H D - S E N S E I

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

Vantage Point [Blu-ray]

(Pete Travis, 2008)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Sony

Blu-ray: Sony Home Pictures


Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Video resolution: 1080p
Aspect ratio: 2.40:1

English: Dolby TrueHD 5.1
DUBs: French: Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1
Portuguese: Dolby Digital 5.1

Thai: Dolby Digital 5.1

English SDH, English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese (both traditional and simplified), Korean, Thai, none

• Commentary by director Pete Travis

• Featurette: "Vantage Point: An Inside Perspective" (26:43 in HD)

• Featurette: "Plotting an Assassination" (15:59 in HD)

• Featurette: "Coordinating Chaos: Stunts" (7:27 in SD)

• Outakes  - 'Surveillance Tapes'

• Blu-ray Exclusive 'Vantage Viewer: GPS Tracker'

Disc: 50GB Blu-ray Disc

DVD Release Date: July 1st, 2008


Product Description: During an historic counter-terrorism summit in Spain the President of the United States is struck down by an assassin's bullet. Eight strangers have a perfect view of the kill but what did they really see? As the minutes leading up to the fatal shot are replayed through the eyes of each eyewitness the reality of the assassination takes shape. But just when you think you know the answer the shattering final truth is revealed. VANTAGE POINT is a mind-bending political action-thriller starring Dennis Quaid Matthew Fox Academy Award Winner Forest Whitaker (Best Actor 2006 The Last King of Scotland) with Sigourney Weaver and Academy Award winner William Hurt (Best Actor 1985 Kiss of the Spider Woman).



The Film:

"Vantage Point" shows us an assassination attempt and explosion in a crowded Spanish square, and then repeats those events from eight points of view - including those of a Secret Service man (Quaid), the U.S. President (William Hurt), a sharp-eyed tourist (Forest Whitaker) armed with a camcorder, and some of the terrorists responsible.

First-time screenwriter Barry Levy has taken that relatively simple idea and turned out an almost perfectly constructed puzzle, with each retelling of the events adding detail that ultimately creates a clear picture of a complex conspiracy.

Our original view of the events comes from an American network's control van, where Sigourney Weaver's Rex Brooks is directing a dozen cameras covering the arrival of the President for a summit meeting.

Spotting Secret Service agent Thomas Barnes, Brooks has an assistant pull up an archived shot of an assassination attempt in which Barnes took a bullet while saving the President's life. His return to service, still suffering posttraumatic stress, looks like the day's human-interest story.

Excerpt from the NY Daily News located HERE





Image: NOTE: These captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc. Even with the, common-place nowadays, editing technique of excessively fast cuts - this 1080P, using MPEG-4 AVC compression, Blu-ray from Sony looks absolutely perfect. The 2.40 widescreen ratio is accurately maintained and detail is excessively crisp and clean. What I appreciated most was the film was not especially dark and black levels weren't boosted to give that ultra-heavy contrast look we see often in high-definition transfers. The final product is about as competent as I have seen from Blu-ray (owning about 100 discs). It approached the 3-dimensional look that BRD tends to strive towards but I'd preferably just say that the image is simply flawless - without a pixel out of place. I noted no intrusive noise, it is expectantly super clean, and it strikes me as a definite bona-fide reason for the existence of this new format for home viewing. It is a stunningly pristine and consistent image. 













Audio & Music: The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track appears to equal the stellar video quality with dynamic separations and subtle background riffs cascading from the rear channels. The film has some tested moments with explosions and although not a prominent part of the film experience, Atli Írvarsson's original music comes through when called upon to enhance the action sequences adeptly. There are three Dolby Digital 5.1 DUBs and a host of subtitle options including English (SDH and standard) giving the impression it may be a region-free release.




Extras: In the director commentary (2.0 channel stereo) Pete Travis isn't really demonstrative in his soliloquies, and narrates a bit, but for the most part he gives some viable information on the production (research and locations), camera angles, audio, performers and editing. His (Brit?) accent is easily discernable and his soft-spoken manner is likeable. As an aside I think he did a very competent job with this political-thriller script.  We are given two featurette in 1080 - "Vantage Point: An Inside Perspective" runs 26 minutes and has cast and crew soundbites as well as lots of behind the scenes production clips. "Plotting an Assassination" runs 16 minutes and confronts the details of the script in pursueing this plot. "Coordinating Chaos: Stunts" runs only 7 minutes in SD and deals with exactly what is in the title. Outakes - 'Surveillance Tapes' - starts with a 'supposed' deleted scene with director Travis firing some shots after entering a room. It states on the box to have a 'Blu-ray Exclusive 'Vantage Viewer: GPS Tracker' where you supposedly can follow each major characters as the film plays but I couldn't get it to work on my disc (or even find it). There are also trailers in HD but thankfully the main menu starts right up as you put the disc in - no forced-to-chapter-through trailers.. The extras have some sub options including French, Portuguese, Spanish, Chinese, or Korean. 




Bottom line:

I like Quaid a lot but maybe there is a little too much of his open-mouthed blank stare in this. The supporting cast are all very good from Forest Whitaker to Edgar Ramirez, Sigourney Weaver to William Hurt. If you are in the mood, it's a film that can really fit the bill. The Rashomon (multi-perspective) style can be a shade excessive but overall I think this is far better than most stuff that is coming out of Hollywood. As for the Blu-ray - it's as much as anyone could have wanted - a pristine image and sound, great supplements including a director commentary - really a dynamite package that we, do indeed, recommend  

Gary Tooze
June 25th, 2008






Hit Counter


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