A Quiet Place (DVD) : Review

Film

Some months after a catastrophic, global event takes place, and here we get a look into the lives of a family who are now forced to live in silence lest they attract any one of the many creatures, with ultra-sensitive hearing, now causing death and destruction worldwide.

Family members Lee Abbott (John Krasinski – Detroit, Monsters University), Evelyn (Emily Blunt – Sherlock Gnomes, The Girl On The Train), Regan (Millicent Simmonds), Marcus (Noah Jupe – Suburbicon, The Man with the Iron Heart), and Beau (Cade Woodward) have fallen into a routine by the time we meet them, going out to get supplies, and having the farm where they stay strewn with various means to alert them to potential danger, and to assist them in making as little sound as possible.

A Quiet Place, by its very namesake, is a film where sound plays a very important role. There is very little dialogue, yet the sounds from the characters, creatures, and nature serve to not only build the tension in the story, but to inform the viewer of current events, and give a glimpse into the current emotional state of each character. The cast are incredibly talented, and this would be needed to pull of a story where emotion and expression are paramount.

The film’s story is gripping, prompting the viewer to imagine their own reaction in the current situation. Yet, the film’s backstory is a little sparse. We find out small bits of information as the story progressing, but this does lead to a bit of predictability, and many might wonder why the entire situation with these foreboding creatures was not sorted long ago, and instead left to a pretty normal family needing to find ways to avoid or fight them.

A Quite Place is an entertaining horror film, with a good dose of tension, and an entertaining story. Not just a film for horror fans, despite a few short-comings in the story.

Disc

Overall, the disc is of a good technical quality, with an enjoyable main feature. It is, however, scares on bonus features, including just the one short featurette.

A Quiet Place 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. Detail and contrast are good in the several darker scenes. Fast paced scenes maintain a good amount of detail 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 with a film such as A Quiet Place that is so scarce on dialogue, audio from the environment plays a rather important role. The little dialogue there is, is clear via the centre speaker. The use of the surround channels, and discrete sounds and panning between channels helps immerse the viewer in the story. A set of full range, high quality speakers is a must to fully enjoy the audio, and appreciate the handful of jump scares one would expect.

Navigation

After choosing the desired menu language, one is taken directly to the main menu, which is a static menu and no accompanying background music. There are text links to play the main feature, audio options, subtitles, special feature, and scene selection.

Audio options takes the viewer to a sub-menu with a text list of four languages to choose from.

The subtitle sub-menu has a list of thirteen languages, or none, to choose from.

The special feature sub-menu has a link for the only bonus feature on the disc.

The scene selection sub-menus each have four large, colour, static thumbnails, for a total of fifteen chapters. There are direct links to the various pages provided on a navigation bar at the bottom of screen. While the thumbnails are numbered, they are not labelled, nor is there a chapter listing included in the disc packaging, so navigation to a specific part of the main feature would require some guesswork.

Bonus Features

Creating The Quiet – Behind the Scenes of A Quiet Place – A look at the film, with interviews by cast and crew, from conception to screen, and how the filmmakers worked to get the setting of the film, and set design, just right, for the movie.

While this featurette is short, it does contain a plethora of interesting facts, that are sure to appeal to both the average viewer and budding filmmakers alike.

Packaging

Packaging is a rather standard DVD Jewell case, with a poster and lead cast listing on the front. The back has a short synopsis, a few stills from the film, and the usual technical information and logos.

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

Ready Player One (DVD) : Review

Film

When the creator of a virtual reality world called the OASIS dies, he releases a video in which he challenges all OASIS users to find his Easter Egg, which will give the finder his fortune.

Re-watch Value

With the massive amount of on-screen visuals, fast pace of many scenes, and the long list of nostalgic references in Ready Player One, there is just too much to see, and still follow the story to any extent. Therefore, there is a great deal of re-watch value for the film. There is just too much to cover or spot in the first few sittings.

While much of the nostalgia stems from references, whether spoken or visual, to the beginning of gaming culture, and time even before there were large online communities, when people met up at arcades, or swapped high scores and strategy via magazines and in person.

