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HTF BLU-RAY REVIEW: THE HOLIDAY

Blu-ray Reviews

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#1 of 18 OFFLINE   Ben_Williams

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Posted March 17 2007 - 04:45 PM

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Studio: Sony
Year: 2006
Rated: PG-13
Film Length: 115 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 High Definition 1080p
Disc Type: BD-25 Single Layer
Codec: AVC Mpeg-4
Audio: Uncompressed 5.1 PCM (48kHz, 16-Bit), English & French 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, English, French & Spanish


Release Date: March 13, 2007


The Movie:
(***/*****) 3/5


Nancy Meyers, director of The Holiday, is, in my opinion, the current leading practitioner of the “Chick Flick.” From What Women Want to Something’s Gotta Give, she has managed to consistently deliver an estrogen fueled screen experience that has delighted audiences worldwide. Of course, for me, the best of these so-called “Chick Flicks” are the ones that are enjoyed by men as well as women. How does The Holiday hold up under this criteria?

Iris (Kate Winslett) and Amanda (Cameron Diaz) have a lot in common. Despite Iris being an English writer and Amanda being a Los Angeles based film trailer maker, they both seem to be having a rough time with the men in their lives. Through the magic of internet connectivity, Amanda discovers a travel website where vacationers are able to trade houses. Fortunately, Iris’s English cottage is available and both are ready for a change of scenery. So, Iris jets off to Los Angeles and Amanda whisks herself away to the English countryside… and before you can say Bridget Jones’ Diary, both women will find new men who manage to solve all their problems and teach us all a lesson about love.

Despite the heavy sarcasm of the above paragraph, there is a lot to like about The Holiday. Kate Winslett is, as usual, a joy to watch. Her storyline is clearly the more entertaining of the two. There are some genuinely sweet moments as Iris befriends an elderly Hollywood screenwriter (Eli Wallach) and takes him under her wing. Jack Black plays the love interest in this side of the story. He’s a bit awkward, but enjoyable in the role. I wish I could say the same for Cameron Diaz’s character. Amanda is so insufferably high-maintenance, I had a hard time even watching the scenes featuring her character. Jude Law is the love interest here and manages through his sympathetic character to elevate the Amanda story line to being almost worth watching. It’s a testament to his acting abilities that his is able to convincingly portray affection for Amanda. So, the bottom line is, four stars for the Kate Winslett scenes; two stars for those awkward and sometimes irritating scenes with Cameron Diaz. Ouch!

The Video:
(****/*****) 4/5


The Holiday is presented in full 1080p from an AVC encode of the original source material. While I can find nothing to complain about with the transfer - - there are no artifacts, instances of edge enhancement or picture anomalies of any kind - - the transfer is just plain boring. The film is clean, colors can be vibrant, but the picture lacks punch and seems a bit lacking in shadow detail. I did not view The Holiday theatrically, so I really can’t honestly report on this being an accurate reproduction of the theater experience. With Sony’s recent track record, however, I will give them the benefit of the doubt that this is how it probably was intended to look. With that being said, this really is a good transfer of a film that wasn’t intended to be flashy in the first place.

The Audio:
(****/*****) 4/5


The Holiday is presented in uncompressed PCM 5.1 audio. The mix is heavily biased to the front channels with very limited surround activity. What we do have here, however, is a very clean and crisp soundtrack with perfectly intelligible dialogue and nicely presented music. Again, in a dialog heavy film, this is about the best we could possibly ask for. I applaud Sony for sticking to their guns with PCM.


The Supplements:
(**/****) 2/5


Here’s what’s included:
-“Foreign Exchange: The Making of The Holiday
-Director’s Commentary
-Theatrical Trailers

Well, this is a pretty boring set. I honestly had a hard time staying awake during the Nancy Meyers commentary. It was just plain BORING. The “Foreign Exchange” documentary is your standard fluff piece that offers a few nice tidbits of info, but nothing really worth digging into. Fortunately, the theatrical trailer is included along with trailers for several other Sony Blu-Ray releases.

The Final Analysis:
(***/*****) 4/5


The Holiday could have been a really entertaining film if it had been solely about Kate Winslett’s character. Cameron Diaz’s Amanda really drags the film down. The audio and video is high quality, but not reference. Supplements are, on the whole, lacking. Why is this one worth seeing? Kate Winslett and Eli Wallach. Their scenes together are fantastic and really quite charming. Because of this, The Holiday is an excellent choice for a date night.



Equipment used for this review:
Panasonic DMP-BD10 Blu-Ray Player
Panasonic PT-AE1000 Front Projector
Carada 93” diagonal 16x9 Criterion Series/Brilliant White Screen – www.carada.com
Rotel RSX-1056 Surround Receiver
Rotel RB-1080 Amplifier
B&W Speakers
M&K MX-125 Subwoofer
Interconnects: www.catcables.com

#2 of 18 OFFLINE   Yumbo

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Posted March 18 2007 - 07:40 AM

Looking forward to the HD DVD. I found the movie VERY un-boring.

#3 of 18 OFFLINE   Ben_Williams

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Posted March 18 2007 - 09:22 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Yumbo
Looking forward to the HD DVD. I found the movie VERY un-boring.

You're looking forward to the HD DVD? That's very optimistic of you!

#4 of 18 OFFLINE   Jim_K

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Posted March 18 2007 - 09:27 AM

Posted Image
Death before Streaming!


