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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Knocked Up HD-SD Combo DVD

(Judd Apatow, 2007)

 

Universal (USA)

1.85:1 1080p/1.85:1 16x9 enhanced

133 minutes/129 minutes

Audio:

        HD DVD side--DD Plus 5.1 English, DD Plus 5.1 French

        SD-DVD side--DD 5.1 English, DD 2.0 surround Spanish, DD 2.0 surround French

Subtitles:

        HD DVD side--Optional English SDH, French

        SD-DVD side--Optional English SDH, Spanish, French

Extras:

        HD DVD side--PIP video commentary; audio commentary by Judd Apatow, Seth Rogen, and Bill Hader; deleted/extended/alternate scenes; Line-O-Rama; gag reel; Roller Coaster Doc; Directing the Director; Topless Scene - Web Design Company; Loudon Wainwright III - Live at McCabe’s, You Can’t Fail Me Now; My Scenes

        SD-DVD side--audio commentary by Judd Apatow, Seth Rogen, and Bill Hader; deleted/extended/alternate scenes; Line-O-Rama; gag reel; Roller Coaster Doc; Directing the Director; Topless Scene - Web Design Company; Loudon Wainwright III - Live at McCabe’s, You Can’t Fail Me Now

Released: September 25th, 2007

HD-DVD case

20 chapters

 

The Film:

It may be a bit, um, premature to say so, but Judd Apatow’s Knocked Up strikes me as an instant classic, a comedy that captures the sexual confusion and moral ambivalence of our moment without straining, pandering or preaching.  Like The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Mr. Apatow’s earlier film, it attaches dirty humor to a basically upright premise.  While this movie’s barrage of gynecology-inspired jokes would have driven the prudes at the old Hays Office mad, its story, about a young man trying to do what used to be the very definition of the Right Thing, might equally have brought a smile of approval to the lips of the starchiest old-Hollywood censor.

The wonder of Knocked Up is that it never scolds or sneers.  It is sharp but not mean, sweet but not soft, and for all its rowdy obscenity it rarely feels coarse or crude.  What it does feel is honest: about love, about sex, and above all about the built-in discrepancies between what men and women expect from each other and what they are likely to get.  Starting, as he did in Virgin, from a default position of anti-romantic cynicism, Mr. Apatow finds an unlikely route back into romance, a road that passes through failure and humiliation on its meandering way toward comic bliss.

Excerpt from A.O. Scott's review at The New York Times

 

 

Video:

The 1.85:1 1080p transfer has that flat, undistinguished look of a low-budget comedy.  Colors are naturalistic but muted, and there’s a noticeable layer of fine grain (probably warranted given the production’s nature).  While the HD DVD side looks sharper than the SD-DVD, the difference will cause most non-adopters to shrug and say, “That’s it?”

 

(The HD DVD side has an un-rated cut that is four minutes longer than the theatrical version.)

 

 

Audio:

On 18 Sept 2007, Universal released three catalog titles (Elizabeth, For Love of the Game, The Last Starfighter) with lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mixes.  A week later, Universal is releasing Knocked Up, a new theatrical release, with lossy DD Plus 5.1 English and DD 5.1 French tracks.  While Knocked Up is a dialogue-driven comedy that doesn’t have a lot of flashy audio effects, it makes little sense to give an old movie with flat, dated sonics (The Last Starfighter) high-resolution sound while a brand-spanking-new movie gets the HD DVD base spec.

 

As it is, this HD DVD’s audio tracks offer bright dialogue and lively music separation, mostly across the front but frequently to the rears, too.  Bass response from the music is strong though a little splashy.  A Dolby TrueHD track probably would’ve sounded cleaner than disc’s DD Plus tracks.

 

Optional English SDH and French subtitles support the audio.

 

Extras:

Unlike the HD DVD version of The Bourne Identity, which collected just about all of the non-text extras that were found on three SD-DVD releases, the HD DVD version of Knocked Up does not have everything found on the two-disc SD-DVD set.  Therefore, I’m making the unusual recommendation of buying the two-disc SD-DVD set instead of the HD DVD because the video and audio are not huge improvements over what you get with an SD-DVD (as evidenced by comparing the HD DVD and SD-DVD sides of this combo disc).

 

 

 

HD DVD side--

First up is a PIP video commentary with director Judd Apatow that also offers behind-the-scenes vignettes.  You also get an audio commentary with Apatow, star Seth Rogen, and actor Bill Hader.  The video commentary is the one that offers concrete information about the production while the audio commentary is filled with jokes and the expected reactions from loud, hyperactive boys.

 

There are several long deleted/extended/alternate scenes that should keep fans amused.  Line-O-Rama is an assemblage of dialogue that feels like ad-libbed one-liners.  The gag reel is what it is, and the Topless Scene - Web Design Company is an attempt to get more laughs out of seeing Seth Rogen without a shirt.  “Roller Coaster Doc” shows the actors getting ready to shoot footage at an amusement park, and “Directing the Director” is a mockumentary about Bennett Miller (who directed Capote) possibly replacing Judd Apatow.

 

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

 

 

 The disc has software that allows you to connect to Universal’s online portal, but aside from downloading some trailers and looking at other people’s My Scenes bookmarks, it doesn’t seem like the studio created truly interactive features.

 

SD-DVD side--

The disc art states that the SD-DVD side has the R-rate theatrical version, but the running time seems to be very close to the HD-DVD’s unrated cut.  The video is 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen.  For audio, you get DD 5.1 English, DD 2.0 surround Spanish, and DD 2.0 surround French tracks.  Optional English SDH, Spanish, and French subtitles support the audio.

 

Upon loading, the disc plays previews for other Universal titles.  You also get the audio commentary by Judd Apatow, Seth Rogen, and Bill Hader; deleted/extended/alternate scenes; Line-O-Rama; gag reel; Roller Coaster Doc; Directing the Director; Topless Scene - Web Design Company; and Loudon Wainwright III - Live at McCabe’s, You Can’t Fail Me Now.

 

The SD-DVD side does NOT have the listed DD 2.0 English DVS (Descriptive Video Service) track.

 

--Miscellaneous--

A booklet explains how to bookmark scenes, how to watch the U Control video clips, and how to access online features.  An insert advertises other Universal HD DVDs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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