Blu-ray Disc REVIEW
Release Date: October 09, 2007
Film Rating: /
A deadly virus escapes a British Laboratory and is lethal within seconds. Transmitted through blood and saliva, the virus affects all living creatures with a maniacal rage. The moment the virus escapes, humans are affected and within seconds it spreads and quickly becomes an epidemic.
28 days later, paper courier Jim wakes up in a hospital alone. He’s been in an accident and has been in a coma before the pandemic struck. As he investigates the streets of London, all barren and empty of life, he realizes he’s alone…until he runs into infected individuals who chase him with their rage. Jim manages to meet a few survivors in his path and together, with no radio, television, or government, they look for other survivors as they try to understand this disease and cope with its effect on the world.
VIDEO QUALITY: 4/5
There is nothing on this Blu-ray disc that indicates a poor film transfer. In fact, I could probably score it a 5/5 if I were to say that the BD accurately represents the original signal. I’ve decided to score this BD a 4/5 with that in mind, but am knocking a star off because of the limitation of the source material. So this is where I strike the balance between artistic freedom and accuracy. Most of the film is shot with SD PAL cameras so resolution is limited to that, except for the remainder of the film at 1h45m, where the film finally opens up with the exceptional resolution of film transferred to high definition. The resulting image is bright and colourful, offering exceptional depth and detail to the characters that have been restricted throughout the rest of the movie. In direct contrast to the rest of the film, it’s flawless.
But the film does leave the viewer wanting in detail, but I believe the intention is to limit all of that within the chaos and frustration of a world left in devastation. The 4:3 PAL recordings (composed to 1.85:1 on film) has its limitations: sometimes poor black levels, noise, less than smooth edges with artificial outlining, etc, etc. Scan lines have been added in post production and at times natural ones can be seen too, so, this isn’t reference video quality by any means. Yet many of you are wondering how much of an improvement this BD will be over the DVD. There are some improvements in the video department.
Big screens seem to show all the nasty limitations of the DVD technology. The biggest complaint is compression artefacts no matter how good the compression job is. There is no avoiding mosquito noise or problems around edges, which tend to be less than smooth. Also, DVD players or their discs always seem to have a faint artificial outline around edges no matter how good the display system, and it’s been absent on BDs unless your display adds some to the signal. Also, colour resolution is also an improvement over DVD. While these advantages will be subtle on smaller screens, they are noticeable on large screens (I’m viewing it on an 8 foot screen and I could see differences, mostly a nice compression-artefact free viewing). And of course, the final moments in the film look absolutely wonderful. The aspect ratio is 1.85:1 and the film is vertically centered on the screen to show all picture area.
AUDIO QUALITY: 3.5/5
This BD also gives you the advantage of decoding the DTS-HD Master Audio delivering lossless resolution. Even listening to the DTS 1.5Mbps core is an improvement over the 448kbps Dolby Digital encode on the DVD. The mix is an exciting one but I feel that it could have been better. Many sounds can appear “deconstructed” from their original purpose. For example, we can hear the sound of an explosion at a moderate volume level, yet, clanging of metal against other objects are randomly put into all speaker locations and sound completely separate from the mix. Integrating these sounds aren’t all that great so the feeling of a manufactured mix is strong. The music, in my opinion, is the highlight. I love the depressing music – the “sound” is perfect for this gloomy film, only to be penetrated by the awful snarls of the infected as they rage across the screen. The sounds of the infected are highlighted to a haunting degree.
The mix is relatively balanced across the audio range offering some good bass and smooth treble, yet, every once in a while the film has high frequency that seems to randomly ring in the background for no apparent reason. How distracting for those of us with dog ears. All channels are engaged throughout and there is ample amount of LFE.
TACTILE FUN!! /
TACTILE TRANSDUCER ON/OFF?: ON
The LFE channel will rock your bass shaker at several moments in the film to add that extra bit of excitement.
SPECIAL FEATURES: 3/5
Fox has finally heard our calls to include special features on their Blu-ray discs. Yes, Fox has left us wanting for more, but not this time. Thank you Fox.
This Blu-ray disc has the DVD’s special features included here. You’ll get to hear an audio commentary with director Danny Boyle and screenwriter Alex Garland. Their commentaries are extended to the six deleted scenes and four alternate endings, all which run to about 30 minutes. One alternate ending is the “radical alternate ending” in which Boyle and Garland speak parts from the script as we see the images from the storyboards. Note that this was never shot, but changes the film as if they had never met any soldiers of the military. All but one of these is presented in its original 4:3 composition. Also note that one of these endings was the original one presented in the theatres before the director decided to change it to make it more “happy”.
Pure Rage: The Making of 28 days Later (4:3lbx, 24m23s) discusses disease as a killer and it as the inspiration of the film. Also included is the Jacknife Lee Music Video (4:3, 6m22s) and two stills libraries (production and running Polaroid from costume, make-up, props and continuity people). These are narrated by Danny Boyle. You’ll also get to see an animated storyboard for the theatrical trailer (1m32s). A theatrical teaser (4:3lbx) and theatrical trailer can also be found here (widescreen 2.35:1). Trailers for three Fox Blu-rays are also here: Alien vs. Predator, From Hell, Sunshine.
IN THE END...
This was a suspenseful movie to watch and it really made me think about a world where humans are wiped out by a virus. It’s possible… Many of you will be debating the merits of purchasing this Blu-ray if you already have the DVD. It’s not going to be leaps in quality above the DVD, but for those with very large screens, you’ll appreciate the cleanliness of the high bitrate AVC compression. …and eventually the DTS-HDMA when decoded.
October 07, 2007.