H D - S E N S E I

A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

 

Contact [Blu-ray]

 

(Robert Zemeckis, 1997)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Warner

Video: Warner Home Video

 

Disc:

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

Runtime: 2:29:40.888

Disc Size: 39,629,167,579 bytes

Feature Size: 37,252,349,952 bytes

Video Bitrate: 23.20 Mbps

Chapters: 42

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: October 6th, 2009

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 2.4:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: VC-1 Video

 

Audio:

Dolby TrueHD Audio English 1457 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1457 kbps / 16-bit (AC3 Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps)
Music Track only: Dolby Digital Audio English 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps
DUBs: Dolby Digital Audio French 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio German 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio Italian 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio Japanese 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps

Dolby Digital Audio Portuguese 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / Dolby Surround
Commentaries: Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / Dolby Surround
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / Dolby Surround
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / Dolby Surround

 

Subtitles:

English, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish, none

 

Extras:

Audio commentary by Jodie Foster
Audio commentary by director Robert Zemeckis and producer Steve Starkey
Audio commentary by Visual Effects supervisors Ken Ralston and Stephen Rosenbaum

Special Effects Featurettes

• The Making of the Opening Shot
• The Making of the NASA Machine Destruction
• The Making of the Harrier Landing
• The High Speed Composition Reel

• Machine Fly By
• Hadden’s Plane
• NASA Control Room

• 5.1 Music Only Audio Track

• Two Theatrical trailers

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: Two-time Oscar winner Jodie Foster stars in this visionary drama based on Carl Sagan's novel about human kind's first encounter with extraterrestrial life directed by another Oscar winner Robert Zemeckis. Starring: Angela Bassett Jodie Foster John Hurt Rob Lowe Matthew McConaughey David Morse Tom Skerritt and James Woods.

 

 

The Film:

Contact is likely to change a lot of perceptions -- not only about the role of humankind in the universe, but about what special effects can do for a movie when they're used in the service of a story, rather than the other way around. Contact is that rare big-budget motion picture that places ideas, characters, and plot above everything else. The film takes the richness of astronomer Carl Sagan's bestselling 1985 novel and re-invents it for the screen, retaining all the power and fascination of the book while adding a visual aspect that will not disappoint devoted fans. Contact is as close as recent Hollywood productions have come to a perfect example of cinema. All the elements are not only in place, but effectively realized. This is the kind of motion picture that restores one's faith in what can be produced when a large budget is used wisely.

The participation of a superlative cast and crew doesn't always guarantee success, but, in this case, the high expectations have been met. On the acting side, Contact stars two-time Oscar winner Jodie Foster alongside rising star Matthew McConaughey and veterans James Woods and Tom Skerritt. The film is directed and co-produced by Robert Zemeckis, whose last effort was 1994's box office smash, Forrest Gump. And, until his death in December 1996, Sagan served as a story consultant and scientific advisor.

Excerpt from James Berardinelli at Reelviews located HERE

 

 


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

Looking at the comparison captures from the 1997 snapper-cased DVD - it seems the older transfer has vertically stretched the image to some degree with longer faces. But, most unfortunately, the Blu-ray has issue of it's own including egregious use of DNR. Not to sound like Johnny Cochran but "those who project - will reject". It was even visible on my 60" plasma - but probably more because I was looking for it. Those less sensitive to DNR weakness will probably be content with the image which - if you look closely - actually loses some background details in the noise-removal softening. It's also cropped a bit from that older digital rendering. Colors are ridiculously bright at times with the HD-broadcast probably being most accurate - and realistic. Grain is not apparent to the degree that it should be on the Blu-ray - and has a strange banding to it when it is more visible in backgrounds. The only region 1 DVD release I am aware of is the 12-year old one that obviously has it's inferiorities - although was seen to be quite stellar for it's time. While on a surface level the Blu-ray image trounces it - the new 1080P visuals, with a much higher bitrate, should definitely look MUCH better. The filtering continues to be an issue with a few studios - giving fans the glossy-perception while removing the film grain and its image's integrity.   

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

NOTE: Big thanks to madshi of http://www.madshi.net/ for the HD-broadcast captures!

