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Blu-ray Review: The Notebook: Limited Edition Giftset

Posted on Wednesday, January 21st, 2009 5:02 PM by Scott Jentsch

Front Cover ArtworkThe Notebook
Blu-ray
Warner Home Video
124 Minutes

List Price: $39.99 (Check Price at Amazon.com)

Giftset is also available on DVD

Available 1/20/2008

Rated PG-13

Click here for additional movie details, including the full plot summary, cast listing, trailers and videos, photos, reviews of the movie, and links to the official movie web site and more.

  TheatricalThis Disc
Video Format:
35mm
1080p VC-1
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 2.35:1
Audio:

Dolby Digital
DTS Digital
SDDS

 Dolby TrueHD
Dolby TrueHD 5.1

Dolby Digital
Dolby Digital 5.1

Other:  

Movie: BD-50 (x1) BD-J

Disc 1 Contents

  • Blu-ray promo (1:10)
  • Movie
  • Special Features
    • Deleted Scenes
    • Director and Novelist Commentaries
    • Making-of Featurettes
      • All in the Family: Nick Cassavetes (SD, 11:39)
      • Nicholas Sparks: A Simple Story, Well Told (SD, 6:36)
      • Southern Exposure: Locating The Notebook (SD, 11:33)
      • Casting Ryan and Rachel (SD, 4:06)
    • Rachel McAdams Screen Test (SD, 3:37)
    • Trailer (SD, 2:19 2ch)

Additional Items

  • 46-page Photo and Scrapbook Album
  • Stickers and Photo Corners
  • Two Bookmarks
  • 16 Notecards and Envelopes

About the Movie

Behind every great love is a great story. As teenagers, Allie (Rachel McAdams) and Noah (Ryan Gosling) begin a whirlwind courtship that soon blossoms into tender intimacy. The young couple is quickly separated by Allie's upper-class parents who insist that Noah isn't right for her. Several years pass, and when they meet again, their passion is rekindled, forcing Allie to choose between her soulmate and class order.

This beautiful tale has a particularly special meaning to an older gentleman (James Garner) who regularly reads the timeless love story to his aging companion (Gena Rowlands). Based on the best-selling novel by Nicholas Sparks.

About This Title

This giftset from Warner Home Video follows on the heels of the giftset the studio released before the holidays for Casablanca, the Casablanca (Ultimate Collector's Edition). The contents are packaged in a nice 6" x 8" x 2" box, which will look oversized next to the standard Blu-ray cases on your bookshelf. Those contents include a wire-bound book that contains the Blu-ray disc and a scrapbook of photos and text from the movie, with extra pages that you can "write your own story," according to the packaging.

Also in the box is a paper envelope containing stickers and photo corners (presumably for the aforementioned scrapbook pages) and two bookmarks. Rounding out the contents of the box is a set of stationery and envelopes; perhaps provided so that you can finally write that letter to your lost love you've been meaning to send all your life.

It's an impressive set that would definitely make a nice gift, as it has the presentation marks covered. More on the whether I think it's worth it later...

How Does it Look?

Still from the movie (not an actual screenshot)

The movie is set in two decades, the 2000's and the 1940's, and the look of the movie changes accordingly. The set dressing and period touches are evident and really help to immerse you into the story. The cinematography is wonderful, and it's difficult to tell if the graininess that is visible throughout the movie is intentional, but I'm going to assume that it is.

While watching the movie the first time, I didn't notice any problems with the video quality. Upon further review, and upon reading some other comments about this Blu-ray release, some edge enhancement is noticeable, but it is very slight. This was most noticeable to me in the slight halos that followed the edges of objects, such as Ryan Gosling's shoulders against the sky.

When one goes looking for problems, it's possible that your eyes are playing tricks on you, but there did seem to be an overall "edginess" to the video, almost as if someone hit the sharpness control a little too hard. Given that this was a romance set in the 40's, I would have preferred softness over edginess if given the choice.

How Does it Sound?

While there are opportunities for the sound mix to immerse you into the scenes, the fact remains that this is a romance that depends more on dialogue than sound effects, and a dynamic soundtrack would probably have been out of place. The surrounds are very subtle in scenes like the opening carnival where Noah and Allie meet, but they light up a little more during the war scene.

One notable scene where you felt more immersed in the environment was in front of Allie's summer home after being confronted by her parents. The crickets place you in front of the South Carolina house at 2am. I would have preferred that the sound mix have been given more attention in the movie, but I don't doubt that this is what the director intended.

Extras

I like to see the theatrical trailer included with movies, so I was happy to see that is was included on this disc! I was disappointed, however, to note that the video was standard definition and the sound was only 2-channel instead of multi-channel Dolby Digital. Perhaps that was the best that was available, but when you've just watched the movie in high definition, watching extras in SD is much less satisfying.

The extras on this disc appear to be a carryover from the 2005 DVD release. All are in standard definition and exhibit jarringly poor picture quality compared to the picture quality of the feature. They are interesting nonetheless, and even though it would have been nice to get some new interviews from the cast, the director, and the writer, so that they could look back on the movie after four years and share some comments, at least the extras that appeared on the DVD were not omitted altogether (as has been done with some other Blu-ray catalog releases).

Since this is a gift set with additional items, an obvious question raised is whether the additional items add value to the movie as a package. To that, I would have to say, maybe. As a gift, this set makes a fine package. A fan of the movie will likely enjoy opening such an item, especially with its apparent release timing before Valentine's Day.

After opening it, however, I'm not sure how much use the other items will get. Will someone really sit down and fill out the scrapbook with the story of their own romance? Will they use the stationery and stickers? I can see the bookmarks being useful, but after looking through the scrapbook once, there isn't much lasting usefulness to the rest of the set.

While I like the fact that Warner Bros. is putting some effort into some of their catalog releases, I would like to see them pay more attention to features that will have more usefulness for fans of the movie. In this case, the aforementioned interviews would have been a welcomed addition, especially if someone already owns the previous DVD release. The music plays a role in the movie as well, and I will renew my call for the score to be available as an isolated track while the movie plays. Instead of paper stationery, why not include a copy of the movie's soundtrack on audio CD? Hopefully someone at the studio is reading this and will consider the items included in future releases.

Other Aspects

While this disc is BD-J formatted, our PlayStation 3 was able to support auto-resuming the movie. This is suprising, since I've not been able to get previous BD-J discs to auto-resume. In this case, even the fact that I was listening to the director's commentary was restored when I re-inserted the disc. Perhaps Blu-ray disc authoring and the tools used are progressing to the point where this is now possible where previously it was not. Whatever the case, I applaud it! (If you have a standalone player, please let me know if auto-resume does not work for you)

Conclusion

So, bottom line. Is this package worth purchasing? I don't think it's worth the MSRP of $40, but given that the street price is about $28, it would make a nice purchase, especially as a Valentine's Day gift for someone special. It's a good romance, and the high definition format really shows off the South Carolina scenery. Plus, it'll last much longer than a dozen roses!

Recommended Reading

Don't just take our word for it, check out these resources for more reviews of the movie and of the disc.

RentBuy


Check Prices on Amazon.com



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