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DVD & Blu-ray Reviews
Justified: The Complete Fourth Season Blu-ray Review
Dec 17 2013 08:54 PM
Cable stations, both premium and basic, have for some time now been home to many of television’s most exceptional and addictive... Read More
Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters Blu-ray Review
Dec 17 2013 02:39 PM
Though the first Percy Jackson movie was not a big hit domestically, it did much better overseas which is why, three years late... Read More
Fast & Furious 6 Blu-ray Review - Recommended
Dec 16 2013 07:39 PM
Fast & Furious 6 offers tanks to its fans on Blu-ray in an edition that offers the movie in solid high definition and inclu... Read More
Despicable Me 2 3D Blu-ray Review - Recommended
Dec 16 2013 07:37 PM
Despicable Me 2 gathers its Minions onto Blu-ray with a nice edition that provides great picture and sound, along with a few sp... Read More
The Family Blu-ray Review
Dec 16 2013 02:46 PM
Death and destruction as punch lines: that’s the droll premise of Luc Besson’s black comedy The Family. While the story of a Br... Read More
Agatha Christie's Poirot: Series 9 Blu-ray ReviewBlu-ray TV Reviews
Oct 30 2013 12:47 PM | Matt Hough in DVD & Blu-ray Reviews
- Studio: Other
- Distributed By: N/A
- Video Resolution: 1080P/AVC
- Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
- Audio: English 2.0 DTS-HDMA
- Subtitles: English SDH
- Rating: Not Rated
- Run Time: 6 Hr. 32 Min.
- Package Includes: Blu-ray
- Case Type: keep case in a slipcover
- Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
- Region: All
- Release Date: 10/29/2013
- MSRP: $49.99
The Production Rating: 4.5/5The season gets underway with the first and best of a long string of Mrs. Christie’s murder in retrospect stories: Five Little Pigs. Asked to investigate by the daughter (Aimee Mullins) of her deceased mother (Rachael Stirling) convicted for killing her husband (Aidan Gillen) who had announced he was leaving her for his new lover (Julie Cox), Poirot (David Suchet) must dig through fourteen years of faded memories and conflicting testimony before arriving at the truth of who really killed artist Amyas Crale. Along the way he also meets the aunt (Sophie Winkleman as an adult, Talulah Riley as a child) of the bereaved daughter and two brothers (Toby Stephens, Marc Warren), best friend of the deceased and unrequited admirer of the convicted killer respectively, any of whom might actually be the guilty party.
Things are on more familiar, traditional ground with Sad Cypress whose title alone suggests this is one of the more melancholy and disheartening of Mrs. Christie’s murder puzzles. Arrested, convicted, and waiting to be executed for the murder of Mary Gerrard (Kelly Reilly), a woman who had broken up her engagement to the singularly attractive Roddy Welman (Rupert Penry-Jones), Elinor Carlisle (Elisabeth Walsh) protests her innocence, but the evidence of her poisoning fish paste sandwiches seems overwhelming. Poirot is brought into the case by Dr. Peter Lord (Paul McGann) who’s carrying a torch for the convicted heiress, but the clues are baffling indeed as Poirot sorts through a maze of misinformation, hidden identities, and shifting loyalties.
Another of Agatha Christie’s undisputed masterpieces comes to the small screen in Death on the Nile. Though the all-star 1978 movie version of the book featured the basics of the novel’s plot and many of its characters, this ITV version is more faithful to the source if considerably less fun. In both, wealthy Linnet Ridgeway (Emily Blunt) steals and marries her penniless best friend Jackie’s (Emma Malin) fiancé Simon Doyle (J. J. Feild) and proceeds on an Egyptian honeymoon only to find the vengeful Jackie stalking them at every stop threatening at one point to kill one or both of them. When Linnet does indeed turn up dead shot through the head with Jackie’s pistol, all eyes turn to Jackie as the murderer even though she has a rock solid alibi. Poirot on vacation looks into the matter assisted by his old friend Colonel Race (Edward Fox) and uncovers plenty of other suspects who wanted the rich and somewhat haughty Linnet dead. Before the answer can be revealed, two more people meet their deaths making this one of Mrs. Christie’s more violent if masterful exercises in detection.
Lesser in importance in the Christie canon but nevertheless an entertaining program is The Hollow. Set in a country retreat based on the real-life home of British stage and screen actor Francis L. Sullivan, the story finds serial philanderer Dr. John Christow (Jonathan Cake) dead beside a backyard swimming pool with his mousy wife Gerda (Claire Price) standing over him with a gun and Christow’s lover Henrietta (Megan Dodds) standing nearby watching. With Gerda swearing her innocence, neighbor Hercule Poirot feels some need to assist in the investigation. As always there are plenty of others with motives for murder including a visiting Hollywood star (Lysette Anthony) who was a long ago lover of the dead doctor making for one of Christie’s cozy domestic murder puzzles. Truth be told, though, this is by far the easiest one for the casual viewer to solve before Poirot announces his solution.
All of the mysteries in this latest set are handsome affairs with their 1930s settings (even though three of the four stories were actually published in the 1940s) and feature a collection of expert British character actors who do them proud. David Suchet is so comfortable in Poirot’s tight patent leather shoes that it’s scarcely acting any more; it’s just being. Fans of Captain Hastings, Inspector Japp, and Miss Lemon are out of luck with this set, however; none of them appear in these mysteries.
Video Rating: 4/5 / 3D Rating: NA
These films were broadcast on American television in the old conventional 4:3 format, but these transfers are framed at 1.78:1 (1080p, AVC codec). Some close-ups do appear rather tight with tops of heads lopped off, but whether that was the intention or not I have no way of knowing. Medium and long shots seem better framed and more natural. Sharpness is very good particularly with Five Little Pigs and The Hollow. Sad Cypress seems the softest and most inconsistent of the transfers. All feature good color reproduction (greens are especially true) and accurate flesh tones. Black levels are just fine. Each film has been divided into 10 chapters.