-

Jump to content



Photo
- - - - -

HTF HD-DVD Review: Sleepy Hollow


This topic has been archived. This means that you cannot reply to this topic.
18 replies to this topic

#1 of 19 PatWahlquist

PatWahlquist

    Supporting Actor

  • 735 posts
  • Join Date: Jun 13 2002

Posted July 26 2006 - 08:47 AM


Sleepy Hollow (HD-DVD)

Studio: Paramount Home Video
Rated: R (graphic horror, violence and gore, and for a scene of sexuality)
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
HD Encoding: 1080p
HD Video Codec: VC-1
Audio: English, French and Spanish Dolby Digital Plus 5.1; English DTS 5.1
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish; English SDH
Time: 105 minutes
Disc Format: 1 SS/DL HD-DVD
Case Style: Keep case
Theatrical Release Date: 1999
DVD Release Date: July 25, 2006

Movie Review Note: As I move into more HD-DVD reviews, I am cutting back on the length of my comments on the movie itself to deal more with the technical aspects of this new format. This will be done specifically on the catalog titles provided by Paramount. When they begin releasing titles day and date, I will spend more of the review on the merits (or lack thereof) of the title.

Ichabod Crane (Johnny Depp) is a man of science dispatched by big city magistrates to investigate the beheadings of several villagers in the upstate village of Sleepy Hollow. At first, he is skeptical of actual beheadings, but once he hears from the locals and encounters the big, Headless Horseman himself, he’s a believer. However, he sticks to his scientific guns to utilize techniques that will give him clues on who the Horseman is, as well as his motive and means. This being the 1700’s, Crane’s practices of the use of “technology” and “science” to solve crimes is looked down on. As the heads continue to roll, Crane, assisted by rustic cutie-pie Katrina (Christina Ricci) and a sidekick, young Masbeth (Marc Pickering), determines the Horseman’s vengeance may have origins closer to them than anyone could imagine.

Director Tim Burton has assembled an excellent production team on this picture to give the viewer a distinctive environment filled with mood, atmosphere and an impending sense of doom. The limited color schemes (I don’t know what Burton would do without black), the seemingly endless twilight and the ever-present fog enhance the desperation of the villagers. Depp’s Crane is played with a slight air of superiority over the locals and he uses bits of humor to make light of their lack of sophistication or the absurdness of their plight. He is not immune to being overwhelmed, as he has a penchant for fainting. I remember not being a big fan of this picture when it first came out, but during this viewing I really enjoyed it. I would have to say it is probably due to a combination of great costuming, art direction and the playfulness in the cast that contributes to this. While it is not the best Burton picture, it is still a fun and spooky (not really scary) romp through Colonial era madness.


Video:
Note: I am watching this title using a Marantz VP 12-S4 DLP projector, which has a native resolution of 720p. Thus, the HD-DVD discs are being displayed in 1080i for evaluation purposes. I am using a Toshiba HD-A1 for a player and utilizing the HDMI capabilities of both units.

Sleepy Hollow is an exceptionally dark picture to begin with and that is only enhanced on this new release. Black levels are deep while still showing good detail in the surroundings. As the next step, the smoke and fog take on a life of their own but exhibit no blocking or aliasing as can be noted in SD releases when they are challenged with this material. Burton’s DP, Emmanuel Lubezki (who later went on to shoot Lemony Snicket) complements his director’s vision by using a pale and washed out color palette that shows flares of saturation. The actors maintain a pale complexion that suits their surroundings. This is not to say this lack of color takes away from the detail by any means: this is an exceptionally detailed picture that brings alive the backgrounds. All of the trees and leaves in the various wooded scenes are now distinct and clear.

At first I was surprised to see so much grain in the picture, but it is clear this was the director’s intent. It can be a bit distracting at first, but it contributes to the film like appearance of the picture. The VC-1 encoded picture is correctly framed at 1.85:1. I did not notice any edge enhancement.


Audio:
The Dolby Digital Plus soundtrack is attained by a 5.1 analog connection.

I watched the movie with the Dolby Digital Plus (DD+) track engaged. It provides an excellent soundstage with numerous panning effects between the fronts. The surrounds come to life during the action sequences and for atmospheric effects, and the occasional “whoosh” as the headless horseman comes leaping in from off screen. Bass is very natural sounding so as not to blow the viewer out of the seat. In the era or “more is better”, I’m glad the sound designer was restrained on this title. As I said of my review of Sahara, the DD+ and DTS are similar, but I was more impressed with the DD+ track overall. This track seemed richer and more enveloping, whereas when I switched over to the DTS track on, the soundtrack became somewhat…empty. The DTS track is very similar in terms of bass response and clarity, but it is the lesser of the two tracks.


