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







Dragonheart HD-DVD (Rob Cohen, 1996)

Universal (USA)
2.35:1 1080p
103 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
Dragonheart; outtakes; trailers; My Scenes
Released: 29 May 2007
HD-DVD case
18 chapters

The Film: As directed awkwardly by Rob Cohen and played by a cast wearing thickets of fake hair, Dragonheart remains unreasonably flat while trying every sure-fire gambit it can borrow. The dragon, expertly lip-synched, is Rodan with a T. Rex’s toothsomeness plus a sweet, silly grin. The screenplay throws in a cliché-loving poet (Pete Postlethwaite) and a pretty, feisty heroine (Dina Meyer). There are clanking swords and burning huts, not to mention a noisy and interminable battle scene. And there are shades of King Arthur and astronomy when all else fails. It often does.
Mr. Quaid looks burly and lost during the film’s tediously heroic exercises, but he holds up his end of the dragon scenes with more success. There is the moment when, with dinner on a spit, he struggles to light a fire while the dragon looks on wistfully. “I can -- I really can,” Draco offers modestly. Then Mr. Quaid watches with suitably childlike amazement while Draco shows what he can do with a single nostril. And dinner is served, extra well done.

Excerpt from Janet Maslin, The NY Times located HERE

Although this HD-DVD features a sharp video transfer with often gorgeous colors, the source print has numerous scratches, specks, and dust. The transfer is also sometimes a tad dark.


This HD-DVD features a lively Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 English track, though like many multi-channel mixes of the 1990s, much of the directional action is in the front speakers. However, when Draco flies, the sound mix follows him above, below, and behind the viewer’s position. The audio also thunderous low ends during the fierce battles and fire-breathing.

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

Director Rob Cohen contributed an audio commentary for previous home-video releases, and it re-appears here on this HD-DVD.

“The Making of Dragonheart” is a promotional featurette that was released around the time of the movie’s theatrical bow.

There are two outtakes and two trailers.

Finally, the “My Scenes” feature allows you to bookmark your favorite scenes.

An insert advertises other Universal HD-DVDs.


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