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HTF Blu-Ray Review: The Perfect Storm

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#1 of 19 OFFLINE   PatWahlquist

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Posted August 23 2008 - 10:16 AM


The Perfect Storm (Blu-Ray)

Studio: Warner Home Video
Rated: PG-13 (Language and scenes of peril)
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
HD Encoding: 1080p
HD Video Codec: VC-1
Audio: Dolby Digital TrueHD English 5.1; Dolby Digital English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Japanese 5.1EX
Subtitles: 14 different subtitle options.
Time: 130 minutes
Disc Format: 1 SS/DL Blu-Ray disc.
Case Style: Snap case
Theatrical Release Date: 2000
Blu Ray Release Date: July 22, 2008

George Clooney plays Capt. Billy Tyne, skipper of the Andrea Gail and based out of Gloucester, MA, who desperately wants a huge haul of fish for himself and his crew. He and his six crew members, among them Mark Wahlberg, John C. Reilly and William Fichtner, want enough swordfish to pay bills and make a decent life for themselves. They return home from a recent trip with diminished returns, especially next to Tyne’s rival, Linda Greenlaw (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio). Tyne makes the decision to do a quick turnaround and head back out, sailing for the Flemish Cap where he believes he will lure in untold amounts of fish. Unbeknownst to Tyne, there is a collision of a low pressure stream, a high pressure front and a hurricane heading right towards him; this collision of weather fronts is called “the perfect storm” due to its highly unusual and violent behaviour. Each of the crew members is leaving family and friends behind, but none is more fleshed out as the one with Wahlberg’s Bobby and his girl, Christina (Diane Lane). As the crew deals with personal issues they find they must work together if any of them want to survive this one great catch.

Based on the novel by Sebastian Junger, The Perfect Storm is in the precarious position of trying to finish a story that did not have a known ending. While many of the facts come through for probably the first 2/3 of the picture, the rest of it is conjecture. The picture was first released as a summer tent pole picture for Warner’s, and director Wolfgang Petersen takes what could have been a very interesting human drama and pushes it towards and action/ disaster flick. The script itself tries very hard to humanize these fishermen giving us a too brief set-up in Gloucester before we’re out to sea. Due to the Hollywood star power of the cast, each of them seems to be trying way too hard to nail their accents just right while producing a believable performance. Most of the performances come across as having been rescued from the cutting room floor of a lousy screen test, especially Lane and Mastrantonio, who at any point you just want to grab and slap them due to their over-exuberance of the material. Reilly and Fichtner (the latter of which is one of my favorite character actors) try their darndest to make something of their one dimensional characters, ultimately relying on Reilly’s beard and Fichtner’s biceps to carry their roles.

And then there’s the star, George Clooney, who is still gaining his sea legs in the brave new world he has entered, that of movie star. Clooney gives an average performance here, portraying Tyne as an un-thinking, dangerous rebel, putting the desire to be the best fisherman ahead of the lives of his crew. Since this movie is based on a true story, I really wish the bonus material had spent some time with Tyne’s family to discuss the real man and his passions. Clooney’s performance is fairly boring here, relegating the true acting chops to Wahlberg, of all people. As I said, this picture was a big summer picture in 2000 and I would have been really interested to see what type of picture would have been made for Oscar season instead.


Video:
Note: I am watching this title using a Marantz VP 11-S1 DLP projector, which has a native resolution of 1080p. I am using a Sony Playstation 3 Blu-Ray player while a Denon 3808CI does the switching and pass through of the video signal. I am utilizing the HDMI capabilities of each piece of equipment.

The Blu-Ray disc is in the VC-1 codec presented at 1080p with an aspect ratio of 2.35:1. I have read that the HD-DVD that was released a couple years ago was in 1080i, where this Blu-ray is a remastered 1080p transfer. Color fidelity is good, but inconsistent, showing distinct differences between each of the actor’s skin tones in some scenes, but then leaving no differences in other scenes. The inconsistencies continue between the stage and CG work as compared to the location shots, with the latter looking far better in terms of detail and color fidelity. Detail is good throughout the picture, but at times this quality begins to show some of the limits of the CG effects at the time: digital bodies and water effects sometimes show their true natures. Sharpness is just slightly dull reminding us this is indeed film. Black levels are good throughout, but better in the practical sets than in the CG environments. I noticed no edge enhancement, and a couple very minor instances of print dirt. I was checking on the bit meter during the picture and it hangs in the teens, peaking just above 21Mbps, so the encode itself didn’t utilize the format to its full potential.


