A Few Words About A few words about...™ Master and Commander -- in Blu-Ray

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, May 10, 2008.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    As I'm attempting to catch up with Blu releases going back to December and January, and concurrently work through the new candidates for discussion, I found myself unable to do justice to the latest group of Fox Blu-Rays which are inclusive of DTS HD Master audio. Lossless audio played back on a quality system is a bit of technical caviar that, based upon the disc in question, can enhance the viewing experience measurably. Those who can consider acquiring it should seriously consider its addition to the viewing environment.

    The rude awakening arrived this morning as I attempted to survey the audio on Master and Commander as well as Butch Cassidy...

    Several hours later, after confirming stock, I made a pilgrimage to Value Electronics in Scarsdale, NY, and with the aid of the ever helpful Robert Zohn, left his store with a new Denon 3800.

    I went the Denon route with some trepidation, as reports of problems abound, especially over at AVS, a solid website with knowledgeable members. There have been two firmware upgrades in just the past couple of weeks, the upshot of which is that the hardware must be returned to Denon for upgrade.

    Typical of Value, rather than turn a problematic piece of equipment over to a customer, they returned their entire stock to Denon for upgrade, and only offer properly updated hardware.

    I made off with their last piece.

    Setup was uneventful, and although I'm forced to run lossless audio via analogue -- the hardware ended up working flawlessly, with both amazing image as well as audio, as pumped through a Lexicon MC-12 and into B & W speakers for 7.1 audio.

    My test disc, after running a couple of sequences from known entities, was Fox's new BD of Master and Commander, which had amazing image as well as huge, pin-pointed audio in theatrical.

    The disc does not disappoint, as the initial sea battle came through crisp, clean, clear and like its theatrical counterpart, pin-pointed for spacial accuracy. You could literally hear a cannonball makes its way across the room.

    Based upon the series of books by Patrick O'Brian, director Peter Weir's extremely cinematic retelling on film, is brilliant filmmaking that serves as the basis of a beautiful Blu-Ray disc from Fox Home Video.

    My only caveat is that many of the extras originally on the two-disc special edition in standard def have not been ported over to the BD. As one of the major selling points for BD over HD was the amount of real estate available for content, I'm at a loss to understand why the material was pulled.

    One would think that at this juncture, ie. the studio attempting to bring a new base of viewers into Blu, that they would hopefully not be playing the old "double or triple-dip" routine, with a special edition hitting the store in October or next March. I believe that would thoroughly antagonize the customer base. I sincerely hope that it isn't the case.

    With tremendous audio intact, and a beautiful new BD image, Master and Commander receives a Highly Recommended.

    RAH
     
  2. Cees Alons

    Cees Alons Moderator
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    In an attempt to not concentrate on nothing but the negative, I'll just say here that I strongly share your feelings about the missing extras. Now I still cannot replace my DVD and remove it from my (too fastly filling) cabinets but have to add the BD to the shrinking unused space.

    Because one thing is true: I already ordered this Blu-ray version long ago, and left it standing with Amazon. And I will be happy to receive this beautiful version soon. So will my wife, who's an addict to the novels (she starts reading all of them in proper order once every year again [​IMG] ).

    Thanks, Robert! For the review as well as expressing the feelings of us early adopters!


    Cees
     
  3. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    I haven't preorder this because of its high price, but will buy it first chance it goes on sale.
     
  4. Travis Brashear

    Travis Brashear Screenwriter

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    Allow me to begin my post by setting the tone in which my reply should be read--it is one of honest respect for your knowledge, Mr. Harris, and your efforts on behalf of film lovers; you're a tremendous resource, both here and to the home video and film restoration communities at large, so my pushback is offered with that appreciation at the forefront. I am compelled to register this question because it is a lamentable practice I see often at review sites such as this one and DVDTalk; now that you've done it, I can't stay silent. Why did you spend a (laudable) paragraph chastising Fox for inexplicably dropping the copious entertaining and informative extras from the SD release of MASTER AND COMMANDER, then give the Blu-ray a "Highly Recommended"? As a consumer whose purchase needs do not end at great audio and video, I feel that this practice undermines the initial complaint and really sends the message to the studio that, in the end, dropping bonus features is "no biggie". Mr. Harris, you are far too influential to send such a message, intended or otherwise, to the studios; at minimum, might I suggest closing reviews for titles of this nature with something along the lines of "For consumers focused solely on video and audio presentation, this title comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, but for completists who value bonus features as much as the presentation of the film proper, this title cannot be recommended."? And, again, thanks for all you do--as what feels like the only male on the planet who doesn't like THE GODFATHER series, you're even getting me excited about those!
     
  5. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Travis,

    While your comments are quite correct, I must point out that my comments, which generally center upon the quality of the feature presentation, are what I use to form an overall rating.

    To me, everything else, from commentaries, to featurettes and documentaries, gag reels and Easter eggs, are merely the icing on the disc. Ancillary comments, regarding extras will certainly be duly noted. I believe the studio home video folks are intelligent people, who don't need to be hit over the head. They know how to read the public.

