HomeNewsWord from the Street: Hi Def Movie Releases Feb. 27, 2007

Word from the Street: Hi Def Movie Releases Feb. 27, 2007

This week’s Hi Def movie releases this week include:

Bullitt – Blu-ray | HD DVD
The Getaway (1972) Blu-ray | HD DVD
Nine Inch Nails Live: Beside You in Time Blu-ray | HD DVD
and Stranger Than Fiction Blu-ray

Bullitt [Blu-ray]
(Warner) Featuring: Steve McQueen, Robert Vaughn, Robert Duvall and Jacqueline Bisset
This 1968 cop-actioneer features the always terrific Steve McQueen as Frank Bullitt, a straight-shootin’ police detective assigned to protect a Mafia informant before his trial appearance. Robert Vaughn is the shady politician who makes his job tougher. This one’s a classic with one of the most harrowing car chases ever filmed. The Blu-ray disc is a very light offering, and no technical information was available. It’s presumed the transfer will be as nice or better than the standard 2-disc DVD released in 2005. Expect this Blu-ray offering to be a double-dip eventually (then again, that could take a while). Disc offers commentary by director Peter Yates, and a few featurettes: The Cutting Edge: The Magic of Movie Editing, Steve McQueen: The Essence of Cool, and Vintage Featurette — Bullitt: Steve McQueen’s Commitment to Reality. Subtitles are offered in English, Spanish and French with audio only in English and French (go figure). Why such a lite release for a great film on one of the newest, hottest formats?? I suggest greed as the culprit.

The Getaway (1972) [Blu-ray]
(Warner) Featuring: Steve McQueen, Ali MacGraw, Ben Johnson, Bo Hopkins, Sally “Please give today” Struthers
Another McQueen release from Warners, this isn’t as classic a film as Bullitt but is a tough-as-nails actioneer all the same with some pretty good performances from McQueen and MacGraw… A McFine movie for a Saturday afternoon it’s based on the pulp fiction work of Jim Thompson. McQueen plays Doc McCoy, a thief who’s wife attempts to spring him out of jail by bedding the local political boss, which leads to all sorts of complications and double-dealing. Although billed as a “deluxe edition” (same with the standard DVD), this Blu-ray disc is once again an example of Warner’s lite releasing schedule with a new format. The film’s tech specs weren’t available for review, so let’s surmise that the a/v transfer will be no worse than the current, standard DVD release. Subtitled in English, Spanish and French. Audio is English only. Featurettes offer Commentary by Peckinpah biographers Nick Redman, Paul Seydor, Garner Simmons and David Weddle and a theatrical trailer and theatrical featurette: Peckinpah and The Getaway. Subtitled in English, Spanish and French. Audio is English only.

Nine Inch Nails Live: Beside You in Time [Blu-ray]
(Interscope) Featuring: Trent Reznor and whoever he’s playing with nowadays
One of the first concert films actually designed from soup to nuts with a hi-def release in mind, the NIN North American With Teeth Winter Tour 2006, was filmed in hi-def video with a digital transfer to all three current DVD formats. The Blu-ray release, however, is apparently going to be THE showcase disc for the Blu-ray format and players. Apparently, Reznor and video director Rob Sheridan got Microsoft to modify it’s VC-1 encoding process so that the finest details of an NIN show could be presented via HD home systems thereby giving the appearance and aural quality of actually being there. Should be quite an accomplishment! The Blu-ray disc offers: 24 songs (including: “The Hand That Feeds,” “Only,” “Closer,” “Head Like A Hole,” “Hurt,” “Wish,” “Terrible Lie,” and “March Of Pigs”) in 16×9 1080p, Dolby True-HD 5.1 digital surround sound, Dolby digital 5.1/stereo and captioned lyrics (audio on this disc should be amazing… play loud!).

For a change, the features too are in HD! They include: three tracks live from rehearsals, music videos for “The Hand That Feeds” and “Only,” a full 1920×1080 high-definition image gallery AND, get this, use of the alternate angles feature on most Blu-ray players! Why is it filmmakers shy away from using this feature? When it works, and is well thought out, it works beautifully. It seems to be a feature used only for porn and concert films… but it really is a great way to give that “you are there” simulation of being at a concert. What this disc gives you is control over three songs, and the ability to conduct real-time switching via the access menu. Main difference with the HD DVD release: Blu-ray offers a slightly higher video compression bit rate, though I dare you to discern the edge in quality, and last but not least… the Blu-ray alternate angle feature, when toggled, is close to or in real time. This is an intense and awesome showcase disc for a hi-def home theater and a must buy for NIN fans.