Audio:
The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack was attained by the HDMI connection of the Sony Playstation 3 to the Denon 3808CI.

I watched the feature with the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track engaged. Anyone who has seen this film theatrically or on previous DVD knows what an incredibly active sound mix is presented. This is carried over here providing us with an exceptional surround field driven continuously by the 5.1 channels. It takes a bit for the film to get going, but once the boat sets sail it rarely lets up. Balance is good between all the channels and the mix exhibits some excellent panning effects. LFE’s come to life often with great impact while not becoming overbearing. Wind and rain pummel the boat, and in turn, the viewer leaving me wanting to wring out my clothes when it was over. The soundtrack lacks some of the dynamics we are more accustomed to now (it could improve with a little more sweetening to the highs), but it is still and excellent surround track.


Bonus Material: all of these pieces are in SD.

There are three different commentaries on this BD, and while it does seem a bit like overkill, there is enough material to keep each one going. All of the materiel from the HD-DVD and DVD releases is brought over to this disc.

Commentary by Director Wolfgang Petersen (as moderated by J.M. Kenny): Petersen does an excellent job of crediting the work of ILM while not commenting too much on his actors, going to show me where his head was in the production of this movie. He does spend some time discussing the remaining family and friends of the Andrea Gail, and he is quite reverent in the process. This is a good and broad commentary detailing the bigger picture, allowing the following two commentaries to drill down into the details.

Commentary by author Sebastian Junger: Junger provides the most in depth account of the characters, the story and the science behind it. He explains where and why certain narrative liberties were taken to make it a more cohesive picture. Junger does a great job of filling in the gaps to make you appreciate the characters better.

Commentary by Visual Effects Supervisor Stefen Fangmeier and Visual Effects Producer Helen Ostenberg Elswit: the two go through the whole picture, in shot by shot detail explaining how and why ILM used certain effects. This was the first picture that utilized a convincing water effects as well as really testing the limits of CG effects, so this commentary can be interesting from a historical perspective. I usually want to see what the subjects are talking about when the explain what they did in certain scenes, and this was a missed opportunity to use the BD-live ability of the format.

HBO Firstlook: Creating The Perfect Storm (19:56): as is expected with these pieces, there is a quick and general discussion of the story, the cast and the effects. Most of the primaries are interviewed here, but again, the piece centers on the effects.

Witness to the Storm (4:32): an all too brief piece about the real crew told by those who knew them and still live and work the industry.

Creating an Emotion: James Horner at Work (4:04): this fluff piece turns the spotlight on Horner, his thoughts on the story and how they contributed to the music.

Yours Forever Photo Montage (4:04): a photo montage set to the love theme of the movie.

Trailers: the theatrical trailer is in HD, and then there is a second “trailer” for the soundtrack in SD.


Conclusions:
The movie itself leaves me cold, with weak performances by most of the cast and an over reliance on the effects. The disc itself provides us with fine new 1080p master and a highly dynamic soundtrack. The three commentaries, while just slightly overkill, give us a balanced view of these separate pieces contribute to the whole of the picture.
ISO "Lost" ARG prints from Kevin Tong, Olly Moss, Eric Tan and Methane Studios.  PM me if you want to sell!

All reviews done on a Marantz VP11S1 1080p DLP projector.

Displays professionally calibrated by Gregg Loewen of Lion AV.

#2 of 19 OFFLINE   norrisMc

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Posted August 23 2008 - 11:37 AM

Hmmmmm. Diane Lane in HD !

Thanks for the review. I like this movie. It has it's heart in the right place and it has ALOT more character development than Petersen's "Posiedon".
Norris

#3 of 19 OFFLINE   Inspector Hammer!

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Posted August 24 2008 - 05:46 PM

Great review, Pat. Posted Image

I picked this up a few weeks ago and have watched it a couple of times now, it's one of those film's that I expected more from the first time I saw it but have come to love it. If anything it has a bigger brain in it's head than, say, Twister which is a film that is absolutely freakin' useless without a large display and a decent audio rig.
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#4 of 19 OFFLINE   norrisMc

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Posted August 25 2008 - 06:22 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Inspector Hammer!
Great review, Pat. Posted Image

I picked this up a few weeks ago and have watched it a couple of times now, it's one of those film's that I expected more from the first time I saw it but have come to love it. If anything it has a bigger brain in it's head than, say, Twister which is a film that is absolutely freakin' useless without a large display and a decent audio rig.

