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Blu-ray Reviews

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#1 of 10 OFFLINE   Cameron Yee

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Posted November 08 2008 - 06:02 PM

Get Smart

Release Date: Available now (original release date November 4, 2008)
Studio: New Line Cinema
Packaging/Materials: Single-disc Blu-Ray case with cardstock lenticular slipcover
Year: 2008
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1h50m
MSRP: $35.99

Video1080p high definition 16x9 1.85:1May be in standard definition
AudioDolby Digital: English 5.1, French 5.1 (dubbed in Quebec), Spanish 5.1, Portuguese 5.1Audio standards my vary
SubtitlesEnglish, French, Spanish, Portuguese (movie and select bonus materials)

The Feature: 4/5
Maxwell Smart (Steve Carell) is a gifted analyst for CONTROL, a spy agency believed defunct since the 1960s, but he longs to be a field agent instead. Despite successfully passing his field certification exam after his eighth attempt, the Chief (Alan Arkin) decides to keep him behind a desk, where his talents are best put to use. When an attack on the agency wipes out several of CONTROL's agents, Smart is promoted to field status and paired with the beautiful and deadly Agent 99 (Anne Hathaway). Sent with her to track down a Russian terrorist in possession of yellow cake uranium and who is in league with CONTROL's arch nemesis, KAOS, Smart seems more accident prone than spy-worthy but it's not long before he gets to show his mettle and earn Agent 99's respect. Though the pair eventually complete their mission, the question remains of how CONTROL was compromised in the first place. All signs point to an inside job.

Based on the popular 1960s TV show of the same name, "Get Smart" manages to place a modern, big budget action spin on the source material while staying true to its spirit. Much of that is due to Carell and Hathaway's wonderful chemistry, which more than makes up for the mundane plot - any excuse to get the two together. The canny casting extends to the supporting players including Arkin, Dwayne Johnson as the bulletproof Agent 23, and Terence Stamp as the mysterious Siegfried, head of KAOS. Though the action set pieces and special effects are undeniably well done, it's ultimately the characters we remember most. Here's hoping the inevitable sequel will be a little smarter and provide a story that is as entertaining they are.

Video Quality: 4/5
Though labeled as 1.85:1 the image fills the entirety of my 16x9 display. The VC-1 encoded transfer is devoid of blemishes and shows nicely deep and inky black levels. Contrast is problematic however, with consistently crushed blacks and a general dimness to many interiors. Fine object detail is very good - the starfield in the opening shot, cloth and skin texture all standing out in their clarity. Colors show good depth and fidelity, though it takes some time before the full extent gets shown off. Grain structure appears intact with no obvious signs of noise reduction, though there is also some minor edge enhancement from time to time.

Audio Quality: 3.5/5
The 640 kbps Dolby Digital 5.1 track is suitably enveloping and dynamic, the surrounds providing occasional ambient and directional effects and support for the score. LFE is also satisfyingly deep and clean, used with the obvious (explosions) and the not so obvious (fat Maxwell slamming into a wall). Dialogue is also consistently clear and intelligible.

The omission of a lossless or uncompressed track will continue to bother some to the point of boycotting the release, but most should be satisfied with the overall detail, dynamic range and fullness of the track provided. That's not to say I don't encourage or support a high resolution track whenever possible, which seemed to be the case for a recent film like "Get Smart."

Special Features: 2.5/5

Points for the special features would have been a little higher if the alternate takes and deleted scenes were accessible outside of the branching feature. The rest of the video extras are largely promotional in nature and not likely to be revisited, though the gag and vomit reels and digital copy are worthwhile items.

"Smart Takes" Alternate Scenes: Via branching, watch over 52 minutes of alternate takes and deleted scenes during the course of the feature, all in high definition (but with stereo audio). Unfortunately the clips are not accessible through a separate interface making the feature lose points for usability.

"The Old 'I Hid It In the Movie' Trick" (9m04s): Masi Oka and Nate Torrence provide an overview of the various references and homages to the TV show that were sprinkled throughout the film.

"The Right Agent for the Right Job" (10m30s): Cast and crew talk about the casting of Carell and Hathaway in the iconic "Get Smart" roles. The featurette includes footage from the casting session and a look behind the scenes of the dance sequence.

"Max in Moscow!" (6m20s): A brief glimpse at shooting on location in Moscow.

"Language Lessons" (3m29s): Carell hosts a particularly unfunny segment on languages, but it's mostly redeemed by the self-deprecating conclusion.

"The Vomit Reel" (5m19s): Various takes of Carell vomiting in the jet, for all of us who were wondering what it took to get there. Pretty funny stuff.

"Spy Confidential" Gag Reel (5m39s)

"The Making of 'Get Smart's Bruce and Lloyd Out of Control'" (3m12s): A behind-the-scenes look at the direct-to-video tie-in that was released alongside the theatrical release of "Get Smart."

Digital Copy: Download a digital copy for playback on computer or portable video device. Compatible with both Mac and Windows.