Stranger Than Fiction [Blu-ray]
(Sony) Featuring: Will Ferrell, Dustin Hoffman, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Emma Thompson and Queen Latifah
A rather weak meta-comedy about a novelist (Thompson) putting the finishing touches to her latest, greatest novel… the only problem is she finds she’ll have to kill off Harold Crick, her main character. Only thing is Crick (underplayed by Will Ferrell in this “dramatic” turn) is quite alive in a world he considers to be very real and not fiction. He doesn’t wanna go peacefully and this leads to a somewhat hilarious look at how fiction and reality collide and a race against dwindling time for the “fictional” Crick. Over all this Blu-ray release (no HD DVD release yet) serves the format well. The transfer is very nice if unspectacular for the hi-def format, while sound quality in PCM 5.1 surround is just as nice and just as unspectacular. Overall, it’s not a showcase disc, just a pretty good piece of hi-def entertainment. The disc includes the following featurettes: Actors In Search of a Story, Picking The Right Team, On Location in Chicago, Words on the Page, Picture a Number, On the Set, and some deleted scenes and theatrical trailers for this film and some other upcoming Sony releases for Blu-ray.


Bullitt [HD DVD]
(Warner) Featuring: Steve McQueen, Robert Vaughn, Robert Duvall and Jacqueline Bisset
Concurrent with the Blu-ray release (finally a good week for HD DVD releases), this 1968 cop-actioneer features the ultimate Man’s-man, Steve McQueen as Frank Bullitt, a straight-shootin’ police detective assigned to protect a Mafia informant before his trial appearance. Robert Vaughn is the shady politician who makes his job tougher. This one’s a classic with one of the most harrowing car chases ever filmed. The HD DVD disc is a very light offering, and no technical information was available. It’s presumed the audio/video transfer will be as nice or better than the standard 2-disc DVD released in 2005. Expect this offering to be a double-dip eventually (then again, that could take a while). Disc offers commentary by director Peter Yates, and a few featurettes: The Cutting Edge: The Magic of Movie Editing, Steve McQueen: The Essence of Cool, and Vintage Featurette — Bullitt: Steve McQueen’s Commitment to Reality. Subtitles are offered in English, Spanish and French with audio only in English and French (go figure). This is yet another lite release of a classic film that should offer more to fans (and there are plenty of McQueen fans out there).

The Getaway (1972) [HD DVD]
(Warner) Featuring: Steve McQueen, Ali MacGraw, Ben Johnson, Bo Hopkins, Sally “Please give today” Struthers
Another McQueen release from Warner Bros., this isn’t as classic a film as Bullitt but is a tough-as-nails actioneer all the same with some pretty good performances from McQueen and MacGrawA McFine movie for a Saturday afternoon it’s based on the pulp fiction work of Jim Thompson. McQueen plays Doc McCoy, a thief who’s wife attempts to spring him out of jail by bedding the local political boss, which leads to all sorts of complications and double-dealing. Although billed as a “deluxe edition” (same with the standard DVD), this HD DVD disc is once again an example of Warner’s lite releasing schedule with a new format. The film’s tech specs weren’t available for review, so let’s surmise that the a/v transfer will be no worse than the current, standard DVD release. Featurettes offer Commentary by Peckinpah biographers Nick Redman, Paul Seydor, Garner Simmons and David Weddle and a theatrical trailer and theatrical featurette: Peckinpah and The Getaway.

Nine Inch Nails Live: Beside You in Time [HD DVD]
(Interscope) Featuring: Trent Reznor and whoever he’s playing with nowadays
One of the first concert films actually designed from soup to nuts with a hi-def release in mind, the NIN North American With Teeth Winter Tour 2006, was filmed in hi-def video with a digital transfer to all three current DVD formats. The HD DVD disc offers: 24 songs (including: “The Hand That Feeds,” “Only,” “Closer,” “Head Like A Hole,” “Hurt,” “Wish,” “Terrible Lie,” and “March Of Pigs”) in 16×9 1080p, Dolby True-HD 5.1 digital surround sound, Dolby digital 5.1/stereo and captioned lyrics.

For a change, the features too are in HD! They include: three tracks live from rehearsals, music videos for “The Hand That Feeds” and “Only,” a full 1920×1080 high-definition image gallery AND, get this, use of the alternate angles feature on most HD DVD players! What this disc gives you is control over three songs, and the ability to conduct switching to different angles via the access menu (showing both concert footage and the rear projection footage NIN shows are known for). Main difference with the Blu-ray release: HD DVD offers a slightly lower video compression bit rate, though I dare you to discern the edge in quality, and last but not least… the HD DVD alternate angle feature, when toggled, is NOT real time due to technical issues during the making of the disc and meeting the release deadline. Still, this is an intense and awesome showcase disc for a hi-def home theater and a must buy for NIN fans. The audio should be spectacular and played loudly, of course.

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