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Blu-ray Review Gravity Diamond Luxe Edition Blu-ray Review (1 Viewer)

Ken_McAlinden

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Gravity Diamond Luxe Edition Blu-ray Review

While previous entries in the Warner Bros. “Diamond Luxe” Blu-ray series were released to coincide with milestone anniversaries of catalog titles, this Deluxe Edition of Gravity comes only two years after the film's previous releases on Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D. Are deluxe packaging, upgraded audio, and some new extras enough to merit a double dip from to the previous 2D Blu-ray? Read on and judge for yourself...



Studio: Warner Brothers

Distributed By: N/A

Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

Audio: English Dolby Atmos, Spanish 5.1 DD, French 5.1 DD, Other

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Other

Rating: PG-13

Run Time: 1 Hr. 31 Min.

Package Includes: Blu-ray

Deluxe slim four panel foil package with glossy graphics, two disc slots, and magnetic closing feature

Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)

Region: A

Release Date: 03/31/2015

MSRP: $24.98




The Production Rating: 4.5/5

Gravity (2013)

 

Directed by: Alfonso Cuarón

 

Starring: Sandra Bullock, George Clooney, Ed Harris, Phaldut Sharma

 

Alfonso Cuarón's Gravity sets up a simple premise involving medical engineer Ryan Stone (Bullock) and veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski (Clooney) who find themselves stranded in space after their shuttle and crew are wiped out by a storm of debris inadvertently set off by the destruction of a Russian satellite. Cuarón and his cast then proceed to milk the harrowing situation for all that its worth as Stone and Kowalski attempt to escape their predicament and return to Earth.

 

Gravity's mix of grounded science fiction, suspense, and assured special effects makes for a unique and entertaining experience. Cuarón's seamless blend of technical proficiency, satisfying drama, and a bravura performance by Sandra Bullock resulted in ten well deserved Oscar nominations and seven wins.

 

Similarly to Tom Hanks in Castaway or James Stewart in The Spirit of St. Louis, Sandra Bullock must carry huge stretches of the film on her own (to be fair, George Clooney's performance is more generous than the Wilson volleyball in Castaway). She handles those sequences with aplomb, generating the necessary audience empathy and rooting interest to carry them through the film's straightforward plot and hour and a half running time with minimal lags.

 

Technically the film's greatest achievement is creating a plausible reality that places the viewer squarely in the predicament of the film's protagonists. From the aggressively directional sound mix with its strategic use of silence punctuated by the heavy breathing and pounding hearts of the astronauts to the seamless digital effects that place cameras where they could not possibly go, Cuarón creates an immersive experience.

 

The simplicity and propulsive nature of the film's plot line blended with the convincing cinematic reality created by the filmmakers helps to gloss over certain sequences of the film where more critical viewers may be inclined to say "but science ...".


Warner Bros. Pictures "Gravity" Playlist


Video Rating: 4.5/5  3D Rating: NA

This Diamond Luxe edition presents the 2D theatrical version of the film via an AVC encoded 1080p presentation at the film's original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.4:1. The presentation is free of artifact from the digital encoding and compression, but by design, features occasional moments where artificial grain and photographic artifacts are introduced to the digital photography to create the illusion of verisimilitude. This is in keeping with the film's "immersive experience" aesthetic, but may prevent it from reaching the threshold of "reference quality" for some viewers.



Audio Rating: 5/5

The Dolby Atmos mix is one of this releases calling cards, and its presented here via a lossless 24 Bit 48 kHz 3436 Kbps Dolby TrueHD 7.1 encoding. I was only able to listen via a 5.1 set-up that consists of four identical full range speakers plus a matched center channel and a subwoofer. Audio fidelity, dynamics, and "holosonic" effects were remarkable in this downmixed form.

 

The other calling card of this re-release is the "Silent Space" version of the movie that eliminates the music score entirely. It is present only via a 16 bit 48kHz 448Kbps Dolby Digital 5.1 track.

 

All alternate language versions of the film (available in either the theatrical or "Silent Space" versions") are presented via 16 bit 48kHz 448Kbps Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks, and are available in English DVS, French (Quebecois), French, German, Italian, Spanish (Castillan), Spanish (Latin), and Portuguese. Subtitle options include English SDH, French, German SDH, Italian SDH, Spanish (Castillan), Spanish (Latin), and Portuguese.

 

The use of 448kbps Dolby Digital rather than 640kbs or lossless for the "Silent Space" version is a little disappointing, but was probably necessitated by the inclusion of 17 separate language tracks in addition to the Dolby Atmos mix. That being said, if I had not just listened to the Atmos mix, I might not have noticed the slight drop in fidelity as the underlying 5.1 mix is still very good.