Ready Player One is still just as enjoyable, and engrossing, as with the first viewing.

Read the full SAMDB review of Ready Player One.

Cast, Writer, Author, Director Q&A

Disc

Overall, the disc of of a good technical quality, with a fun main feature. It is lacking on the side of bonus features, but this does allow for more disc space for the main feature, meaning it can carry a higher bitrate. The disc is a dual layer, using nearly all available space provided.

Ready Player One is available now, to purchase on disc, in South Africa.

Video

Video on the disc is encoded at a high average bitrate, with no visible artefacts on-screen. Colours are vibrant, with no visible colour bleed. Detail in darker and faster paced scenes is good.

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

Audio

Audio for the main feature 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 great use made of the surround channels, through discreet sound and panning between channels.

Audio for the bonus feature is encoded in a 2.0 stereo mix.

Navigation

The disc launches straight into the main menu, with a motion background, and accompanying music. The background contains some clips from the main feature, but these do not give away any spoilers.

The main menu is easy to navigate, with text links to play the main feature, scene selection, languages, and special features.

The scene selections sub-menu has five large, colour, static thumbnails per screen, for a total of fourteen chapters. There is a navigation menu on each screen to jump directly to any of the other chapter sub-menus, or back to the main menu. While the thumbnails are numbered though, they are not labelled, so navigating to a particular part of the main feature would require an amount of guesswork.

The languages sub-menu has a text list of audio and subtitle languages to choose.

The special features sub-menu has a link to the one bonus feature included on the disc.

Bonus Features

The 80’s: You’re The Inspiration – A look back at the events and progress of the 80’s, with interviews by director Steven Spielberg and writer Ernest Cline, with appearances by cast and crew. The feature has input from those interviewed about how the things they loved in the 80’s have made the transition to film.

An interesting look at what others loved from the time, how those things in popular culture were revered, and how the story made it to the big screen. The featurette is a fun addition to the overall nostalgic feel of the film.

Packaging

Packaging is pretty standard in the usual DVD Jewell case, with a poster with title and some character headshots on the front. The back of the casing has a short synopsis, a listing for the bonus feature, and the usual technical information and logos. There is no package insert, such as chapter headings.

 

Avengers Infinity War (3D Blu-Ray) : Review

Film

An epic event in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), bringing together heroes and teams in a dark chapter, ten years in the making. Teaming together The Avengers, The Guardians of the Galaxy, citizens of Wakanda, and a host of warriors, all pitted against Thanos and his end game that will extinguish half the lives in the universe. A no holds barred, high stakes telling of a pivotal event.

Read the full SAMDB review of Avengers: Infinity War.

 

Re-watch Value

With so much emotion evoked in cinema audiences, one would be forgiven for missing many of the subtleties in the story, the in-jokes, the amusing quips by characters. A subsequent viewing is sure to reveal many of those missed, not to mention any of the foreshadowing that might have slipped by.

A story of this scale is not one for just a once-off viewing, and watching the film again after seeing some of the later releases from Marvel Studios does give one pause at times to ponder a few “ah ha” moments.

And let us not forget the fact that on one’s own home theatre equipment, the film is likely to be a lot easier to see than in the badly calibrated cinemas and their all too dark screens; not forgetting some cinemas where sound is not the best either.

Most definitely worth several sittings, Avengers: Infinity War is a must see again, and a prize to add to one’s film collection.

Disc

There are two discs for Avengers: Infinity War, one that is a 3D version of the film, and then a 2D version with bonus features. Overall, these discs of a very high quality, with a great collection of bonus features, and top quality video and audio.

As with most of the Disney disc releases, this is how a disc should be done. There could have been a few more bonus features included, to really push the value for money feel, but a good quality disc, both technically and with included material, and a fun main feature to watch.

Avengers: Infinity War is available now, to purchase on disc, in South Africa.

Video

Video on both discs is encoded at a high average bitrate. There are no visible artefacts on-screen. Colours are vibrant, with no visible bleed.

