B L U - N O T E


A view on the Blu-ray format by Enrique Michaels 


I've been a loyal DVDBeaver patron for many years and am proud to now contribute in this manner as I am passionate about film quality in my home theatre. For my screenshots, I grab directly from the Blu-ray while playing it, with a software like VLC (I am actually using another software, more advanced for AVC playing), like a screenshot. The originals are all saved as PNGs then converted as per Gary's methodology to 90% jpegs (totally suitable for his bandwidth and download-ability for surfers.) The only thing I do to them is change the color profile to sRGB so it doesn't become messed-up for web viewing. The colorimetry is the same, whether the Blu-ray is 4:2:0 or 4:2:2. The problem will happen if the Blu-ray is 4:4:4 and requires a beyond TrueColor or x.v.YCC compatible monitor (I don't know any to date that is 4:4:4, but it may happen in future). In this case some dithering will be applied to the screenshot since only a full 48-bit system (monitor and graphic card) can process a beyond True Color (24-bit) depth correctly.

English is not my first language so please excuse any spelling or grammar errors that I will, frequently, make. I trust Gary to do editing where necessary.  


Enrique's Home Theatre:

Runco CinemaWall SP-60/SP-60xa
Panasonic DMP-BD55 Blu-ray player Multizone + Multiregion (firmware upgraded)

Malata PDVD-N996 with incremental zoom

Paradigm Signature ADP1 speakers

Enrique T. Michaels







Awake [Blu-ray]


(Joby Harold, 2007)



Review by Enrique Michaels



Studio: Weinstein Company

Video: Weinstein (Genius)



Region: 'A'

Feature Runtime: 84 min.

One dual-layered Blu-ray

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: November 18th, 2008



Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p

Video codec: VC-1


English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 / English Dolby Digital 5.1 / French Dolby Digital 5.1

English SDH / Spanish

Extras: Audio Commentary / Deleted Scenes/ Under the Knife & Behind the Camera: The Making of Awake /Storyboard to film comparison / Theatrical trailer


Product Description: Sexy and suspenseful, Awake turns the disturbingly real phenomenon of "anesthetic awareness" -- in which surgery patients, though completely paralyzed, are conscious of everything they are experiencing, including the pain -- into a "completely absorbing" thriller (Roger Ebert). When failed anesthesia leaves a rich young tycoon (Hayden Christensen, Star Wars) alert but immobilized during open-heart surgery, he overhears a devious plot to have himself killed. Co-starring Jessica Alba (Sin City) and Academy Award-nominee Terrence Howard (Crash), Awake does "for operations what Jaws did for the beach" (Frank Scheck, Hollywood Reporter)...




The Film:

Do not believe anything you hear about “Awake,” do not talk to anyone about it, and above all do not even glance at the poster or ads, which criminally reveal a crucial plot twist. This movie, which was withheld from critics, and has scored a pitiful 13 percent on the Tomatometer from those few who were able to see it, is a surprisingly effective thriller. I went to a regular theater to see it Friday afternoon, knowing nothing about it except that the buzz was lethal, and sat there completely absorbed.



The movie involves a very, very rich young man named Clay Beresford (Hayden Christensen), who lives with his loving but dominating mother (Lena Olin), and fears to tell her about his engagement to the beautiful Samantha (Jessica Alba). But “the clock is ticking,” he is warned by his friend and surgeon Jack Howard (Terrence Howard). Jack saved Clay in the E.R. after he had a massive heart attack, and now Jack’s on the waiting list for a transplant. “Marry that girl,” Jack advises him, and even invites him into the operating room for a trial run to explain how dangerous the surgery is...

Excerpt from Roger Ebert at the Chicago Sun Times located HERE


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

Although this Blu-ray transfer is not pristine, I found it had some appealing qualities and probably represented the film very well. Awake has frequently low-lit scenes but this didn't affect the detail which had some strong moments in close-ups. In the background we can see what appears to be a virtual 'sea' of noise - but I, instead, think this is a combination of both grain and noise. I wasn't offended by this look - for most of the time it felt very film-like to me. Contrast is good, but colors don't ever seem particularly vibrant. If I was reminded of another Blu-ray appearance it might be 3:10 to Yuma although an entirely different film - low-lit scenes seemed rendered in the same manner.  Although the image is, expectantly, very clean - it had a gritty edge to it - most likely intentional to the cinematographic intent. This is certainly not a smooth, shiny image but not all film to 1080P have to look that way. This seemed to probably accurately represent the way this film looks - even with the uncomfortable background noise. 

















Audio & Music:  
Even-though this doesn't look like the kind of movie that will be a candy to the ears it does have its bright moments. The True-HD mix is very competent and leveled with the most recent and good HD sound mixes. The mix is only limited by what the movie has to offer, its quality won't disappoint any sound enthusiast, but the movie itself can't be used as a sound reference. Every outdoor scene is captured with high accuracy, the environment is quite rich and the surround gets busy and enveloping. Details are vast enough and don't get eclipsed, even when the voices get a prominent. Everything sounds very natural. In the other hand, the indoor scenes are more filled with sound effects and, to my ears, it does demand more work from the mix, even taking more advantage of the subtitles. The quality keeps steady, but it is more concerned about the effects and the voice-over narration. In general, the soundtrack is a constant presence, but in a more neutral tone, never actually providing an enriching sound experience or affecting the mood too much; it was mixed as a sidekick to the quieter moments.

I didn't lose much time with the other mixes, but you should stick with the True-HD all the time, missing its quality means losing half of what the Blu-ray has to offer. Optional subtitles offered in
English, or Spanish.


Extras include an audio commentary, a few Deleted Scenes, a typical 'Making of...' featurette entitled Under the Knife & Behind the Camera: The Making of Awake, some unnecessary storyboard to film comparison and a theatrical trailer. None appear to be in HD.



Bottom line:
I wasn't that crazy about Awake as a film thriller but have to admit that I liked the
Blu-ray presentation of it - both video and, maybe more so, audio. I'll be discreet about the 'arrow up' standard as per Gary and Leonard's taste and this doesn't meet the criteria in my opinion. I'll assume this is vastly better than the DVD edition so if you are interested in a high quality presentation of this film - look no further - the Blu-ray adequately does the job.


Enrique Michaels

November 10th, 2008





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