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dvd / blu-ray Review

Blackkklansman (DVD) : Review

Film

Review

Based on actual events, an African American police officer, Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) from Coloroado Springs, goes under cover and successfully manages to infiltrate the local Ku Klux Klan branch with the help of a Jewish surrogate, Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver – Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi, Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens), who eventually becomes its leader.

While dealing with topics that can both strike a nerve, and insight anger, Blackkklansman gives equal showing to the racial hatred and tensions caused by both The KKK and Black Panthers. The filmmakers have put any political bias aside, and given a straight account of the deeds perpetrated by these groups. However, the film is about an African American detective, and how he takes down a white supremacist group, so the story does follow those events closer.

Coming from a talented cast, and team of filmmakers, Blackkklansman is both a show of talent, and an engrossing story. Director Spike Lee has delivered a story that spans the race and political lines, educating as well as entertaining. It is clear to see why the film garnered multiple award nominations, including the upcoming Oscars.

Re-watch Value

Being a both a true story, and one again racial hatred, one might have enough political rhetoric and viewing of extremist groups after one sitting, so the desire to watch the film subsequent times would certainly depend on the viewer tolerance to these topics.

Disc

Overall, the disc is of an average technical quality. The navigation menu is once again the same cryptic symbols and auto-switching from Next Entertainment, meaning one can not simply pop the disc into a player and walk away to get snacks, as the disc will navigate from sub-menu to main menu, and then autoplay the main feature. Forcing a viewer to do this is pretty poor design, so why they insist on this is something of a mystery.

Poor disc design aside, the main feature is pretty good, and enjoyable.

Blackkklansman is available now, to purchase on disc, in South Africa.

Video

Video is encoded at a medium average bitrate. The disc is a dual layer, and almost completely full, leaving only a small percentage of free space. This would likely also account for why there are so few included bonus features, and why those features are so short.

There are no visible artefacts on-screen, nor any visible colour bleed. Details in darker scenes remain good though.

Viewers should be able to scale up to a larger or higher resolution screen, should they wish.

Audio

Audio is presented in a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, and encoded at a high average bitrate, with dialogue clear via the centre channel. The soundtrack relies heavily on the front channels, with very little use of the surround channels.

Navigation

The main menu on the disc has a static background, with poster image and accompanying music. Navigation is comprised of the usual cryptic symbols, and no text labels. Once in a sub-menu, the disc will return the viewer to the main menu after a minute. Once on the main menu, the disc will autoplay the main feature after just under a minute and a half.

The main menu has symbols to play the main feature, chapter selection, bonus features, audio language selection, and subtitle selection. The bonus features sub-menu also has accompanying background music.

The chapter selection sub-menus have four medium, colour, still thubmnails, for a total of twenty chapters. While these are numbered, they are not labelled, meaning that navigating to a particular point in the main feature would require some guesswork, so viewers might be better off using their own hardware or software to bookmark a favourite part of the film, or a place from which to resume viewing.

The bonus feature sub-menu has text links to each of the two included bonus features (detailed below).

The audio soundtrack selection sub-menu has text links to each of the available soundtracks, including English DVS (descriptive video service).

Lastly, the subtitle sub-menu has text links to each of the available subtitle languages, defaulting to no subtitles.

For viewers who might require some assistance decoding the symbols of the main navigation menu, a triangle is to play the main feature, book shape is chapters, asterisk symbol for bonus features, speaker icon for audio soundtrack, and square with lines for the subtitle menu.

Bonus Features

A Spike Lee Joint – Some behind the scenes footage, and some commentary by cast and crew, in this very short featurette. This was likely a short television spot before the original release of the film, but does provide a small amount of insight into the film and the making thereof.

Blackkklansman Extended Trailer Featuring Prince’s “Mary Don’t You Weep” – The film’s trailer, with the song by Prince, coming in at about the same length as the aforementioned “A Spike Lee Joint”.

There is also a trailer that autoplays at the beginning of the disc for Tales from the Hood 2, also by Spike Lee.

Packaging

The disc packaging is the standard DVD jewel case, with a poster on the front. The back has a short synopsis, a listing of bonus features, some stills from the main feature, and the usual technical information and symbols.

There are no package inserts in the case, such as chapter listing.

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dvd / blu-ray Review

The Nun (DVD) : Review

Film

Review

Based in the same universe as The Conjuring and Annabelle movies, and featuring the demonic nun (Bonnie Aarons – Annabelle: Creation) that scared viewers in The Conjuring 2, The Nun takes us on a trip away from the bustle of the city and suburbia, and to Romania where Father Burke (Demián Bichir – Alien: Covenant) and Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga) have been sent to an old abbey to confront evil, and face their fears.

With Sister Irene not having taken her final vows, and Father Burke unsure of what is to come, the two are lead to the area by Frenchie (Jonas Bloquet – 3 Days to KillThe Family).

Read the full SAMDB review of The Nun.

Re-watch Value

Re-watch value on The Nun is average. It is certainly worth further viewings, especially if one is a fan of The Conjuring Universe. But many of the tense, scary moments would be lost in subsequent sittings. Still a good scare, and some creepy horror to enjoy.

Disc

Overall, this is a decent disc technically, with an enjoyable main feature.

The Nun is available now, to purchase on disc, in South Africa.

Video

Video is encoded at a medium average bitrate. With the disc using just over the space provided by one layer, one wonders why the bitrate might not have been increased, or more bonus material added.

There are no visible artefacts on-screen. Colours are vibrant where needed, with no visible colour bleed. Darker scenes, of which there are several, maintain a decent amount of detail.

Viewers with the necessary hardware or software could scale up to a larger or higher resolution screen, should they wish.

Audio

Audio is compressed at a high average bitrate, and presented in a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack.

Dialogue is clear via the centre channel, with great use made of the surround channels, and LFE channel, especially during the more intense scenes.

There is a decent amount of use made of the surround channels, with discreet effects and ambience.

Navigation

Navigation is simple, with a static main menu and accompanying music. The background is a poster for the film. There are text links to play the main feature, scene selection, languages, and special features.

The scene selection sub-menus contain six and five medium, colour, still thumbnails each, for a total of eleven chapters. While these are numbered, they are not labelled, meaning that navigation to a specific part of the main feature would require some guesswork. There are also no package inserts with chapter listings included in the packaging.

The languages sub-menu has a text list of audio languages (including English Descriptive Audio), and a text list of subtitle languages (including English for the deaf or hard of hearing).

The special features sub-menu has a solitary text link to the only bonus feature on the disc.

Bonus Features

A New Horror Icon – This short featurette gives the viewer a look behind the scenes for some of the film, it introduces to Bonnie Aarons, and provides insight into The Conjuring Universe, and how The Nun fits in. Spoiler alert, so best to watch this after seeing the main feature.

There are no trailers that autoplay at the beginning of the disc.

Packaging

Packaging for The Nun is a standard DVD jewel case, with poster on the front. The back has a short synopsis of the film, a few stills taken from the main feature, and the usual technical information and logos.

There are no package inserts in the case.

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dvd / blu-ray Review

Mission Impossible – Fallout (DVD) : Review

Film

Review

IMF leader Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise – American MadeThe Mummy), and his team of Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames – Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation), Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg – Ready Player OneStar Trek: Beyond), are once again on a mission to save the world. And once again the various government and spy agencies are working their own agenda, and once again there are villains set to create global chaos.

Another in a long line of Mission Impossible films, upping the ante with each incarnation.

Read the full SAMDB review of Mission Impossible – Fallout.

Re-watch Value

As with any film in the Mission: Impossible series, there is a ton of action, many extra-ordinary locations, and a bunch of people who are not who they seem, either through lies and working against those they are closest to, or just downright wearing a mask.

For those reasons, and many more, these films always have a decent amount of re-watch value attached, and what better way to relive those moments than to add this latest title to one’s home collection of movies.

Disc

Overall, the disc is of a decent technical quality, with a fun, action film as the main feature.

Mission Impossible – Fallout is available now, to purchase on disc, in South Africa.

Video

Video is encoded at a decent average bitrate. While this does vary according to scene detail, and the amount of on-screen action at any one time, there are no visible artefacts on-screen, nor any visible colour bleed. Detail in the faster paced or darker scenes is still good. Considering that almost all available space on the dual layer disc is used, this would amount to efficient use of what is available.

Viewers with the necessary hardware or software could scale up to a larger or higher resolution screen, should they wish.

Audio

Audio is presented in a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, and encoded at a high average bitrate. There is no downmix option to stereo on the disc, so viewers would need to rely on their hardware or software for this, should they not have a surround sound system.

Dialogue is clear via the centre channel, with much use of the surround channels throughout the film, for both music, and ambience. The many action scenes do make a fair amount of discrete use of the front and surround channels.

Navigation

Navigation is simple, and easy to follow. The disc loads into the main menu, which has a motion background featuring some rapid clips from the film, and with accompanying music of the films theme.

The main menu has text links to play the main feature, audio options, subtitles, and scene selection.

The audio options sub-menu has a text list of available languages (but does not give a choice via the menu, for stereo or surround). There is no descriptive audio soundtrack.

The subtitles sub-menu has a text list of available subtitle languages. Absent here though are subtitles for the deaf or hearing impaired.

The scene selection sub-menu has four colour, still, medium sized thumbnails per page, for a total of sixteen chapters. While these are numbered, they are not labelled, nor is there any sort of chapter listing in the disc packaging. This would mean that navigating to a particular part of the main film would require an amount of guesswork, and viewers might do better to use their own hardware or software to bookmark a favourite part of the film, or place where they can continue watching from.

Bonus Features

There are no bonus feature on the disc. Not even trailers that autoplay at the beginning of some discs.

Packaging

Packaging is a standard DVD jewel case, with a poster on the front. The back of the case has a short synopsis, a few stills from the film, and the usual technical information and logos.

There are no package inserts, such as chapter listings.

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dvd / blu-ray Review

The Spy Who Dumped Me (DVD) : Review

Film

Review

Best friends Audrey (Mila Kunis – Jupiter Ascending) and Morgan (Kate McKinnon – Masterminds, Ghostbusters) manage to get themselves tangled up in an international espionage story, when they discover that Audrey’s ex-boyfriend Drew (Justin Theroux – Star Wars VII – The Last Jedi, The Lego Ninjago Movie) is in fact a spy.

Following the bungling journey of Audrey and Morgan is a laugh. They two have the best intentions, but just don’t seem to quite understand the world. The film has a little something for everyone, with drama, romance, action, and laughs. The filmmakers have got the recipe spot on, mixing just the right amount of each, as they whisk one along from start to finish, in a plot that isn’t too hard to follow, yet not wholly predictable.

Playing off each others good and bad points, Audrey and Morgan are a blast. One wants them to succeed, while totally understanding many of the motives behind Drew’s actions, even so far as the almost school girl behaviour as they duo encounter secret agent boss Wendy (Gillian Anderson – Robot Overlords).

A film that provides the perfect escape for a few hours, with good laughs, and some tense action. Really one to catch on a lazy day with friends. Just heed the warnings about audio issues below.

Re-watch Value

Re-watch value on the film, given the many action scenes, and fast paced humour, is reasonably high. But as mentioned below, there is a serious issue with the surround soundtrack. So currently, it is not worth buying this film on DVD, let alone actually watching it more than once. A pity that such an issue could be allowed to slip past in the manufacturing process.

Disc

Over all, the disc is of a rather poor quality. From South African disc manufacturers Next Entertainment. The serious issues in the surround soundtrack of the film totally ruin a rather fun, and funny, movie. Watching this in plain stereo, as a workaround, is not the answer to a technical flaw.

The Spy Who Dumped Me is available now, to purchase on disc, in South Africa.

Video

Video is encoded at a high average bitrate, with no visible artefacts on-screen. There is no visible colour bleed, but colours in several scenes are desaturated. This is a decision by the filmmakers. Details in the darker scenes is good.

Viewers with the necessary hardware or software could scale up to a larger or higher resolution screen, should they wish.

Audio

Audio is encoded at a high average bitrate, and presented in both a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, as well as a Dolby Stereo 2.0 soundtrack. However, there is a serious problem with the surround soundtrack, where the entire soundscape appears to be rotated. Dialogue is heard mainly from the left surround channel, and very little audio via the centre speaker. This is very disconcerting when watching the on-screen action, and totally ruins any action or humour in the film. This is totally unacceptable on a disc, and once again a technical issue that should have been spotted in any quality assurance checks before the disc master was pressed.

Playing the disc and using only the stereo soundtrack makes for a less distracted viewer experience, but the greater level of immersion one gets from a surround track is lost.

Next Entertainment have responded to this issue, saying they have investigated, and find no fault. Sad, as this is glaringly obvious when you start playing the disc. And even more so once the disc is run through the usual software (and more) that is used for the technical portion of these reviews. This is not an error that would occur on just one disc during manufacturing. This is a digital error, made when the disc master was first being created, before being sent off to be pressed commercially. This really does not bode well for encouraging the viewing audience to purchase discs, as apposed to the popular pastime of downloading the film on a torrent, which hurts the entire industry.

Navigation

Navigation is simple, and easy to follow. The disc loads directly to the main menu. The main menu has a motion background showing some clips from the main feature, with accompanying music.

The menu has text links to play the main feature, scene selection, and setup.

The scene selection sub-menus have ten medium, colour, still thumbnails, for the total of twenty chapters. While these are numbered, they are not labelled, nor is there a chapter listing included in the packaging, meaning navigation to a specific part of the main feature would require an amount of guesswork.

The setup sub-menu has text options to select between Dolby Surround or Dolby Stereo.

Bonus Features

There are no bonus features on the disc, not even the trailers that would sometimes autoplay at the beginning of some discs.

Packaging

The packaging is the usual DVD jewel case, with a poster on the front containing the film title, and main cast listing. The back has a few stills from the film, a short synopsis, and the usual technical logos and information.

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dvd / blu-ray Review

The Meg (DVD) : Review

Film

Review

Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham – Fast & Furious 8, Fast & Furious 7) is a tough guy with a sad story. who escaped an attack by a seventy foot shark must now confront any fears he may have, and save a team trapped in a sunken submersible. Of course, all the time, danger looms. Is there indeed a large shark in the water; the Megalodon, or was this a figment of Taylor’s imagination. Lives are at stake.

The Meg starts off with some back story, an incident, and some rather impressive sets (of which we don’t see enough of). Then our hero is on the scene, to put things right.

And so we are thrown head first into an action movie. The Meg is your average action film. Spectacular stunts, tough fights, and close calls. There’s the usual touch of mixed personalities, and arguments in a group. Yet, the film is fun. It’s enjoyable. It’s an afternoon of escape.

The visuals are certainly stunning, and Statham is his usual self. The Meg is one of those film that can distract a viewer from their daily troubles for a few hours, while they watch the hero battle with his (hopefully his troubles are indeed the larger troubles). The plot is straight forward, the story is easy to follow. So have a thrill, and enjoy the ride.

Re-watch Value

With a film that contains more visual and action scenes than actual drama scenes, it can be easy to get into a mood where one is looking for a simple detraction, and to while away a few hours yet again. For this reason, the film would have a level of rewatch value.

Disc

Overall, the disc is of a decent technical standard, albeit with just the one bonus feature. The main feature is enjoyable too.

Video

Video is encoded at a decent average bitrate. This is variable, meaning that compression is more in slower scenes, yet has a higher bitrate during action scenes, where motion on-screen is faster and the need for additional detail is greater.

There are no visible artefacts on-screen, nor any visible colour bleed. Colour are vibrant, and detail in the darker scenes good.

Viewers with the necessary hardware or software could scale up to a larger or higher resolution screen, should they wish.

Audio

Audio is encoded at a high average bitrate, and presented in a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack.

Dialogue is clear via the centre speaker, with fair use of the surround channels to expand the on-screen world, and further draw the viewer into the action.

Use of descreet audio panning between the channels is good.

Audio on the menu does appear to be a lot louder than audio in the film and bonus feature, so forewarning should one change the volume a lot for the main feature.

Navigation

Navigation is simple, and easy to follow. The disc launches directly into the main menu. The main menu is static with accompanying background music and text links to play the main feature, scene selections, languages, and special features.

The scene selection sub-menus each contain six and five medium sized, colour, static thumbnails respectively, for a total of eleven chapters. With this small number, and the fact that these are only numbered, and not labelled, nor is there any sort of chapter listing insert in the packaging, this would mean that navigating to a specific place in the film would require an amount of guesswork. Viewers would do better to use their own software or hardware to create bookmarks for places they with to view again.

The languages sub-menu has a text list of audio languages, including English Descriptive Audio, and a text list of available subtitles, including English for the deaf and hard of hearing.

The bonus features sub-menu has a text link for the one extra feature on the disc.

Bonus Features

Chomp on This: The Making of The Meg – A short featurette with some behind the scenes footage, and interviews with cast and crew, starting with director Jon Turteltaub (Last Vegas) and producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura (Maze Runner: The Death Cure, American Assassin) talking about why they hoped to have actor Jason Statham in the film.

Crew interviews also provide an insight to the viewer about how some of the water sequences were filmed, and about filming in the middle of the ocean.

While short, the featurette does shed light on the filmmaking process of The Meg, and would be of interesting to fans and budding filmmakers alike.

Read some more about the megalodon, from the 2 Oceans Aquerium, in Cape Town: www.aquarium.co.za/blog/entry/megalodon-largest-shark-ever-facts-myth-truth-is-it-alive-extinct

Packaging

Packaging is standard, with a poster on the front with title and main cast listing. The back of the case has a short synopsis, bonus feature listing, and the usual technical information and logos.

There are no package inserts, such as chapter listing, including in the case.

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dvd / blu-ray Review

The Predator (DVD) : Review

Film

Review

Over thirty years have passed since film audiences were introduced to the alien creature that hunts violent humans on Earth, and we are again treated to an action packed outing in the Predator universe.

When soldier Quinn McKenna’s (Boyd Holbrook – Logan, Morgan) son Rory (Jacob Tremblay – Shut In, The Smurfs 2) accidentally triggers some Predator technology, it falls to a group of misfit soldiers, and scientist Casey Brackett (Olivia Munn – The Lego Ninjago Movie, X-Men: Apocalypse) to figure out the alien plans, and not only save themselves, and Quinn’s family, but possible the entire world. All the while avoiding government man Traeger (Sterling K. Brown – Black Panther)

Much to the chagrin of Quinn’s wife Emily (Yvonne Strahovski – I, Frankenstein), from whom he is separated, Quinn brings the entire troupe, consisting of Nebraska Williams (Trevante Rhodes), Coyle (Keegan-Michael Key – Get Out, Storks), Baxley (Thomas Jane), Nettles (Augusto Aguilera), and Lynch (Alfie Allen), into their house as they prepare for a war.

The Predator is an action romp, and while it lacks the nostalgic bravado of the first film, and the tension of the second, it does well to restore the franchise, and introduce the near unstoppable creature to a new generation, and thrill those who have been with the series from the start. The film reels one in, but just not far enough. It is certainly entertaining, great effects, and plenty of action, but there is that little something be it humour, perhaps the over the top violence of the 80’s, or just the fact that so much of the mystery has been taken out of the creature after so many outings on the big screen.

The cast most certainly have a great deal off off-screen camaraderie going, and this is evident in their on-screen characters, feeling and looking just like an actual military unit. The alien technology goes just far enough to stand out, but stops before venturing into the realm of unbelievable, keeping things grounded, and letting one know that while the battle will most certainly be tough, we here on Earth might just stand a chance.

Explosive fun in a pumping action film, that should most certainly be a part of any movie collection, The Predator takes one on an explosive ride, with some rather glib humour along the way. Sit back, strap in, and head for the chopper.

Re-watch Value

Being part of a franchise, and one that has a cross-over to the Alien universe, there will be a fair amount of rewatch value to the film.

After watching the bonus features on the disc, and hearing from the director and cast about some of the training, research, and subtle choices made by the actors, one is sure to want to go back to the film see any of those that were missed during an initial viewing. Hearing from the cast certainly changes some of the scenes of the film, adding a touch of depth to what might otherwise have been just your average action / science fiction movie.

Disc

Overall, the disc is of a decent technical quality, with some entertaining bonus features, and a fun main film.

The Predator is available now, to purchase on disc, in South Africa.

Video

Video is encoded at a variable bitrate, that is at a decent rate during the action scenes, and drops down a lot lower during scenes where there is a lot less motion. There are, however, no artefacts visible on-screen, and while much of the film’s story takes place at night, there is no visible colour bleed. Details in these many darker scenes is still good.

Viewers with the relevant hardware or software can scale up to a larger or higher resolution screen, should they wish.

Audio

Audio is encoded at a high average bitrate, and presented in a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. Dialogue is clear via the centre speaker. There is ample use of the surround channels, especially in action scenes, serving to expand the on-screen action, and further draw the viewer into the story.

Navigation

Navigation is simple, and easy to follow. The main navigation screen has a still background with accompanying music. There are text links to play the main feature, set up, scenes, and extras.

They set up sub-menu has a text list of audio and subtitle languages to choose from, including English descriptive audio, and subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing.

The scenes sub-menu has four large, still, colour thumbnails per page, for a total of thirty two chapters. While these are numbered, they are not labelled, nor is there any chapter listing in the DVD case, meaning that some guesswork would be required to find a specific part of the film.

The extras sub-menu has a text list of the all the bonus material included on the disc.

Bonus Features

The disc holds a good number of bonus features, with those showing behind the scenes of a decent length too, lasting more than a few minutes. An interesting look at the making of the film, and how far the series has come as far as effects and story goes.

Deleted Scenes – Four scenes removed from the main feature. There is unfortunately no commentary on why they were removed, but it is on can deduce the reasons, being most likely for pacing, and overall feature length. These can be accessed individually, or via a playlist to play all of them in succession, with a title prior to each scene.

While there is no additional information provided by the filmmakers as to why these were removed, as it is just the scenes that play, these are still great to have as they add a small amount to the story, when watched after seeing the film.

A Touch Of Black – Everything about writer, director, the man who is Shane Black. This feature takes a look at both the past and present work of Black, relating to the franchise. For someone who has the list of nostalgic titles such as his, to their name, it bring a sense of amusement to see how those films, and the work of Black, has influenced the actors that now appear in this latest incarnation of The Predator and the franchise. And interesting feature to watch, with some fun background information on the crew.

Predator Evolution – A look at how the Predator has evolved since the first film, both as a creature, and all the technology and armour it brings with it. The cast and crew discuss their experience both on set as character and actor, as well as how things have progressed for those who created the creature and suit.

Along with cast and crew interviews, there is a decent amount of behind the scenes footage of the Predator in action

The Takedown Team – A look at the cast, as a military type unit, with the show of camaraderie, and the inherent humour the actors bring to the scenes and their characters. In so doing, the film does hearken back to the feel of the first film, the tough guys who throw out glib lines in the midst of a battle.

A great look too, behind the scenes at the military training by the cast, and how they put in months of time prior to filming, to get things just right for their character and the movie.

Predator Catch-up – The viewer is treated to a look at how far the Predator creature, and the film franchise has come since the first movie, showing a summary of each film in the form of short clips from each movie, covering Predator, Predator 2 and Predators. No mention is made of the crossover films with Aliens vs Predator. The featurette only includes the edited video clips, and no narration or context, but should serve as a brief reminder to anyone who has indeed watched the films in recent time. If not, it would be wise to watch those before watching this latest incarnation.

Gallery – A collection of art and images from the film. An interesting addition for those who wish to see the various elements, locations, vehicles and Predator looks from the conceptualisation stage of the film.

The gallery starts with on-screen instructions on how to navigate, or there is an option to automatically advance the images.

Packaging

Packaging is a standard DVD jewel case, with a poster on the front. The back has a short synopsis, an incomplete list of bonus features (there are more on the disc than what is mentioned here), some stills from the film, and the usual technical information and logos.

There are no packages inserts, such as chapter listing, included in the case.

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dvd / blu-ray Review

Incredibles 2 (3D Blu-Ray) : Review

Film

It has been some time since the events of the The Incredibles, and superheroes are now listed as illegal. Bob Parr / Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson – Gold) very much wants to get back into the game, but is left looking after the kids, Violet (Sarah Vowell), Dash (Huck Milner) and Jack-Jack (Eli Fucile), when Helen / Elastigirl (Holly Hunter – Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Jackie) is offered a chance to make the superhero name great again.

It is clear that animation has come a long way in the fourteen years since The Incredibles, but with Incredibles 2 this is not just a technical improvement. The story and characters feel more rounded, and fleshed out. The story is enjoyable and engrossing, with more than enough for both young and old viewers, which is sure to keep most riveted.

One would expect nothing less than a top film from Disney / Pixar, and they do not disappoint with this one. Certainly one to own, and most definitely one to see.

Rewatch Value

The rewatch value of Incredibles 2 is likely a little higher for the younger viewer, owing to the barrage of little idiosyncrasies that come out in the main characters, and of course the many funny antics and situations. For an older audience, it would be the laughter and overall story. Either way, this is one film that can be watched over and over.

Disc

The disc is of a good technical quality, with a fun main feature. It is evident that those involved put thought into creating an impressive disc.

There is both a 2D and 3D version of the film included, each on it’s own disc. The 2D disc contains all of the bonus features, while the 3D one has only one of the short films included.

Incredibles 2 is available now, to purchase on disc, in South Africa.

Video

Video is encoded at a high average bitrate. There are no visible artefacts on-screen. Colours are vibrant, with no visible colour bleed. Details in darker or faster paced scenes are good too.

Viewers with the necessary hardware or software could scale up to a larger or higher resolution screen, should they wish.

Audio

Audio is encoded at a high average bitrate, and presented in a DTS-HD 7.1, DTS-HD 5.1, and Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack, with a descriptive audio track for those requiring that option. The two short films in the bonus features also include this selection of audio soundtracks.

Dialogue is clear via the centre speaker, with great use made of the surround channels, especially in 7.1 mode. The audio soundscape is large, expanding the on-screen world, and drawing the viewer into the action. The sound design of the film is superb, bringing the world to life.

With so many well mixed audio options, the only thing missing would be an Atmos soundtrack.

Navigation

Navigation is simple, and easy to follow. The disc has a motion background with drawings depicting the film’s characters. There is also accompanying music. Navigation is via a menu bar across the bottom of the screen, with options to play the main feature, bonus features, scene selection, set up, and sneak peeks.

The bonus features pop-up menu has a text listing of the various additional material included on the disc.

The scene selection pop-menu comprises of a series of medium sized, still, colour thumbnails, three on-screen at a time that allow the viewer to select a scene of their choosing. These are both numbered, and labelled. There is also a moving timeline below these, showing relative position in the overall film, as well as a time counter. This should all make things as easy as possible to find a particular chapter, from the total of thirty. The only way to navigate more precise, would be to use the bookmark function of one’s own hardware or software player.

The set up pop-up menu has three further text options, namely languages, subtitles, and Maximizer. The languages option branches to a list of audio languages (including English 7.1, 5.1, 2.0, and a descriptive audio track), as does the subtitles option. The Maximizer option gives the viewer a series of still screens with instructions on how to set up both screen and speakers, with test patterns and explanations, as well as audio tests. This is always something good to run when getting new home cinema gear, or any new hardware or software (including software drivers), to ensure one enjoys the film the best way possible on the given hardware.

The sneak peeks option plays a trailer for the upcoming Disney release of Mary Poppins Returns, and an advert for Disneyland Paris 25th anniversary.

Bonus Features

There are only a few bonus features on the disc. These few are all of a really top quality. It’s a pity there are so few, but these are fun additions. The included 3D disc only contains Bao, while the 2D disc contains all of the below.

Bao – A short film about a Chinese-Canadian woman suffering from empty nest syndrome. She gets a second shot at motherhood when one of her handmade dumplings comes alive, and we get to follow her daily routine encountering some of the typical issues one has at every stage of having a child. Top quality, with a few laughs.

Auntie Edna – A funny short film showing the time Jack-Jack spent at Edna’s, something we do not get to see in the film, but now all is revealed. This is not just some extra insight to the main story, but a fun and amusing film. Sure to be enjoyed by viewers both young and old.

Strong Coffee: A Lesson In Animation With Brad Bird – The viewer is taken behind the scenes and gets a look at the whole animation creative process, with a peek at several stages of the workflow. Interviews with many of the filmmakers and animators provides lots of interesting insight for viewers and budding filmmakers alike. We also get to learn how Brad Bird got the label of Strong Coffee.

Feature Commentary – One of the audio soundtracks provides a commentary with writer / director Brad Bird (Tomorrowland: A World Beyond), supervising animator Dave Mullins (Cars 3, Inside Out), supervising animator Alan Barillaro (Monsters University), additional story artist / character designer Tony Fucile, and animation second unit & crowds supervisor Bret Parker.

The team give an in depth talk on each of their respective jobs, how the team worked together, and a lot of insight on the whole process of animation, and making an animated film. A great addition for any viewer, or budding animator or filmmaker.

Info – Not really a bonus feature, but the usual text disclaimer about interviews and peoples opinions, etc. Not really something we would want to constantly access, but it’s there for the lawyer types.

Packaging

Packaging is standard, with a poster on the front of the case. The back has a short synopsis, some stills from the film and bonus features, as well as the usual technical info and logos.

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dvd / blu-ray Review

Ant-Man And The Wasp (Blu-Ray) : Review

Film

Following the events of Ant-Man, and further along, Captain America: Civil War, Scott Lang / Ant-Man (Paul Rudd – Sausage PartyAnt-Man) is now suffering the consequences of the decisions he made, and the support he lent to be a hero. Yet, Lang is also fighting another battle, that of family and father.

Soon, he is approached very persuasively, by Hope van Dyne / Wasp (Evangeline Lilly – The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug) and her father, Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas – Last Vegas) with an mission that will ripple through the world of many, affecting countless lives, as Lang must now not only overcome personal obstacles, but needs to learn to work as a team as the choices of the past catch up to all.

Ant-Man and the Wasp, while possible to watch with one’s only background being the first Ant-Man film, forms part of the greater Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), meaning that there are not only many references in the story, based on its placement in time, but several small, and some large, setups that will forward the MCU major story arch, as a whole. Most certainly, the aforementioned films would stand one in good stead, to watch. As would the recent Avengers: Infinity War.

Rewatch Value

Being part of the MCU automatically adds a great deal of rewatch value to the film, however, the Ant-Man and the Wasp holds its own, and even as a stand-alone film, there is plenty of reason for subsequent viewings. Thoroughly enjoyable, packed with action, and that Marvel goodness we all know.

Read the full SAMDB review of Ant-Man and the Wasp.

Disc

Overall, the disc is of a decent technical quality, with a great main feature, and would do well with any film collection.

Ant-Man And The Wasp is available now, to purchase on disc, in South Africa.

Video

Video is encoded at a high average bitrate. There are no visible artefacts on-screen. Colours are vibrant, with no visible colour bleed. Details in darker or faster scenes are good too.

Viewers with the necessary hardware or software could scale up to a larger or higher resolution screen, should they wish.

Audio

Audio is compressed at a high average bitrate, and presented in a DTS-HD 7.1 mix. Dialogue is clear via the centre channel, with the front, rear and surround channels used to great effect, with distinct audio, to expand the on-screen world, and further draw the viewer into the action.

The soundscape is broad, and mixed in such as way as to constantly surround the viewer, and is used to great effect throughout the film.

Navigation

Navigation is simple, and easy to follow. On initial play, the viewer is asked to choose a disc language, then taken to the main menu, which consists of a motion background of some clips from the main feature, accompanying music, and navigation bar with text links to play the main feature, bonus features, scene selection, and set up.

The play sub-menu allows the viewer to choose between playing the film, or opting to play the film with an introduction by director Peyton Reed before.

The bonus features sub-menu has a text list of each bonus feature, with a further sub-menu for the ‘making of’ featurettes. Here the viewer can select each individually, or via a playlist that will play each of the four in succession. The same goes for the gag reel and outtakes, leading the viewer to a sub-menu,

The scene selection sub-menu has small, colour, still thumbnails, for a total of eighteen chapters.. These are both numbered and labelled, and so should help when trying to navigate to a particular part of the main film. It is worth noting, that navigation is not done via the thumbnails, but via a progress bar to the left of these thumbnails.

The setup sub-menu has further sub-menus for languages and subtitles. The languages sub-menus has a text list of available languages and sound formats, while the subtitles sub-menus has a list of available subtitle languages, or the option to turn them off.

Bonus Features

There are four bonus featurettes that shed light on the process and journey of making the film. These can be played one at at time, in any order, or via a playlist that will play them all.

Making-of Featurettes – There are a few short videos that take the viewer behind the scenes of the film, showing some on-set footage, and garnering input and insight from both cast and crew. While brief, these are sure to be of interest to fans and budding filmmakers alike, even if just for a once off viewing.

Back In The Ant Suit: Scott Lang: A look at the character Scott Lang / Ant-Man, with some behind the scenes footage of Paul Rudd. This is a short, yet insightful look at the character, where he comes from, and how far he has come since the first movie in the Ant-Man series, and some of the characters other outings in the MCU.

A Suit Of her Own: The Wasp: Hope Van Dyne / Wasp, a look at the character, the actress, and the question of whether Ant-Man does indeed need a partner, and if so, what must they overcome to realise this joining and team. Brief, but with some interesting input from cast and crew.

Subatomic Super Heroes: Hank & Jane: The team that started it all, with Michael Douglas and Michelle Pfeiffer. While this is about the two as an on-screen duo, the viewer is treated to some of the choices and thoughts of the actors themselves.

Quantum Perspective: The VFX And Production Design Of Ant-Man And The Wasp: The longest of the short featurettes included as bonus material on the disc, and how the various ideas for the stories main plot devices and effects were conceived. Again, with input from both cast and relevant crew, this is something that would be of interest to both fans and filmmakers.

Gag Reel And Outtakes – Some very brief clips with outtakes from Stan Lee and another set from Tim Heidecker. These, unfortunately, are not too funny, and do not feel like true outtakes, but rather more like a long list of improvised lines

Deleted Scenes – There are two deleted scenes included on the disc, which one can play individually, or play both via a playlist. There is also the option of either watching the scenes with or without audio commentary by director Peyton Reed. The scenes should prove of interest to fans and filmmakers alike, and the addition of the directory commentary for these scenes is a great added bonus.

Audio Commentary – An audio commentary by director Peyton Reed, that plays while one watches the main feature. He gives an insight into the story on-screen while talking, plus how these different story pieces fit together over the course of the film, and Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) as a whole, and of course the various story arcs between those. This commentary should prove interesting to fans of the film and MCU, and prove insightful to budding filmmakers. A great addition to the disc, and a great listen after watching the film.

Info – While this is not strictly a bonus feature, it is likely necessary for a host of reasons, and is basically a disclaimer for the interviews and opinions therein.

Packaging

Packaging is a standard Blu-Ray case, with a poster on the front, with the film title. The back has a short synopsis, with a listing of the bonus features, and the usual technical information and logos. There are no case inserts, but there is not really a need for anything such as chapters headings, as these are included on the actual disc, and would appear on-screen.

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dvd / blu-ray Review

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (DVD) : Review

Film

Once again Owen (Chris Pratt – Avengers: Infinity War, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2) and Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard – Gold) must put themselves on the island to rescue the dinosaurs from a dormant volcano that now threatens to erupt and wipe out all life in the park.

Since the first film, the dinosaurs have been left in peace, the island abandoned, but now we are returning, to save the creatures. While the first film was all about the park, the second in the Jurassic World series is more about the creatures, expanding the film setting and then bringing things down to a small and claustrophobic level, set to poke at inherent phobias of the viewer, akin to the bogyman at night.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, while a fun and engrossing film, does lack some of the awe and wonder that the first film brought. Perhaps because we know what to expect now, and perhaps because one can not help but compare this new trilogy to the original, causing one to wonder and hope, that things will get better and not worse, as was the case those many years ago.

Comparisons aside, this is a an enjoyable film, full of all the elements one would hope for, coupled with talented cast and filmmakers, the viewer is still in for one exciting ride.

Of course, with the action, and all the stunning visuals, there is plenty of rewatch value to be had, and this is one disc well worth owning and adding to ones collection.

Read the full SAMDB review of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.

Disc

Overall, the disc is of a decent technical quality, with a good main feature. It’s a pity this is let down by terrible navigation of the menu system.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is available now, to purchase on disc, in South Africa.

Video

Video is encoded at a high average bitrate, with no visible artefacts on-screen, nor any visible colour bleed. Colours are vibrant where needed, with detail in darker scenes of a decent quality.

Viewers with the relevant hardware or software could scale up to a larger, or higher resolution screen, should they wish.

Audio

Audio is encoded at a high average bitrate, and presented in a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. Dialogue is clear via the centre speaker, with great use made of the surround channels (as one would expect, considering the first Jurassic Park was one of the first films to really push the digital surround format).

Navigation

The main menus is the typical old, confusing icons associated with a disc from Next. The symbols are not very clear, and the menu items automatically revert back to the main menu if left. The main feature will then also autoplay if the disc is left on the main menu. Really not the smartest option, as the disc manufacturers are now making decisions for the viewer, forcing them to abide by their choices. Not smart, and often annoying.

The main menu has a motion background, with some clips from the main feature, and accompanying music.

Navigation symbols on the main menu consist of a triangle to play the main feature. A book shaped icon for chapter selection, a speaker icon for choosing language, a square with some lines that allow one to pick the desired subtitle, and a flower or asterisk shaped icon to access the bonus features.

The chapters sub-menus each consist of four large, colour, still thumbnails, for a total of twenty chapters. While these are numbered, they are not labelled, so navigating to a particular part of the main feature would still require some guesswork, and one would be better off using the bookmark feature of a set-top box or software player to keep track of favourite parts of the film.

The bonus features sub-menu has a text list of the various features listed on two further sub-menus as text links. This is the only sub-menu with accompanying background music.

The audio sub-menu allows the viewer to choose between English or English descriptive audio, presented as text links.

The subtitle sub-menu has a text list of the available subtitles, or the option to turn them off.

Bonus Features

The bonus features, while short, do offer some interesting insight into many areas of the film, and show the fun that was had in creating this well known world.