Yes, I agree. I think film stands up well 8 years on.
Norris

#5 of 19 OFFLINE   Edwin-S

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Posted August 25 2008 - 03:54 PM

Is there a typo on the back of the box for this movie? When I was reading the back of the box all I saw was a Dolby Digital 5.1 EX track in the specs. I didn't see Dolby TrueHD anywhere on the box.

Did the Canadian release of this film only get DD 5.1 EX?
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#6 of 19 OFFLINE   Jari K

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Posted August 25 2008 - 06:03 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Edwin-S
Is there a typo on the back of the box for this movie?

At least not with the "US version":
DVD Empire - Item - Perfect Storm, The / Blu-ray

This film has Dolby TrueHD in BD also.

Quote:
Originally Posted by norrisMc
Hmmmmm. Diane Lane in HD !

Here here! Posted Image

#7 of 19 OFFLINE   Nicholas Martin

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Posted August 25 2008 - 06:18 PM

I'd LOVE to see and hear this on Blu-ray.

The original DVD is still fantastic, and it's another case of the music having a huge impact on my enjoyment of the film...though I am quite biased in that area. Posted Image

The Tyne family never would have commented on this film in any extras, because they sued Warner Bros. for portraying their relative, as played by Clooney, as reckless and irresponsible.

EVERY extra on this Blu-ray disc is directly from the original DVD, and didn't originate with the HD-DVD. Therefore no HDi then, no BD-Live now.

#8 of 19 OFFLINE   Inspector Hammer!

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Posted August 25 2008 - 06:34 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by norrisMc
Hmmmmm. Diane Lane in HD !

Sadly this film doesn't really show her off properly because of the lighting and nature of her character (i.e. too much clothing lol), call me when a movie she did back in the 80's called Lady Beware hit's BD. Posted Image
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#9 of 19 OFFLINE   Edwin-S

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Posted August 25 2008 - 06:36 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jari K
At least not with the "US version":
DVD Empire - Item - Perfect Storm, The / Blu-ray

This film has Dolby TrueHD in BD also.

Here here! Posted Image

Thanks for the shot of the back side of the case. I went out and rechecked the back of the box on the Canadian version. It shows DD 5.1 EX only + Dolby Digital for the Quebec French translation. There was no indication of a 5.1 Dolby TrueHD track.

Any Canadians interested in this title might want to make sure that they order the U.S version if they want the lossless track. Unless of course the box is wrong and the disc actually has the lossless track on it. It sure doesn't make any sense to me that two separate versions would be pressed for the North American market. Unless Alliance has the rights to this film for home distribution in Canada and they skipped the lossless track. I wouldn't put it past them to do something dumb like that.
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#10 of 19 OFFLINE   norrisMc

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Posted August 26 2008 - 07:14 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Inspector Hammer!
Sadly this film doesn't really show her off properly because of the lighting and nature of her character (i.e. too much clothing lol), call me when a movie she did back in the 80's called Lady Beware hit's BD. Posted Image

Better yet (even than "LADY BEWARE") are:

Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains!
Amazon (check out the video at the bottom!):
Amazon.com: Ladies And Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains: Diane Lane, Ray Winstone, Laura Dern, Peter Donat, Barry Ford, Christine Lahti, John Lehne, Cynthia Sikes, Brent Spiner, Fee Waybill, Janet Wright, Marin Kanter, Debbie Rochon, Paul Simonon, Vinc

The Big Town!
Diane is all I mean ALL her glory!:
Amazon.com: The Big Town: Matt Dillon, Diane Lane, Tommy Lee Jones, Bruce Dern, Lee Grant, Tom Skerritt, Suzy Amis, David Marshall Grant, Don Francks, Del Close, Meg Hogarth, Cherry Jones, Mark Danton, David James Elliott, Steve Yorke, Chris Owens, S

Unfaithful:
Older and wiser but still.... It's Diane Lane!:
Amazon.com: Unfaithful (Widescreen Edition): Diane Lane, Erik Per Sullivan, Richard Gere, Olivier Martinez, Myra Lucretia Taylor, Michelle Monaghan, Chad Lowe, Joseph Badalucco Jr., Erich Anderson, Damon Gupton, Kate Burton, Margaret Colin, Marc Forg

All of these make "LADY BEWARE" (which is admittedly a sexy film) look like a kids movie!