Video for the menu system is slightly more compressed, understandably, to allow for more space for the main feature, but this causes no visible issues.

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 DTS-HD 7.1 soundtrack, with a 2.0 descriptive audio mix provided.

Audio is encoded at a high average bitrate, with dialogue clear via the centre speaker. Great use is made of the surround channels, with distinct audio effects and panning.

Navigation

After a disc language choice, the by now well known Marvel Studios logo animation, and a disc loading screen, featuring the Infinity Stones, one is presented by the main menu.

Navigation is simple, and easy to follow. The main menu has a motion background, with some video from the main feature. There are text links to play the main feature, bonus features, scene selection, and set up.

The play menu item takes the viewer to a sub-menu, where there are choices to play the main feature, or to have an introduction by directors Joe and Anthony Russo.

The bonus features sub-menu has selections for further sub-menus, namely the bonus featurettes, deleted scenes, a gag reel, audio commentary, and an info link that plays the warning  and disclaimer text again.

The bonus features sub-menu has links to a further sub-menu to play the four featurettes, with an option to play all in a playlist, there are also links to the deleted scenes sub-menu, gag reel, and audio commentary.

The deleted scenes sub-menu has links to four scenes that did not make the final cut of the film. There is also an option to play all in a playlist.

The gag reel menu item will play the outtakes directly, giving audiences a bit of insight to behind the scenes, and showing a few of the more light-hearted moments on set.

The scene selection menu has allows one to go directly to certain parts of the main feature. These have static, colour thumbnails, which are both numbered and labelled, making it rather easy to navigate to a desired scene. The menu has an overview window too, showing the overall progress through the main feature where the highlighted scene occurs, with a timestamp below. There are 20 chapters in total.

The setup sub-menu allows one to choose between two additional sub-menus where one can select the desired audio track, and any subtitles one desires.

Navigation on the 3D disc, once a compliance check for 3D capability are performed on the viewers player and screen, is similar to the 2D disc, lacking only the bonus features present on the 2D disc.

Bonus Features

The bonus featurettes consist of four items.

Strange Alchemy – A phrase coined by the production team during pre-production of the film, where different characters are paired off in various scenes, complimenting or standing in opposition. Some great insight into the work needed to create a story that contains so many of the Marvel characters, so many stars, and yet actually tells a story that makes sense, and can integrate into the bigger picture of the MCU.

The Mad Titan – Thanos, love him or hate him, this featurette delves deeper in the story that has been slowly revealed to us over several films and through various incidents in the bigger story arcs.

Beyond The Battle: Titan – The planet Titan, it’s background, and how the entire sequence was filmed. With interviews by cast and crew, this is a look at one of the settings where forces on both sides face off for a final battle.

Beyond The Battle: Wakanda – Another featurette looking at one of the settings for the climactic battle. Again, we are given insight into aspects related to story, and filmmaking, choices by the filmmakers, and through video and interviews with cast and crew, a behind the scenes look at the entire process.

Deleted Scenes – A few extended, or deleted scenes, removed from the main feature for some or other reason, be it pacing or that the scene just did not fit. For the most part, these are completed scenes, and do reveal a bit more about the story, whether through character exposition, or just facts that have not been revealed. A nice addition, best watched after the main feature, of course.

Gag Reel – A few lighter moments on set, showing behind the scenes footage of the actors, with a few genuinely funny clips. Brief, but a nice addition for the fans.

Audio Commentary – Directors Anthony and Joe Russo, and writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely delve deep into the making of the film, bringing together the many characters, settings, and story arcs we have all come to know over the last ten years, into one epic show down, an end game that will rock the entire MCU.

They talk not only of the current film and characters, but the MCU as a whole, imparting both story and filmmaking knowledge that is sure to appeal to fans and budding filmmakers alike. The commentary ties in well with other information contained in the bonus featurette videos, in the end giving the viewer a great overall understanding of the entire story and filming process.

Notable by their absence, are any sort of trailer for the main feature. Trailers are a small loss, but one that many viewers do enjoy.

