H D - S E N S E I

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


Introduction: 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 5600 DVDs and have reviewed over 3000 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:
Samsung HPR4272 42" Plasma HDTV
Toshiba HD-A2 HD-DVD player (firmware upgraded)

Sony BDP-S300 1080p Blu-ray Disc Player (firmware upgraded)
Sony DVP NS5ODH SD-DVD player (region-free and HDMI)
Harmon Cardon DD/DTS receiver
Ascent (main) + Boston Acoustics (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

Gary W. Tooze








Lady in the Water [Blu-ray DVD]


(M. Night Shyamalan, 2006)


Production: Warner Home Video

Video codec: VC-1
Video resolution: 1080p
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Audio: English: Dolby Digital 5.1 EX, DUBs: French: Dolby Digital 5.1 EX, Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1 EX

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, none

25GB Blu-ray Disc

Runtime: 1:49:32


• Reflections of Lady in the Water (34:45) - 6 part documentary
• Lady in the Water: A Bedtime Story
• Auditions (2:04)
• Gag reel (3:10)
• Deleted Scenes

Disc: 25GB Blu-ray Disc
Release Date: December 19th, 2006
Standard Blu-Ray case

Apartment building superintendent Cleveland Heep (Giamatti) rescues what he thinks is a young woman from the pool he maintains. When he discovers that she is actually a character from a bedtime story who is trying to make the journey back to her home, he works with his tenants to protect his new friend from the creatures that are determined to keep her in our world.



The Film:

If it's Spielberesque smoke-and-mirrors or whether he truly does have some subtle depth, I'm a fan of M. Night Shyamalan's cinema. I've admittedly watched and re-watched each and every one of his films. This guy has a spark of creativity that is otherwise totally devoid in the Hollywood system. He is one of my few bridges to the the theatre of today. If he was working in the first half of the last century he would be creating the likes of The Wizard of Oz and similar visions established by the joy-filled expressions of Capra or stylistic atmospheres of a von Sternberg. He can seemingly craft pure magic in his scenarios. This boy is one of the futures of modern film.


  I've always been befuddled by the tides that shift public opinion - the ones that herd the collective mentality around with such invisible purpose. Regardless of the mass critical disdain and limited perspicacity regarding anything Shyamalan has created since his breakthrough film, The Sixth Sense - Lady in the Water is another truly marvelous piece of work. Yes, it is heavy fantasy... but with so many veins and threads of interpretation that it encompasses you, forces you to think, yet still uses the purest power of the medium to enrich and spread the old-fashioned celluloid warmth that is so absent in today's bitterly cold and sour entertainment. I don't know... I loved it and can't wait to watch it again. Such is my puny world. 

Gary Tooze


Refusing the lure of Hollywood, Shyamalan is a family man whose craft is deeply informed by his rejection of the big studio draw. All of his films are set in his hometown of Philadelphia and indeed, the filmmaker refuses to shoot more than a twenty-minute drive from his family. If anything, Lady in the Water can be read as the manifestation of Shyamalan’s fears of losing his family to his career. For those who like to sit in the theater and be mindlessly entertained, or those who feel like they are above that and try to guess what will happen next, you will be sorely disappointed in this film. This is a contemplative film, one that asks you to look deeper and consider the implications of what is on-screen. It was screening at Shopping Malls nationwide, but this is an art-house work through and through.

Excerpt from Adam Lemke's review at MovieMiser located HERE





The Video:

Relatively speaking this was one of the early Blu-Ray DVDs and it doesn't show much of the vast improvement that the new format can hold over Standard Definition releases (this one reviewed HERE). It is single-layered (25Gig) and is not extensively sharp or displaying any brilliance of colors. I'll admit I was somewhat disappointed as I expected much more from a modern film that I quite enjoy. Is it superior to the SD edition? - I found, just marginally on my system. It still shows some noise and Chris Doyle cinematography doesn't jump off the screen as you might see from many other 1080P presentations. This would not be an example of a disc to demo your Blu-ray equipment to your friends. It has no glaring weaknesses but looks rather flat considering the potential of high-definition visuals. I do think, it is faithful to the theatrical which was also stated as being somewhat muted - almost murky. Comparatively speaking the SD image quality is expectantly duller.     


Screen Captures











The audio track is a English: Dolby Digital 5.1 EX offering (where the corresponding HD edition from Warner has a TrueHD track!). I don't own the HD so I can't say but audio detail in Shyamalan films usually play a key role and the subtleties of rain, sprinklers, creature growls etc. are separated quite adequately. I expect any differences for this film to be quite minor and this EX sounded acceptably defined if not all encompassing and rich. There are also two DUB options and a choice of subtitles in English , French or Spanish in a white font.


There supplements are duplicated from the SD (reviewed HERE) - where I stated "In previous Shyamalan films-to-DVD we have been treated to one of his boyhood short subject efforts. Unfortunately, I, surprisingly, couldn't find anything of that regard on this one. I also suspect this film could support a full director commentary and wonder if it was ever in the cards. What we are give is a 6 part documentary half-hour featurette - Reflections of Lady in the Water - another, Lady in the Water: A Bedtime Story, some audition takes, a gag reel and some deleted scenes. Standard fare but I always enjoy hearing the man speak of his work."    



BOTTOM LINE: I suspect you would have to be a very big fan of the film to indulge in this, disappointing Blu-ray. It is the best digital presentation of the film, but whether how it was shot, or the limitations of being single-layered this DVD's visuals do not 'Wow' as you may expect. So we don't recommend an upgrade if you are in possession of the SD but if you have not seen the film and enjoy fantasy, Shyamalan's brilliant story-telling, fine performances and a positive sense of community - then this Blu-ray is the way to go.    

Gary Tooze



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