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HTF HD-DVD Review: Meet Joe Black


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#1 of 14 OFFLINE   Gary Murrell

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Posted September 25 2007 - 10:14 AM

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Studio: Universal
Release Date/Year
:
2007 (Film Year
1998)
Rated:
PG-13
Film Length:
178 minutes
Aspect Ratio:
16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (1.85:1)
Video:
1080p/24
Audio:
English - Dolby Digital Plus  5.1
Video Quality: 4.5
Audio Quality: 4
 

Overview and Film Information

Meet Joe Black is pretty easy to sum up. It is a truly amazing film from a wonderful director with some top notch acting and a amazing musical score. Directed by Martin Brest, Meet Joe Black is actually a remake of the 1934 film "Death Takes a Holiday" and tells the story of Joe Black/Death (Pitt), who fascinated with life, makes a deal with his next target, William Parrish (Hopkins) to delay his death for a tour of life, but in the process he falls in love with William's beautiful daughter (Forlani). Timing in a whopping 3 hours run time, Meet Joe Black never falls flat and is a fantastic piece of film making.

Video Quality ****.5 out of *****

The video quality of MJB is simply astounding and save for a few small issues I would have no hesitation giving it a reference 5 star mark. MJB is presented in it's original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is encoded with VC1 at 1080p/24. This disc is a fabulous test for the HD-DVD format because of it's length and aspect ratio (2.35:1 films are easier to encode due to 25% less image than 1.85:1). MJB never shows one instance of compression problems coming from a lack of space, much the opposite in fact. Picture detail and film grain is 100% in tact, this is one uber sharp film with zero sings of any filtering or noise reduction attempts. Contrast ratio and blacks are also top notch, lending to a perfect film image that just pops out. The color palette of MJB is something else that will stand out to many, it is a feast for the eyes with nice solid neutral colors that are strong and vibrant all while being 100% natural. This is nearly a perfect reference transfer save for a small very minuscule amount of EE that is well under my level of offensiveness. A very solid 4.5 stars on video

Audio Quality **** out of *****

MJB features a Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 soundtrack and it gets things done rather nicely. I would have loved to have heard more use of the surrounds, but that is just nitpicking and is usual fare for a dialog drama driven movie. Dialog is perfect and never comes across as if straining or hard to hear. Newman's film score (one of my personal favorites) is heard wonderfully with this track. A nice 4 on audio.

Extra Features and Menus **.5 out of *****

Extra features include a making of documentary labeled under Universal's "Spotlight on Location" title, a simple photo montage and theatrical trailer. Menu's are Universal's new style (with opening flying HD-DVD logo) and are fabulous in every way, easy to navigate and well laid out, the scene selection menu is wonderful.

Overall **** out of *****

I am certain this remake has it's fans that are thrilled with this being released, I am one of them. In that case I recommend this release for pure audio and video enjoyment. I am not one for extras but in that regard this is lacking and can be expected for a 3 hour film. Those looking for MJB extras need to track down a SD-DVD copy of the Ultimate Edition release. Otherwise this is very welcomed to any film lovers collection in my opinion.



#2 of 14 OFFLINE   ppltd

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Posted September 25 2007 - 10:31 AM

Gary, thanks for the review of this fine film. I had the opportunity to watch this a few nights ago and totaly agree with you on your accessement of the video and audio quality. Top notch is what this title deserved, and top notch with what Universal delivered.
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#3 of 14 OFFLINE   David Ruiz

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Posted September 25 2007 - 11:03 AM

I would have actually thought it would have looked horrible because the DVD transfer was so shitty. Dripping with Edge Enhancement galore and tons of un-natural film grain/dirt that destroyed the picture quality.

I'm seriously happy to read that it looks this good on HD-DVD. I'll most definitely be getting it now! Too bad it still has EE though. Posted Image Why on earth do they continue to do that?!?

