Saturday, July 30, 2011

Babylon A.D. (2008)

Movie: 3.5/5
Video: 4.5/5
Audio: 5/5
Extras: 4/5
Overall: 4.5/5

"We're All Going to Die in New York!"

In the Summer of 2008, after I had gotten to the Big Island of Hawaii for college and on my off time, I would go to movies and kill time since I was all alone on an Hawaiian island I had no experience in. The film came out in the end of August and I had seen that it was directed by one of my favorite current French directors Mathieu Kassovitz who directed the 2000 film "Crimson Rivers". Upon watching the film, I was confused, not about the plot but whether or not that I liked the film or just downright loathed it. On one hand, I felt it was trying to be the next great sci-fi movie; on the other hand, the dialog is atrocious. You hear someone just blatantly say; "We're all going to die in New York!"

When hearing something like that, it makes me ask the question; "Really?" I feel that it is poor writing to finish up a scene. She couldn't have said something around the lines of; "I feel something bad might happen to us in New York". I know that's not really a great line, but still, it's something better. I have two ideas on what happened, especially with dialog like this, they either were just trying to have fun with it and screwing around or that they were on a fast paced shoot and they had no time for screw ups.

I do feel that the action scenes were enjoyable, especially towards the end when it becomes an all out war in NY. After viewing the "International Cut" which is what version is on this Blu-ray, I felt that the international cut added more intensity to that fight scene. With the international cut being the version I am reviewing, I give the movie a 3.5/5. If this was the U.S. Cut, jeez, this movie might have gotten a 2/5.

The video is almost flawless, but there is a problem with it at one or two scenes towards the end of the film. At 1hr 19min into the film, there's specs and dirt and the film starts to wobble as if the negative was in distress. The film has a nice layer of grain and very rich in color and saturation. I find this Blu-ray to be almost 100% reference quality. The film has switchable/removable French and Dutch subtitles. And finally, all the credits in the film are in French. Video scores a 4.5/5.

The two audio tracks on the disc are amazing. The English and French DTS-HD MA 5.1 tracks are sweet. Studio Canal did a great job with this release. Audio gets a 5/5. And there is a nice amount of extras including an interactive version of the film which shows behind the scenes. There's an English language French trailer. Storyboard comparisons. And various other bonus features. However, the extras could be a little overwhelming to watch, extras get a 4/5.

Overall, Studio Canal has made an excellent release with Babylon A.D. I managed to score my copy off of a member who sold me the disc from the steelbook release for $5. Considering this was a few months after it's US release and that I have Region Free capabilities, this disc is Region B locked, I am glad I got this release. Studio Canal's Babylon A.D. scores a 4.5/5.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

From Dusk Till Dawn (1996) / From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money (1999)

Movie: 4/5
Video: 2/5
Audio: 3/5
Extras: 0/5
Overall: 2.5/5

From Dusk Till Dawn Has a Different Encode.

Ok, let me begin by stating that I have compared both the individual release of From Dusk Till Dawn and the double feature containing the first film. The individual release has a video encode of 19.63GB whereas the first film on the double feature is compressed down to 14.70GB in size.

Lets begin:

From Dusk Till Dawn:

From Dusk Till Dawn is a film almost everyone is familiar with, George Clooney and Quentin Tarantino are the Gecko Brothers who are on the run from the law and kidnap a family and head to Mexico to meet some gangster friends at a bar known as the "Titty Twister". Once they enter the bar, all hell breaks loose as they discover that everyone is a vampire and must fight to stay alive. The film is a classic 90's horror film. Movie gets a 5/5.

The video does have some compression, but it is watchable. My biggest question is why didn't Echo Bridge just release From Dusk Till Dawn 2 and 3 as the double feature instead of 1 and 2. It's the same color wise and still has that annoying discoloration on the right hand side of the screen. Since it's compressed, my original 3.5/5 score on the individual release goes down to a 2.5/5 on this release. The audio is also the same English DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio from the individual release, thus the score is still 3.5/5.

From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money:

From Dusk Till Dawn 2 is a cash in straight to video sequel of the 1996 horror classic. The only returning actor in this film is Danny Trejo who appears in the film for about five minutes and then just vanishes. The story is that an escaped convict and his group of friends are planning a bank heist in Mexico. Once the convict makes his way into Mexico, he has car trouble and finds that a bat has gotten under his hood. He shoots the bat and makes his way to the "Titty Twister" and finds Razor working the bar. Razor offers him a ride and then takes the convict out to his car to find a man shot up and bloodied, uh-oh, it's a VAMPIRE. Then the convict is bit and makes his way back to his friends and slowly turns them all one by one.

From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money is nowhere as good as the original, but I do find Robert Patrick's performance as the anti-hero entertaining. The cameos in the film were also entertaining as we see Bruce Campbell in the opening and Danny Trejo for a few minutes. The film scores a 2.5/5. The acting is all over the place and the story is just a lame attempt to be like the first film but instead of going to a bar, they go to a bank.

The video, oh my God, the video. From Dusk Till Dawn 2 makes it's way to Blu-ray with a dismal 8.21GB video presentation. The transfer is DVD sized. But, I will say that it's HD and not an upscale. There's definition whenever there is close up shots and there's a nice level of grain, but it's just a dull image. 1.5/5 for the video.

The audio is an average English DTS-HD MA 2.0 track. The audio scores a 2.5/5.

To break it down:
Movie: 5+2.5 = 7.5/2 = 3.75 which I will round to 4/5.
Video: 2.5+1.5=4/2 = 2/5
Audio: 3.5+2.5 = 6/2 =3/5
Extras: 0
Overall: 4+2+3 = 9/4 = 2.25 which I will round to 2.5/5.

