DVD Review HTF REVIEW: Superman Returns - Two-Disc Special Edition (RECOMMENDED).

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Herb Kane, Nov 15, 2006.

Tags:
  1. Herb Kane

    Herb Kane Screenwriter

    Joined:
    May 7, 2001
    Messages:
    1,342
    Likes Received:
    0
    [​IMG]
    Superman Returns
    Two-Disc Special Edition





    Studio: Warner Brothers
    Year: 2006
    Rated: PG-13
    Film Length: 154 Minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Enhanced Widescreen
    Audio: DD 5.1
    Color/B&W: Color
    Languages: English & Spanich
    Subtitles: English, French & Spanish
    MSRP: $34.99
    Package: Two discs/Double Keepcase





    The Feature:
    Following the box office success of this summer’s blockbuster hit, Superman Returns, Warner Home Video is set release their newest Superman installment as a Two-Disc Special Edition DVD. The film was directed by Bryan Singer (famous for his work with the X-Men franchise), and stars Brandon Routh as the Man of Steel, Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane and also features, Kevin Spacey, James Marsden and Eva Marie Saint.

    After a mysterious absence, our introduction to Superman (played by Brandon Routh) takes place as he returns to earth after a several year hiatus. However, things aren’t quite the same as he makes the heartbreaking realization that the woman he loves, Lois Lane (played by Kate Bosworth) has moved on with her life and has chosen to share it with Richard White (played by James Mardsen) and their five year old child.

    Long time arch enemy Lex Luthor (played by Kevin Spacey), is recently released from prison due to a technicality, and embarks on a plan of cataclysmic destruction. Lex Luthor and his loyal followers get their hands on Superman’s crystals and make a quick discovery as to their ability to make new land. The new discovery sets up Lex Luthor to be the most powerful man in the world. The question is, will Superman be able to foil Luthor’s plan before he takes over the world?

    Superman Returns is a rather benign attempt to connect itself to previous Superman films. While there are plenty of new twists and turns, one can’t help but feel a lack of true invigoration. Unlike last years heralded re-tread of the Dark Knight in Batman Begins, Superman Returns, lacks that same sense of reinvention. While Batman Begins, earns points for fresh story (re)telling, Superman Returns, lacks that creative spirit and comes across as just another action blockbuster. Not a bad film by any means, however, Richard Donner’s 1978 version is still the definitive Man of Steel. The CGI special effects are especially noteworthy (something this film does excel in, besting its ’78 counterpart), as the flying sequences are most realistic and impressive.

    Aside from the Two-Disc Special Edition, WHV will also be offering a single-disc version of the film for $28.98 (in widescreen and fullscreen) and will also be made available in high definition under both formats. The Blu-ray version will list for $34.99, while the HD-DVD version (a HD/SD Combo disc), will list for $39.99.

    The Feature: 3/5
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]



    Video:
    As we might expect, one of the year’s biggest blockbusters should be afforded a no holds barred transfer and that’s exactly what has been created. Presented in its original AR of 2.35:1, this enhanced for widescreen transfer looks fantastic – one of the best of the year. The HD version comparison will no doubt be interesting as this is almost perfect.

    First up, colors. Gorgeous, lush and vivid. Skin tones looked real and accurate. Shadow detail and contrast levels also looked perfect – although, the film has a slightly dark look to it. Image detail was excellent as sharp images emerged not only on close-ups but on wider and longer shots. The film also exhibited an impressive amount of depth and texture with virtually no film grain evident.

    As we would expect, the print was absolutely immaculate and free of any marks or blemishes. Perfection was also performed in the authoring of the disc as compression errors were non existent – same with edge enhancement; none.

    Another example of how well standard definition can look when done right. Full marks - fantastic.

    Video: 5/5
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]



    Audio:
    My feelings for audio are almost identical to the video counterpart. A fantastic effort here with the DD 5.1 encoded soundtrack. A soundtrack can make or break one’s enjoyment of a film, particularly one of this nature. In this case, the track keeps the viewer immersed in the story from start to finish – rarely letting up at all. The soundfield is vast and the soundstage is appreciably wide as is evidenced by the scoring. There is plenty of heft and punch to the track which is demonstrated on a frequent basis by the plethora of action sequences which take place throughout.

    The track was absolutely immaculate and free of any noisy distractions or hiss and most importantly, dialogue was always bold and intelligible – never in competition with the action sequences or the scoring..

    The surrounds are deployed on frequent basis and do an admirable job at delivering various effects throughout – never sounding fake or gimmicky. LFE appears frequently and effectively and your subs will appreciate the healthy workout.

    Like the video presentation, the audio soundtrack is fantastic.