 

1997 Snapper cased NTSC DVD TOP vs. Region FREE - Blu-ray MIDDLE vs. HD-Broadcast - BOTTOM

 

 

1997 Snapper cased NTSC DVD TOP vs. Region FREE - Blu-ray MIDDLE vs. HD-Broadcast - BOTTOM

 

 

1997 Snapper cased NTSC DVD TOP vs. Region FREE - Blu-ray MIDDLE vs. HD-Broadcast - BOTTOM

 

 

1997 Snapper cased NTSC DVD TOP vs. Region FREE - Blu-ray MIDDLE vs. HD-Broadcast - BOTTOM

 

 

1997 Snapper cased NTSC DVD TOP vs. Region FREE - Blu-ray MIDDLE vs. HD-Broadcast - BOTTOM

 

 

1997 Snapper cased NTSC DVD TOP vs. Region FREE - Blu-ray MIDDLE vs. HD-Broadcast - BOTTOM

 

 

1997 Snapper cased NTSC DVD TOP vs. Region FREE - Blu-ray MIDDLE vs. HD-Broadcast - BOTTOM

 

 

1997 Snapper cased NTSC DVD TOP vs. Region FREE - Blu-ray MIDDLE vs. HD-Broadcast - BOTTOM

 

 

1997 Snapper cased NTSC DVD TOP vs. Region FREE - Blu-ray MIDDLE vs. HD-Broadcast - BOTTOM

 

 

1997 Snapper cased NTSC DVD TOP vs. Region FREE - Blu-ray MIDDLE vs. HD-Broadcast - BOTTOM

 

 

1997 Snapper cased NTSC DVD TOP vs. Region FREE - Blu-ray MIDDLE vs. HD-Broadcast - BOTTOM

 

 

1997 Snapper cased NTSC DVD TOP vs. Region FREE - Blu-ray MIDDLE vs. HD-Broadcast - BOTTOM

 

 

1997 Snapper cased NTSC DVD TOP vs. Region FREE - Blu-ray MIDDLE vs. HD-Broadcast - BOTTOM

 

 

1997 Snapper cased NTSC DVD TOP vs. Region FREE - Blu-ray MIDDLE vs. HD-Broadcast - BOTTOM

 

 

1997 Snapper cased NTSC DVD TOP vs. Region FREE - Blu-ray MIDDLE vs. HD-Broadcast - BOTTOM

 

 

1997 Snapper cased NTSC DVD TOP vs. Region FREE - Blu-ray MIDDLE vs. HD-Broadcast - BOTTOM

 

 

1997 Snapper cased NTSC DVD TOP vs. Region FREE - Blu-ray MIDDLE vs. HD-Broadcast - BOTTOM

 

 

Audio :

Warner is sticking with their TrueHD - and we have a 5.1 lossless offering at 1457 kbps. It comes into play more in the later sequences where the effects sounds are more aggressive. It seems a little weak in the bass and dynamic range but some subtleties appear that suit the profoundness of the film. We get a 5.1 Music Only Audio Track for those who might wish to indulge in Alan Silvestri's excellent original score.  There are multiple DUBs and subtitle options signifying this as the one-and-only international release. Correspondingly my Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.

 

 

 

Extras :

The supplements appear to duplicate the SE snapper-cased DVD with the three commentaries. I love listening to Jodie Foster - she is an intelligent, forthright speaker. The other two with director Robert Zemeckis and producer Steve Starkey + Visual Effects supervisors Ken Ralston and Stephen Rosenbaum are both good - if focusing on more production-related information. The Special Effects Featurettes are new - we get The Making of the Opening Shot, The Making of the NASA Machine Destruction, The Making of the Harrier Landing, The High Speed Composition Reel - Machine Fly By, Hadden’s Plane and NASA Control Room. There are two theatrical trailers but nothing appears to be in HD.

 

BOTTOM LINE:
I loved revisiting this film despite my reservations about the image integrity. It really is one of the more intelligent science-fiction films made in the 90's. I feel like Warner has dropped the ball to some degree but Home Theater devotees with less discerning expectations for the transfer will get more out of it. It leans far more to a videoy-look than film. Foster is just great in this and the commentaries are super for those who never owned the DVD.  

Gary Tooze

September 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 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 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:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
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)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze

 

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