Packaging

Packaging for the two Blu-Ray discs is pretty standard. There is a poster on the front, with logo and headshots of the primary characters. The back has a short synopsis, a listing of the bonus features, and the usual technical information and logos.

The discs are not held overly tight inside, meaning there is no risk of damaging them when removing.

There are, however, no package inserts of any sort, but with the detailed and informative way things such as scene selection are handled on the disc, this would not really be needed.

Black Panther Giveaway This Month

Wakanda Forever !!

Black Panther, from Marvel and Disney, that soared to new heights at the South African box office, making history, is now available to purchase for your home movie collection, with Avengers: Infinity War following in the near future (watch our news pages for details).

Forming part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) the film is an integral part of the story that spans a decade of cinema.

And this August, SAMDB has the distinct pleasure of offering a giveaway of 5 copies of this epic tale, on DVD, to five of our fans / followers. All you have to do is like us on Facebook / Follow us on Twitter and either comment or tweet to tell us who your favourite Marvel character is, and why. See the links and embedded posts below.

Read the SAMDB review of Black Panther.

Please Note:

  • This giveaway is only open to persons living in South Africa
  • Names chosen, at random, will be contacted directly
  • The giveaway will be one copy of Black Panther, on DVD, and DVDs will be sent to chosen names by Disney South Africa
  • The five (5) persons chosen will be chosen at random from our fans and follows who tweet or comment.
  • You have until Friday 31 August 2018 to make these tweets or comments on our Facebook post or Twitter tweet.

SAMDB on Twitter – www.twitter.com/samoviedatabase

SAMDB on Facebook – www.facebook.com/samoviedatabase

Justice League (DVD) : Review

Film

Following on closely to the events depicted in Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice, Bruce Wayne / Batman (Ben Affleck – The AccountantSuicide Squad) is on a quest to unite a group of special people, possessing unique abilities and powers, drawing inspiration from Superman’s (Henry Cavill) sacrifice, and selfless act. As the world faces a grave dangers, and a powerful enemy from a time long past, Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds – Frozen).

Joining this intrepid group of metahumans, is Batman’s newfound ally, Diana Prince / Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot – Wonder WomanTriple 9), to face an even greater enemy. Barry Allen / The Flash (Ezra Miller – Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) is on-board, with Arthur Curry / Aquaman (Jason Momoa), and Victor Stone / Cyborg (Ray Fisher) rounding off the list.

With all the many characters brought together in one story, and the fast pace at which we are introduced to each, especially for viewers new to these characters and this world, rewatch value is rather high on the film given that the film is both a good story and contains a lot of information and action thrown at the user in one go.

Of course, one could not let a DC Universe collection exist without the addition of this latest outing of the heroes, so yet another reason to get a copy.

Read the full SAMDB review of Justice League.

Disc

Overall, the disc is of a good technical quality, with a fun main feature.

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

Video

Video is encoded at a decent average bitrate, with no visible artefacts on-screen. There is also no visible colour bleed. Details in darker scenes is good, as with the many faster paced action sequences.

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

Video for the bonus feature is a bit more compressed, leaving more space for a higher bitrate on the main feature. However, that being said, while the disc is dual layer, there is still an amount of free space on the disc that could have been utilised.

The menus are very compressed, at low bitrates, but this poses no issue, as this is merely to navigate with.

Audio

Audio is encoded at a high constant bitrate, and presented in a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix. Dialogue is clear via the centre speaker. The audio stage is very broad, with great use of discreet mixing to both front and surround channels, greatly expanding the on-screen world, and placing the viewer in the midst of the action.

Audio for the bonus feature on the disc is presented only as a stereo 2.0 soundtrack.

Navigation

Navigation is simple, and easy to use. The main menu is static, with a background poster and accompanying music. There are text links to play the main feature, scene selections, languages, and special feature.

The scene selection sub-menus each contain six medium sized colour, static thumbnails, for a total of twelve chapters. While these are numbered, they are not labelled, nor is there any package insert listing with chapter names or descriptions.

The languages sub-menu has a text list of available audio languages, including English descriptive audio, and a list of available subtitle languages, including English for the deaf or hard of hearing.

