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HTF DVD REVIEW: Dead Space: Downfall



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#1 of 1 Cameron Yee

Cameron Yee

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Posted November 02 2008 - 06:29 PM

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Release Date: Available now (original release date October 28, 2008)
Studio: Anchor Bay
Packaging/Materials: Single-disc DVD case with cardstock slipcover
Year: 2008
Rating: NR
Running Time: 1h14m
MSRP: $26.97

MAIN FEATURE
Video1.78:1 anamorphic
AudioDolby Digital: English 5.1
SubtitlesEnglish SDH, Spanish


The Feature: 2.5/5
When a deep space mining colony discovers an alien monolith, it's not long before some of the colonists begin to go mad. The military vessel Ishimura soon arrives to retrieve the artifact, but the mission goes awry when the ship is infiltrated by a life form that is somehow connected to the precious cargo. Chaos quickly spreads as the crew is mercilessly killed and transformed into zombie-like creatures; those who manage to avoid the carnage still must contend with the artifact's maddening influence. Only Security Chief Alissa Vincent (Nika Futterman) seems immune, but with her shipmates quickly turning on her she's running out of options. Ultimately she may have only one course of action.

Providing back story to the just-released "Dead Space" video game, the animated "Dead Space: Downfall" borrows pretty heavily from other sources, the most obvious being "Alien" and the video game "Halo." The framing device of Vincent's final distress call doesn't help matters, completely removing any sense of mystery or tension. The 2D animation itself is generally well done, though the character design is not especially inspired or original. When all is said and done the whole thing feels rather perfunctory, though anyone simply looking for animated blood, guts and profanity should find it satisfactory.


Video Quality: 3/5
The film is correctly framed at 1.78:1 and devoid of blemishes. Black levels are very good, stable and deep. Fine object detail is hard to judge, given the lack of surface textures, but star fields and fine patterns on ships and uniforms exhibit good clarity and detail. Colors also appear reasonably good, though the dark palette doesn't really provide much to show off. The transfer's biggest problems are halos along high contrast edges (of which there are many given the nature of the animation) and visible mosquito noise.


Audio Quality: 4/5
I found the Dolby Digital 5.1 track less expansive and a little flat after experiencing the lossless track on the Blu-Ray release, but most should find the Dolby Digital track nicely detailed and enveloping in the absence of a high resolution alternative. Surround channels provide near-constant ambient effects (usually the hum of the ship or the reverberation of voices) and aggressive directional cues during the many battle sequences. Dialogue is consistently clear and intelligible. In contrast LFE is a bit subdued, lacking "oomph" in the lowest of frequencies.


Special Features: 2/5

Isolated Soundtrack: Taking "isolated" too far, the DVD producers have the 448kbps Dolby Digital 5.1 track playing against a blank screen. The presentation fails to illustrate the importance of the score - and scores in general - within the context of the movie, which is one of the key benefits of a feature like this.

Deleted Scene: "Graverobber" (4m13s): An escape and chase scene in animatic, storyboard form with some recorded dialogue and sound effects.

The Art of Dead Space Photo Gallery: Large image collection with concept art and sketches.

Movie Trailer (2m01s)

Game Trailer (1m25s)


Recap

The Feature: 2.5/5
Video Quality: 3/5
Audio Quality: 4/5
Special Features: 2/5
Overall Score (not an average): 2/5

An unoriginal, though generally well-made, animated, video game tie-in gets very good audio treatment, an average video transfer and an adequate set of special features.
One thing leads to another at cameronyee.com





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