Bonus Material
With the advent of HD-DVD, we are faced with several different audio and video codecs being used on each disc. Due to this, I have begun adding the encoding details as part of the explanation of bonus features when applicable and relevant.

Commentary by Director Tim Burton: Burton’s commentary is punctuated by him cracking himself up, which can get annoying. He does give some good insights into the motivations of his characters as they translated in this adaptation.

Sleepy Hollow: Behind the Legend: (30:00)(MPEG2, 4x3, DD+): The cast and crew, ably assisted by a narrator with one of the best announcing voices, gives us all the usual EPK items (gushing about the actors and directors, stunts, effects, costumes, etc.). Still, a good enough spot for this release.

Reflections on Sleepy Hollow (11:24) (MPEG2, 4x3, DD+): A more recent set of interviews with Burton and the cast as they look back at the movie. This piece is similar to the first one.

Theatrical Trailer and Teaser Trailer (VC-1, 1.85:1, DD+): Both are presented in HD. Again, I complement Paramount on their choice to encode their trailers in HD. They look good except for the occasional bit of dirt on the prints. The saturation levels of the colors are also higher as compared to the feature.


Other notes on this HD-DVD edition:
- The A and B buttons that can be utilized on some HD-DVD titles do not appear to have any function on this title.
- I use the on-screen display function extensively when doing reviews for time markers and audio and video formatting. This disc would disable several remote functions until I turned off the on-screen display. I have not noticed this issue on the HD discs from Warner’s or Universal.


Conclusions:
While I enjoyed Sleepy Hollow more during this repeated viewing, it is still hampered by a dense plot that would be served better by an additional ten minutes of picture instead of the narrative. Burton crafts a spooky world and his cast pleases the audience. The HD-DVD will tax the black levels of your displays, so keep the calibration discs handy. The extras are basic, but I was glad to see Burton, Depp, Ricci and some others return for the retrospective.
ISO "Lost" ARG prints from Kevin Tong, Olly Moss, Eric Tan and Methane Studios.  PM me if you want to sell!

All reviews done on a Marantz VP11S1 1080p DLP projector.

Displays professionally calibrated by Gregg Loewen of Lion AV.

#2 of 19 Ronald Epstein

Ronald Epstein

    Studio Mogul

  • 39,709 posts
  • Join Date: Jul 03 1997

Posted July 26 2006 - 09:12 AM

Just ordered this 5 minutes ago.

Robert Harris also praised the transfer.

Happy to see Paramount is doing a nice job with these DVDs.

Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner

 

gallery_269895_23_10043.jpg Click Here for the latest/hottest Blu-ray Preorders gallery_269895_23_1316.jpg Click Here for our complete Blu-ray review archive

gallery_269895_23_773.jpg Click Here for our complete 3D Blu-ray review archive gallery_269895_23_992.jpgClick Here for our complete DVD review archive

gallery_269895_23_7246.jpg Click Here for Blu-Ray Preorder Release Schedule gallery_269895_23_3120.jpg Click Here for forum posting rules and regulations


#3 of 19 Paul Arnette

Paul Arnette

    Screenwriter

  • 2,616 posts
  • Join Date: Jul 16 2002

Posted July 26 2006 - 09:56 AM

Ron,

I thought that there was nothing in Paramount's initial slate of HD DVDs that interested you? Posted Image

Just ribbin' ya. BTW, I'm a sucker for Tim Burton, so this will be mine.
Universal Blu-ray Discs I will not be buying while they're offered only as Blu-ray + DVD 'flipper' discs:

The Jackal
, Out of Africa, and Traffic.

#4 of 19 Roger Mathus

Roger Mathus

    Supporting Actor

  • 557 posts
  • Join Date: Sep 01 1997
  • Real Name:Roger Mathus
  • LocationCentral Oregon

Posted July 26 2006 - 10:19 AM

It appears that Amazon does not have stock of the Paramont titles yet???? Did anyone get a copy from Amazon?