The special feature (singular) sub-menu has just one text item, to play the included special feature on the disc.

Bonus Features

Road to Justice – This feature talks about how the heroes have teamed up, covering from the Justice Society to the Justice League, with insightful input from the creators and filmmakers.

A fun trip down memory lane, that should appeal to any lover of the DC Universe or the DC Comics. A nice addition.

Packaging

Packaging is rather standard on the DVD, with a poster on the front, with title. There are no cast names, but these should be known to almost everyone by now.

The back of the packaging has a few small poster type images, showing one hero per poster. There is a short synopsis, and the usual technical information too.

There are no package inserts, such as chapter listing.

Suicide Squad: Hell To Pay (DVD) : Review

Film

Task Force X, of Suicide Squad fame, is tasked with stealing a mystical, powerful object, once again needing to risk life and limb, and possibly betrayal, to make the world a better place.

With the voice talents of Christian Slater (Hot Tub Time Machine 2), Vanessa Williams, and Tara Strong (Batman: Gotham by Gaslight, Gnome Alone), to name a few, there is no shortage of talent in this film. As with Batman: Attack on Arkham, it bests its namesake, to deliver a fun film, expanding on the DC Universe, and showing us that, yes, we can get a good movie, with these characters.

While the animation in the film is rather simplistic, waving photorealism in favour of more comic book style, the film is by no means a children’s film, staving off the watered down depictions of kiddies movies, and presenting the viewer with an adult film, with adult themes, and one devoid of childish detour.

Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay has a similar visual style to Batman: Gotham by Gaslight, however lacking the nostalgic appeal that movie delivers. However, it does bring its own to the table, and deliver a thoroughly entertaining and engrossing action story, with our favourite anti-heroes.

A fun jaunt into the DC Universe, and an entertaining movie, all in one.

Disc

Overall, the disc is of an average technical quality. Both video and audio might have benefitted from a higher bitrate encoding, and audio might have been more encompassing had there been more discrete use of the surround channels.

Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay is available now, to purchase on disc, in South Africa.

Video

Video is encoded at a decent average bitrate, with no visible artefacts on-screen.  While there is no visible colour bleed, some colour does feel slightly washed out, lacking vibrance, and some scenes do feel a bit soft due to compression. Darker scenes do maintain adequate detail.

Scaling up to a larger or higher resolution screen would depend on the scaling method used, but viewers with the necessary hardware or software might find that the restrictions imposed by a lower bitrate might become more obvious.

Audio

Sound is encoded at a decent average bitrate, and presented in a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix. Dialogue is clear via the centre channel, with most of the weight of the soundtrack carried by the front channels. Surround channels are not used much, other than to create a small amount of additional ambience, with almost no discernable discrete audio used here.

Navigation

Navigation is simple, and easy to follow. The main menu is static, with accompanying music, and the films poster as background image.

There are text links to play the main feature, languages, and special features.

The languages sub-menu has text links to pick the desired audio languages, and desired subtitles. There are subtitles in English for the deaf or hearing impaired.

The special features sub-menu has text links to the three included special features.

Bonus Features

There are three special features included on the disc, with each short clip being not just a trailer, but an introduction to each of The Death of Superman, Batman: Assualt on Arkham, and Superman/Batman: Public Enemies.

These are not just mere trailers, but rather including short sound bites from the filmmakers themselves, giving their own take on teasing each film.

While these may not actually be bonus features for a film, per say, they are still a nice inclusion on the disc, and should whet the appetite for any DC fans.

Packaging

Packaging is pretty standard for the disc, with a poster, with title on the front. On the back of the packaging are a few stills from the main feature, a short synopsis, a listing of bonus features (in an incredibly small font), and the usual technical information.

There are no package inserts, such as chapter listing.