Anyway, back to "The Perfect Storm". I remember the court case. Wasn't it settled out of court?
Norris

#11 of 19 OFFLINE   Nicholas Martin

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Posted August 26 2008 - 08:45 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by norrisMc
Anyway, back to "The Perfect Storm". I remember the court case. Wasn't it settled out of court?

I think the Tyne family lost when the lawsuit was thrown out by the judge. I'll look into it to confirm.

EDIT:

Here's an article about the lawsuit, including comments from Tyne's ex wife:

Perfect Storm movie lawsuit thrown out

#12 of 19 OFFLINE   norrisMc

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Posted August 26 2008 - 10:15 AM

So, Diane Lane and lawsuits aside. Is this BETTER than the HD-DVD or not?

Thanks for the info and links guys!
Norris

#13 of 19 OFFLINE   Nicholas Martin

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Posted August 29 2008 - 09:30 PM

Now that as of this moment I am Blu-ray capable, I'll pick this up for sure.
I don't have an HD capable receiver, but I wouldn't want to get it if it's missing audio because of Canadian bilingual audio replacement nonsense.

#14 of 19 OFFLINE   Nicholas Martin

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Posted August 30 2008 - 01:49 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Edwin-S

Any Canadians interested in this title might want to make sure that they order the U.S version if they want the lossless track. Unless of course the box is wrong and the disc actually has the lossless track on it

Just got it this morning, and the cover is wrong.

This disc DOES have True HD, available in the language settings.

So feel free to buy the Canadian release, though it does have a bilingual cover. So feel free to buy the American release, because the cover will be English only. Posted Image

#15 of 19 OFFLINE   Edwin-S

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Posted August 30 2008 - 07:09 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nicholas Martin
Just got it this morning, and the cover is wrong.

This disc DOES have True HD, available in the language settings.

So feel free to buy the Canadian release, though it does have a bilingual cover. So feel free to buy the American release, because the cover will be English only. Posted Image

Thanks for the update regarding the soundtrack. I'll probably just get the Canadian version. Bilingual covers really don't bother me.
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#16 of 19 OFFLINE   Dave Moritz

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Posted September 02 2008 - 06:05 AM

Quote:
So, Diane Lane and lawsuits aside. Is this BETTER than the HD-DVD or not?

Thanks for the info and links guys!

I am also wondering the same thing?

Is there a good enough difference/improvement over the HD-DVD version video wise and audio wise to warrent buying it again on Blu-ray?

I own the HD-DVD version with the Dolby True HD track. Did they use a different Dolby True HD track on the Blu-ray? And is there a big enough difference? If not I will be totally happy with keeping my HD-DVD copy as I only watch this title occationally.
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#17 of 19 OFFLINE   Nicholas Martin

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Posted September 03 2008 - 05:17 AM

I haven't seen the whole thing yet but the disc does look pretty nice, film-like and therefore not too sharp.

Evidently the HD-DVD was poorly transferred but if it still looks as good to your eyes, then this would be a double-dip for you as everything else but the video itself is ported over from that HD-DVD. Every review I've seen so far says it's the same audio.

#18 of 19 OFFLINE   norrisMc

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Posted September 03 2008 - 06:34 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nicholas Martin
I haven't seen the whole thing yet but the disc does look pretty nice, film-like and therefore not too sharp.

Evidently the HD-DVD was poorly transferred but if it still looks as good to your eyes, then this would be a double-dip for you as everything else but the video itself is ported over from that HD-DVD. Every review I've seen so far says it's the same audio.

Thanks buddy!

I loved the bit where Diane Lane and Wahlberg's mom are on the dock talking about her dream. Superb acting.
Norris

#19 of 19 OFFLINE   Charles_Y

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Posted September 04 2008 - 08:07 AM

Be careful! Some people, such as myself, are having SIGNIFICANT problems getting the audio modes to lock on, specifically the TrueHD to engage. Warners really messed up with some of the functionality on this disc in my opinion. That said once you get the movie going it is pretty decent overall.


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