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H D - S E N S E I

A view on Hi-def DVDs by Gary W. Tooze



Production: Sony Pictures



Region: FREE! (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 2:13:17.990

Disc Size: 48,409,265,007 bytes

Feature Size: 30,381,668,352 bytes

Video Bitrate: 23.65 Mbps

Chapters: 30

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: February 5th, 2008



Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video




Dolby TrueHD Audio English 2535 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2535 kbps / 24-bit (AC3 Embedded: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps / DN -4dB)
Dolby Digital Audio Portuguese 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB / Dolby Surround



English SDH, English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean, Thai, none


• Audio Commentary with Julie Taymor and composer Elliot Goldenthal
• Featurette: "Creating the Universe " (1080, 30 minutes)
• Featurette: "Stars of Tomorrow" (1080, 30 minutes)
• Featurette: "All About the Music" (1080, 15 minutes)
• Featurette: "Moving Across the Universe" (1080, 15 minutes)
• Featurette: "FX of the Universe " (1080, 10 minutes)
• Extended Musical Performances (1080, 30 minutes)

• Still Gallery (HD) (over 100 images)
• Bookmark ability

Across the Universe, from director Julie Taymor, is a revolutionary rock musical that re-imagines America in the turbulent late-1960s, a time when battle lines were being drawn at home and abroad. When young dockworker Jude (Jim Sturgess) leaves Liverpool to find his estranged father in America, he is swept up by the waves of change that are re-shaping the nation. Jude falls in love with Lucy (Evan Rachel Wood), a rich but sheltered American girl who joins the growing anti-war movement in New York's Greenwich Village. As the body count in Vietnam rises, political tensions at home spiral out of control and the star-crossed lovers find themselves in a psychedelic world gone mad. With a cameo by Bono, Across the Universe is "the kind of movie you watch again, like listening to a favorite album." (Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times) on Amazon HERE.



The Film:

Julie Taymor's highly ambitious musical received reactions across the board from ecstatic joy to finger-pointing disapproval. I am definitely in the former camp and the DVD has become my favorite so far this year - in fact it took me 5 hours to complete my viewing as I was continually repeating/replaying chapters (songs). Taymor seems to revel in her own fearlessness as evidenced by taking on Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus in her 1999's Titus (to the chagrin of Bard purists). It is also there that she showed her ability to infuse the frame with an incredibly ravishing color palette. I watched this with pretty much no idea what to expect and was initially overwhelmed by the visual and aural candy on display. After the first 25 minutes into the SD, I hit the pause button, and ordered the Blu-ray online. Sure, I grew up with The Beatles - owning every vinyl, then CD. But beyond the nostalgic pleasure and brilliance of the music and lyrics - Taymor does a reasonable job binding the narrative as well - although this is understandably the weak point of the film. It would also seem an impossible task to covey with important accuracy.



This film has some real depth far beyond most musicals and could have been 6 hours long if character development was part of the main intention, but it wasn't... and isn't in musicals. Musicals are fantasy and this is the best of its kind I have seen in years. The constant hinting at Beatle-isms beyond the lyrics with the cut apple-esque logo creation (it's really a strawberry) and character names such as Lucy, Prudence ('How did she get here?' - "She came in through the bathroom window"), Rita, JoJo etc. Finally this is not a perfect film, but I think I'd recommend it to you if only to own Martin Luther McCoy's performance of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps". In all honestly, I LOVED every minute of Across the Universe.      

Gary Tooze



The Video:   NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.


This is my favorite demo discs when I have people over. There are so many bright, catchy, eye-candy visuals - that look brilliant in 1080P. Whether it be the dual layering or the Art direction - this looks absolutely magnificent - tight, some texture - consistent grain/noise and it looks wonderful in-motion.  I have no strong complaints excepting black levels can look almost too rich and deep (approaching moiring levels) - if you can consider that an flaw. Otherwise, as a visual treatment - this Blu-ray does a stupendous job.
























Audio: The Dolby True HD 5.1 sounds pretty clean and crisp at 2535 kbps. The material is covered by many different artists and the track responds with decent depth and tight (guitar cords sound like they are in the room at times). Range isn't dominant but there are some separations notable in the war sequences. There are two 5.1 DUBs (Spanish and Portuguese) and a host of subtitle options including English SDH, English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean, and Thai. Again, top marks to Sony. My Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.


Extras: Stacked supplements. An interesting audio commentary with Julie Taymor and composer Elliot Goldenthal and they seem to focus mostly on the music of the film - how it tended to drive the storyline etc. Then there are 5 featurettes - all in HD (over 2-hours worth)! "Creating the Universe", "Stars of Tomorrow", "All About the Music", "Moving Across the Universe" and "FX of the Universe". Plus a half hours worth of extended musical performances, and a stills gallery (also in HD) with over 100 images. Finally we have the ability to bookmark certain scenes. Extremely complete and another reason for a strong recommendation.     


BOTTOM LINE: I suggest that this must appeal, extending, to far beyond that huge community of Beatle fans throughout the world. Their lyrics in Taymor's Opus seem all the more universal and although no film version could adequately convey the enormity of the sound - this is as good as anything I might see in my lifetime in that regard. This could have been done so much... 'smaller' and ineffectually. What a grand experience to have the 60's milieu backed with a Beatle drenched aura looking and sounding so absolutely... amazing. I throw this Blu-ray on often - and never seem to tire of it. Trouble is that 2-hours zip by... but I'm, thankfully, left with a such a pleasant feeling for the rest of the day. This has one of our strongest recommendations. Don't hesitate.

Gary Tooze



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About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction. So be it, but film will always be my first love and I list my favorites on the old YMdb site now accessible HERE.  

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze