Categories
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.

Categories
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.

Categories
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.

Categories
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.

Categories
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.