"Get Smart: KAOS Out of Control" DVD Game: I've never been a fan of these games but apparently they get good play for a certain demographic. This one has less emphasis on timing and coordination, which always proves problematic when the player remote is the input device, instead providing more puzzle and memory tasks.


The Feature: 4/5
Video Quality: 4/5
Audio Quality: 3.5/5
Special Features: 2.5/5
Overall Score (not an average): 3.5/5

The feature film treatment of a popular 1960s TV show gets decent audio, very good video, but an average special features package.

#2 of 10 OFFLINE   Ron Reda

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Posted November 09 2008 - 01:19 AM

Nice review, Cameron. You've mentioned that the image from a movie filmed in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio fills your screen entirely. Based on prior experience with my set, I'm wondering if you might have some overscanning going on with your set. Also, the lack of any lossless audio option on a high-profile title like this is ridiculous. It's almost as if they're saving it for a re-release or the studio thinks that people care more for the high-def picture than high-res sound.
"Music is a magic carpet loaded with oils and other soothing potions, it's just what you need when you don't know what you need, when you've got more questions than answers." - Bob Lefsetz

#3 of 10 OFFLINE   Cameron Yee

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Posted November 09 2008 - 04:24 AM

Regarding the overscan, I have an "unscaled" option on my LCD display that I double-checked was on. I tried some other discs like "Harold and Kumar," "Chicago" and "Pan's Labyrinth" and they all had the thin black bars. But when I put in any Warner 1.85:1 discs - "Body Heat," "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" and "The Bucket List" - they all filled the screen. I also checked the same titles on a BD-10 output to a 480p projector and had the same results.

#4 of 10 OFFLINE   Douglas Monce

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Posted November 09 2008 - 09:49 AM

Get Smart was shot digitally with the Panavision Genesis, (all except for slow motion shots which were shot on film) so 1.78:1 is the correct aspect ratio. Doug
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#5 of 10 OFFLINE   Ron-P



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Posted November 09 2008 - 03:02 PM

Sadly this seems to be happening more and more frequently. At least the studios are saving me money.
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#6 of 10 OFFLINE   PaulDA



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Posted November 10 2008 - 02:18 AM

People DO care more for the high-def picture than high-res sound. It is MUCH, MUCH easier to tell the difference for video than for audio and, frankly, those who own audio gear even remotely capable of resolving the difference between a lossy and lossless track are a minority of BD viewers (and even among those who have the gear, those who can tell/care about the difference are a minority within a minority). I wish it were all lossless as well--but I don't (nor have I ever) expected my position to be a majority one.
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#7 of 10 OFFLINE   Loregnum


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Posted November 10 2008 - 02:30 AM

I may get this in some sale but had it included lossless I'd have bought it right away. It's a principality issue to me because there is no reason why they should be releasing new titles without lossless. I don't care if there was only a 0.00001% improvement with the lossless track, and I think lossy sounds good too but the fact remains there should be one on these new releases and it does reek of them just setting up the double dip within 6-12 months. The only good thing about Warner and this audio issue is that at least it shuts up those blaming HD-DVD for Warner not putting lossless tracks on all those shared releases. That really annoyed me and hopefully now everyone realizes it was/is just Warner choosing to not put the tracks on the discs.

#8 of 10 OFFLINE   Ron Reda

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Posted November 10 2008 - 06:45 AM

Well said, PaulDA. Unfortunately, you're 100% right, IMO. I myself have ALWAYS been an audio guy over the video side, so I was very excited to hear how these high-res tracks would sound and the well-done one's sound revelatory to these ears. I still find it amazing when I hear people say that they don't even see a difference in a well-done Blu-ray version of a film vs. it's SD-DVD counterpart. It's mind boggling and unfortunately the studios can capitalize on this by giving us high-def video and plain ol' DD5.1 audio.
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#9 of 10 OFFLINE   troy evans

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Posted November 10 2008 - 07:09 AM

Many people still don't have surround sound, let alone Hi-res audio. Warner plays to the market that exists rather than the one which may come. It's easy to see more people having HDTV's over audio. People on average are more impressed with the picture over the sound anyway. I was recently reminded by a fellow HTF member that we here are not the majority, even though IMO, we should be. Posted Image I can't really find to much fault with Warner as of late, since their doing what no other studio has done yet. Which is drop the price of some catalog BD to $15. With that move they are making an effort to help push BD adoption to the average consumer. Other studios need to take note.
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#10 of 10 OFFLINE   ManW_TheUncool



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Posted November 10 2008 - 10:04 AM

Despite the lack of lossless surround, I couldn't resist and picked it up for $20 from the nearby street vendor, especially since it's a good boost for WAF. Posted Image Posted Image And no regrets here as it was a blast to watch w/ the family over the weekend.

FWIW, I think it's probably best to take these releases on a case-by-case basis w/ the lossless vs lossy issue (as w/ many other such quality issues). Sometimes, one really does have to pick and choose one's battles -- or it'll start to defeat the overall main goal of the "hobby"...


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