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







Traitor (2-disc) [Blu-ray]


(Jeffrey Nachmanoff, 2008)



Review by Gary Tooze


Studio: Starz / Anchor Bay



Region: 'A'

Feature Runtime: 1:54:07.841

Chapters: 26

Disc Size: 33,076,545,760 bytes

Feature Size: 29,721,077,760 bytes

Average Bitrate: 34.72 Mbps

One dual-layered Blu-ray / One digital copy DVD

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: December 19th, 2008



Aspect ratio: 2.4:1

Resolution: 1080p

Video codec: AVC


Dolby TrueHD Audio English 3762 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3762 kbps / 24-bit (AC3 Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps)
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / Dolby Surround

Feature: English (SDH), Spanish and none


Audio Commentary with director Jeffrey Nachmanoff and Actor Don Cheadle
Action! The Stunts and Special Effects of Traitor (4:39 in HD!)
International Espionage: An In-Depth Look at Traitor's Exotic Locations
(5:13 in HD!)
Trailers (in HD)

2nd disc - Digital Copy


Bitrate Graph:



Product Description: Academy Award nominee Don Cheadle (Hotel Rwanda, Crash) and Guy Pearce (Memento, L.A. Confidential) star in Traitor, a taut international thriller set against a puzzle of covert counter-espionage operations. When straight-arrow FBI agent Roy Clayton (Pearce) investigates a dangerous international conspiracy responsible for a prison break in Yemen, a bombing in Nice and a raid in London, all clues seem to lead back to former U.S. Special Operations officer, Samir Horn (Cheadle). But a tangle of contradictory evidence emerges, forcing Clayton to question whether his suspect is a disaffected former military operative—or something far more complicated. Obsessed with discovering the truth, Clayton tracks Horn across the globe as the elusive ex-soldier burrows deeper and deeper into a world of shadows and intrigue. Traitor is written and directed by Jeffrey Nachmanoff (screenwriter of The Day After Tomorrow)...




The Film:

That's what makes the film's pure thriller elements work so well. Even in violent action scenes, the participants are forced to make instant decisions, or discoveries, about loyalties. We know from other movies how the violence will unfold, but neither we nor the combatants are sure which side everybody is on. That is true even of the urbane Omar, who is definitely a jihadist, but whose motives and their effect are paradoxical.



Don Cheadle is such a good actor. If he were more of a showboat, he would be a bigger star. But he remains the go-to man for a film like this. Except in his work like the "Ocean's" pictures or his heroic work in "Hotel Rwanda," we cannot often be certain what we are to think of his characters. He effortlessly seems too intelligent, too complex, to be easily categorized. Perhaps my doubt about the motives of Samir's father's killers was due only to confusion on my part. Even so, who would witness the death of his father by a bomb, and then be driven to become a builder of bombs? And why? It is an uncertainty potent enough to drive the entire movie...

Excerpt from Roger Ebert's review at the Chicago Sun-Times located HERE


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

The transfer appears competent but I don't think Traitor's style lends itself to the dramatic 1080P visuals that many have come to expect from the Blu-ray format. There are some intentional style shots - reversal, grainy and plenty of indoor low-lit sequences. Of course, when we do venture outside in the brighter day - colors seem all that more vibrant. Detail is acceptable but I wouldn't label it as overwhelmingly 'strong'. Black levels and contrast are quite good though. It's, expectantly, damage-free and exhibits some minor depth at times just not on the scale that some aficionados seek from the Blu-ray format. Background noise and occasional grain exist. The dual-layered disc (feature taking almost 30 Gig) is at the middle-scale of Blu-ray transfer status. It's consistent quality from the AVC encode is surely well above the corresponding DVD it just doesn't 'Wow' very often. Still, I'll wager it represents the film's theatrical intent as good as can be expected.
















Audio & Music:  
The TrueHD track has some aggression and separation with a fair amount of action and explosions in the film. I didn't find the mix overly dynamic but sometimes I appreciate it more in that regard - when it is utilized a bit more sparingly with indulging the effects so overtly. Mark Kilian has been composing film scores for over a decade now and Traitor's original music has some decent timing - keeping effective pace with the film - and actually ending up less forgettable than some of his peers similar work. There is decent range with the music bringing the film's moods to life.  There is an optional 2.0 channel track as well and English
(SDH) or Spanish subtitles available.


There is a fair commentary with a pretty standard discussions of production and location details (from
Nachmanoff) with Cheadle chipping-in more sparingly. If you were really keen on Traitor you may wish to indulge - but those passing won't be missing very much at all in my opinion. There are 2 short featurettes (both 5 minutes) one on the stunts and the other on locations. There is sound-bite input from the principles and both are in HD along with a few trailers (also in 1080). The supplements for this disc are really nothing special. Ohhh you do get the Digital Copy for those keen.



Bottom line:
I'm never that keen to agree with Ebert but yes, I liked Traitor. I'm always rather indifferent to Guy Pearce but Cheadle has some true magnetism with the camera. I was in the mood, I guess, for the film's international flavor and espionage/thriller blend. I judge the image quality of this
Blu-ray to be fairly mediocre but the infrequent exciting visuals and good sound from the HD track were probably what helped sell the film to me. I think, for what Anchor Bay are offering in this Blu-ray package - the price seems fair. An above-average thriller - great lead performance and in its best possible digital rendition for your home theater. This makes for a confident purchase for those who feel they might like also this interesting film.


Gary Tooze

December 6th, 2008





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