    Audio: 4.5/5
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]



    Special Features:
    Warner has done an outstanding job here, trimming this set with a healthy number of entertaining and informative special features. Due to the length of the film, the entire collection of supplements appear on disc two and look like this:

    First up is, Requiem for Krypton: Making Superman Returns. This is a making-of documentary which contains several individual segments and runs almost as long as the feature-film itself. The feature contains five subsections consisting of: Secret Origins and First Issues; Crystallizing Superman, The Crystal Method; Designing Superman, An Affinity for Beachfront Property; Shooting Superman, The Joy of Lex; Menacing Superman and finally, He’s Always Around; Wrapping Superman. There should be no complaints from those interested in such features as this one covers the full gambit – and then some. Virtually every single member of the film’s cast and crew appear here including its director, Bryan Singer. The offering contains a plethora of information such as interviews, movie clips, behind-the-scene footage, conceptual development, set decoration, costuming, make-up, special effects, photography, location shooting…. among other things. Special effects supervisor Rob Heggie also makes an appearance as his trade is discussed at length. There is virtually nothing that goes unmentioned here as almost all facets of the production are touched upon. This should be considered one of the best features of its kind.

    The next featurette is entitled, Resurrecting Jor-El, a rather brief short which explores the technique of integrating the older Brando footage in the new film.

    If you are a fan of Deleted Scenes, you’ll have almost a dozen of them to sift through here. As per usual, it’s clear why many of these are excised, however, some of the earlier footage is interesting.

    To close things off, a Theatrical Trailer Gallery has been added to include a number of trailers and teasers for various Man of Steel products as well as the upcoming Christopher Reeve Collection.

    Special Features: 5/5
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    **Special Features rated for the quality of supplements, not the quantity**



    Final Thoughts:
    Given the sudden resurgence of super-hero action films, it should come as no surprise, that the next installment of Superman was inevitable – particularly on the heels of the hugely successful Caped Crusader film in last year’s Batman Begins. However, that’s where the similarities really end. While the updated Superman draws from it’s predecessors (not all that well, I may add), Batman Begins trowelled new ground, telling its story – and its history – from a totally fresh perspective. In short, Superman Returns seems more like a tired remake with a host of other problems rather than a fresh retelling of a worthy story. Perhaps a film that does its best to pay homage to the earlier Reeve films, but one that clearly falls short of succeeding.

    Despite my feelings for the film (and I rarely recommend anything I don’t care for), Superman Returns as a DVD is guaranteed to please fans of the film. Aside from a fantastic presentation, the set is loaded with a myriad of highly entertaining and informative special features. Easily recommended.

    Overall Rating: 4/5 (not an average)
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    Recommended…!!





    Release Date: November 28th, 2006
     
  2. Ron Reda

    Ron Reda Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2001
    Messages:
    2,276
    Likes Received:
    2
    Glad to see that WB put a great deal of care into this DVD...I was sure they would. I'm going to pick this one up as I missed it in the theaters. Well, I shouldn't say missed...I kind of let it pass me by. I can't help but feel that the audio/video in my house is a lot better place to view a film than a "hasn't been calibrated in forever" theater. Plus, I know the people at my house. [​IMG]
     
  3. Dave H

    Dave H Producer

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2000
    Messages:
    5,522
    Likes Received:
    169
    I always meant to see this in the theaters, but missed it. I'll definitely give it a rental. I'm a very big fan of the first two original movies, but I don't expect "Returns" by any means to top them given everything I've read about it.
     
  4. Matthew Clayton

    Matthew Clayton Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2005
    Messages:
    148
    Likes Received:
    0
    Excellent film and I will be getting the 2-disc SE. BTW, how high is the video bitrate of SR and are the DD 5.1 tracks encoded at 384 kps or 448 kps?
     
  5. Lord Dalek

    Lord Dalek Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2005
    Messages:
    2,954
    Likes Received:
    402
    Real Name:
    Joel Henderson
    WB abandoned 384 a good 4 years ago so expect 448 Kbps.
     
  6. Grant H

    Grant H Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2002
    Messages:
    2,844
    Likes Received:
    0
    Interesting; the Bits review is nowhere near as favorable on the video side. It was given a B and mentioned compression artifacting. Bill suggested enthusiasts would want the HD version, that a smaller screen would be more forgiving to the DVD's transfer.

    As for film grain and print dirt etc., there shouldn't be any as this was shot in HD. Unless they did the transfer from a film print instead of the digital master, which is doubtful. I suppose it's possible the transfer is so good it shows the imperfections of the video source material and that's what the Bits review is seeing. The movie isn't THAT long that it should cause compression challenges as the Bits review suggests.
     
