April 24, 2007. This week’s HD DVD movie review includes the following releases:
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Failure to Launch, Planet Earth: The Complete Collection, and the The Nutty Professor.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Universal) (HD DVD)
Featuring: Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Kirsten Dunst, Elijah Wood and Mark Ruffalo
One of the best films of 2004 and another of writer Charlie Kaufman’s meta-movies, this existential romantic film requires repeated viewings to truly appreciate its loopy narrative and plot structure, not to mention its somewhat loopy star-crossed characters played memorably by Jim Carrey and an awesome Kate Winslet. Highly recommended viewing in any format, the HD DVD release is offers a spotless and sharp looking VC-1 compressed, https://hd-report.com/hd-glossary/1080p resolution image in 1.85 widescreen. While not a showcase disc for the format, it’s a nicer looking release than the standard-def DVD. The audio mix is Dolby Digital Plus (English/French) is robust and offers plenty of clarity in dialog as well as the music tracks, which don’t overwhelm each other. The disc is also offers a trove of features including a few making-of docs that come across more as marketing material: A Look Inside Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind (Segment 1: Step into the mind of the filmmakers in this behind-the-scenes look at Eternal Sunshine; Segment 2: Deleted Scenes and Extended Scenes; Segment 3: A Conversation with Jim Carrey and Director Michel Gondry; Segment 4: The star and director reflect on their favorite on-set moments. A Conversation with Kate Winslet and Director Michel Gondry and Segment 5: Inside the mind of Director Michel Gondry). There’s an audio feature commentary with Michel Gondry and Charlie Kaufman, a featurette called Anatomy of a Scene: Saratoga Avenue and a Music Video: Polyphonic Spree’s “Light & Day” (scenes from the film mostly) as well as some other deleted and extended Scenes, as well as a mock commercial for the Lacuna Company which continues to bring you the revolutionary painless and non-surgical memory erasing process at an affordable cost!
Failure to Launch (Paramount) (HD DVD)
Featuring: Sarah Jessica Parker, Matthew McConaughey, Kathy Bates, Zooey Deschanel and Terry Bradshaw
One of those star-driven chick-flicks that’s almost embarrassing to pop into a HD DVD player. I believe the reason for some films is to exist as pure filler, as it’s a long calendar year and a studio has gotta make the money during those lean months by churning out anything to turn a quick buck. Failure to Launch is just such time-waster, and if you can get past the lame premise, the obnoxious characterizations that exist purely outside the realm of reality, and the lukewarm comedic performances, then what you end up with is a pretty crisp look at Terry Bradshaw’s naked ass in VC-1 compressed, https://hd-report.com/hd-glossary/1080p resolution which is good for a laugh while you’re peeking between your fingers. May I add that it’s a widescreen 2.35 ratio ass? Audio is dialog dynamic in Dolby Digital-Plus 5.1 Surround (English audio is sampled at a higher compression rate, audio is also in French and Spanish as are the subtitles) and offers better clarity and balance than the Blu-ray disc, but is still, on the whole, rather flat. The disc has plenty of trash, er—um, features including Casting Off: The Making of Failure to Launch, The Failure to Launch Phenomenon and Dating in the new Millennium. You also get an interview featurette called Moviefone.com Unscripted with Matthew McConaughey and Terry Bradshaw and the film’s theatrical trailer. All special features, except the trailer, are in standard-def DVD quality video.
The Nutty Professor (1996) (Universal) (HD DVD)
Featuring: Eddie Murphy, Jada Pinkett Smith, James Coburn and David Chappelle
Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic work of the dual nature of man, the Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde has been the template for more than a few classic pieces of cinema, and in many ways, the Eddie Murphy update of Jerry Lewis’s classic 1963 film of the same name. The update, though lacking some of the tropes that made the first film a classic of its era (notably some of the more misogynistic attitudes), stands on its own as a funny commentary on the nature of man: in this case not so much good vs. evil as loser vs. lover. The film is a showcase for Murphy’s mimicry talents as much as the original was for Lewis’s, but the other standout performance comes less from the actors than it does Rick Baker’s extraordinary prosthetic make-up effects (he had previously transformed Murphy into convincing multiple roles in Coming to America). The film offers a very sympathetic portrait of its lead character, Sherman Klump and overweight people in general, and offers laughs not so much at the expense of its character’s girth as it does from the situations they encounter. Of course, this film isn’t an exercise in intellectual comedy as the extended fart sequence proves. The HD DVD release is really no better than the standard-DVD, though the picture quality in widescreen 1.85 ratio may offer better sharpness, it’s not a showcase disc for your hi-def system. The audio is a decent mix, but nothing spectacular. You get a Dolby Digital Plus track in English or French with subtitles in French. A theatrical trailer rounds out this lightweight hi-def release.
Planet Earth: The Complete Collection (BBC) (HD DVD)
Featuring: Original narration by Sir David Attenborough
Folks, I’ll put it plain and simple: THIS IS WHAT HIGH DEFINITION HOME THEATER SYSTEMS WERE MADE FOR! Run out now for Tuesday’s dual release in Blu-ray and HD DVD and plunk down the $50+ bucks you’ll find it for at most retailers, then run home and pop in the first disc in this collection and be simply astounded by the breathtaking detail and jaw-dropping clarity of this acclaimed production. This is the full, 11-part BBC series and not the Discovery Channel version that aired in the US with narration by Sigourney Weaver (which was widely panned despite the visual brilliance), rather this is the more thorough version that aired in Britain and Europe with each episode ends with 10-minute Planet Earth Diaries and includes 90 minutes not shown on the Discovery Channel version as well as a bonus movie: The Dream Is Alive.
Filmed in high-definition over five years, the series documents how life on Earth evolved and prospered and shows the different climes and hazards that face our living planet. This is simply an extraordinary documentary event and truly enjoys a vaunted position in any home video library, but especially a hi-def home video library. If you have a hi-def system and aren’t at least contemplating this release as a purchase, then you’re not getting the most from your Blu-ray or HD DVD player. Hi-def isn’t meant for older re-releases that utilize a transfer system from analog film to digital formats, nope… it’s made to realize the ultimate in video and audio quality and Planet Earth is the perfect realization of the hi-def home theater concept. It’s incredible looking and man, sometimes the images just made me want to weep with the joy of being alive. There’s stuff here you’ve never seen in a National Geographic documentary, and it’s never boring. This folks, is a showcase disc… show it off on your full HD system and you will be the envy of friends and family.
The HD DVD video is offered at https://hd-report.com/hd-glossary/1080p resolution in widescreen 1.78:1 aspect ratio. No word on the compression codec used, but I’m assuming from what I’ve seen that it’s the highest quality codecs for both hi-def formats. HD DVD audio is offered in Dolby TrueHD sound.