HTF HD DVD REVIEW: Battle of the Bulge

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Cameron Yee, May 17, 2007.

  1. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer
    Reviewer

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    XenForo Template Battle of the Bulge Release Date: Available now (released May 15, 2007) Studio: Warner Home Video Packaging/Materials: Standard single-disc HD DVD case Year: 1965 Rating: Not Rated Running Time: 2h49m Video (Feature): 1080p HD 16x9 2.76:1 Audio (Feature): Dolby Digital Plus: English 5.1, French 1.0 Video (Special Features): 480i or 480p SD Audio (Special Features): Stereo and mono Subtitles: English, French, Spanish (Feature only) MSRP: $28.99 The Feature: 2.5/5 With the last decade's rebirth of the World War II combat film, spearheaded by Steven Spielberg's "Saving Private Ryan" alt=" " /> Video Quality: 4.5/5 The film is presented in the super-wide 2.76:1 aspect ratio. Viewers will be immediately struck by the boldness and depth of color and black levels in the film's title cards, which are woodblock-style, monochromatic illustrations set against primary color backgrounds. The live action footage maintains the quality of color and blacks, with reds being especially eye catching (e.g. a general's uniform lapels). A shot of a bombed out city, ruins stretching as far as the eye can see, is breathtaking in its clarity, as is a moment when individual motes in a snow flurry can be easily identified. Though it's obvious which shots were done in a studio and which on location, color, contrast range and shadow detail are consistently very good. Grain is visible at times, mostly in background areas. The picture struggles most in dark scenes - really only one, where an officer is hiding in a barn. There are also frequent signs of what looks like lens flare on the left side of many outdoor location shots and there are a couple instances of shimmer or moiré in the tight patterns of car grills and vents. But the film is clear of any dirt, dust or damage, looking quite remarkable for its age. Audio Quality: 4/5 The Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 mix is largely front-focused, with surrounds providing support to the score rather than any directional effects. The overture, intermission and closing orchestral pieces have a nice, full sound and a balanced, enveloping mix. The subwoofer gets some action during the tank battles, though it never gets to the LFE levels of modern combat films. Dialogue is consistently clear and intelligible and nicely balanced with the rest of the channels. Special Features: 3/5 Commentary by Director Ken Annakin and Actor James MacArthur: Annakin and MacArthur have no trouble remembering their experiences and providing anecdotes from the production, but slow down quite a bit as the film progresses and wind up making some obvious statements about the film and its narrative. The Filming of the Battle of the Bulge (9m33s): Promotional artifact from 1965 extolls the film's attention to detail, with German Military Advisor Meinrad von Lauchert a focal point. History Recreated (8m02s): Press junket style interviews with Producer Milton Sperling and Actor Robert Shaw. Theatrical Trailer (5m06s): The picture quality is not as good as the feature's but still decent. It also looks cropped at 2.35:1. Recap and Final Thoughts The Feature: 2.5/5 Video Quality: 4.5/5 Audio Quality: 4/5 Special Features: 3/5 Overall Score (not an average): 3/5 A film with a script and characters that don't do justice to an important historical event is difficult to recommend. However fans of "Battle of the Bulge" will be pleased by the excellent video and very good audio quality, though the modest special features may prove a bit disappointing.
    Equipment: Toshiba 42" CRT RPTV fed a 1080i signal over component from a Toshiba HD-A1 HD DVD player. Audio evaluation is based on an Onkyo TX-SR575x 5.1 AVR running JBL S26 mains and surrounds, JBL S-Center, and BFD-equalized SVS 20-39 PCi subwoofer. Audio connection from the HD-A1 is via the multichannel analog outputs.
     
  2. Tim Glover

    Tim Glover Lead Actor

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    Nice review Cameron...another one I have in my BB queue. [​IMG]
     
  3. Chris S

    Chris S Cinematographer

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    Very nice review! The extras do sound disappointing however when so few titles being released with any extras at all I have a hard time complaining too much. Reminds me again of the early days of DVD when extras consisted of a widescreen presentation and scene selection.
     
  4. Rachael B

    Rachael B Producer

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    We're lucky to have gotten these few extras. I mean, just about all the principals have passed away. The two little featurettes are decent.

    I watched the film on BD this week and was elated at how good it looked. On the audio side I wonder if older films like this one would be better off with 2.1 or 3.1 True HD? There are a couple of attempts to pan voice from L or R to centre that don't come off so well. Overall, I'm very pleased with this one.
     
  5. Stephen_J_H

    Stephen_J_H All Things Film Junkie
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    I beg to differ. This is just an example of a film that remained front-focused rather than using the surrounds for directional effects. The film would have had 70mm six-track audio, and this track may just be an example of being true to the original source and the limitations therein rahter than rejiggering the track for today's audiences.
     
  6. Ed St. Clair

    Ed St. Clair Producer

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    How's the PQ & SQ compared to the SD DVD?
    Thanks.
     
  7. Tim Glover

    Tim Glover Lead Actor

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    BB shipped this to me today....looking forward to it. [​IMG]
     
  8. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    IMO, the BRD is superior in every way to the latest SD DVD. I almost didn't buy the BRD because I was satisfied with the SD DVD, I'm glad I changed my mind.




    Crawdaddy
     
  9. Ed St. Clair

    Ed St. Clair Producer

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    Thanks...
    or maybe not as now I have to get out my wallet! ;-)

    [Man, the value of SD DVD's sure has dropped this year on eBay!!!]
     

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