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HTF BLU-RAY REVIEW: Broken Arrow



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#1 of 7 Michael Osadciw

Michael Osadciw

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Posted February 17 2007 - 08:40 AM



Blu-ray Disc/DVD REVIEW



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BROKEN ARROW

Posted Image
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Film Year: 1996
Film Length: 108 min
Genre: Action/Adventure

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

BD Resolution: 1080/24p
BD Video Codec: MPEG-2
BD Disc Size: 25GB
Colour/B&W: Colour

Audio:
  • DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Lossless Surround
  • Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • French Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround

    Subtitles: English, Spanish, Cantonese, Korean
    Film Rating: R

    Posted Image Posted Image






  • Release Date: February 13, 2007

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

    Starring: John Travolta (Maj. Vic ‘Deak’ Deakins), Christian Slater (Capt. Riley Hale), Samantha Mathis (Terry Carmichael)

    Written by: Graham Yost
    Directed by: John Woo



    My, how tastes change. At the end of my teenage years, Broken Arrow was a great action flick that was high up on my list. Now I’m older wiser; my DTS laserdisc of this title sits dormant on my shelf and I haven’t spun it in years. I skipped the DVD release mainly for this reason but I also swore that with some titles I’d just wait for the high-def release before I revisited it. Well, here I am seven years later fulfilling that sworn promise and am thankful of it.

    Some say age brings wisdom; and even though that is the case to a degree, it’s easy to continue with old habits that are not so wise and have a guilty pleasure for doing it. I feel this way when watching Broken Arrow. To me this movie is no longer high up on my list of favourites – in fact I think it’s a rather silly film. But that’s not to say that I don’t get any enjoyment from watching it. It has its fun moments of action, adventure, and things blowing up, and I dare say it - Travolta’s stale humour. His desire to play God is probably what keeps the film interesting despite how absurd it really is. Regardless, it’s a bit of a slow film with speedy wit.

    The film’s story is about two Air Force Pilots with very different personalities. After a test flight of a Stealth aircraft over a National Park in Utah’s desert, pilot Deakins manages to steal two nuclear warheads (broken arrow is the term used to describe stolen nukes) and tries to have them exported out of this canyon-filled landscape. His co-pilot Hale was unable to stop the theft, was thought to be dead until he, with the help of a park ranger, tries what he can to prevent Deakins an his thugs from being successful at their mission – to hold major U.S. cities ransom to the tune of several hundred million dollars.


    Posted ImageVIDEO QUALITY: 3/5 Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image

    I wanted to feel generous and give this title more than three stars, but I owe my honesty to you, the readers of Home Theater Forum, to accurately spell out what I see. I feel there is too much against this transfer to rate it any better. Viewing the title sequence is a good indication on where the video quality is heading. It’s the worst looking of all scenes but what comes after isn’t much better. The video has nice contrast and good black levels, but its colours aren’t impressive at all. Flesh tones appear a bit on the orange side and everything else has a much-muted colour palette. This transfer also begs for more resolution of any kind. It’s quite grainy and soft, lacking the look of additional resolution offered by current HD technology. This is one title that I can honestly say only looks somewhat better than the best DVD transfer. The loss of vertical resolution because of the 2.35:1 aspect ratio doesn’t help much in this department either. This Blu-ray disc lacks compression artefacts that plague DVD when viewed on large screens, but the ringing around edges is noticeable in many scenes on this transfer. This is an artefact not found on the best of newly produced HD releases. Let me note that this isn’t a Blu-ray problem, but the format’s ability to show all the warts in the transfer supplied by the studio. I don’t doubt this is another 10-year old transfer and I bet if I compared my laserdisc to this HD release, I’d probably see the same dirt specs pop up in the same spots. As I’ve mentioned with most other older Fox titles, I’m happy Fox is dipping into their catalogue but we’re seeing variability in image quality resulting from this. But when it comes down to it, any improvement is a big plus and we’ve all plunked money down for minor differences between DVD editions of the same title, and with HD on Blu-ray you will always be guaranteed an improvement one way or another.


    Posted ImageAUDIO QUALITY: 3.5/5 Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image

    Once a reference for home theatre systems, Broken Arrow sounds, well…broken. It’s hit and miss in terms of surround consistency and clearly not a soundtrack I’d call high fidelity. There are a few directional cues in the rear channels to work with the fronts during the most immersive moments; scenes such as the flight of the stealth aircraft, the nuke blowing up in the mining shaft, and the climatic train-top sequence all offer a wonderful surround experience.

