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Blu-ray Reviews

HTF Blu-ray Review: Forrest Gump (Sapphire Series) HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

TV Reviews

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#1 of 5 OFFLINE   PatWahlquist


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Posted November 06 2009 - 05:57 AM

http://static.hometh...k2oxw8AGL.jpg">Forrest Gump Sapphire Series (Blu-ray) HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
I have not seen the movie in its entirety since the time I saw it on cable, so it was a bit revelatory watching it now. The story, focusing on one man, Forrest Gump (Hanks) who is slightly below normal intelligence and how the events in his life interact with the history he was travelling through, shows an amazing bit of film making at work. The picture drips with sentimentality and emotional manipulation, but director Robert Zemeckis, working off a script from Eric Roth, infuses the story with enough wit, such as Forrest’s almost tedious running voice over as a lead in to the story’s events, that we become dazzled by what is happening in front of us. We can’t help but like Forrest, we can’t help but feel sorry for Lt. Dan (Sinise), we can’t help but hope for a happy ending for Jenny (Robin Wright) and we can’t help being happy by the end of the movie. 
This is the part where I have to fault the movie: it doesn’t give us a chance to make our own emotional decisions (sounds contradictory, but really, it’s not) since we are battered with the perfect placements of when a character gets sick or dies, tempered with the hope of a new, future path and a bittersweet score to really drive home the point. It mimics the circle of life, or to quote one of the numerous songs in the movie, “A time to live, a time to die”. The story of Forrest Gump could have been placed in any era of our past and it would still resonate with us since the emotion that fuels Forrest is the same emotion that fuels us. While I may find fault with the movie for this manipulation after the fact, I still could not help but get wrapped up in the story and its many emotional beats. There is humor mixed with tragedy, the will to overcome even when the odds seem insurmountable, the freedom of running really fast to our futures even when shit gets in the way. Forrest, while not the smartest man by society’s scale, shows us all the smarts in the world don’t predict success and happiness in one’s life.
Forrest Gump is encoded in the MPEG-4 AVC codec at 1080p with a 2.35:1 aspect ratio. To borrow one of Forrest’s lines, Paramount’s Sapphire Series has been similar to a box of chocolates: you never know what you’re going to get. Braveheart looked great, Gladiator was riddled with DNR. Thankfully, Forrest Gump is far closer to Braveheart than Gladiator! The picture is free of DNR or other sharpening, although edge enhancement is occasionally present. Colors are excellent displaying lush and rich hues and skin tones and remaining lifelike at all times. Black levels were excellent as well and they showed good detail in the shadows. The film itself seems to have been shot just slightly soft, so sharpness is as good as it could have been. Detail remains strong throughout, allowing us to make out the minute bits of set decoration in the backgrounds or the pores of the actors faces in the close-ups. There is a very nice grain structure in the image reminding us of its film based source. The main drawback to the image is that it shows print dirt quite often. While it is not obtrusive, it is noticeable and what may have hidden on DVD is clearly seen here. Still, this is a very nice picture.
This 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio track does great with what is present in the original sound design. A majority of the picture remains in the front channels as it can be a very dialogue driven film. When the songs pop up, they stay true to their stereo roots and present a nice soundstage, as does the soundtrack overall. It isn’t until the Vietnam sequence that the DTS-MA track really kicks in engaging the rest of the channels and creating a very real and powerful audio experience. Directionality is good throughout, but again, everything really comes to life in the Vietnam scenes, with bullets and machine gun fire pinging all over the place and a strong bass line to make you feel the impact to the explosions. Clarity and fidelity is excellent and there was no distortion or dirt noticed in the soundtrack. Voices remained life like throughout.
Getting Past Impossible – Forrest Gump and the Visual effects Revolution (27:04, HD) reminds us of how much a technical picture it is with so many scenes dependent on a visual trick to pull them off. Zemeckis is one of the finest technical directors around, embracing cutting edge technology to tell his stories. For Gump, he again relied upon Ken Ralston and ILM as well as the great Doug Chiang (also used by George Lucas in pre-production for the first two Star Wars prequels) to make Forrest’s journey believable. I grow tired of docs on how effects are done, but this one was enjoyable since they were inventing the techniques we are all accustomed to now. Chiang and John Knoll (another SW prequel ILM’er) also give us a great bit of history on how old optical effects were done with an incredible demo reel. 
Archival Special Features contains the pieces that were on the original DVD release and they are all in SD. The pieces contained here are The Make-up of Forrest Gump (8:03), Through the Ears of Forrest Gump – Sound Design (15:34 total) (five different sequences are dissected by Randy Thom), Building the World of Gump – Production Design (7:18), Seeing is Believing – The Visual Effects of Forrest Gump (approximately 20 minutes) (nine different scenes are shown, including a couple cut scenes), Screen Tests (approximately 9 minutes) (with Michael Conner Humphreys and Hanna R. Hall, who played the young Forrest and Jenny, Robin Wright, and Haley Joel Osment), and finally, two Trailers. Each of the pieces is pretty self explanatory and is comparable to what we’ve seen before in such pieces. I am glad the discs producers chose to give us a far different type of new bonus features instead of just expanding on what was already done.

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 5 OFFLINE   ManW_TheUncool



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Posted November 06 2009 - 06:59 AM

Glad to hear this is much closer to Braveheart than the Gladiator mess.  Look forward to getting this (along w/ so many other quality titles coming out).

Thanks for the fine review, Pat.


Just another amateur learning to paint w/ "the light of the world".

"Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things..." (St. Paul)

#3 of 5 OFFLINE   AaronMK


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Posted November 06 2009 - 08:05 AM

The main drawback to the image is that it shows print dirt quite often.

This is better than using the automated dirt removal of Gladiator.  I can just imagine the disappearing bullets in the Vietnam scene that would have occurred.  Sound like it is a great transfer and encode though.  I can't wait to get it!

#4 of 5 OFFLINE   cineMANIAC



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Posted November 06 2009 - 08:24 AM

Thank you for the review. Another reason its a good idea to research a release before plunging headfirst and buying something blindly like I have done too often. However, I think I'll hang on to the excellent DVD I already have  - this movie isn't a priority to upgrade at the moment.

RIP Roberto Gomez Bolanos. 

#5 of 5 OFFLINE   John Choi

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Posted November 06 2009 - 08:44 AM

For those on the fence about upgrading and still have the original DVD, a $10 rebate is included with the blu-ray, similar to what was included with the Braveheart and Gladiator blu-rays. It's now going for $21.49 on Amazon and with the rebate, it'll come out to be $11.49. Not a bad deal.