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

 

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Point Break (Pure Adrenaline Edition) [Blu-ray]

(Kathryn Bigelow, 1991)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Studio

Theatrical: 20th Century Fox

Blu-ray: 20th Century Fox

 

Transfer:
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Video resolution: 1080p
Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
English: Dolby Digital 5.1
English: Dolby Digital 4.0
French: Dolby Digital 2.0

Subtitles:
English SDH, English, French, Spanish, Mandarin, Korean, none

Supplements:
• Featurette: It's Make or Break

• Featurette: Ride the Wave

• Featurette: Adrenaline Junkies

• Featurette: On Location in Malibu

• Deleted Scenes, Stills Gallery + Theatrical trailers

Disc: 50GB Blu-ray Disc

DVD Release Date: July 1st, 2008

 

Product Description: Young FBI agent Johnny Utah (Reeves) goes undercover at the suggestion of his partner (Gary Busey) to learn if a group of wild surfers is actually a gang of bank robbers. He soon comes under the dangerous spell of the surfers' charismatic leader Bodhi (Swyaze) a mystical mastermind who'll do absolutely anything for a thrill - and expects his followers to do the same.

 

 

The Film:

Bigelow is an interesting director for this material. She is interested in the ways her characters live dangerously for philosophical reasons. They aren't men of action, but men of thought who choose action as a way of expressing their beliefs. That adds an intriguing element to their characters, and makes the final confrontation in this movie as meaningful as it can be, given the admittedly preposterous nature of the material.

Bigelow and her crew are also gifted filmmakers. There's a footchase through the streets, yards, alleys and living rooms of Santa Monica; two skydiving sequences with virtuoso photography, powerful chemistry between the good and evil characters, and an ominous, brooding score by Mark Isham that underlines the mood. The plot of "Point Blank," summarized, invites parody (rookie agent goes undercover as surfer to catch bank robbers). The result is surprisingly effective.

Excerpt from Roger Ebert's Chicago Sun Times review located HERE

 

 

 

 

Image: NOTE: These captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc. Firstly, I have to believe this film is 17 years old - then I can admit to it showing its age in glorious 1080P resolution. The transfer, as are most from Fox Blu-ray, is solid. Unfortunately, the nature of the cinematography stylings doesn't particularly invite compliments for this MPEG-4 AVC codec image. There are plenty of dark scenes and others with a herky-jerky 'un'steady cam (foot and car chases, surfing, skydiving, bank robbing etc.).  Noise is very minimal and there are a few white dot speckles (probably only noticeable through obtaining captures) but strong detail rarely rises the visuals to the profound Blu-ray level that some may be anticipating. There are some highs but the limitations are probably more to do with the film's age than anything else. All the outdoor sports activity scenes don't advance to the level of more modern film transfers. Colors look fairly true and don't artificially jump off the screen. This is probably something we need to get used to - 1080P can't (and shouldn't) push the image to better than it inherently is capable. As vintage films surface in this new format we may appreciate this to a much higher degree. It all looks very adept but my 'Wows' weren't coming in bunches. Still, miles ahead of an SD counterpart and the best digital representation of the film to date. It's dual-layered (the film itself is on over 33 Gig) and it probably can't look much better.

 

CLICK THE FIRST CAPTURE (ONLY) TO SEE FULL 1920 X 1080 RESOLUTION          

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio & Music: Plenty of options with a three different English options - a healthy, well defined DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, a competent Dolby Digital 5.1, and a (original?) 4.0 track that, although didn't have the dynamic nature of the bumps still sounded adept and supported the action sequences well. Mark Isham's original music track, more or less, did the job without being overly noticeable. It sounded clean and clear on this Blu-ray. There is an optional DUB - French: Dolby Digital 2.0 - and a choice of subtitles in English (SDH and standard), Spanish, Mandarin and Korean. These choices seem to support that this is region A locked.

 

 

 

Extras: It's certainly revealing to catch up with some of the performers in this film <raised eyebrows>. There are some appropriate, shortish, new featurettes included in the supplements: It's Make or Break, Ride the Wave, Adrenaline Junkies and On Location in Malibu. These could have all been put in one extra but I understand there are legal reasons on paying the participants set amounts of it extends beyond a certain time. Some of the cast and crew give input and memories about the film. Seeing some of them really does allow reflection on how old Point Break is. There is nothing essential here and gives air time to some individuals who don't really have a ton to offer. Besides those there are Deleted Scenes (very rough looking SD), a useless stills gallery + theatrical trailers (In HD). The extras have no CC. 

 

 

 

Bottom line: The film is better than one might imagine - Bigelow juxtaposes the good/evil factions with some alacrity. Swayze is quite the specimen but the camera really does love Reeves - if only he could go beyond his minimal options for facial cues. This Blu-ray is better than I, or the screen grabs, can give it credit. It looks and sounds pretty impressive on my system. We should just reemphasize the caveat that the film is almost 20 years old (how is this possible?) but can put most modern actions genre efforts to shame with its intensity. Bigelow might be considered somewhat an expert in that category - with few peers - and she gives a virtual clinic on how to get the most out of a script. It sounds like I am recommending but with only 1.5 thumbs (I only have two).  

Gary Tooze
June 24th, 2008

 

 


 

 

 

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