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













(Lee Tamahori, 2007)


Paramount (USA)

2.35:1 1080p

96 minutes

Audio: Dolby TrueHD 5.1 English; DD Plus 5.1 English; DD Plus 2.0 surround French; DD Plus 5.1 Spanish

Subtitles: Optional English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese

Extras: Making the Best Next Thing; Visualizing the Next Move; The Next “Grand Idea”; Two Minutes in the Future With Jessica Biel; theatrical trailer; bookmarks

Released: September 25th, 2007

HD-DVD case

18 chapters


Once upon a time, there was a great actor named Nicolas Cage who was daring and inventive enough to eat a cockroach for real in one of his movies.  Cage was quirky and brilliant, and his peers admired him enough to give him an Oscar.  He parlayed critical success into big paychecks in mega-productions like The Rock and Con Air.  When he first started appearing in such fare, he invested his characters with as much conviction, energy, and uniqueness as he did as a character actor.  However, he quickly became a monotone/monotonous somnambulant robot in junk like Snake Eyes, Gone in 60 Seconds, and National Treasure.  Cage still appears in low-key dramas like Captain Corelli’s Mandolin and The Weather Man from time to time, but I feel that his last good movie was Face/Off, all the way back in 1997.


Next is yet another loud, stupid action movie with poorly-conceived ideas about being able to see the future.  It also has the misfortune of featuring one of Cage’s worst haircuts ever.  Like Minority Report and Paycheck, Next is based on a Philip K. Dick story, and like Paycheck, Next is so inept and unoriginal that it simply rips off Minority Report for its better ideas and visuals (such as the eyeball brace placed on Cage’s head).  Fans of Jessica Biel will be disappointed to see that there’s no fan service at all.  “Next!” is exactly what you’ll be saying after seeing this movie.





As good as the SD-DVD looks, it pales in comparison to the HD DVD, which is a beauty.  The 2.35:1 1080p is very vibrant and detailed, with warm colors and excellent contrast.  On the downside, are some relatively static scenes that are rather grainy, and the increased resolution makes a lot of the CGI effects look terrible.



Paramount’s recent decision to support only HD DVD and abandon Blu-Ray (at least for the time being) has been accompanied by support for high-res audio.  The Next HD DVD has a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 English option in addition to the expected DD Plus 5.1 English track.  As to be expected with a recent big-budget action movie, the sound mix is very aggressive and boomy with plenty of fun directionality effects.  However, this isn’t a very subtle or artful mix, just an active one.


You can also watch the movie with DD Plus 2.0 surround French, and DD Plus 5.1 Spanish dubs.  Optional English, English SDH, French, Spanish, and Portuguese subtitles support the audio.



As with other Paramount HD DVD releases of recent theatrical titles, all of the extras are presented in high-def video.


“Making the Best Next Thing” is a promotional featurette.  This piece begins with everyone talking about how great Cage is before the participants start talking about how great all the other actors and the director are.


“Visualizing the Next Move” examines the creation of the movie’s computer visual effects.


“The Next ‘Grand Idea’” takes a look at the shooting of a date with Cage and Jessica Biel’s characters.


“Two Minutes in the Future With Jessica Biel” is two minutes of Biel blathering about whether or not she wants to be able to see into the future.


You also get the theatrical trailer.



Finally, you can bookmark your favorite clips.



An insert advertises other Paramount HD DVDs.








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