 

The Man With The Iron Heart (DVD) : Review

Film

It’s 1942, and German fascists are expanding their borders, and The Third Reich is at its peak. Two young recruits, Jozef Gabcik (Jack Reynor – Detroit, Free Fire) and Jan Kubis (Jack O’Connell – Money Monster), of the Czech resistance in London are tasked with travelling to Prague and assassinating Nazi leader, Reich-protector Reinhard Heydrich (Jason Clarke – Everest, Terminator Genisys), head of the SS, the Gestapo, and the architect behind the “Final Solution”.

Despite Hydrich’s stoic outer appearance, life at home mirrors his inner turmoil. He all but ignores his wife, Lina Von Osten (Rosamund Pike – A United Kingdom), and he is under ever more pressure to please Hitler.

The Man with the Iron Heart is a harsh look at the hatred and ideals of the time before and during World War 2. The hardened hearts and mislead minds of those seeking to rid the world of an entire population group. The film takes a close look at both the emotions and actions of everyone involved, showing both the perpetrators and victims of these evil deeds, and while not sensationalising the violence, it does not shy away from the pain it caused, nor the emotion involved.

With all the drama, there are some scenes of tension, and some of action, which are delivered with just the right balance each time, rounding up a plot that sucks the viewer in as the characters develop and become better known to us.

A gritty war film, focusing on the drama of a small part of that time, presented by talented filmmakers and actors. An engrossing tale, that evokes both emotion and debate. Well worth watching.

Disc

Over all the disc is of a good technical quality, with an engrossing main feature to watch.

The Man with the Iron Heart 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 colour bleed evident. Detail is good in darker scenes.

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

Audio

Main audio is presented in a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, with a stereo 2.0 downmix available. Dialogue is clear via the centre speaker, with much of the weight of the soundtrack carried via the front channels, and music taking front left and right. The surround channels serve to expand the front channel sound stage, with not much discrete audio being sent to them, but allowing them to expand the on-screen action, helping to further draw the viewer into the story.

Navigation

Navigation is simple, and easy to follow. The main menu is static, with accompanying background music. There are text links to play the main feature, and to access a scenes sub-menu. Yellow highlights the current selection, should viewers wish to know.

The scenes sub-menus each contain six small, motion, colour thumbnails, for a total of twelve chapters. While these are numbered, they are not labelled, nor is there any chapter listing insert in the disc packaging, making navigation to a particular part of the main feature a bit of guesswork. Viewers would be better off using their own hardware or software to create bookmarks.

Bonus Features

There are no bonus features on the disc, apart from trailers for I, Tonya, Final Portrait, and 24 Hours to Live.

While these trailers can be fast-forward or skipped individually, they can not be accessed again via the disc menu system.

Packaging

Packaging is pretty standard, with a poster on the front of the case, with title and main cast. The rear of the casing has a few stills from the main feature, a short synopsis, and the usual technical information.

There are no package inserts, such as chapter listings, included in the packaging.

 

Sniper: Ultimate Kill (DVD) : Review

Film

Marine sniper Brandon Beckett (Tom Berenger), along with DEA agent Kate Estrada (Danay Garcia) are sent to Colombia to capture drug kingpin Jesús Morales (Juan Sebastian Calero) for return to the US, and kill El Diablo (Felipe Calero), and the sniper hired by Morales to eliminate his competition.

The film makes a brave attempt at a top notch action feature, and so falls solidly into the category of lazy afternoon fun, when one does not want to exert oneself following an intricate plot. While the characters are well acted, as with films like this, they have very little substance to them.

The action scenes are very low key, apart from one or two kills via sniper, which has the camera linger for a while. This aside, the climax of the film itself is quite a letdown, building no tension, and providing no satisfaction for the viewer, with the incredibly hollow characters in the movie.

Sniper: Ultimate Kill is a run of the mill, low budget action, that would possibly appeal to fans of the genre, but not that many others. Watch it if you’re really bored.

Disc

Overall, the disc is technically average., and a dual-layer disc. It is, however, a pity that the bitrate on video was not a bit higher, as there is very little of the second layer used, meaning much more space was in fact available for use.

Sniper: Ultimate Kill is available now, to purchase on disc, in South Africa.