  7. TheBat

    TheBat Producer

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 1999
    Messages:
    3,083
    Likes Received:
    28
    Real Name:
    Jacob
    I think alot of the farm scenes that are in the deleted scenes should have been in the movie.. it was some character moments to help care about the new cast. I think it was mistake to cut so much out.

    Jacob
     
  8. WarrenL

    WarrenL Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2004
    Messages:
    64
    Likes Received:
    0
    I saw this at the theater and I'll have to pass on this one...I'm glad the video and audio was done well though.
     
  9. Matthew Clayton

    Matthew Clayton Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2005
    Messages:
    148
    Likes Received:
    0

    I don't think so. From what I've read, the DD 5.1 bitrates of Batman Begins and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire were both 384 kps. (The latter I'm certain is 384 kps.)

    Then again, since the guy who supervised the making of the SR DVD says that the bitrate for the movie-only disc was so high they couldn't fit any extras alongside it. So I'm guessing that both the English and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks were 448 kps as well.
     
  10. Lord Dalek

    Lord Dalek Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2005
    Messages:
    2,954
    Likes Received:
    402
    Real Name:
    Joel Henderson
    According to WinDVD, Batman Begins is 448. I don't have GoF to check though.
     
  11. Kramer Lowry

    Kramer Lowry Second Unit

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2004
    Messages:
    389
    Likes Received:
    0
    [​IMG]
     
  12. Matthew Clayton

    Matthew Clayton Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2005
    Messages:
    148
    Likes Received:
    0

    Whoops. My mistake... I was reading the DVD Beaver comparison between the R1 and R2 edition, and the reviewer mentioned that the BB DVD had a 384 kps Dolby Digital 5.1 track (but now I know it meant the R2 edition).
     
  13. Matthew Clayton

    Matthew Clayton Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2005
    Messages:
    148
    Likes Received:
    0

    Whoops. My mistake... I was reading the DVD Beaver comparison between the R1 and R2 edition, and the reviewer mentioned that the BB DVD had a 384 kps Dolby Digital 5.1 track (but now I know it meant the R2 edition).

    I'll guess I take my copy of GOF and check it to see if the DD 5.1 track is 384 kps or 448 kps.
     
  14. Ryan Wong

    Ryan Wong Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2002
    Messages:
    134
    Likes Received:
    0
    I also find the picture quality of Superman Returns in Region 3 to be... a bit noisy. And the Region 1's and Region 3's transfer from WB is always indentical. The noise I am certain is not film gain, but looked like the noise when you enhance the color too much.

    But then I believe the problem should be lesser on a properly calibrated display.
     
  15. Kevin. W

    Kevin. W Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 1999
    Messages:
    1,534
    Likes Received:
    0
    Getting mine on HD-DVD. If the transfer is anything like Batman Returns, this will be a must have.
     
  16. Nelson Au

    Nelson Au Executive Producer

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 1999
    Messages:
    12,558
    Likes Received:
    1,193
    I take it this will be the same set that's included in the Superman Ultimate Edition Tin/box set due later this month?
     
  17. Grant H

    Grant H Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2002
    Messages:
    2,844
    Likes Received:
    0
    Possibly the same kind of noise that occasionally reared its head on the transfer of the digital Attack of the Clones (like Palpy's red chamber walls). That was still considered reference at the time, but the ROTS transfer managed to eliminate that flaw. I wonder if this kind of (chroma?) noise is just something compressionists really have to work hard to avoid on transfers from digital sources vs. film, as the picture (and color) is in some ways more "solid" as it is not broken up by (even miniscule) film grain as in transfers from film.
     
  18. Robert Anthony

    Robert Anthony Producer

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2003
    Messages:
    3,218
    Likes Received:
    0
    I figured the doc would be good, but better than "The Beginning" good? That was unexpected to hear. I'm almost looking forward to the Doc more than the flick itself now.
     
  19. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Executive Producer

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2001
    Messages:
    17,067
    Likes Received:
    1,787
    Location:
    Albany, NY
    Damn! I was really planning on getting the HD-DVD hybrid disc. That way I could watch the movie as much as I want on the regular DVD side, and I wouldn't have to rebuy once I upgrade to HD.

    On one hand, the comments about lack of detail and chroma noise seem to bear this strategy out. On the other hand, if this documentary is as wonderful as everyone says it is, it'll be torture having it in my hand but locked away on a side I don't have the technology to play yet.
     
  20. Colin Jacobson

    Colin Jacobson Producer

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2000
    Messages:
    5,928
    Likes Received:
    498

    I wouldn't agree with that. "The Beginning" was great, while the SR doc is only pretty good. Really long, but just not as in-depth as I'd like. Lots of great footage from the set - I just don't feel like it gave us a full view of the production...
     

Share This Page