Blu-ray Disc REVIEW THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA Studio: 20th Century Fox Film Year: 2006 Film Length: 109 minutes Genre: Comedy/Drama Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Theatrical Ratio Resolution: 1080p Video Codec: MPEG 2 @ 18MBPS Disc Size: 25GB Colour/B&W: Colour Audio: English DTS-HD MASTER LOSSLESS AUDIO 5.1 Surround French Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Subtitles: English, Spanish Film Rating: PG-13 Release Date: December 12, 2006. Film Rating: / Starring: Meryl Streep (Miranda Priestly), Anne Hathaway (Andy Sachs), Emily Blunt (Emily), Stanley Tucci (Nigel), Simon Baker (Christian Thompson), Adrian Grenier (Nate) Screenplay by: Aline Brosh McKenna Directed by: David Frankel Hell on Heels. Andy Sachs, the unstylish writer straight out of college, finds herself getting the most unlikely position in the workforce that so many girls would kill for: the assistant of Runway magazine’s editor Miranda Priestly. Runway is a highly influential New York fashion magazine where the employees and fashion designers are whipped into line to make the magazine as high-calibre and attractive as can be. The job turns out to be a nightmare for Andy. Being Miranda’s first assistant consumers her personal life as her work week becomes 7 days of 24-hour shifts. Like most young people trying to get ahead in life, Andy sacrifices everything from her social life to love life to achieve her dream of being a journalist. Now that she has the fashion sense, she also must also gain some common sense to decide how far she should go before becoming someone unrecognizable when she looks in the mirror. The film has a great stone cold performance by Meryl Streep and commendable performances by both Hathaway and Blunt. The target audience is girls 14+, but I think men will have an equal laugh into the life of fashion and workplace stress. VIDEO QUALITY 5/5 Using Sony’s Playstation 3 as a Blu-ray player, I found the picture quality on this disc to be exceptional. The quality I see on this title is what I expect from high definition transfers. I rate this image quality right up there with the fashion in this film: it’s simply gorgeous! Encoded with MPEG-2 compression, this 2.35:1 film dazzles with colour and contrast. When viewed in a darkened room for optimal viewing, the title sequence immediately shows the extended resolution of high definition. The New York streets show depth between buildings and the commuters on the sidewalk. What always strikes me as brilliant in HD are the reflections of light from wet streets, puddles, and glass – all of which demonstrate the superiority of HD in this opening scene. The titles placed over the image seem to float over the movement in the film whereas the SD-DVDs seem to give the impression of a blended look. Without exaggeration, the clothing chosen for the characters is slick and fashionable. Intricate details of the designs are clearly seen in high definition and would be lost watching in standard definition. I would have a direct comparison between the two, but Fox still sends out DVD-Rs as screeners that don’t represent final product so it wouldn’t be a fair assessment. Regardless, anyone would be able to tell the difference here because it’s that noticeable. The high resolution of this format also puts pressure on makeup artists to do a fantastic job. There have been some programs I’ve seen where the makeup looked horrendous in standard definition. Being the type of movie this is, the makeup applied to the actresses look absolutely amazing. I admit I’m not one to notice these things much but this time around I was plus with a bit of reassurance from my girlfriend. She gave two thumbs up. This Blu-ray disc shows the subtle shades and colours applied to the face. It’s Runway and it's fashion, so the look is appropriate. Skin tones always appear to be dead-on accurate. The paleness of Anne Hathaway to the more tanned complexion of Emily Blunt is contrasted well. Black levels are deep and solid delivering exceptional shadow detail the scenes filmed at night. Film grain is at an absolute minimum and looks natural. Edge enhancement looks entirely absent. AUDIO QUALITY: 3/5 This film has a very basic 5.1 sound mixed that is delivered in DTS-HD Master Audio. Listening only to the lossy core extracted from this lossless soundtrack, the sound is a bit compressed compared to other soundtracks. Dialogue, while always intelligible, can sound more like a studio rather than set recording. There is also little volume differences between actors. Much of it seems levelled to identical volume even when the music or other loud noise kicks in. I would be nice if there was a bit of variance here. The front soundstage drives the soundtrack. Actually, let me rephrase this: the center speaker drives the soundtrack so having a good center channel will be in order here. The main channels function mainly to deliver music. Surround usage is minimal; its purpose is to slightly wrap the viewer with a bit of ambience from the front channels. I can’t recall a single moment in the film when the were used to deliver direct sounds…but then, not much in this film calls for it except for the bustling New York city streets and the clattering of shoes and paperclips in the Runway office. LFE is literally non-existent. Just a hair of dedicated LFE is used to enhance the bass in the music. All bass is mixed in the three front channels. TACTILE FUN!! ZERO / TRANSDUCER ON/OFF?: OFF SPECIAL FEATURES / The good news for Blu-ray owners is that ALL of the features are in high definition. YAY!! I thought I’d share some of my excitement with you because, you know, it kinda sucks having to view special features in SD. On this disc you can navigate special features from the main menu or the pop-up menu: A rather large group of people on the commentary track. This includes director David Frankel, Producer Wendy Finerman, costume designer Patricia Field, screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna, editor Mark Livolsi, and director of photography Florian Ballhaus. The speak very much in an order and I can’t recall a moment when all of them really got into a discussion at the same time, but rather two or three of them at the most. Discussion encompassed the film and fashion, as is expected, but it wasn’t very exciting to me so I moved along… The Trivia Track was a bit more interesting. I viewed this while reading the commentary while the movie was playing for the second go-around. It’s a pop-up trivia that is mainly about fashion and the history behind designs and designers. There are a few film facts too. All 22-minutes of the deleted scenes are in HD 2.35:1 and Dolby Digital 5.1 surround. They look “finished” for the most part except for a few shots being a bit grainy (and they are all encoded at a lower bitrate averaging about 10MBPS), and they begin with a part of the movie preceding the deleted section so you know where it fits in the film. In my opinion, all scenes are acted well but they were cut for time, etc. There is an optional director’s commentary with these as well. The gag reel (5.07 & in HD) is put together as a montage with music in the background. Again, they all have a polished look for this feature and feature some funny moments during filming. The trailers for Fox’s first wave of BD releases include Behind Enemy Lines, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Kiss of the Dragon, Fantastic Four, Speed, Kingdom of Heaven, and The Transporter are included. I was hoping for some new upcoming releases, but soon enough I guess! (I can’t wait for Commando! There’s just something funny about having that available so soon in HD – but I think it’s great!) IN THE END... I’m not sure how to interpret The Devil Wears Prada. Is it supposed to be a reflection of our work ethics? Is it trying to send a message to people as a warning of not to let their careers consume their personal lives? Or is it trying to tell us to be ourselves and not let external influences change our personality? My guess is a bit of all of these. Regardless of the message, I enjoyed this title a lot, as well as the video quality of the disc. I recommend this title to be taken for a spin. Michael Osadciw December 10, 2006.