Video

Video is encoded at a decent average bitrate. There are no visible artefacts on-screen, but in some more detailed scenes, there is a small amount of colour bleed evident. Colours could be a bit more vibrant, as they tend to feel a bit washed out at times. Details in darker scenes is adequate.

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 decent bitrate, and presented in a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. Dialogue is clear via the centre speaker, with the weight of the soundtrack carried via the front channels. The surround channels carry ambient sounds, and could have been used a bit more for discrete sounds.

Navigation

Navigation is simple, and easy to follow. The main menus is static, with accompanying background music. There are text links to play the main feature, for languages, scene selections, and to play the disc previews again.

The languages sub-menu has a text list of audio languages to choose from, and a list of subtitles, including for the for the hearing impaired. There are several subtitle menus, with a long list of languages to choose from.

The scene selection sub-menus each contain four large, still, colour thumbnails, for a total of sixteen chapters. Navigation between the chapter sub-menus is via a forward or backward arrow navigation button, with a button in the shape of a sniper reticle used to return to the main menu.

While the various chapter thumbnails are numbered, they are not labelled, nor is there any information provided via a package insert, so navigating to a particular part of the main feature would require some guesswork, or for the viewer to use their own hardware or software bookmarks.

Bonus Features

There are no bonus features, except trailers for Starship Troopers: Traiter of Mars, and Resident Evil: Vendetta, which autoplay at the beginning of the disc.

These can be individually skipped, or fast forward. They can also be accessed again via the main disc menu.

Packaging

Packaging for the disc is rather standard, with a poster, film title, and main cast listing on the front. On the back are a few stills from the main feature, a short synopsis, and some of the usual technical information found on most disc packages.

There are no package inserts, such as chapter listing.

 

Kidnap (DVD : Review

Film

A straight-forward, simple story, if even a bit cliched. A mother, Karla Dyson (Halle Berry – X-Men: Days of Future Past)  is going through a divorce. She takes her son, Frankie (Sage Correa), to a park, and while on her phone arguing, the child is kidnapped. She sees him getting into a car, in the distance, and gives chase, with the entire film following this chase, mostly by car, and at times on foot.

A very simple story, devoid of any twists, but also devoid of any substance. Karla drives like a maniac, causing many terrible accidents along the road as she goes, and is constantly talking to herself or to the not present Frankie in the most annoying way. This is likely for want of exposition, to help the audience, or just to fill the scene with some dialogue while she careens down various highways.

So little background or backstory is given to either the protagonists or antagonists, that one eventually just wishes they whole lot would be captured, and we can be done with a rather boring film that falls way short of anything to do with a thriller or action piece.

This terrible B-grade film is a long way from the Oscar winning roles of Halle Berry. A film without any substance.

Disc

Overall, the disc for Kidnap is of a very high technical standard, however with no bonus material, and a main feature story that is likely to infuriate more than entertain.

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

Video

Video is encoded at a high average bitrate, far higher than most other DVD discs. There are no visible on-screen artefacts, nor any colour bleed. Colour are rich and vibrant where needed, and detail in the few darker scenes is excellent.

There are many fast paced scenes in the film, and with the incredibly high bitrate, these look excellent. The video image scaled up to a larger and higher resolution screen looks great too, although results may vary depending on the hardware or software up-scaling method.

Audio

Audio is encoded at a high average bitrate, and presented in a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, with a stereo 2.0 downmix. Switching between these two can only be done via hardware or software selection on the player, and not via the disc menu.

Dialogue is clear via the centre speaker, with the front channels used for environmental audio and music. The surrounds are used to great effect throughout the film, to expand the on-screen world and further draw the viewer into the action. The rear channels carry a significant amount of discrete audio.

Navigation

Navigation is simple, and easy to follow. The main menu is static, with accompanying background music. There are text links to play the main feature, and for scene selection. Red is highlighted here, as some viewers may be unsure.

The scene selection sub-menus each have four small, motion, colour thumbnails each, for a total of twenty chapters. While these are numbered, they are not labelled, neither is there a chapter listing insert in the packaging. This would mean that navigating to a particular part of the main feature would require some guesswork. Viewers would be better of creating their own bookmarks using their hardware or software player.