#5 of 19 PatWahlquist

PatWahlquist

    Supporting Actor

  • 735 posts
  • Join Date: Jun 13 2002

Posted July 26 2006 - 10:50 AM

Don't know about Amazon, but they're probably getting nailed with the 10% off deal. I checked my local Best Buy today and they had 4 copies of each of the new Paramounts. Of course, they are squirrled away above the VCR's about 10 feet away from the HD-DVD end cap. You would also think they would put the new title with the end cap, but no, they have "Serenity" sitting with it. No players for sale either.
ISO "Lost" ARG prints from Kevin Tong, Olly Moss, Eric Tan and Methane Studios.  PM me if you want to sell!

All reviews done on a Marantz VP11S1 1080p DLP projector.

Displays professionally calibrated by Gregg Loewen of Lion AV.

#6 of 19 Dan M

Dan M

    Second Unit

  • 327 posts
  • Join Date: Feb 06 2000

Posted July 26 2006 - 10:58 AM

are these the same extra's ported over from the original release?

#7 of 19 Roger Mathus

Roger Mathus

    Supporting Actor

  • 557 posts
  • Join Date: Sep 01 1997
  • Real Name:Roger Mathus
  • LocationCentral Oregon

Posted July 26 2006 - 11:14 AM

Pat, local Best Buy had 2 copies of each of the Paramont titles. They were still in the stock room as of this afternoon. The new Blu-ray titles also had not been put out but they seemed to have 4 to 6 each of them. (when they found them). Also there appeared to be no Toshiba or Samsung players in stock.

Sleepy Hollow, upon first check view, looks fantastic.

#8 of 19 Ron-P

Ron-P

    Producer

  • 6,283 posts
  • Join Date: Jul 25 2000
  • Real Name:Ron

Posted July 26 2006 - 12:36 PM

I'm sure the HD-DVD is noticeably better but I'm having a hard time going out and buying this one, no review has given it that WOW comment. That could be due to the dark, grainy and foggy look to the film but I'm not convinced yet that this is worth the double-dip considering the excellent upscaling of SD-DVDs.
You have all the weapons you need...Now fight!


#9 of 19 Steve Tannehill

Steve Tannehill

    Producer

  • 5,505 posts
  • Join Date: Jul 06 1997
  • Real Name:Steve Tannehill
  • LocationDFW

Posted July 26 2006 - 12:59 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Roger Mathus
Pat, local Best Buy had 2 copies of each of the Paramont titles. They were still in the stock room as of this afternoon. The new Blu-ray titles also had not been put out but they seemed to have 4 to 6 each of them. (when they found them). Also there appeared to be no Toshiba or Samsung players in stock.

I have given up on Best Buy. The one close to work is clueless when it comes to new releases. They don't put them on the shelves, and they don't even know where those shelves would be, and they are not willing to go look. Oh, after some looking, I did see Benchwarmers on an end cap. The older HD DVD's were buried in the home theater section in a display box that is not big enough to hold all the titles.

At this point, even though they don't always get the stock in a timely manner, I am sticking to Amazon. Even without the 10 percent promo discount, their prices are generally $5-$8 cheaper than Best Buy, and even more when that extra discount is added.

Yep, Steve is giving up on Best Buy. Hell, I may start shopping at Circuit City!

As for Sleepy Hollow, thanks for the review, Pat!

- Steve

#10 of 19 Tim Glover

Tim Glover

    Lead Actor

  • 7,658 posts
  • Join Date: Jan 12 1999
  • Real Name:Tim Glover

Posted July 26 2006 - 01:10 PM

Quote:
Hell, I may start shopping at Circuit City!

Good Luck Steve. The brand spanking new CC in Rockwall, TX doesn't even have a HD-DVD display. They do, however, sport a fancy new 56 in ch Samsung 1080p with a Blu-Ray player. The titles are next to it. I asked them about the HD-DVD setup. "um, we didn't get it"...They must have something special with Samsung? I told them most stores are supporting both Posted Image He looked rather perplexed.

Amazon prices are good for sure. Posted Image

#11 of 19 Steve Tannehill

Steve Tannehill

    Producer

  • 5,505 posts
  • Join Date: Jul 06 1997
  • Real Name:Steve Tannehill
  • LocationDFW

Posted July 26 2006 - 01:31 PM

.

#12 of 19 Steve Tannehill

Steve Tannehill

    Producer

  • 5,505 posts
  • Join Date: Jul 06 1997
  • Real Name:Steve Tannehill
  • LocationDFW

Posted July 26 2006 - 01:31 PM

Same with the CC at Firewheel in Garland, TX. They had a Samsung display just as you entered the store on the right. They disavowed all knowledge of HD DVD.

But the CC in Plano had plenty of HD DVD discs on display. Overpriced, though.

