S E A R C H D V D B e a v e r
(Steven Spielberg, 1997)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Deamworks SKG
Video: Dreamworks (Paramount)
Region: FREE! (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 49,890,354,277 bytes
Feature Size: 46,642,268,160 bytes
Video Bitrate: 32.75 Mbps
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: May 6th, 2014
Aspect ratio: 2.35:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
DTS-HD Master Audio English 4169 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 4169 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio French 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps
/ DN -4dB
English (SDH), English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, none
•The Making of Amistad (26:33 in SD)
• Trailer (2:38 in 1080P)
Description: This Steven Spielberg-directed exploration into a long-ago episode in African-American history recounts the trial that followed the 1839 rebellion aboard the Spanish slave ship Amistad and captures the complex political maneuverings set in motion by the event. Filmed in New England and Puerto Rico, the 152-minute drama opens with a pre-credit sequence showing Cinque (Djimon Hounsou) and the other Africans in a violent takeover of the Amistad. Captured, they are imprisoned in New England where former slave Theodore Joadson (Morgan Freeman), viewing the rebels as "freedom fighters," approaches property lawyer Baldwin (Matthew McConaughey), who attempts to prove the Africans were "stolen goods" because they were kidnapped. Running for re-election, President Martin Van Buren (Nigel Hawthorne) overturns the lower court's decision in favor of the Africans. Former President John Quincy Adams (Anthony Hopkins) is reluctant to become involved, but when the case moves on to the Supreme Court, Adams stirs emotions with a powerful defense. The storyline occasionally cuts away to Spain where the young Queen Isabella (Anna Paquin) plays with dolls; she later debated the Amistad case with seven U.S. presidents. The character portrayed by Morgan Freeman is a fictional composite of several historical figures. For authentic speech, the Africans speak the Mende language, subtitled during some scenes but not others
Power in Hollywood: a tired subject if ever there was one, but
''Amistad'' demonstrates what it really means. It's the ability to use
images like this flashback, and like the stark, agonizing depiction of
the captives' Atlantic crossing right afterward, to create the full
empathy and immediacy this subject matter deserves. It's the creative
means to bring any experience home to an audience, whether it comes from
a faraway planet or from our underexplored past. It's the ability to
make a $75 million holiday movie about a shameful chapter in American
history simply because one thinks that's the right thing to do.
The revolt on a Spanish slave ship off the coast of Cuba in 1839 put the
new American constitution to a severe test and gives Steven Spielberg an
opportunity to demonstrate his mastery of the cinematic arts.
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
2.5 hour Amistad comes to Blu-ray to the delight of, director, Steven Spielberg's fan-base. The image seems solid without manipulation. It's dual-layered with a very high bitrate. There is some variation in style between from the grainier flashbacks - helping signify the time differentiation. Colors are subdued and certain scenes (Ocean swimming getaway attempt) standout as bright and impressive. Fine grain textures are notable in the background. Contrast exhibits black levels that vary, appropriately, depending on the being indoor or outdoor. The film gives a vérité-leaning to the brightness - seemingly without much artificial lighting made obvious in the indoor scenes. Everything looks authentic to the original, IMO. There is no noise or glaring deficiencies - the visuals are very clean without speckles or damage. There is only minor depth - more a function of the period style. This Blu-ray does it's job well in terms of representing the film's video in 1080P resolution.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
A very robust DTS-HD Master 5.1 surround track at 4169 kbps is used and handles the myriad of effect noises and explosive aggression used in the seizure of the Spanish ship and the flashbacks. You can sense the film's aural power - and the track handles exporting the depth without issue. Spielberg’s go-to composer, John Williams has done the score with classical pieces included (Giovanni Battista Viotti's Andante from Quartet No. 2 In B Flat Major and Andantino from Quartet No. 3 In G Major). It has wonderful orchestrations with traditional African music chants (ex. Dry Your Tears, Afrika excerpted text from the poem by Bernard Dadié) and instruments sounding crisp in lossless. There are foreign-language DUBs and optional subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.
For supplements only the past, 26-minute, behind-the-scenes featurette (in SD) is included. It has detailed information on the production, characters. There is also a theatrical trailer in HD.
April 30th, 2014
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 5000 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.
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze
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