 

Dolby Atmos Update: I watched this in Dolby Atmos using a 7.2.4 system configuration (4 ceiling mounted speakers). This is the 11th Dolby Atmos encoded Blu-ray I have watched, and is easily the best Dolby Atmos experience I have had. If this isn't a reference Dolby Atmos Mix, I don't know what is. In most other reviews I have talked about the ceiling speakers as a whole, but in this mix I clearly had 4 overhead channels as some effects panned across the ceiling, while other sounds were localized to a specific ceiling speaker. Mission control and other radio voices (has Ed Harris been typecast as a Mission Control Commander yet?), debris, the parachute deploying, the capsule under water, flipping through space were just some of the examples of how the ceiling channels were expertly used to pull me into into the film and envelope me in not only what was on the screen but what I imagined was happening all around me. The music was also used effectively this way as well. Seeing this in Dolby Atmos validated my decision to hold off on an eventual 4k upgrade in exchange for investing in Dolby Atmos now. -- Adam Gregorich



Special Features Rating: 4/5

Disc One

 

Aside from the film itself, the only extra on disc one is the Silent Space version of the movie, which is presented with the same alternate language and subtitle options as the theatrical version of the film. This version of the film features an alternate sound mix that completely eliminates Steven Price's Oscar winning score. Watching the film in this way presents an eerie but intriguing experience, not necessarily superior, but complementary to the theatrical sound mix. There is a very brief Introduction from Alfonso Cuarón that can be viewed if the viewer so desires.

 

Disc Two

 

The bulk of the extras appear on Disc Two. Special features indicated in red font are carried over from the previous Blu-ray and 3D Blu-ray released of the film. These were described in detail in Cameron Yee's review of the original 2D Blu-ray release of the film. All special features are presented in high definition sound with Dolby Digital stereo audio unless otherwise indicated below.

 

Looking to the Stars: The Evolution of Space Films (41:59 - Dolby Digital 5.1) Looks at the history of cinematic depictions of space travel from the earliest days of motion pictures until the present. The films are looked at from the perspective of artistic achievement, effects techniques, scientific accuracy, and reflections of technological, political and social aspects of their eras. Films discussed in detail include George Méliès’ A Trip to the Moon, Fritz Lang’s Woman in the Moon, George Pal’s Destination Moon, Pavel Klushantsev’s Road to the Stars, John Sturges’ Marooned, Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, George Lucas’ Star Wars, Philip Kaufman’s The Right Stuff, Ron Howard’s Apollo 13, and, of course, Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity. On camera comments are provided by a colelction of filmmakers and scholars including University of Southern California Professor and Author Nicholas J. Cull, Director/Producer Ron Howard, Director/Producer Joe Dante, Visual Effects Supervisor Dennis Muren, Visual Effects Designer John Dykstra, Director and Special Visual Effects Supervisor Douglas Trumbull, Director Alfonso Cuarón, Author Gary Westfahl, Producer David Heyman, Visual Effects Supervisor Karen E. Goulekas, Special Effects Supervisor Neil Corbould, and Cinematographer Michael Seresin.

 

Gravity: The Human Experience (11:05) contains personal reflections on space travel from Alfonso Cuarón, George Clooney ("Matt Kowalski"), Heyman, Author Mary Roach, Retired NASA Astronaut Dr. Dan T. Barry, NASA Astronaut Michael J. Massimino, Writer Jonas Cuarón, Sandra Bullock ("Ryan Stone"), NASA Astronaut Catherine “Cady” Coleman, and NASA & ESA Astronaut Jean-François Clervoy.

 

Sandra’s Birthday Wish (3:21) is a humorous video recorded by Sandra Bullock to wish Alfonso Cuarón a happy birthday "from space". It employs significantly more tinfoil than the finished film.

 

Collision Point: The Race to Clean Up Space Narrated by Ed Harris (22:28)

 

Aningaaq - A short Film by Jonas Cuarón (6:54 - or 10:12 w/introduction)

 

Under the heading of "Behind the Scenes", are:

 

Gravity: Mission Control (1:46:37 w/”Play All”) is broken to the following individually selectable segments:

  • It Began with a Story
  • Initial Challenges: Long Shots and Zero G
  • Previsualizing Gravity
  • The Hues of Space
  • Space Tech
  • Sandra and George: A Pair in Space
  • Final Animation
  • Complete Silence
Shot Breakdowns (36:49 w/Play All) is broken to the following individually selectable segments:
  • Behind the Visor
  • Fire in the International Space Station
  • Dr. Stone’s Rebirth
  • The Sound of Action in Space
  • Splashdown



Overall Rating: 4.5/5

The Diamond Luxe edition of Alfonso Cuarón's Gravity offers upgraded Dolby Atmos audio and new special features, most notably an eerily music-free "Silent Space" version of the film's soundtrack. It comes up just short of definitive due to lack of inclusion of the much heralded 3D version of the movie, but with its deluxe packaging and reasonable list price, this is the obvious version to get for viewers interested in the 2D edition of the movie.


