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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Lonesome Dove Mini-Series [Blu-ray DVD]

 

(Simon Wincer, 1989)

Weinstein (Genius Products)
Review by Gary W. Tooze

Video
Video codec: VC-1
Video resolution: 1080p
Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Audio
English: Dolby Digital 5.1
DUBs: French: Dolby Digital 2.0
Spanish: Dolby Digital 2.0

Subtitles
English SDH, none

Disc
50GB Blu-ray Disc

Supplements:

Making of... (49:28)

Original On-Set Interviews with Cast (13:38)
Director Interview (15:06)
Interview with Larry McMurtry (6:51)
Blueprints of a Masterpiece - original Sketches and Concept Drawings

 

Disc

Disc 1:

Part 1 - 134:36 15.7 Gig
Part 2 - 1:30:15 14.9 Gig
Part 3 - 1:34:01 16.3 Gig
Disc 2:

Part 4 -1:33:55 17.1 Gig
Disc: 50GB (1st disc dual-layered, 2nd single-layered)

Released: August 4th, 2008
Standard Blu-ray case
16 chapters

Product Description:

Experience the Emmy Award-winning masterpiece as never before with Lonesome Dove 2-Disc Collector s Edition. Presented for the first time in Widescreen and 5.1 surround sound, this all-time western classic is now digitally re-mastered with all-new bonus features. Based upon the Pulitzer Prize-winning book by Larry McMurtry and set in the late nineteenth century, this sprawling epic of the Old West is the story of the last defiant frontier, a daring cattle drive, and an undying love. Featuring epic performances by Robert Duvall, Tommy lee Jones, Angelica Houston, Diane Lane, Danny Glover, Robert Urich, and Chris Cooper, Lonesome Dove continues to be a treasured classic for generations to come.....

 

 

****

 

 

The Film:

Here is a film you mustn't pass up. Based on Larry McMurtry's Pulitzer prize winning novel, this Emmy-award winning western tells the story of two ex-Texas rangers (Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones), who decide to lead a 2500 mile cattle drive from Texas to Montana. The old rangers run into a lot of trouble along the way. The trouble starts with Blue Duck (Frederic Forrest), a deadly Comanche, who has kidnapped the only female member of their group, a prostitute Lorena Wood (Diane Lane). Not only that, they have to brave the rough wilderness, face a gang of dangerous horse thieves and cross Indian territory to finally reach the beautiful Montana country.
Fantastic performances by the leads, Jones and Duvall, as well as the wonderful period settings make this a funny, tragic and exciting tale.


Video: NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc. Origianlly on television in a 4:3 aspect ratio this has now been transferred to Blu-ray (and SD I believe) in a 1.78 framing. Although it would have been nice to stay faithful to the original ratio, I can't say I'm overly disappointed and I don't see much composition detriment. It seems to open up some of the vistas of the scenery. As one might expect from a 1989 TV mini-series the Blu-ray image is far from perfect with some scenes showing an intense amount of noise (see sample below) although most are not at that level of visible artifacts. Detail is a solid notch below what many Blu-ray owners might be used to by now. Colors are not poor - a bit muted and not particularly vibrant. No DNR suffrage or other undue manipulations like edge enhancement that I could ascertain. Now, although the image is not glowingly brilliant - it still looks better than I have ever seen before and miles ahead of an SD incarnation. A recent example might be warn purchasers not to expect the vibrancy of Broken Trail on Blu-ray (another 'mini-series' western also starring Robert Duvall) - of course this is much older. I think the full resolution screen captures should give you a decent idea of what it may look like (depending on your system).      

Screen Captures

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heavy digital noise noticeable in the sky

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio: A consistent but unremarkable Dolby Digital 5.1 track is the only option for English and although it didn't give any dynamic separation instances did the job of representing the series' score reasonably well. Voices are always clear and clean. Like many other Blu-ray's there are two foreign language DUBs if required. There are also optional English SDH (only) subtitles available.

 

Extras: On the second disc there are almost 1.5 hours worth of supplements including a Making of..., some brief on-set interviews with cast (what an ensemble!) and I appreciated the separate director interview as well as the, rather poor image quality piece, with author Larry McMurtry and wished it to be significantly longer.  

Extras

BOTTOM LINE: This is such a great soapy western saga that you never wish would finish. Interesting characters - a road picture - an amazing cast and some keen adventure along the way - WOW. The Blu-ray transfer make the series look better than ever for home theater viewing and should be enough of a reason to indulge for western fans. Temper your 1080P expectations and sit back and enjoy a true classic.

Gary Tooze
July 27th, 2008

 

 

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