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HTF BLU-RAY REVIEW: xXx

Blu-ray Reviews

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#1 of 3 Michael Osadciw

Michael Osadciw

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Posted September 06 2006 - 05:06 AM



Blu-ray Disc REVIEW



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xXx

Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Film Year: 2002
Film Length: 124 minutes
Genre: Action

Aspect Ratio:
  • 2.40:1 Theatrical Ratio

    Film Resolution: 1080/24p
    Special features: 1080/24p
    Video Codec: MPEG-2
    Colour/B&W: Colour

    Audio:
  • English Uncompressed Linear PCM 5.1 Surround

  • English Posted Image Posted Image 5.1 Surround

  • French Posted Image Posted Image 5.1 Surround

    Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, Chinese, Thai
    Film Rating: Posted Image

    Posted Image Posted Image





  • Release Date: AVAILABLE NOW

    Film Rating: Posted Image Posted Image / Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image

    Starring: Vin Diesel (Xander Cage), Asia Argento (Yelena), Marton Csokas (Yorgi), Samuel L. Jackson (Agent Augustus Gibbons)

    Written by: Rich Wilkes
    Directed by: Rob Cohen



    If you want someone to save the world, make sure it’s someone who likes the world as it is.


    Let’s see…what do I say about this asinine film? It starts off somewhat interesting and appears to be a film with some kind of cause or message based on Diesel’s character. But then the film becomes something unrealistic a quarter of the way as Vin Diesel (as Xavier Cage) is put through a series of trials by the U.S. government to see if he is the man to go on classified mission. Then, half way through the film, we find out his mission becomes one to save the world in a hokey James Bond kind of way. Instead of using all smarts, he uses his strength and attitude to gain trust in the criminal world without blowing his cover. The insane antagonist and the gizmos and gadgets are all there: it’s James Bond for Generation Y.

    It’s not a film you can take seriously, but oddly enough the film’s opening makes you want to take it seriously. I guess that’s why I was so thrown off by the rest of the film. It offered a few good moments of action and many moments of laughable acting by Vin Diesel – at least I can give him points for trying. If you like a loud and action packed adventure with a simple Bond-style storyline then you’ll like this film. It wasn’t for me.

    This is the 124-minute theatrical cut and not the 132-minute director’s cut.


    Posted ImageVIDEO QUALITY 4/10 Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image

    I’ve decided to rank the video quality of these discs on a 1-10 scale. A Blu-Ray score of 5 will mean that it is similar to the best-looking DVD I can think of and the remaining 5-10 will be based on the extended resolution of Blu-Ray disc. I think this is the best way to rank these titles for now so I hope this will help you to determine what a reference HD disc is. As more BDs become available and authoring improves (as was in the early DVD days) the earliest titles I’ve ranked as “10” may not appear as “reference quality” anymore. Please note that I’m currently viewing this on a 1280x720 projector and I’m not even able to see half of the 1920x1080 information on this disc. In the simplest terms, instead of seeing 6x the resolution of DVD I’m only seeing 2.6x the improvement. Our display devices have a long way to go before we can see all of the picture information contained on these discs. This disc was reviewed on the Samsung BD-P1000 on a 35-foot Monster M1000HDMI to a calibrated PT-AE700 (6500K/5400K-B&W). The screen is a D110" (8-foot wide) Da-Lite Cinema Contour (w.Pro-Trim finish) and Da-Mat fabric.

    XXX was one of the first discs released on the Blu-ray format and it looks like hell for HD. The quality of the print is extremely variable. Some shots look very out of focus and look no better than SD-DVD (in fact I’ve seen SD-DVD look better) and other shots within the same scene benefited from HD’s high resolution. I found the inconsistency in image quality very distracting and couldn’t help but think why Sony even bothered to release this title. As one of the first BD titles, I question why Sony pictures would start with a film that was so soft, blurry, and dull looking.

    I would be nice and give the disc a passing grade if it were equal to the best looking DVD, but the rest of the image, even when it did look HD, suffered from other problems. In many shots, black level is poor to the point that many scenes looked washed out. Compare it to increasing the ‘brightness’ control on your television and you’ll know what I mean. The range of colours is equally unimpressive giving the image a dull, lifeless look when comparing it to other modern-day films. There is still some life in the picture though because some scenes can look good - but just not good enough for me.

    Like the much-dreaded Blu-ray edition of The Fifth Element, XXX’s print is also full of dirt artefacts, grain, and even mosquito noise. This is 100% unacceptable for a product that is supposed to be high calibre.

    The aspect ratio is 2.40:1.

