H D - S E N S E I

A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze


Dead Calm [Blu-ray]


(Phillip Noyce, 1989)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Warner

Video: Warner Home Video



Region: FREE! (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:36:20.649

Disc Size: 19,239,959,849 bytes

Feature Size: 19,095,631,872 bytes

Video Bitrate: 22.99 Mbps

Chapters: 37

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: September 8th, 2009



Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: VC-1 Video



Dolby TrueHD Audio English 711 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 711 kbps / 16-bit (AC3 Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / Dolby Surround)
DUB: Dolby Digital Audio Japanese 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps



English, English (SDH), French, Japanese, none



Trailer SD 1:28





Description: Take an ocean voyage of full-masted fright with Dead Calm, "a spare, smart, seductive piece of movie-making with enough tension to keep us all hyperventilating for hours"
(Sheila Benson -Los Angeles Times)

Thriller specialist Philip Noyce (Patriot Games, The Saint) directs three splendid actors - Sam Neill (Jurassic Park), Nicole Kidman (Eyes Wide Shut) and Billy Zane (Titanic) - in riveting performances. Joe and Rae Ingram (Neill and Kidman) do the right thing and rescue the half-delirious sole survivor (Zane) of a crippled schooner. But soon the stranger will plunge the unwary pair into an intense battle of cat and mouse. And life or death.



The Film:

Recuperating from a family tragedy, a seasoned seaman (Neill) and his young wife (Kidman) sail their yacht, the Saracen, off the coast of Australia. Spotting a stricken boat, the Orpheus, they are amazed when a terrified young man (Zane) rows towards them, climbs aboard, and tells a horrifying story about an attack of food poisoning which he alone survived.

But when Neill rows to the Orpheus to investigate, he is astonished to see his yacht, complete with wife and dog, sail off in the opposite direction with Zane at the wheel. Aboard the sinking Orpheus, Neill finds evidence of the marine hitchiker's lunacy; meanwhile, on the Saracen, Kidman is learning the hard way. A classic piece of pared-down genre film-making is lent extra depth by an emotional subtext stressing Kidman's transition from dependent wife to resourceful individual. Director Noyce's bravura camerawork conspires with Terry Hayes' spare script (adapted from the novel by Charles Williams) and some edgy cutting to exploit every ounce of tension, right down to a killer ending.

Excerpt from TimeOut located HERE



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

Once again a surprisingly strong single-layered effort from Warner. Depending on how large you are projecting - noise isn't much of a factor. It probably looked quite similar to this theatrically over 20 years ago.  Almost exclusively natural daylight sequences - the image is consistently bright outdoors with rich colors and acceptable contrast. This Blu-ray shows some strong detail in close-ups. It's smooth, clear, blemish-free but maybe slightly glossy. There is definitely some grain in the backgrounds - but it's not a lot. Along with the excellent cinematography this makes for a good, if not pristine, presentation.


















Audio :

No 'surround' boost - it's a Dolby TrueHD 2.0 channel at a weak 711 kbps. This is a bit disappointing as the film carries some wonderfully subtle cues in the score. The music where Rae is sailing to save John seems as if it should have more depth, bass... and impact. I don't see why this particular title wasn't given the option of a more robust mix. There are plenty of instances the track would have benefited from some separation but as it stands - it sounds surprisingly potent for it's limitations. There is a Japanese DUB and optional English, French and Japanese subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.




Extras :

The supplements consist of only a trailer in SD. That's all folks.


Great, suspenseful, film that was a pleasure revisiting in 1080P.  Surprising how much the 21-year old Kidman has changed. Although I'm a little disappointed in the Blu-ray audio I think highly enough of the film to appreciate seeing it look this solid. It's no reference disc but it makes for a fabulous viewing in the home theater one late Friday night. Warner should get their act together with further A/V upgrades and new supplements.

NOTE: The Amazon.com price seems high considering the lack of extras but it seems cheaper at Amazon.ca at the writing of this review. 

Gary Tooze

August 25th, 2009





About the Reviewer: 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
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
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








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