H D - S E N S E I

A view on Hi-def discs 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 Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (2-disc) [Blu-ray]


(Andrew Adamson, 2008)



Review by Gary Tooze


Studio: Walt Disney Pictures

Video: Walt Disney Video



Region: 'A'

Feature Runtime: 2:29:58

Chapters: 24

Feature film disc size: 31.5 Gig

One dual-layered Blu-ray

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: December 2nd, 2008



Aspect ratio: 2.4:1

Resolution: 1080p


English: 7.1 DTS HD Master (48 KHrz / 24-bit), DUBs: Spanish + French DTS 5.1

Feature: English (SDH), French, Spanish and none


Audio Commentary: by director Andrew Adamson and actors Ben Barnes, Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes, William Moseley and Anna Popplewell
Circle Vision Interactive (BD Exclusive): Creating the Castle Raid
Disc 2

The Bloopers of Narnia (3:06)
Seven Deleted Scenes with optional introduction by director Andrew Adamson (11:15)
Inside Narnia: The Adventure Returns (34:41)
Sets of Narnia: A Classic Comes to Life (23:45)
Big Movie Comes to a Small Town (23:20)
Previsualizing Narnia (10:09)
Talking Animals and Walking Trees: The Magical World of Narnia (4:50)
Secrets of the Duel (6:46)
Becoming Trumpkin (4:47)
Warwick Davis: The Man Behind Nikabrik (11:08)


Product Description: One year after the incredible events of "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," the Kings and Queens of Narnia find themselves back in that faraway wondrous realm, only to discover that more than 1300 years have passed in Narnian time. During their absence, the Golden Age of Narnia has become extinct, Narnia has been conquered by the Telmarines and is now under the control of the evil King Miraz, who rules the land without mercy.

The four children will soon meet an intriguing new character: Narnia's rightful heir to the throne, the young Prince Caspian, who has been forced into hiding as his uncle Miraz plots to kill him in order to place his own newborn son on the throne. With the help of the kindly dwarf, Trumpkin, a courageous talking mouse named Reepicheep, a badger named Trufflehunter and a Black Dwarf, Nikabrik, the Narnians, led by the mighty knights Peter and Caspian, embark on a remarkable journey to find Aslan, rescue Narnia from Miraz's tyrannical hold, and restore magic and glory to the land.




The Film:

With bigger battles and scarier monsters than its predecessor, the new movie flaunts grander visual effects, and, with one notable exception, a dash more individuality than the initial installment. Thanks are due to supporting appearances by a diminutive Narnian named Trumpkin (Peter Dinklage, whose eyes have to do all the work underneath those flowing whiskers and latex wrinkles) and a fearless feather-sporting mouse named Reepicheep (voiced by Eddie Izzard with flair, and without overacting).



The keepers of the franchise should also be delighted that the actors playing the Pevensie children have aged so gracefully over the last three years, or 1,300, depending on how you're counting. You never know when somebody's going to go through an awkward stage, but these kids have only grown more photogenic with time.

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.

Aside from my only complaint of being a shade glossy at times - this is one of the best transfers I have yet seen on Blu-ray. One facet that I noted was the effects seem to be far more realistic looking than I have viewed in the past - even the talking animals are not fraught with fast-motion/fast-cuts to avoid the haziness of CGI. It's quite impressive and adds a touch of realism to the fantasy element of the story. Detail, colors and contrast are of reference quality. By the way, this makes a great film to demo with kids around - although there is some violence - nothing is overly graphic. The screen captures below come close to digital photography - colors are not overblown - depth exists and even the darker sequences are rendered beautifully with multi-layered contrast and rich black levels. As one might expect the image is magnificently clean and blemish free. Technically it is dual-layered with the feature size being a strong 31.5 Gig. There is no evidence of DNR or edge enhancements. Background noise is so fine it may as well be non-existent - in fact I'd have to say the encoded image is about as pristine as I have seen from a live-action film. Hopefully, the Blu-ray screen captures below will give you an idea of what it will look like on your system. It's a huge thumbs up from me.

















Audio & Music:  
7.1 DTS HD Master is equal to the image in terms of quality. This is not an especially aggressive soundtrack but there are a significant number of subtle sound effects (animals, forest sounds, distant marching, flowing water etc.) creeping there way gently through to the rear speakers. I turned my head on more than one occasion and twice thought someone was at the front door. I vastly prefer the subtle mixes to the bombastic, explosive kind. There is an original score by Harry Gregson-Williams (who also has the 2005 The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe amongst his vast credits). I wouldn't say it is memorable but has the right ingredients of quiet nobility or grandiose impression - when called upon.  There are optional subtitles offered in English (SDH), French, or Spanish. I'm certain this is a region 'A' locked release.


We are offered a gang commentary with
director Andrew Adamson and actors Ben Barnes, Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes, William Moseley and Anna Popplewell. It's a nice mix of serious and some fun recollections of production. Adamson can relate the nuts and bolts details and he is not as dry as some I have heard. There is a little discussion on the first film as well as the plot and storyline, C.S. Lewis and more along those lines. Disc one also has some Blu-ray exclusive tidbits - the BD-Live (not functioning for me at the time of this review) and a Circle Vision Interactive: Creating the Castle Raid to allow venturing to other parts of the castle.
Disc two gave me the warning 'you may have delays of up to 2-3 minutes while the disc loads...'. It offers subtitles in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese and starts with 'Behind the Magic' (the only menu option.) We get 2 hours worth of amusing Bloopers (3:06), 7 deleted scenes with optional introduction by director Andrew Adamson (11:15), a half hour featurette Inside Narnia: The Adventure Returns, 25 minutes on Sets of Narnia: A Classic Comes to Life discussing the intricacies of the set design, another 25 minutes on the location in Slovenia (with the impressive river) where much of the outdoor sequences were shot. There is 10 minutes of Previsualizing Narnia, 4 minutes of Talking Animals and Walking Trees: The Magical World of Narnia, 6 minutes on how the Duel was staged, Becoming Trumpkin is about the casting of that character and Adamson's first choice of Peter Dinklage. Finally 10 minutes of Warwick Davis: The Man Behind Nikabrik. Whewww... although we have seen releases with much more this fit the bill without overdoing it. I'm impressed with how much director Adamson is involved. There is a 3-disc version that also contains a digital copy for those that use portable devices (this is not a film to watch on your phone though folks).


Bottom line:
It is almost not possible not to be totally impressed with this
in some manner. The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian is another of those adolescent adventure yarns that can touch upon more important issue like independence and being virtuous in the face of adversity. It continues nicely from The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I'm certain C.S. Lewis would be hugely impressed. Even for those iffy on the subject of the film - the Blu-ray is so abundant with the best this format has to offer to date that it should still be considered. I must give it a strong recommendation - the film is a little too mature for my two boys, but seemingly a perfect fit for their old man.

Gary Tooze

November 20th, 2008





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