#5 of 18 OFFLINE   Paul Hillenbrand

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Posted March 18 2007 - 09:44 AM

Thanks Ben, for the review.

Viewed
"The Holiday" (Blu-Ray) yesterday afternoon, for the first time and I found it very entertaining.Posted Image

It had a nice back and fourth rhythm between
Kate Winslett and Cameron Diaz’s unfolding vacation relationships and because of that pace, IMO, kept both stories interesting and fresh.

Though Ben's review suggests Cameron
"drags the film down", there were "genuinely sweet moments" for her character Amanda too, not just for Iris. Without using a spoiler, all I can say is there was sweet chemistry between Jude Law, Cameron Diaz and the two Sophie & Olivia characters.Posted ImagePosted Image

This will be a great flick to watch with my wife as I'm sure she would like the feeling it gives and this could very well become a future Christmas tradition.

Paul



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#6 of 18 OFFLINE   Yumbo

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Posted March 18 2007 - 10:38 AM

May 1st HD DVD from Universal - WORLDWIDE.

Should I laugh now?

#7 of 18 OFFLINE   Dave Scarpa

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Posted March 18 2007 - 10:38 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ben_Williams
You're looking forward to the HD DVD? That's very optimistic of you!

Not Really this movie was one of those Joint Mirimax/Universal Deals, so Universal will be putting this out in Europe for HD-DVD and you will be able to import it.
My DVD Collection

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#8 of 18 OFFLINE   Ben_Williams

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Posted March 18 2007 - 11:07 AM

Cool... I had no idea!

#9 of 18 OFFLINE   PeterTHX

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Posted March 18 2007 - 01:01 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Yumbo
May 1st HD DVD from Universal - WORLDWIDE.

Should I laugh now?

Well, a nervous laugh perhaps...the price.

Will the special features be the same?

It will be an interesting codec comparison as well since Universal usually uses (uuu) VC-1 and this is AVC with lossless audio.

#10 of 18 OFFLINE   Yumbo

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Posted March 18 2007 - 07:22 PM

US$25 from Australia for me.

#11 of 18 OFFLINE   Andy_MT

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Posted March 24 2007 - 12:40 AM

did sony filter the video on this disc ? it just looks a bit soft for my liking, and i didn't see any noticeable grain, which makes me suspicious. of course, the softness might be entirely deliberate, but this is one of the first 185 transfers on these HD formats that i've found a bit uninspiring. and it does lack punch. some of the scenes in LA (of which you'd expect to be bright and punchy) are just ... too dark and lifeless ! this carries on throughout most of the film. as hd digest says, it's like looking through a pair of tinted sunglasses. if this is how the film is supposed to look, i don't get it. it just doesn't look very good. i thought there was something wrong with my projector.

but don't get me wrong, the disc has got some nice moments (quite a few actually), but it's just all very ... meh !

i really hope this is just the style of the film because i've been very happy with sony transfers lately (e.g. stranger than fiction) and many of their mpeg2 releases.

"The detail is absolutely stunning with amazing clarity" says dvd talk. hmmm .... i don't agree.

#12 of 18 OFFLINE   Andy_MT

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Posted March 24 2007 - 12:32 PM

just looked at this disc again with a fresh pair of eyes (and after seeing casino royale) and ...

this disc is very seriously fcuked. i've never seen an HD disc look like this. i'm not a tech expert on such matters, but it looks like someone cranked the contrast down to nearly it's lowest setting. that's the best way i can describe it. even in a completely darkened room (which i wasn't in before), this looks really washed out and excessively dark. i can barely make out the picture sometimes.

but it is strange that some people find this disc ok and some don't. mixed views. i wonder if the first batch were screwed up and sony secretly fixed the aforementioned screwing up, and hence the contrast (!) in views. can't explain it otherwise.

#13 of 18 OFFLINE   Ben_Williams

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Posted March 24 2007 - 12:53 PM

I'm pretty sure it's just a very poorly shot film.

#14 of 18 OFFLINE   PeterTHX

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Posted March 24 2007 - 12:57 PM

It's probably that "Star Trek" technique:

shoot the women warm & fuzzy...it's a chick flick folks

#15 of 18 OFFLINE   Bob Black

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Posted March 24 2007 - 02:35 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Yumbo
Looking forward to the HD DVD. I found the movie VERY un-boring.

April 2nd this is scheduled on HD-DVD in the UK from Uni.

#16 of 18 OFFLINE   Yumbo

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Posted March 24 2007 - 03:05 PM

Looked fine on DVD.

#17 of 18 OFFLINE   Ben_Williams

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Posted March 24 2007 - 04:18 PM

Chris, I'm sure you know very well that in addition to making the good things in a film shine, HD Video also amplifies any weaknesses in a film's presentation.

#18 of 18 OFFLINE   Tim Glover

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Posted March 24 2007 - 04:27 PM

Ben's 4/5 video rating does go along with many other's reviews I've read so that's cool.

One thing Ben, I noticed you're now using the 1080p Panasonic PJ? Somehow I thought you were using their other new 720 model, the AX-100?

Obviously, you've got a great setup with a 1080p BD player & 1080p PJ. Wow. I'm jealous. I hope to get back into front projection soon but I'm afraid can't quite do the $$ for yours just yet. Posted Image





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