Reviewed By: Ken_McAlinden


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Ronald Epstein

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This is where I begin to vent....


First of all, and most importantly, thank you Ken for your review.


Now let's get to the meat of this thing, shall we?


This is the release Warner SHOULD have originally made.


It still baffles me that with this film, up for an Oscar at the time of its Blu-ray release for sound mixing (an award it won), that the studio released this film only in 5.1.


However, in hindsight, I bet that Warner knew of the pending deal with Dolby Atmos and decided to delay the 7.1 release.


What that did, however, was give us a 5.1 3D release that the studio still has not rectified. They should have combined this release with a corrected 3D version -- something I fear we shall never see.


Yes, I am making a big deal about the lack of 7.1 on the original release. However, I sat in a Dolby laboratory and heard this film in 7.1 and it was f-ing amazing! Now that I have a 7.1 system, I appreciate these kind of releases more.


I have already contacted "the powers that be" at Warner and asked that they reconsider a 7.1 3D release. However, as I said, with the current state of the format I doubt they will go to the trouble.


It's just rather upsetting that Warner didn't do this right the first time.
 

Josh Steinberg

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The "Silent Space Version" in 3D is the thing I was most interested in (from even before the movie originally came out, when it was mentioned that they had thought about going that way), and I'm extremely disappointed that it's not being offered in 3D.


Everyone involved in the making of this film, from the cast to the filmmakers to the studio, as well as the overwhelming majority of critics, made a huge point when this movie was released about how important 3D was to the experience. It's a shame to see that all being disregarded here. To me, this 2D-only version is as non-OAR as a pan and scan copy would be.
 

Adam Gregorich

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Now that I have a Dolby Atmos equipped HT I revisited this and all I can say is WOW, it was AMAZING. I may have watched the film in 2D, but I essentially listened to it in 3D. I added my thoughts about the Dolby Atmos mix in the audio portion of Ken's review. This is far and away the best Dolby Atmos experience I have had. So glad I pushed off a 4K upgrade and upgraded my processor, added an amp and 4 speakers instead.


I will agree that it is a shame that they don't have a 3D copy with Dolby Atmos and they make you chose between them.
 

Josh Steinberg

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Adam Gregorich said:
I will agree that it is a shame that they don't have a 3D copy with Dolby Atmos and they make you chose between them.

I think it's even more of a shame that you can't watch it in 3D with the "silent space version", which is really what I'd like to see most. I just have zero desire to see "Gravity" in 2D, but I think the movie might have been more effective (at least for me) without the score.
 

Adam Gregorich

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Mike Frezon said:
I have yet to hear a Dolby Atmos set-up...but any Atmos disc I have sounds spectacular on my 5.1 gear.


I don't know why. But they do.

If you don't have Dolby Atmos it will just play it back in Dolby TrueHD.
 

Mike Frezon

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Adam Gregorich said:
If you don't have Dolby Atmos it will just play it back in Dolby TrueHD.

Yeah. I totally understand that. I guess I'm just wondering if the mixes are different because they seem...better/different in some way.
 

Adam Gregorich

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Mike Frezon said:
Yeah. I totally understand that. I guess I'm just wondering if the mixes are different because they seem...better/different in some way.

A few things. Dolby introduced Advanced 96 authoring about 18-24 months ago and that is probably trickling down. Also its possible that sound designers and mixers are spending a bit more time with the mixes knowing they are going to be working with Atmos, so they are putting a lot more objects into the mix, which are being folded into the 5 or 7 channels for people without Atmos decoding. Just a guess, but I bet there is something to it.
 

Adam Gregorich

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Mike Frezon said:
Adam:


CraigF gave me some interesting opinion on this subject in a different Atmos thread.
That isn't really applicable to you though as you don't have an Atmos equipped AVR. Craig makes a valid point that you can benefit from a Dolby Atmos AVR even without the height channels, as it will put the objects into your existing surround speakers. Its MUCH better with the height channels, but if you were on a budget do the AVR now and the height channels later.
 

Josh Steinberg

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The Luxe version is now $50+ on Amazon... This is the only version that has an Atmos track right?

Correct, but it presents the movie only in 2D. There is no way to watch the movie in 3D in Atmos as it was originally presented in theaters.
 

Sam Posten

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I'd be ok with that if I could buy the Atmos 2D version for $20. I have the 3D Blu and it works great in my 5.1 basement pj setup, my 4K is in my office which is where I will be testing out the Yamaha Atmos Sound bar.
 

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