New to Blu: April 8-14

Blu-ray releases don’t come much more stellar than Christopher Nolan’s si-fi sensation Interstellar.

“Shot on 35mm film, with a significant portion shot on 70mm for IMAX (shot using 15/70mm IMAX cameras) – providing a shifting aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and 1.78:1, the organic feel of the picture is welcome.

“While digital can stun with the clarity of images, there is nothing like watching the detail of film and the inherent warmth, familiar flare if the lens from concentrated light sources, and the texture that is awash over the scenes.”

“As with past filmed-on-IMAX Nolan pictures, Interstellar features alternating aspect ratios. The standard 2.39:1 is employed for dialogue-centric scenes, whereas the 1.78:1 ratio is doled out for all the exciting visual stuff.

“Aspect ratio changes can be jarring, but they aren’t here. They flow quite well with the overall pacing of the story, so they’re not overtly distracting.”

“I’m also happy to report that the English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track included on Blu-ray is superior to the theatrical presentation.

“This is a surround mix that revels in its contrasts, with incredible dynamic range that flexes between moments of silent majesty to bombastic organ chords, with rumbling low tones you can almost feel.

“This audio has been specifically re-mixed for the home theater experience, as per normal with theatrical film Blu-ray releases. Make no mistake: The mix is still strongly pushed towards the low end and it does seem to be a deliberate artistic choice.

“But, whether it constitutes an actual fix from the grating theatrical mix or not, the upshot is that the film’s dialogue is in noticeably better balance with the music and effects.”

Nightcrawler absolutely stuns on Blu-ray, boasting a gorgeous AVC MPEG-4 encode framed in the film’s original 2.40:1 widescreen aspect ratio.

“While daytime elements were captured on film, Nightcrawler lives and breathes in the dark, using an Arri Alexa digital cinema camera to photograph night sequences.”

“Despite it being an almost entirely night-set feature, black levels remain superior throughout, with but the tiniest hint of blocking which will barely register on most viewers’ radars.

“The rest of the presentation is outstanding, affording superb detail through excellent close-ups, solid mid-range shots and some wonderfully-framed wider shots, which are a tribute to the work of cinematographer Robert Elswit.”

“The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track is active and well-balanced … Quiet moments give way to explosive sequences. Ambient noises mix with layered audio cues, radio chatter, and James Newton Howard’s atmospheric, propulsive score.”

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb divided US critics with the merits of its AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 1.85:1.

On the one hand … “This is a sometimes problematic transfer, though not having seen it in its theatrical exhibition, I can’t state definitively whether the anomalies are an inherent part of the film’s digital photography or some issue in the encode of this Blu-ray disc.”

But on the other … “This transfer is reference quality all the way with outstanding sharpness throughout and colour quality that’s sure and true with very realistic skin tones.

“Contrast has been applied with utmost consistency, and black levels are rich and deep.”

“In addition, the movie’s DTS-HD MA 7.1 soundtrack fired on all cylinders. With so much action, the soundscape boasted plenty of auditory excitement, and the mix exploited those opportunities well.

“Creatures and drama emanated from all the speakers and combined to create a lively, involving sense of place. All of this ensured a vivid sonic impression.”

Also new are SerenaPaddingtonAlexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad DayLove Rosie and Northmen: A Viking Story, along with re-issues of 1984, Monster and Pumping Iron.

Anime fans can choose from Giovanni’s IslandKill La Kill Volume 3Log Horizon Part 1 and Rarouni Kenshin Kyoto Inferno.

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One Response to “New to Blu: April 8-14”

  1. Nightcrawler is my pick of this week’s releases – a film that horrifies and captivates at the same time. The BD looks and sounds great. Unlike Interstellar, which is so full of hokey pop-science and some of the most cringeworthy dialogue in a long time. The disc looks great but the sound mix is still problematic, albeit to a much lesser degree than in the theatre. Dialogue still gets swamped by the sound effects and Zimmer’s bombastic soundtrack. Like all of Nolan’s work, it’s worth a look but holds little value in repeat screenings.

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