#4 of 14 OFFLINE   Gary Murrell

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Posted September 25 2007 - 11:37 AM

David, I only saw rather minor EE on a few mins of the film, a total non-issue, I struggled to give this a 5, but that meant a 4.5 Posted Image

-Gary

#5 of 14 OFFLINE   David Ruiz

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Posted September 25 2007 - 12:05 PM

Even better, Gary. How big is your display device? You have to remember I'm using a 127" 16:9 screen so if there is EE, I will definitely be able to see it from miles away and it'll be more pronounced due to the size than anything else.

#6 of 14 OFFLINE   Gary Murrell

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Posted September 25 2007 - 01:16 PM

David, I run a 34.5" x 83" 2.40:1 scope setup, I know exactly what you mean dude, check out my Fockers review I just posted Posted Image

-Gary

#7 of 14 OFFLINE   Dave Mack

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Posted September 25 2007 - 02:37 PM

Nice review, Gary and I agree with your summation. This was a great, underrated film that TOOK IT'S TIME. And I dug it.
They also filmed the coffee shop scene at a diner 3 blocks away from my NYC apt. (It's on B'way between 101st and 102nd st)]
We are moving back there in November with mini-Mack!!!!!


Good review, bro. Look forward to picking this up!

Posted Image

#8 of 14 OFFLINE   David Ruiz

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Posted September 25 2007 - 04:37 PM

Thanks for the heads up, Gary. Just read it. I *HATE* EE! It's gotta be the worst thing ever invented in the history of the world. Posted Image

#9 of 14 OFFLINE   Michel_Hafner

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Posted September 25 2007 - 09:13 PM

The DVD was full of DNR issues. So the HD is not??

#10 of 14 OFFLINE   Gary Murrell

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Posted September 25 2007 - 11:32 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michel_Hafner
The DVD was full of DNR issues. So the HD is not??

lord no, not even a hint of anything like that Posted Image

-Gary

#11 of 14 OFFLINE   PerryD

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Posted September 26 2007 - 09:00 AM

I'm not good at categorizing video quality, but, to me, the picture had some sort of processed look to it, whether it was edge-enhancement or some sort of sharpening applied. Overall, the picture was more than acceptable and looked high-def (as opposed to having a soft transfer).

I had not seen the movie before and really enjoyed the movie, it had a lighter touch than I had expected. Ending seemed a little rushed (which is hard to explain for a 3 hour movie).

#12 of 14 OFFLINE   Andy_MT

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Posted September 26 2007 - 12:34 PM

it was a sweet and sour experience for me. the cinematography ... ding! ding! ding!, very nice thank you. now i don't know whether it's because i was watching on a 720 projector and it was exagerating the EE, but it was a little over my comfort level. and some details in the background got a little soft (whether that was the photography or the extra processing/sharpening i don't know). for example, when anthony hopkins walked into the room to meet joe black for the first time, he was in the distance and surrounded by a halo. that's just crappy for a next generation "look and sound of perfect" format i think.

this HD-DVD would have been fantastic if we had had someone better working on the transfer/HD master. but sadly we got stuck with whomever. and it's a shame because those scenes that aren't affected by EE looked great.

#13 of 14 OFFLINE   Gary Murrell

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Posted September 26 2007 - 12:42 PM

for those interested in what this release can do in the best parts, I suggest the scene early in the film with Pitt in the restaurant, a lovely image

I am very sensitive to EE and I just didn't see much at all on this, every setup is different though Posted Image

-Gary

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Mack
Nice review, Gary and I agree with your summation. This was a great, underrated film that TOOK IT'S TIME. And I dug it.
They also filmed the coffee shop scene at a diner 3 blocks away from my NYC apt. (It's on B'way between 101st and 102nd st)]
We are moving back there in November with mini-Mack!!!!!


Good review, bro. Look forward to picking this up!

Posted Image

thanks dude Posted Image

-Gary

#14 of 14 OFFLINE   Virgoan

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Posted October 01 2007 - 05:08 AM

A very succinct review, IMO. This film looks AMAZING in HD-DVD. It's a major step-up from the last regular DVD issue which was quite good, even upconverted. The depth is what takes my breath away...scene after scene reveals new details, added nuances and richer color than I've seen before.

Can this film truly be three hours long? It seems much shorter each time I see it.