    The dialogue scenes in between the action fail to immerse the viewer in the desert landscape. Often, the intelligible dialogue doesn’t sound well integrated and sounds don’t seem to carry any additional spatial qualities. A good instance of this is when the marines were attempting to recover one of the nukes in a canyon and gunfire was going off in all directions – voices, gun shots, etc all sounded as if they were recorded in a dampened room rather than between monumental walls of rock. Bass in both the LFE channel and all main channels is good but doesn’t deliver a lot of impact. I have to say that the soundtrack as a whole is very underwhelming. It’s linear sounding and quite compressed to a particular volume level. Listen to the crash of the Stealth near the beginning of the film and you’ll agree. Sounds that should be loud aren’t and sounds that should be soft aren’t. It’s also veiled to a degree making details sound congested and undefined.

    The music in the film is synth-driven and it’s limited in spaciousness as well. It’s not a great score and lacks a theme minus the string-plucked Travolta cue. The score is also awkwardly mixed with the sound effects. It’s sometimes too prominent and then at other times it takes a big back seat in the mix.

    Three and a half stars are given for the quality of the 5.1 sound mix - one that will sound very good on most systems. Those with systems capable of revealing more detail and dynamics will notice the shortcomings quite easily. The encoding is DTS Master Audio and I listened to the lossy core since the lossless part can’t be accessed yet.

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



    Posted ImageSPECIAL FEATURES: 0/5 ZERO

    I can't say the addition of the theatrical trailer qualifies as a special feature of its own, but its here. Accompanying it are trailers for AvP, Chain Reaction, Commando, Phone Booth, and Planet of the Apes.


    IN THE END...

    With disappointing HD audio/visual details, Broken Arrow is better left as an enjoyed rental rather than a purchase.

    Michael Osadciw
    February 17, 2007.


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

    THX/ISF Professional Video Calibrator
    HIGHEST FIDELITY CALIBRATIONS


    #2 of 7 Robin_B

    Robin_B

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    Posted February 17 2007 - 02:51 PM

    Now I'm bummed. I've been holding off on buying the non anamorphic SD DVD and was going to add this one the front of the line of HD discs to buy when I finally get around to getting a player. However after reading your review I might not.
    "Yeah but secreted from what?"

    #3 of 7 Yumbo

    Yumbo

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    Posted February 17 2007 - 03:25 PM

    Maybe the HD DVD will be better, grin.

    #4 of 7 Steve Tannehill

    Steve Tannehill

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    Posted February 17 2007 - 03:34 PM

    Thanks for the review, Michael! Please keep them coming... you just saved me $25!

    - Steve

    #5 of 7 Matt Hough

    Matt Hough

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    Posted February 17 2007 - 03:39 PM

    I watched it tonight, and it was visually disappointing. The best you can say is that at least the Blu-ray is anamorphic while the SD version isn't (or at least the one I had wasn't). I did think the sharpness and dimensionality improved a bit in the second half (basically after they get to the river), but for my money, this is the worst Fox transfer in my collection. The sound of the explosions is impressive, but I recall the sound on the SD version as also being very nice. I don't have it any more so I couldn't do a direct comparison.

    The HD previews of some of their other upcoming releases like PHONE BOOTH and PLANET OF THE APES looked wonderfully sharp and really popped.

    #6 of 7 Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina

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    Posted February 18 2007 - 04:40 PM

    Well this bites the big one. I have the old non-anamorphic DVD which I have been itching to replace. Yes this isn't the greatest movie, but as a big John Woo fan I'll support almost anything he puts on film. And I have to admit, I get a kick out of the Travolta/Slater relationship. This came out before Travolta's schtick became tiring. And as a Raider fan, I've just gotta love Howie Long's horrid acting Posted Image

    I got burned buying Fifth Element (bad master source) and Stargate (no alien/Egyptian subtitles) on BD. I don't think I'll splurge for another $25 mistake. Posted Image

    XBox Live: TheL1brarian (let's play Destiny on XB1)


    #7 of 7 cineMANIAC

    cineMANIAC

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    Posted November 23 2009 - 02:25 AM

    I picked this up last week mainly for two reasons: It was only $12.99 at Best Buy and its an anamorphic transfer. I agree with the review - its not the best-looking blu-ray I've ever seen.  Some scenes look great while others are too soft for the format. I'm reluctant to purchase any of Fox's BDs of older films because of the poor transfers - why are they using what looks like Standard-def masters for Blu-ray?