If you do want to buy the From Dusk Till Dawn films, I suggest that you buy the individual From Dusk Till Dawn release or import the Canadian. Then get the double feature for Texas Blood Money. Then, finally, purchase The Hangman's Daughter. Why didn't Echo Bridge just release Texas Blood Money and The Hangman's Daughter together? It would have been a lot easier!

Supercop / Twin Dragons (1992)

Movie: 5/5
Video: 3.5/5
Audio: 3/5
Extras: 0/5
Overall: 3/5

If Interested in the US Supercop Blu-ray, Buy the Double Feature!

Before I start reviewing, I am giving everyone a heads up on both the individual release of Supercop and the
double feature of Supercop and Twin Dragons. I popped both the individual release of Supercop and the double feature on my Blu-ray drive and surprisingly, the disc title on Supercop reads as "Jackie Chan Double" which is also what the double feature reads as for the disc title in my comp. Inspecting the size of the movies, Supercop is the same size on both discs, 11.26GB. The only difference between the two discs is that the individual has an interview with Michelle Yeoh which isn't present on the double feature. If you are wanting to buy the US Blu-ray of Supercop, get the double feature which can be found for the same price as the individual release, $8 + Tax.

To the review, I am basically writing the scores from the individual Supercop release. To find my thoughts on it, visit the database page for the US release of Supercop.

Movie: 5/5
Video: 3/5
Audio: 3/5

Twin Dragons:

Twin Dragons is the story of twins, both played by Jackie Chan, who were separated at birth. Years pass and one has become a well known pianist and the other has become a thug on the streets of Hong Kong. When the pianist comes to Hong Kong to perform, he comes face to face with his long lost twin. The craziness begins as everyone thinks they are the opposite and the thug is left to perform while the pianist is left trying to break a mob boss from prison. Twin Dragons is the typical zany 90's Chan film. It's entertaining watching Jackie play dual roles and seeing him show off his impressive stunts. The film scores a 5/5.

Before I begin discussing the video transfer, the last time I had seen the film was at a local drive in theater in
1999. I never saw Twin Dragons on VHS or DVD, so I do not know how the Blu-ray transfer compares to the previous home video releases by Disney. The film is presented in it's original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, which is a big plus for this title. What hurts the film is that it's plagued with scratches and dirt and also presented in 1080i whereas Supercop is 1080p. It is an HD image, but it's just not clean. It has a nice level of grain and sharpness, and I know I am cutting Twin Dragons slack, but the video gets a 4/5 considering it might be a while before a possible proper HK release comes along.

Onto the audio, like with Supercop, the disc only contains English (dub) DTS-HD MA 2.0. I give the audio a 3/5. What I feel is a big plus is that Jackie Chan did dub his characters voices in this film. If it wasn't Jackie's voice, this score might have gone lower.


Movie: 5+5 = 10/2 = 5/5
Video: 3+4 = 7/2 = 3.5/5
Audio: 3+3 = 6/2 = 3/5
Extras: 0/5
Overall: 5+3.5+3 = 11.5/4 = 2.875 which will be rounded up to 3/5.

Considering that this double feature is currently going for $8 + Tax at Best Buy, this would be the copy to get over the individual releases. It's a shame that Supercop is cropped while Twin Dragons is presented OAR. I would like to see more Jackie Chan titles come out on the Blu-ray format sooner or later. If you are like me, these will tide you over while you wait.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Cell (2000)

Movie: 5/5
Video: 3/5
Audio: 4/5
Extras: 0/5
Overall: 3/5

One of the Most Conflicting Transfers I've Ever Seen!

The only way I've been getting my Canadian Blu-rays is through a grocery-type store called Meijer. They have these Alliance Blu-rays that pop up for $10 and every once in a while I'll look through them in hopes of finding something that's not out here in the US on the Blu-ray format. Well, I finally found a copy of "The Cell". The 2000 film starring Jennifer Lopez and a pre-comedic Vince Vaughn in this sci-fi thriller about going into the mind of a killer. The film, at the time, was pretty unique in terms of visuals; but as CGI has improved over the years, more and more craziness arrives such as Robert Rodriguez' "Sin City" or Kazuaki Kiriya's "Casshern" and "Goemon". I give the feature a 5/5 due to how creative Tarsem is as a director and the story he was able to put on the screen and this is also probably the only good film Jennifer Lopez has in her filmography.

The video is a real problematic transfer. In most scenes, it looks great and a real upgrade from the New Line Cinema DVD from 2000 when the film came out. However, especially in the opening, there's lots of specs and dirt over the image. Also at one point these weird and crazy lines show up on the scene while they about to go into the killer's mind. But after the first twenty minutes or so, the transfer is pretty much smooth sailing. THIS FILM NEEDS TO BE REMASTERED!!! 3/5 for the video.

This Blu-ray contains three audio tracks like most of Alliance's exclusive releases; English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English 5.1 Dolby Digital, and French 5.1 Dolby Digital. The disc starts on default with English 5.1 Dolby Digital, which you'll have to switch over to the English 5.1 DTS-HD MA audio. I listened to the film with the DTS-HD MA audio and I was quite pleased with the track. I've checked through and felt that the two Dolby Digital tracks were on the flat side. Audio gets a 4/5.

Almost every Alliance exclusive has no extras, including this one. Overall, if you want to upgrade from DVD to Blu-ray, I'd recommend it if you can get it for $10. So far, as of July 2011, this is the only release of the film and I do not see Warner Bros releasing this title any time soon. If WB's master is just as bad as the Alliance master, they need to remaster it without question. That's probably why it has not been released here in the U.S. However, as I do state all the cons about this release, it still scores a 3/5 which isn't that much of a disaster.