S E A R C H D V D B e a v e r
The Burning Plain [Blu-ray]
(Guillermo Arriaga, 2008)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: 2929 Productions
Video:Magnolia Home Video
Region: A (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 24,272,891,256 bytes
Feature Size: 18,511,712,256 bytes
Video Bitrate: 18.90 Mbps
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: January 12th, 2009
Aspect ratio: 2.35:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: VC-1 Video
DTS-HD Master Audio English 2920 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2920 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
English, Spanish, none
•The Making of The Burning Plain (43:27 in SD)
• The Music of The Burning Plain (15:31 in SD)
• HDNet - A Look at The Burning Plain(4:46 in HD!)
• 4 Previews for other Magnolia Blu-rays (8:31 in HD!)
Description: Sylvia (Charlize Theron) is a beautiful restaurant manager whose cool, professional demeanor masks the sexually-charged storm within. When a stranger from Mexico confronts her with her dark and hidden past, Sylvia is launched into a journey, painfully forcing her to face her demons and the past she thought she had left behind. From the internationally acclaimed writer of Babel, 21 Grams and Amores Perros, and starring Oscar Winners Charlize Theron and Kim Basinger, The Burning Plain depicts the harrowing story of a woman on the edge who takes and emotional journey back to the defining moment of her life.
Beautifully shot, emotionally engaging drama with a great script and
terrific performances from Charlize Theron, Kim Basinger and newcomer
Magnolia Entertainment chooses another strong, under-marketed, film (bad poster too!) rendered with a decent but limiting single-layered transfer (see Two Lovers, The Great Buck Howard, Surveillance and Life Before Her Eyes). The Blu-ray looks adequate but lacks some depth although detail, colors and contrast are generally well above the SD-DVD format level. Beautiful scenes are more the credit of Elswit + Toll's cinematography and the exquisite Oregon coast and desert landscapes of Las Cruces, New Mexico - than the lackluster 1080P VC-1 transfer which can look a shade softer than you might anticipate. There is limited grain and no discernable DNR. In short, this looks good enough to support the film well - but not particularly great (perhaps we are spoiled.)
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
The DTS-HD Master 5.1 at 2920 kbps is solid. The film has some aggression with crashing waves, crackling fire, plane engines and also the subtle whistling winds in the wheat fieldsthat reach back to the rear speakers. No gunplay is involved and dialogue is occasionally softly spoken but nothing that deterred following the film's pace. There are optional English or Spanish subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked disc.
The supplements consists of two featurettes lasting about an hour in total. I enjoyed both - in the 'Making Of...' Arriaga explains his motivations and concepts of the story he wrote and expands on some of the performances and his appreciation for the various crew. There is a 15-minute piece on the Omar Rodriguez-Lopez's music (also Hans Zimmer is credited), Magnolia's usual, insufferable, HDNet plug and some Previews in HD. There is a Bookmark feature and untested BD-LIVE functionality. I have the feeling a commentary may have been in the offing but none surfaces on this Blu-ray.
The Blu-ray transfer is nothing to rave over - superior to SD and worth it for the significant vista shots just don't expect the 'best' this format has to offer. There is a UK Blu-ray HERE that I am tempted to pick up and compare but imagine the quality is not far off this Magnolia release. Well, I strongly recommend this film and this Blu-ray is the best way to view it in your home theater. I suggest giving this a spin especially if you liked Arriaga's penned film work like 21 Grams or The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada.
* Sylvia (Charlize Theron) -> Water
January 4th, 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
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze