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HD DVD Reviews

HTF HD DVD REVIEW: Bullitt (Highly Recommended)



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#1 of 4 OFFLINE   Cameron Yee

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Posted March 04 2007 - 07:16 AM

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Bullitt
Release Date: February 27, 2007
Studio: Warner Home Video
Packaging/Materials: Standard single-disc HD DVD case
Year: 1968
Rating: PG
Running Time: 1h54m
Video (Feature): 1080p HD 16x9 1.85:1 (mislabeled as 2.40:1)
Audio (Feature): Dolby Digital Plus: English 2.0, French 1.0, Spanish 1.0
Video (Special Features): Partially 1080p HD, partially 480i or 480p SD
Audio (Special Features): Stereo or Mono
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
MSRP: $28.99

The Feature: 4.5/5
When Lt. Frank Bullitt (Steve McQueen) and his partner Delgetti (Don Gordon) are assigned to protect a state witness, they get caught between the District Attorney (Robert Vaughn) and his political ambitions and a pair of shotgun-wielding mob hitmen. Perhaps best known for its roller coaster of a chase scene through the San Francisco streets, "Bullitt

Video Quality: 4.5/5
"Bullitt" depicts a wide range of scenes - from full sunlight on the San Francisco city streets to the dimly lit hallways and staircases of its hospital and apartment buildings. And overall everything comes across beautifully, in particular the chiaroscuro-like cinematography in the early part of the film. The black levels are deep and inky, with very good shadow detail even in the darkest environments. Detail is excellent - the additional resolution afforded by the 1080p transfer is especially appreciated in the opening titles (I'm a sucker for crisp looking text), in the facial textures of its cast members and in background detail of the panoramic cityscapes. Mild edge halos are evident in the most high contrast situations and grain is often noticeable, particularly in the darker scenes, though this is more an observation than a complaint. Some shots are a bit soft, though given the sharpness and clarity of the rest of the film it's easy to assume the focus was just a touch off in the takes. For more about the look and transfer of the film, visit this thread started by Motion Picture Archivist Robert Harris.


Audio Quality: 4.5/5
The two channel Dolby Digital Plus audio track is firmly planted front and center, with the only departure being some slight stereo directionality in the car chase scene. Audio quality is smooth and detailed, particularly with the film's music, as heard in the film's title sequence and the diegetic performance in the restaurant. Sound effects and dialogue are natural sounding and never strained, though I did notice an instance when one of Bisset's lines sounded excessively boosted, bearing a telltale hiss.


Special Features: 5/5

Commentary by Director Peter Yates: Yates provides a very good commentary, weighing in on everything from working with McQueen and other cast and crew members to challenges and benefits of shooting on location. He also provides some historical perspective on working on a police film during the tumultuous late 1960s.

Bullitt: Steve McQueen's Committment to Reality (10m13s): 1968 featurette takes a look behind the scenes of production, with McQueen providing an audio interview explaining the film's use of real settings and employees from those environments. 4:3 pillarboxed, HD.

Steve McQueen: The Essence of Cool (1h26m): Turner Classic Movies documentary on McQueen's life and career. The picture quality is not especially good, crushed black levels being the most obvious problem, but it does give a fitting tribute to the actor. 4:3 matted widescreen, SD.

The Cutting Edge: The Magic of Movie Editing (1h39s): I was thrilled to find this wonderful piece on film editing included as a special feature, in 1080p and 5.1 audio no less! Until certain high profile films get released in the HD formats, this may be the best demo clip disc available to show off one's system and if anything a teaser for the release of films like "Jaws" and "The Matrix" on HD DVD. With that said there are some clips that are clearly not full resolution (what's going on with that "Days of Thunder" clip?), but the documentary is such an informative and entertaining piece that it's forgivable.

Theatrical Trailer (2m52s): 16x9, HD.


Recap and Final Thoughts

The Feature: 4.5/5
Video Quality: 4.5/5
Audio Quality: 4.5/5
Special Features: 5/5
Overall Score (not an average): 4.5/5

A thrilling action and crime film with quiet character moments gets an excellent audio and video transfer and a "quality over quantity" set of special features. Highly recommended.




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.

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#2 of 4 OFFLINE   Tim Glover

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Posted March 04 2007 - 08:19 AM

Nice review Cameron. Posted Image...in my Blockbuster Queue.

#3 of 4 OFFLINE   ScottJH

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Posted March 04 2007 - 11:23 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cameron Yee
[F Times, serif][size=5][color=black]
The Cutting Edge: The Magic of Movie Editing (1h39s):[/b] I was thrilled to find this wonderful piece on film editing included as a special feature, in 1080p and 5.1 audio no less! Until certain high profile films get released in the HD formats, this may be the best demo clip disc available to show off one's system and if anything a teaser for the release of films like "Jaws" and "The Matrix" on HD DVD. With that said there are some clips that are clearly not full resolution (what's going on with that "Days of Thunder" clip?), but the documentary is such an informative and entertaining piece that it's forgivable.

The doc was great with those Matrix, Jaws and The Good, The Bad and The Ugly clips. Basic Instinct wasn't bad either.Posted Image I also noticed the problems with Days of Thunder. Also the Top Gun clips were the cropped version like the first DVD.

#4 of 4 OFFLINE   Cameron Yee

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Posted March 04 2007 - 11:30 AM

Yeah, I should have mentioned Basic Instinct. If that clip in HD doesn't generate sales I don't know what will. Posted Image
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