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Blu-ray Reviews

HTF Blu-ray Review: Echelon Conspiracy

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#1 of 2 OFFLINE   PatWahlquist


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Posted July 18 2009 - 03:18 AM

Echelon Conspiracy (Blu-ray)
Studio: Paramount Home Video
Rated: PG-13 (for sequences of intense violence and actions, some sexuality and brief language)
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
HD Encoding: 1080p
HD Video Codec: MPEG-4 AVC                
Audio: English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish; English SDH+
Time: 105 minutes
Disc Format: 1 SS/DL BD
Case Style: Keep case
Theatrical Release Date: 2009
Blu-ray Release Date: July 21, 2009
Max Peterson (Shane West) is a computer network installer who travels the world setting up secure servers and other techno gibberish systems. While in Bangkok, he receives a box from an anonymous sender containing a cell phone. Max turns it on and he begins getting text messages suggesting he change his flight and stay another day, only to have that flight crash killing everyone aboard. The texts then go on to tell him to gamble on certain machines and he ends up winning a boat load of cash and attracting the attention of the head of casino security, John Reed (Ed Burns), and a burly FBI agent, Dave Grant (Ving Rhames). It turns out the phone is sending messages from a shadowy source, and the FBI and others (including a grumpy Martin Sheen) are trying to shut down the senders before anyone else gets killed. The search takes the characters to Moscow where between a cell phone hacker and the help of Sheen, they find out Echelon is actually a computer running wild and trying to take over the world. The bullets start flying, the cars start crashing and the security of the world may not be able to be saved in time.
Shane West does his darndest to look like Matt Damon, but the lousy script instead invokes a dumber and wimpier Jason Bourne. It continues on by trying to set up Bond-esque villainy and doomsday devices, but making me think more of Wargames. Sheen, obviously desperate for work, runs around his own version of CTU from 24, calling more important men above him but never really telling us whose side he’s truly on. The plot shares similarities with Eagle Eye and Vantage Point as the most recent retread of a warning that technology can be bad and cameras are everywhere tracking our every move and conversation. While I’m not against a good techno thriller, we seem to be at a point where there’s not a lot of tech that scares us with its outlandishness, its distant future predictions of technology enslaving the humans enough to make me want to sit through them anymore. Maybe I’ll just watch Wargames again and let the Cold War of it all make me look at my cell phone suspiciously when a text arrives to pick up milk.
Movie: *.5/*****
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 encoded in the MPEG-4 AVC codec at 1080p with an aspect ratio of 2.40:1. The image is very colorful throughout, showing a good palate of colors and shading. At times, however, faces seem to have a little too much yellow in them which is not a fault of the ambient lighting, almost as if the fake-and-bake tanning machine did its job too well. The image tends to cool down whenever we’re dealing with the more technical sets, such as Sheen’s War Room: that has a green tint to cool down the otherwise warm image. Detail and sharpness is excellent, showing many fine background items.  This being a release of recent vintage I noticed no dirt or distortion in the image but there was a minor amount of edge enhancement. Black levels were not as good as I would have liked with many of the nighttime scenes coming off as dark gray. When this occurred the image lost most of the shadow detail and left it looking flat.
Video: ***/*****
The 5.1 Dolby TrueHD soundtrack was attained by the HDMI connection of the PS3 to the Denon 3808CI.
The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track has a good soundstage utilizing all the channels except the LFE’s, which came off as very weak in many places. It seems as if Ving Rhames baritone carried more weight than the explosions.  The music also seems to remain very light on the bass. The soundtrack stays mostly in the high’s and mid’s, and while it is not bad, it could use a little oomph. The panning effects are excellent throughout, and when the action kicks off, the soundtrack does not disappoint. This compares well with other action pictures soundtracks in terms of layers of sounds going on around you.   Voices are clear and natural, and there is no distortion or other problems noted.
Audio: ***/*****
Bonus Material:
There are no bonus materials!
Bonus Material: 0/*****
This apparent straight to video release may even be too good for it, as we have a “seen-it-a-million-times” plot. The AV portion of the disc is fair, but we could have had at least a trailer for an extra.

Edited by PatWahlquist - 7/19/2009 at 01:32 pm GMT
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 2 OFFLINE   Todd Erwin

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Posted July 18 2009 - 10:49 AM

Hmmm, I didn't notice the Bourne similarity when I wrote my review of the DVD.

But you're right, Shane West is no Matt Damon or Shia Lebouf.

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