New to Blu: December 16 – 22

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. was shot digitally on the Arri Alexa XT Plus and is presented here at the 2.40:1 aspect ratio. Although the movie has been shot on digital equipment, the filmmakers are making an obvious attempt here to make the movie look very much like an old spy film from the 1960s.

“With that in mind, the colours have been ever so slightly dialed back, and there’s an effort not to use too many bright or ‘flashy’ colours – viewers are treated to a lot of earth tones: greens, browns, tans, grays – with a splash of orange or red here and there.”

“Motion is fluid and largely without blur, and sharpness is uniformly excellent. Noise reduction and aliasing are totally absent, and skin tones appear natural.

“Colours are rich and well saturated, and the film’s teal and orange color scheme is only occasionally interrupted by purposely bright highlights.”

“The film’s theatrical soundtrack is presented courtesy of a Dolby Atmos surround mix encoded into a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 track. Listening to it in a downmixed 5.1 form, I was surprised how infrequent directional effects were employed in the soundtrack.

“Aside from that quibble, fidelity was excellent, and the lossless encoding really benefitted the film’s soundtrack.”

Pixels’ 1080p graphics are amazing. The image quality is everything one would expect of a major new release.

“The digital photography rarely even hints to its origins, leaving behind even a semblance of flatness and glossiness in favor of a beautifully crisp and perfectly defined presentation.”

“The 2.40:1 image bombards and astounds with a sumptuous array of vividly bright colors, which admittedly complement the comedic, animated spirit of the film very well.”

“I also liked the excellent Dolby Atmos soundtrack of Pixels. Because I don’t have an Atmos-equipped system, this played back as a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 mix, and it gave us an exciting presentation.

“With so much action on display, the soundscape boasted many opportunities to shine, and it took advantage of them … in an active, dynamic manner. Add to that nice stereo music and some directional dialogue to end up with an engrossing soundfield.”

Also new are Maze Runner: The Scorch TrialsLast Cab to Darwin, Hitman: Agent 47We Are Your Friends and:

  • We Are Still Here (“the encode is pretty poor, with noticeable banding and aliasing popping up with regrettable frequency”)
  • Survivor (“a very nice looking high-def transfer that offers plenty of ‘pop’‘)
  • The Young Ones (“colours are consistent and periodically pronounced”).

The David Attenborough series Life Story leads the TV-on-BD newcomers, which include a BBC Earth  collection, the latest seasons of Agents of SHIELD (#2), Under the Dome (#3) and The Originals (#2), and the Spooks spin-off, The Greater Good (“much of it is demo-worthy and most of it praiseworthy”).

For anime fans, there’s Tokyo Ghoul s1, The Last: Naruto The Movie, Gurren Lagann Pierce: The Heavens Collection and Pay the Ghost.

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