    Posted ImagePCM AUDIO EXPERIENCE: 6.5/10 Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image
    DOLBY DIGITAL AUDIO EXPERIENCE: 6/10 Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image

    For the sake of consistency with the video, I’m going to rate uncompressed PCM (and eventually the lossless audio compression formats when available), as well as lossy codecs from Dolby Digital and DTS on a scale from 1-10. This rating is based on “satisfaction” – the highest score delivering the greatest amount of satisfaction and the lowest delivering the least. When defining satisfaction, I mean both the resolution of the audio as well as the sound design for the film. I’m listening for the best experience possible. Audio is reviewed using the Samsung BD-P1000’s decoding & DACs, a Marantz SR5400 for preamp/pass-through, 2 Anthem MCA-30 amps each on Transparent PowerLink Super, Dunlavy SC-IV (front), Dunlavy SC-I (center), Focus Audio FC-50 (surrounds), Mirage BPS-400 subwoofer (LFE), 4 Paradigm PW-2200 subwoofers on 2 Mirage LFX-3 crossovers (one sub for each main channel for audio <50Hz), Transparent MusicWave Plus BiWire speaker cable (all channels), Transparent MusicLink Plus and AudioQuest Diamondback interconnects (all channels)

    This is an oddball soundtrack because the original sound design is just plain…weird. What is impressive about the soundtrack is the use of sound effects and the aggressive directionality in all channels. In this aspect, the soundtrack is engaging and occasionally dynamic in nature. The soundtrack rarely sounded bright or heavy but bass lovers will be happy about the generous amount of LFE and bass in the front channels. The uncompressed PCM 5.1 soundtrack stands out as a greater performer in terms of delivering a more balanced frequency response.

    What I found unimpressive about the soundtrack was the music. To be blunt: the recording sucked. The music is hard rock and very aggressive; I love this kind of music and a lot of it is recorded decently but that didn’t translate well to this soundtrack. The music sounded so compressed it lacked punch, fidelity, dynamic range, and was so flat and linear sounding. To make matters worse, the recording levels of the music, dialogue and effects bounced up and down depending on what the recording engineers felt were of importance. If in the middle of an action scene with the music and effects pounding, when the actor speaks the effects and music tracks would be lowered and the dialogue level increased. This would happen almost line for line in some scenes making the soundtrack sounding like it was sucked in and out…forward and back…it was truly awful. Both Dolby Digital and the uncompressed PCM 5.1 tracks did exactly what they were supposed to do by delivering this soundtrack to us, but I think if this title were ever revisited in the future (it should be given the poor overall quality) the soundtrack should be revisited and remixed.

    TACTILE FUN!! Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image / Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image
    TRANSDUCER ON/OFF?: ON

    Tactile ratings are based on the information in the dedicated LFE channel only. Bass from any other channel has not been rerouted to the LFE. For “shaking” purposes, I’m interested only in the bass the LFE provides to enhance the bass in all other channels. It also gives me a good indication of how much of that “.1 LFE” channel is used on each film. A Clark Synthesis TST-429 is used on an AudioSource AMP5.3, an AudioQuest Diamondback interconnect and Crankin’ Cable 12-awg speaker wire.

    I enjoyed using the tactile transducer for this film. It shook me up a bit and I felt it positively added to the intense action on the screen. There aren’t any specific moments that truly stood out, but it did make the overall experience better.


    Posted ImageSPECIAL FEATURES Posted Image / Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image

    The only features on this disc are HD theatrical trailers for Stealth, Into the Blue, and S.W.A.T..


    IN THE END...

    This is not a very good film and it’s a terrible Blu-ray disc. Save your money.

    Michael Osadciw
    September 6, 2006.


    Warner Bros. Blu-ray Reviewer
    Anchor Bay/Starz Entertainment Blu-ray Reviewer

    THX/ISF Professional Video Calibrator
    HIGHEST FIDELITY CALIBRATIONS

    #2 of 3 Larry Sutliff

    Larry Sutliff

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    Posted September 06 2006 - 05:30 AM

    This was the first BD I watched, Michael, and it really gave me a bad first impression of Blu-Ray. The scene where Diesel steals the politician's car is an artifact ridden mess. It really is a travesty, this disc should have never been released.

    #3 of 3 Jerome Grate

    Jerome Grate

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    Posted September 08 2006 - 05:46 AM

    Good thing BD has some good discs out there because a review like that certainly would have sealed BD's fate with me in reference to not buying into it.
    Listen Up People.., Rack Em and Pack Em.., We're Phantoms in 15.





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