Bonus Features

There are no bonus features on the disc, except for trailers to Wonder Wheel, Megan Leavey, and Breath. These autoplay at the beginning of the disc, and while they can be fast-forward or skipped individually, they can not be accessed again via the disc menu system.

Packaging

Packaging is pretty standard, with a poster, title and cast name listing on the front. The back has a few stills from the film, a short synopsis, and the usual technical information about the disc.

There are no package inserts, such as chapter listing, included.

 

Mother (DVD) : Review

Film

Known simply as Mother (Jennifer Lawrence – PassengersX-Men: Apocalypse) and Him (Javier Bardem) a couple’s relationship is put to the ultimate test a stranger, Man (Ed Harris – In Dubious BattleGravity) arrives, and stays the night at their house. Soon after his wife, Woman (Michelle Pfeiffer), joins him. The uninvited guests disrupt their tranquil existence, with more and more people arriving as things begin to spiral more and more out of control, bringing with them their own strife.

With the cerebral nature of the film, it most certainly warrants multiple viewings, with each subsequent rewatch giving the viewer more insight into a possible interpretation of the story, the characters, and the ever changing visual narrative.

Mother! is one of those films that was hated by some, loved by many, yet is is a great piece of filmmaking, presented by a talented cast, and one that is sure to evoke debate for years to come.

Read the full SAMDB review on Mother!

Disc

Overall, the disc could be better technically, with the video being a bit too compressed, where there is still some space left on the disc, that could have been used for a higher bitrate on the video.

The main feature is one of those films that one either loves or hates, yet is a great piece of film work non-the-less.

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

Video

Video is encoded at a below average bitrate, leaving some visible artefacts on-screen, however, given the constant camera movement, this is not all that easy to see. Colours are not vibrant, and there are some areas where there are small amounts of colour bleed evident. Darker scenes look slightly washed out, and lacking in detail.

While this could be scaled up to a higher resolution screen, coupling this with a larger screen would merely make the visual artefacts all that more evident. A pity, as a lot of the film depends on the visual narrative as the story progresses.

Audio

Audio is encoded at a decent average bitrate, and presented in a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. Dialogue is present and clear on the front and centre channels, with the surround channels serving to expand the on-screen world with more ambient sound.

Navigation

The main menu is static, easy to follow, and with a background image, with no accompanying music. There are text links to play the main feature, audio options, subtitles, special features, and scene selections.

The audio options sub-menu has a text list of the various audio languages, including descriptive audio in English.

The subtitles sub-menus have text lists for the subtitle choices, including English for the hearing impaired.

The special features menu has text links for the two bonus features.

The scene selection sub-menus each have four large colour, still thumbnails, for a total of twenty chapters. While these are large, and numbered, they are not labelled, nor listed on a package insert in the casing, meaning that navigating to a particular part of the film may require some guesswork. It may be best to create ones own bookmarks in hardware or software, when playing.

Bonus Features

Mother! The Downward Spiral – A behind the scenes look at the making of Mother! and how the filmmakers achieved the changing look and feel of the film.

This is a rather lengthy feature, full of interesting information about story and the filming process. Some very insightful input from the filmmakers, including the actors sharing about their respective characters, and the various on-screen relationships.

This is a great bonus feature to have on a disc, just going by the plethora of information and access it provides. A great addition for viewers and filmmakers alike.

The Makeup FX Of Mothers – A brief look at the various practical effects for make-up used in the film, and a behind the scenes look at their creation, including the animatronics used in the film. While brief, this featurette does provide some interesting information.

There is also a trailer for the TV series Twin Peaks, that auto-plays at the beginning of the disc. This can be skipped, or fast-forwarded. There is also a polite message prior to this, stating that you can directly access the main disc menu, should you wish.

Packaging

Packaging is pretty standard, with a poster, title and main cast on the front. On the back are some stills from the main feature, a brief synopsis, a listing of languages, subtitles, and the bonus features. There is also the usual technical information provided.

The packaging does not contain any inserts, such as chapter listing.