    Also, as different teams are responsible for different areas of a release, I have no desire to damage quality work done by the technical staff by lumping missing extras in the overall rating. The only fair means of accomplishing this would be to go the route of reviewers, both on HTF and elsewhere, who properly differentiate between image, audio and extras.

    The review on HTF makes its point about missing extras loud and clear. They don't call HTF's Fox reviewer "Give 'em Hell Osadciw" for nothing!

    Their voices will certainly be heard.

    RAH
     
  6. Travis Brashear

    Travis Brashear Screenwriter

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    Fair enough; thank you for your consideration and I do fervently hope you're right...Fox is about on my last nerve. This constant vacillation between releasing discs with no or truncated extras and ones with full extras leads me to believe many of the former (like MASTER AND COMMANDER, BUTCH CASSIDY and PREDATOR) must have been pressed long ago and, for reasons unclear to me, are only now finding their way to the market...
     
  7. Douglas Monce

    Douglas Monce Producer

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    I have no problems buying a movie only, or movie with scant extras, however I won't pay a premium price for them. If it were list priced at $19.95 I would have no problem, but Master and Commander is list priced at $39.98. I'll wait for a BOGO or maybe pick up a used copy of this one.

    Doug
     
  8. Chuck Mayer

    Chuck Mayer Lead Actor

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    I appreciate the heads up. This is a high def disc I definitely want, and I'd prefer the extras. I'm still willing to purchase this "bare bones" version, but not a premium price. It's the same with several Fox titles (Man on Fire, Predator, Die Hard, plus a few others). They'd get my money, even with these, if their prices were reasonable.

    I will probably get this film, as I love and admite it quite a bit. But not for MSRP. I'll wait a bit.
     
  9. DavidJ

    DavidJ Producer
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    This is one of my favorite recent films and I would love to own it in HD, but it does bother me that they did not include the extras. Like Cees I will not be able to simply replace my collector's edition. I will pass on this for now, but if I am able to pick it up on the cheap is the coming months I may not be able to resist.
     
  10. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    Couldn't say it more simply. But, then again, that's how I buy almost all my BDs. [​IMG]
     
  11. RickER

    RickER Producer

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    You said it Doug. Great movie. I would love to own it, but not at that price, and for no extras. Yes, it is all about the movie. But, for my budget, Warner meets my needs on all fronts! Extras, and for under $20. I can buy 2 Warner discs damn near at the same price of 1 FOX.

    But thank you for your thoughts Mr. Harris, always appreciated.
     
  12. Jeff Swindoll

    Jeff Swindoll Supporting Actor

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    Well, it's no Master and Commander, but the the Mrs. Doubtfire Blu ports over all the stuff from the two-disc set. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come. M&C still beats Robocop's trailer only edition (though not by much, that 70 minute docu on M&C is superb to my memory).

    Sadly, Butch and Sundance is also missing some content.
     
  13. Charles_Y

    Charles_Y Stunt Coordinator

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    It's gratifying to learn that someone with Mr. Harris' reputation has similar grievances regarding the appalling lack of extras on BDs nowadays. Even trailers are missing quite often and yet the price stays up there. I haven't seen as much sympathy as I would like in the community on this subject.

    I was royally pissed to learn the excellent 4-disc edition of Kingdom of Heaven on SD had NONE of the extras ported over to the BD version, not even a blasted trailer.

    This is really disgraceful. I was a laserdisc fan who made the switch to DVD in early 1999 and it seemed that much of the supplements I got used to on laser made the grade to DVD, not so with Blu Ray it appears.

    I can only hope that as more of the public jumps on board that the studios might start paying attention. It's sad how they treat us early adopters. [​IMG]
     
  14. Rachael B

    Rachael B Producer

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    I broke down and ordered a copy from Amazon. I wasn't getting any other discs this week and I've wanted to compare this disc to the D-Theater tape since the first time it was announced. I concur with the poster that suspects that these discs might have been pressed last year....??? That wouldn't sue-prize me tat'all.
     
  15. JulianK

    JulianK Supporting Actor

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    Not conclusive proof, but I did notice that the (UK) Blu-ray M&C sleeve does have a 2007 copyright date.
     
  16. Rachael B

    Rachael B Producer

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    I'm disappointed in this BD because it caused a big digital pop at 17:25 . I was bitsreaming Master to my Onkyo 805. I think I'm just about over DTS when the other sound formats work without hitches.
     
  17. Reagan

    Reagan Supporting Actor

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  18. Rachael B

    Rachael B Producer

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    Thank you Regan! It's bad enough having had to upgrade my players over and over and now the head unit too..... next my speaker cables are gonna need a firmware upgrade.
     
  19. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    I have already posted this in all the usual places (Bargains & Deals/Borders Coupon thread & HD Sale Consolidated Thread)...but since we had the discussion here I thought I'd do it one more time.

    Borders has a 40% off coupon (DVDs & Blu-ray) that is good today & tomorrow only (5-19 & 5-20-08). That knocks M&C from $40 down to $24.
     
  20. Ron Reda

    Ron Reda Cinematographer

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    I believe I bought it at Amazon for $23.95. If you add another BR, shipping is free.
     

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