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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heroes Season One HD-DVD

(Created by Tim Kring, 2006-2007)

 

Universal (USA)

1.78:1 1080p

1035 minutes

Audio: DD Plus 5.1 English

Subtitles: Optional English SDH, French

Extras: “U Control”--Character Connections, The Helix Revealed, Artwork Presentation, Picture-in-Picture Audio Commentary (some episodes); deleted scenes; “Mind Reader” game (Disc 5); The Making of Heroes; Special Effects; The Stunts; Profile of Artist Tim Sale; The Score; Web-based content (Disc 2); My Scenes

Released: 28 August 2007

HD-DVD case

92 chapters

 

Not everyone who’s seen and liked the X-Men movies is also a fan of comic books.  Therefore, fans of the movies will have to watch Heroes, a new TV show about people with superpowers.  While names and some genders have been changed, the characters in Heroes are basically ones we’ve seen in the X-Men universe (and elsewhere).

 

Heroes = X-Men

Claire the cheerleader = Wolverine

Peter and Sylar = Rogue

Hiro the computer analyst = Nightcrawler

Candice = Mystique

 

There are other examples, of course, with superpowers split up amongst a huge gallery of characters.  The big advantage that Heroes (and comic books) have over two-hour features is that Heroes has plenty of time to develop characters without resorting to broad, general strokes.  Unfortunately, the show already had a major armageddon-ish plotline (which ended with a whimper, really).  I suppose Heroes could have several mini-armageddons before an End-All-of-Be-All Armageddons, but we’ve all been there with shows like Buffy and Angel.  I suppose with superhero stories you gotta have big problems for the protagonists to overcome using their special abilities, but there's no escaping how over-familiar superhero sagas are.

 

 

 

On the other hand, Heroes could do very well if it focused on the uniqueness of some of its characters.  Hiro, played by Masi Oka, is the best-developed of the leads, in part because he embraces his lot in life.  While most of the other characters moan and agonize about not being ready to do something great, Hiro pursues his quest with relish.  The character’s likeability is greatly enhanced by Oka’s winning performance.  Oka, a 180-plus IQ genius who works part-time as a computer-effects artist at ILM, is so good as Hiro that he was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Emmy.

 

Video:

Heroes Season 1 was just on the air a few months ago, and on HD DVD, it looks better than it did as a broadcast program.  The 1.78:1 1080p episodes look very sharp, and colors are vivid while remaining naturalistic.  However, there are some scenes with a lot of mosquito noise, and the noise is bad enough for one to wonder how a just-aired show could have such low quality so frequently.

 

 

Audio:

As with most TV shows, Heroes has a sound mix designed for home viewing.  Much of the action is limited to the front speakers, though the dynamic range is very wide, so explosions are deep and resonant.

 

Optional English SDH and French subtitles support the audio.

 

Extras:

In addition to being the most feature-packed Universal HD DVD title to date, Heroes Season 1 may well be most-exhaustive HD DVD title to date. 

 

Each disc has multiple “U Control” features.  Basically, you get to see explanatory and behind-the-scenes video/images of relevant information.  The “U Control” features are divided into Character Connections, The Helix Revealed, and Artwork Presentation sub-categories.  Discs Four and Seven also have Picture-in-Picture commentaries with various members of the cast and crew.  The interactivity continues with software on Disc Two that connects you with web-based content.  You can take quizzes to see what kind of superhero you’d be.

 

 

 

Disc 1 also has a 73-minute pilot episode with optional audio commentary by creator Tim Kring.  This pilot was re-edited to form the first two episodes of the series.  There are also numerous deleted scenes for “Genesis” and “Don’t Look Back”.

 

Disc 2 has numerous deleted scenes for “One Giant Leap”, “Collision”, and “Hiros”.

 

Disc 3 has numerous deleted scenes for “Nothing to Hide”, “Seven Minutes to Midnight”, “Homecoming”, and “Six Months Ago”.

 

Disc 4 has numerous deleted scenes for “Fallout”, “Godsend”, “The Fix”, and “Distractions”.

 

Disc 5 has numerous deleted scenes for “Run!”, “Company Man”, and “Parasite”.  Disc 5 also has a “Mind Reader” game that is a waste of time.

 

Disc 6 has numerous deleted scenes for “0.07%”, “Five Years Gone”, and “Landslide”.

 

Disc 7 has the “meaty” extras.  “The Making of Heroes” is your basic overview of the show.  “Special Effects” and “The Stunts” examine the action sequences.  “Profile of Artist Tim Sale” gives kudos to the man whose artwork is featured so prominently on the show.  “The Score” details the work involved in pairing music to images.

 

 

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

 

--Miscellaneous--

An insert booklet informs people about how to use the “U Control” and Internet-based features.  The discs are housed in a custom cardboard-foldout held in a cardboard slipcover.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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