Review by Gary W. Tooze
Video codec: VC-1
Video resolution: 1080p
Aspect ratio: 2.40:1
English: Dolby Digital 5.1 EX
French: Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish: Dolby Digital 2.0
English SDH, English, French, Spanish, none
Running time: 2:09:49
Feature - 26.9 Gig
50GB Blu-ray Disc
3 commentaries; Director Peterseen, Author Junger, Visual Effects team members
HBO Special: Creating the
Perfect Storm (19:56)
Featurette: Witness to the Storm (4:32)
Featurette: Creating an Emotion (4:14)
Yours Forever (Photo Montage) - 4:04
Trailer in HD (2:31)
Disc: 50GB (dual-layered) Blu-ray Disc
Released: July 22nd, 2008
Standard Blu-ray case
It's Halloween 1991. Near Gloucester Massachusetts the six members of the Andrea Gail a swordfishing boat head out to sea for their last trip of the season. Unbeknownst to them a shockingly brutal storm is slowly gaining steam. Before the National Weather Bureau has a chance to inform the crew of the impending danger it's too late. The resulting battle with three merging weather fronts--an unheralded natural disaster--is grueling and tragic. Based on the true-life best selling novel by Sebastian Junger The Perfect Storm stars George Clooney Mark Wahlberg Diane Lane and is directed by Wolfgang Petersen...
"The Perfect Storm" is a well-crafted example of a film of pure sensation. It is about ships tossed by a violent storm. The film doesn't have complex and involving characters, but they are not needed. It doesn't tell a sophisticated story and doesn't need to; the main events are known to most of the audience before the movie begins. All depends on the storm. I do not mind admitting I was enthralled.
The movie, based on the best-seller by Sebastian Junger, is mostly about a fishing ship named the Andrea Gail, out of Gloucester, Mass., which had the misfortune in 1991 of running into "the middle of the monster" when three great storm systems collided in the Atlantic. We learn about the economic pressures of the swordfishing industry, we meet the crew members and their women, we learn a little of their stories, and then the film is about the ship, the storm and the people waiting in port for news. In a parallel story, about a luxury sailboat in distress, cranks up the suspense even further.
Video: NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.The Perfect Storm from Warner on Blu-ray looks very strong - excelling over the SD in all the usual areas - detail and colors seem to stand out as the higher points in the superiority over its 480P resolution counterpart. Warner have used the VC-1 encode for the 1080P, dual-layered transfer and it remains as competent as we have seen in the past. With the use of lighting in the film the infrequent CGI effects are relatively unnoticeable. In certain sequences the image quality can look quite stunning with, almost exclusively, outdoor scenes. No manipulation, no moiring, no undue noise - no complaints. The feature film on the Blu-ray takes up 26.9 Gig of the dual-layered disc.
Audio: The Dolby Digital 5.1 EX showcases the audio effects and James Horner score very well. Wind whistles through the rear channels with subtle separations and the occasional crackling thunder explodes in the background. Two Foreign language DUBs in 5.1 are also available. Supporting the dialogue are optional English (SDH), English, French, or Spanish subtitles available.
Extras: Supplements appear to be all duplicated from the Warner SD from 2004. They are very thorough with 3 separate commentaries - Director Petersen, Author Junger, and the Visual Effects team members. Strangely, for me, I actually preferred the latter one although Junger explains things very well in his dialogue too. I'm not a real Petersen fan - and found him a bit on the boring side. There is more historical background on the storm itself and the impact on people's lives with three documentary/featurettes - the HBO Special: Creating the Perfect Storm runs almost 20 minutes and has input from many including Petersen, Junger and Clooney. The other two are quite short, running less than 5 minutes each, with some witness accounts of the storm (Witness to the Storm) and Creating an Emotion which details some of creation of the soundtrack of the film from James Horner - I enjoyed this, but wished it was longer. Using the song 'Yours Forever' there is a photo montage which I certainly preferred to some of the MTV style video that surface on these DVD extras. It runs just over 4 minutes and finally an HD trailer for the film (2:31).
BOTTOM LINE: The film is better than I had remembered with good performances and the visuals carry the film's lighter character development to some degree. Certainly the way to watch it is on Blu-ray. I wouldn't say it is one of the best images I've seen, but it is very competent and does the job extremely well. There are certain sequences that could be used for demo purposes. Again we are seeing more 'popcorn flicks' coming to 1080P high-definition and this is one of the better examples. Although duplicated from SD the extras overflow with the commentaries making this a pretty decent deal from Warner. For those keen on the film, this Blu-ray is reasonable and delivers the goods.
July 22nd, 2008