On Set With Chris & Bryce – A brief look behind the scenes, focusing on Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard, some insights into their characters, methods, and how they are on-set.

The Kingdom Evolves – A look at how the world of the dinosaurs has evolved, since the first Jurassic Park to the latest Jurassic World, with input from cast and crew, director J.A. Bayona and Steven Spielberg, and how Fallen Kingdom fits into a trilogy.

Island Action – A look at shooting on location, how some of the big shots on the island were created, how certain effects were created, and how some of the story was brought to life.

Birth Of The Indoraptor – A look at some of the sets of the Lockwood Estate, including the high tech lab, with some background into the set, setting, and the dinosaurs created by the characters. The featurette also looks at the mix of practical and computer generated effects.

Start The Bidding! – Some footage of stunt and fight preparation, by Chris Pratt, as well as how some of the sequences that take place during the final scenes and auction were shot.

Death By Dino – A very brief look at how the filmmakers created some of the damage, death, and injury caused by the dinosaurs.

Monster In A Mansion – Behind the scenes of some of the more iconic shots of the film, and how these relate to director J.A. Bayona and his vision for some of the shots, designed to evoke a feeling of fear in the viewer.

Rooftop Showdown – A look at the climactic rooftop scene, from conception, and storyboard, to the practical elements that were shot on location.

Malcolm’s Return – The brief, yet iconic and expected, return of Jeff Goldblum and his Ian Malcolm.

VFX Evolved – Looking closer at the computer generated effects of the dinosaurs, showing the various creative passes by computer, and how these were brought to life in photorealistic spender.

Chris Pratt’s Jurassic Journals – A bunch of short clips, with actor Chris Pratt introducing and talking to some of those on set he dealt with on a daily basis. Not something that one would watch many times, but a nice bit of respect to all those who work so hard behind the scenes to help create the magic.

There are some trailers that autoplay at the beginning of the disc, namely Mortal Instruments and Pacific Rim: Uprising. These are not accessible again from the disc menu.

Packaging

Packaging for the DVD is standard, with a poster on the front, and a short synopsis on the back with some stills from the film. There is also a listing of bonus features, and the usual technical information and logos on the back. There are no package inserts, such as chapter listing, etc.

 

Categories
dvd / blu-ray Review

Hereditary (DVD) : Review

Film

Soon after the death of her mother, Annie (Toni Collette – xXx: Return of Xander Cage) and her family, husband Steve (Gabriel Byrne), son Peter (Alex Wolff – Patriot’s Day), and daughter Charlie (Milly Shapiro) are beset by some haunting occurrences, and as the story unfolds, many dark secrets are revealed amidst some very tragic events.

Hereditary is a horror, with loads of drama. A film with an engrossing story, and yet one knows that something, very soon, is going to change and scare you. As the story unfolds, the viewer is left trying to piece together events before the characters do, and encouraged by the film, this leaves one’s imagination to start running wild, meaning the film doesn’t rely on the usual cheap jump-scares, but instead allows the viewer to scare themself, and just at the right time, it adds to this with a sound, or a visual, that chills one to the bone.

With an expertly devised soundscape for the film, the viewer is lead by sounds, but also totally encompassed in the environment, with the sounds one would expect from nature, a house, and a town. Not to be outdone, the visuals are just as immersive, with the camera angles and scene transitions not quite what one would expect, serving yet again, to suck the viewer right into the story, put them in the midst of whatever danger might be lurking, and make them feel a part of events.

Hereditary is one of those rare horror films that is driven by drama, accompanied by talent, and with a great story. It will leave one thinking, guessing, and debating what was and might have been, for days after, and it is this that would add an amount of rewatch value to the disc.

A great horror, and a must see film.

Disc

Overall, the disc is of a good technical quality, with a slightly higher than usual video bitrate. There is no bonus material on the disc, but the main feature is one that will thrill and scare many a viewer. A great film.

Hereditary is available now, to purchase on disc, in South Africa.

Video

Video is encoded at a high average bitrate, with no visible artefacts on-screen. There is no visible colour bleed. Details in the several darker scenes is good, as is detail in some of the faster moving scenes. The video encoding, on average, is above what one would usually find on a DVD, and would be welcomed by those with larger screens.

Viewers with the relevant hardware or software can scale up to a larger or higher resolution screen, should they wish.

Audio

Audio is encoded at a high average bitrate, with dialogue clear via the centre channel. Use of the surround channels serves to expand the on-screen action, totally drawing the viewer into some of the more tense scenes, and adding to the feelings evoked by the film. Great use of sound design (and at times, lack of sound) are used to a great degree.

Great use is made of the LFE channel, to enhance a the feeling of foreboding and dread brought on by the story.

Navigation

Navigation is simple, and easy to follow. The main menu has text links to the various sub-menus, namely a link to play the movie, scene selection, and setup. There is a motion background, with video from the main feature, and accompanying music.

The Scene selection sub-menus each have ten small, desaturated colour thumbnails, for a total of twenty chapters. While these are numbered, they are not labelled, nor is there any chapter listing including in the packaging, meaning that navigation to a part of the film would likely include some guesswork. Viewers would be better off using the bookmarking functions of their respective hardware or software.

The setup sub-menu has just two text links, allowing the viewer to choose between Dolby Surround and Dolby Stereo.

Bonus Features

There are no bonus features on the disc, not even trailers that autoplay at the beginning of the disc.

Packaging

Packaging is standard, with a title on the front, with poster. The back of the packaging includes a short synopsis, along with some small stills from the film. There is also the usual technical information and logos. There are no package inserts, such as chapter listing, etc.