits. The moviemakers managed to create some intense action sequences, but the by-the-numbers script has too many clichés and dead moments. Do we really need another hero who redeems himself after falling from grace? Sylvester Stallone...that formula works really only with Rocky.

Video:
The 1.85:1 1080p image has good moments and so-so moments, though on the whole, the video is above-average--certainly better than what you get with The River or Midnight Run but quite a ways away from Letters From Iwo Jima and Black Snake Moan. Some of the darkest scenes are the most problematic, but film grain tends to be a difficult factor to control given low light levels.

 

Audio:
The Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 English track has several powerful moments as befitting a disaster flick. When the mix gets a little busy, the center channel can get overwhelmed, though I suppose this makes sense since you wouldn’t be able to hear someone else’s voice anyway when explosions and collapsing infrastructure surround you. Randy Edelman’s overwrought and overbaked score swells mightily from every speaker.

You can also watch the movie with a DD Plus 2.0 stereo French dub. Optional English SDH and French subtitles support the audio.

Extras:
Rob Cohen contributed a yak track to the movie’s various incarnations on optical disc, and the audio commentary makes a re-appearance on this HD-DVD. Cohen gets technical about the complicated logistics, but he doesn’t really sustain interest.

The Making of Daylight” is a near-hour-long documentary that covers various aspects of the production but features interviews with people who take the movie too seriously. “The Featurette” is basically an extended trailer. You also get a music video and two trailers.

Finally, you can bookmark your favorite moments with “My Scenes”.

--Miscellaneous--
An insert advertises other Universal HD-DVDs.

This HD-DVD actually drops some of the promotional items (mostly photos of sketches, storyboards, and the like) that are on the SD-DVD.

 

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