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 7500 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







The Fall [Blu-ray]


(Tarsem Singh, 2006)






Review by Gary Tooze



Sony Pictures


Region A

Feature Runtime: 1:57:06

Chapters: 20

Feature film disc size: 29.1 Gig (dual-layered)

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: September 9th, 2008



Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p

Video codec: MPEG4-AVC


Audio: English: TrueHD 5.1

Feature: English SDH, English, French, none


• Commentary with Tarsem Singh
• Commentary with Lee Pace and Writer/Producer Nico Soultanakis and Dan Gilroy
• Deleted Scenes
• 2 Behind-the-Scenes

- Wanderlust (28:03) - SD 4:3
- Nostalgia (30:01) - SD 4:3

• Photo Galleries

BD-Live Features:
Enhanced Photo Gallery


Product Description: Filmed over a period of 4 years in 18 different countries, Tarsem’s The Fall is an unforgettable movie experience. In 1920s Los Angeles, Alexandria (Catinca Untaru), a 5-year-old girl hospitalized from a fall, strikes up an unlikely friendship with Roy (Lee Pace, TV’s “Pushing Daisies”), a Hollywood stuntman shattered by a near-fatal movie set accident and his lover’s betrayal. To pass the time, he tells Alexandria the epic story of Governor Odious and the 5 remarkable heroes determined to defeat him – a dazzling world of magic and myth. Only when the line between reality and fantasy begins to dissolve does Alexandria realize how much is truly at stake. Presented by David Fincher (Fight Club) and Spike Jonze (Adaptation), The Fall is an awe-inspiring, cinematic tour de force.....




The Film:

Roger Ebert proclaimed it "one of the most extraordinary films I've ever seen," and there's no denying the avalanche of wild images in The Fall: grand castles, desert vistas, elephants swimming in the open ocean. Commercial and music-video director Tarsem has piled these visions into an elaborate remake of an obscure Bulgarian film, Yo Ho Ho, which is anchored in (but by no means limited to) a quiet hospital during the silent-movie era. A stunt man (Lee Pace) is laid up with leg injuries, and an eye-popping black-and-white prologue (utterly mystifying while we're watching it) tells us how he got here. Depressed over his disability and a recent lost love, he plans suicide, but is temporarily derailed by the inquisitive friendship of a little girl (Catinca Untaru), to whom he tells wild stories of adventurers and princesses. We see these stories, which is where the dizzying visuals come in. 


This movie probably won't inspire many lukewarm responses: either you'll fall madly for this paean to storytelling magic, or you'll be suspicious about the parade of pretty pictures, which tend to have a magazine-layout sheen. The movie certainly has more soul than Tarsem's yucky previous feature, The Cell, and the scenes between Pace and Untaru (who scores an 11 on the cuteness scale) are genuinely charming. The director actually put a considerable amount of his own money into the production (which shot in over 20 countries), and whether you buy his vision or not, he put his money on the screen.

Excerpt from Robert Horton's review at Amazon.com located HERE


Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.

What might be a small notch below the very best Blu-ray transfers I've seen - The Fall is made up for by the tremendous locales and adroit cinematography. As I watched, I harkened back to viewing images from Baraka and other similar geographically diverse visual treats. Technically the disc is dual-layered with the feature film taking up 29.1 Gig of space on the Blu-ray. Colors are lush, natural and vibrant and detail falls only a step behind. Noise exists but its lack of prominence in sky vistas and monochromatic scenes is very reassuring. This transfer is adept making the end result an impressive foray into cinematic eye-candy. I see no DNR or enhancement impairments. The Fall on Blu-ray has many jaw dropping moments and could easily be reference demo material for many systems... or even a decent enough reason to indulge in a Blu-ray player.



















Audio & Music:  
Although only one audio option - a TrueHD 5.1 track - but it more than compensates for alternative choices. It can almost be too aggressive at times but stands as a close equal to the image quality. Bass has definite strength and there are subtle gravitations to the rear speakers as well. Perhaps due to the manner it was shot - the dialogue can be a bit inconsistent and echoes at various volume levels through the center channel. The Symphony No. 7 in A major, Op. 92, II. Allegretto by Beethoven sounded just beautiful for its brief appearance and there is a wonderfully matching original music score by Krishna Levy. There are no DUBs whatsoever and subtitles only in English SDH, English, or French.



I liked the commentary by Singh - very subtly enthusiastic and he probably says the word 'incredible' about 20 times. I like his direct manner and honesty and he mostly focuses the commentary on production details - some of which seem endless in their complexities and hurdles. The 2nd commentary, with Lee Pace and Writer/Producer Nico Soultanakis and Dan Gilroy, fills in a few of the gaps and is likewise enjoyable and informative. Both are very much appreciated and have merit. The "Making of..." featurette (divided into two segments - 'Wanderlust' and 'Nostalgia') are really just a non-narrated journal of events and places with much behind the scenes material. It is more visual but still highly interesting. There are a lot of deleted scenes that spark of filler and the photo galleries are brilliant.



Bottom line:
What a wonderful story... and manner of storytelling. Visually this
Blu-ray takes a backseat to none. Although a couple of scenes seemed a shade violent this is a story that children could have been able to watch - a kin to the tales in The Adventures Baron von Munchausen - but a lot better. Immensely impressive production qualities and an exceedingly enjoyable film experience - this Blu-ray transfer produces a demonstration quality marriage of video and audio - a great purchase.

Gary Tooze

September 8th, 2008










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