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)

Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

Gary W. Tooze

 

HD-DVD STORE         HIGH DEFINITION DVD STORE

 

ALL OUR NEW FORMAT DVD REVIEWS

 

 

Signs [Blu-ray]

(M. Night Shyamalan, 2002)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Studio

Blu-ray: Touchstone / Disney

 

Transfer:
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Video resolution: 1080p
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Audio
English: PCM 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit)
English: Dolby Digital 5.1
French: Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish: Dolby Digital 2.0

Subtitles
English SDH, French, Spanish, Japanese, none

Disc
50GB Blu-ray Disc

 

Extras:

• The Making of Signs - Exclusive six-part documentary exploring the movie from idea to marketing . Divided into six parts - "Looking for Signs" (6:11), "Building Signs" (8:02), "Making Signs" (22:33), "Effects of Signs" (8:31), "Last Voices: The Music of Signs" (8:26) and "Full Circle" (4:48)
• 5 Deleted Scenes (7 minutes in total): "Graham and Merrill," "Flashbacks #1 & #2," "Dead Bird," and "Alien in the Attic."
• Storyboards: Multi-Angle Feature
• M.Night Shyamalan's First Alien Film

Disc:
50GB Blu-ray Disc

 

 

Product Description: After captivating audiences with THE SIXTH SENSE and UNBREAKABLE writer/director M. Night Shyamalan created his next mind-blowing movie event: SIGNS -- now more tantalizing than ever on Blu-ray Disc(R)! SIGNS is the gripping story of an ordinary family as they encounter the possibility that Earth is being invaded by creatures from another planet. When Graham Hess (Mel Gibson) and his family awaken to find a 500-foot crop circle in their backyard they're told extraterrestrials are responsible. As they watch with growing dread news reports tell of similar "signs" suddenly appearing all over the world! Don't even blink as razor-sharp high definition transports you to a new dimension of awe and terror. Jump out of your skin as the spectacularly enhanced audio quality intensifies every gasp heartbeat and otherworldly echo. Stir your sense and experience SIGNS as if for the very first time in Blu-ray High Definition!

 

***

The Film:

Taking cues from classic films of the past including Hitchcock's 'The Birds', George Romero's 'Night of the Living Dead' and Siegel's Invasion of the Body Snatchers, M. Night Shyamalan has written produced and directed and old fashioned intriguing sci-fi suspense story. I fully enjoyed his previous film, 'Unbreakable', and his slight diversion from standard Hollywood formula has proven a big success with most, although his detractors are growing. 'Signs' is slick, smart, and keeps you on the edge of your seat with fine performances, subtle humor and slight references to faith and conviction. I won't go overboard and say 'masterpiece' but Shyamalan's style is certainly more captivating than a similar over-hyped Speilbergian generic sci-fi thriller (say War of the Worlds as one example). Night seems driven more by instinct and belief in his ideas of the film's creation and even if his goal is still sale-ability at least his methodology is not fraught with the complexities of over-production. His efforts to avoiding the obvious vein of CGI and special effects are likewise admirable.

 

Remember the Twilight Zone? with a unique or ironic twist in the finale - Shyamalan's film's are like cinema versions of that classic TV show.

Gary Tooze

 

 

 

Image: In the first few minutes I feared this would be like Shyamalan's Lady in the Water - a disappointing, single-layered, 1080P transfer (see HERE). But it's initial thickness with noise in monochromatic black backgrounds soon smoothes out present a strong image with excellent detail and colors that don't expand beyond the normalcy of hue and brilliance. It is far in advance of the two SD editions compared HERE. Noise still exists here and there but it is far overshadowed by the pristine tightness of the overall appearance. It's not the best Blu-ray I own but I am very pleased with the improvement as I am a big fan of the film.     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio & Music: I sampled both the English: PCM 5.1 and Dolby Digital 5.1 offerings and they sounded quite good with occasional dramatic separation. Not the absolute best I have heard but very competent with the wonderful building music score expanding to an air of urgency which did cause the hairs on your neck to bristle. There are optional subtitles in English SDH, standard English, French, Spanish, and unlisted on the box, Japanese - off-white font with a black border. I expect this will be the exact same transfer for the Asian edition.

 

 

 

Extras: are duplicated from the SD edition (and in 480) - The Making of Signs - is an exclusive six-part documentary exploring the movie from idea to marketing . Divided as follows - "Looking for Signs" (6:11), "Building Signs" (8:02), "Making Signs" (22:33), "Effects of Signs" (8:31), "Last Voices: The Music of Signs" (8:26) and "Full Circle" (4:48). There are 5 Deleted Scenes (7 minutes in total): "Graham and Merrill," "Flashbacks #1 & #2," "Dead Bird," and "Alien in the Attic." A Storyboards: Multi-Angle Feature and M. Night Shyamalan's First 'Alien' Film. 

 

 

 

Bottom line: No new extras, although I wasn't expecting more but based solely on the image and audio improvement, fans will want to indulge. I'm very glad to have this title as part of my Blu-ray library and it will get it's fair share of replay.

 

As I stated in the SD review - I feel very alone in extolling this film, and Shyamalan in general, but his cinema isn't derived from a 'fluke' - he knows exactly what he is doing and I always feel transported back to the fantasy/adventure/thriller films and books I loved so much as a child. Hopefully he will continue this trend for the next 30 years.

Gary Tooze
May 24th, 2008

 

 


 

 

 

Hit Counter