- Steve

#13 of 19 Ron-P

Ron-P

    Producer

  • 6,283 posts
  • Join Date: Jul 25 2000
  • Real Name:Ron

Posted July 26 2006 - 01:37 PM

My local BB has two entire bays on a front isle, one bay for HD-DVD titles and one for BD. They also have the new releases out when I walk in the door Tuesday mornings.
You have all the weapons you need...Now fight!


#14 of 19 Paul_Scott

Paul_Scott

    Lead Actor

  • 6,546 posts
  • Join Date: Jul 18 2002

Posted July 26 2006 - 01:37 PM

I was just in a CC looking for Sky Captain.
Someone commented that at their locations, they were mixing in the HD DVDS with the regular titles so I looked thru the regular racks- action, nope- sci-fi, nope.
I had pretty much given up and decided to check out the Bd demo on my way out. I took a gander at their Bd standee near the demo, and to my surprise saw Sahara and Sleepy Hollow HD DVDs mixed in, with Sky Captain and Tomb Raider buried behind copies of 50 First Dates and Stealth.

#15 of 19 PatWahlquist

PatWahlquist

    Supporting Actor

  • 735 posts
  • Join Date: Jun 13 2002

Posted July 26 2006 - 02:45 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan M
are these the same extra's ported over from the original release?

Yes, but the SD DVD had cast and crew bios as well.
ISO "Lost" ARG prints from Kevin Tong, Olly Moss, Eric Tan and Methane Studios.  PM me if you want to sell!

All reviews done on a Marantz VP11S1 1080p DLP projector.

Displays professionally calibrated by Gregg Loewen of Lion AV.

#16 of 19 Scott Calvert

Scott Calvert

    Supporting Actor

  • 885 posts
  • Join Date: Nov 02 1998

Posted July 27 2006 - 02:04 AM

Watched Sleepy Hollow last night. I thought it looked fantastic, almost exactly like a very good film print. This is exactly what I want out of my HD-DVD's, to replicate the look of an excellent film element.

#17 of 19 Ronald Epstein

Ronald Epstein

    Studio Mogul

  • 39,709 posts
  • Join Date: Jul 03 1997

Posted August 02 2006 - 08:12 PM

Quote:
I thought that there was nothing in Paramount's initial slate of HD DVDs that interested you?

There isn't. Call it curiosity. I wanted to own at least one Paramount
title to see how the menu structure was laid out, if there was a promo
and how overall transfer quality was.

...which brings me to this...

Quote:
I'm sure the HD-DVD is noticeably better but I'm having a hard time going out and buying this one, no review has given it that WOW comment. That could be due to the dark, grainy and foggy look to the film but I'm not convinced yet that this is worth the double-dip considering the excellent upscaling of SD-DVDs.

I was rather bothered by the amount of intentional grain in this film.

Overall, the picture is sharp with black levels that are through the
roof. However, if I were going to show this format off to someone
in hopes of converting them to HD-DVD, this would not be a title I
would choose. There is far too much grain in the picture.

On the audio front, I was quite pleased with fidelity and sound
separation -- especially with the headless horseman galloping from
rear channels to front.

Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner

 

gallery_269895_23_10043.jpg Click Here for the latest/hottest Blu-ray Preorders gallery_269895_23_1316.jpg Click Here for our complete Blu-ray review archive

gallery_269895_23_773.jpg Click Here for our complete 3D Blu-ray review archive gallery_269895_23_992.jpgClick Here for our complete DVD review archive

gallery_269895_23_7246.jpg Click Here for Blu-Ray Preorder Release Schedule gallery_269895_23_3120.jpg Click Here for forum posting rules and regulations


#18 of 19 Ed St. Clair

Ed St. Clair

    Producer

  • 3,320 posts
  • Join Date: May 07 2001

Posted August 03 2006 - 07:53 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ronald Epstein
I was rather bothered by the amount of intentional grain in this film.
WoW
Never thought I'd 'hear' that!

How is the grain compared to the SD DVD?
Thanks.
Movies are: "The Greatest Artform".
HD should be for EVERYONE!

#19 of 19 Dan Hitchman

Dan Hitchman

    Screenwriter

  • 2,714 posts
  • Join Date: Jun 11 1999

Posted August 04 2006 - 11:10 AM

The film is supposed to emulate the old Hammer horror classics in visual style and seeing as how much de-saturation and simulation of natural light shooting they did the grain is going to be there.

Dan


Back to Blu-ray



Forum Nav Content I Follow