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|Home: BigScreen Journal - Blu-ray Review: The Book of Eli|
The Book of Eli
Warner Home Video
List Price: $35.99 (Check Price at Amazon.com)
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.
| Video Format:
Movie: BD-50 (x1) BD-MV
Eli walks alone in post-apocalyptic America. He heads west along the Highway of Death on a mission he doesn't fully understand but knows he must complete. In his backpack is the last copy of a book that could become the wellspring of a revived society. Or in the wrong hands, the hammer of a despot.
Denzel Washington is Eli, who keeps his blade sharp and his survival instincts sharper as his quest thrusts him into a savage wasteland... and into explosive conflict with a resourceful warlord (Gary Oldman) set on possessing the book. "We walk by faith, not by sight," quotes Eli.
It's incredibly difficult to judge the video quality of a disc for a movie like this. Why? Because it's nearly monotone throughout. To convey the bleak nature of the post-apocalyptic world, there isn't much color to be seen, so we're left with the equivalent of a black and white movie that has just the slightest amount of undersaturated color.
Given that situation, however, this disc does not disappoint! There are plenty of dingy indoor scenes and night scenes where shades of darkness could very easily be lost or turn into a banded mess, but I had no problem making out the characters lurking in the background of the shot, nor did the harsh scenes in sunlight look washed-out.
While not a masterpiece of colors, this disc conveys the material well. Someone was paying attention when tending to the video transfer on this disc!
This is mostly a talking and walking movie, but there are plenty of opportunities for the soundtrack to grab your attention and pull you in the action. The lossless DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack does this with no trouble whatsoever. Dialogue is always understandable (take that Mel Gibson and Ray Winstone) and the music plays an appropriate supporting role without calling too much attention to itself.
I like to see the theatrical trailer included with movies, so I was disappointed that none are included here. Being able to watch the trailer helps one to appreciate how the movie was marketed during its theatrical release, and it's unfortunate when such a simple and obvious extra is not included. While we have it on the Trailers & Videos page for the movie, all trailers should always be included with the video release for the best video and audio quality possible. Why this is not done continues to baffle me.
There are almost 35 minutes of what are called "Focus Points," which feature various elements of the movie; such as "Eli's Weapon" about the knife wielded by Denzel Washington's character, "the shootout at George and Martha's" highlighting the amount of planning that goes into an action scene, and so forth. There are ten focus points that can be watched one at a time or all together via a "Play All" function.
The Focus Points above are also available while the movie is playing, which is called "Maximum Movie Mode." While the movie is playing, a symbol appears when a focus point is available and you can then watch the focus point video in a picture-in-picture window.
There is a graphic novel animated short called A Lost Tale: Billy that fleshes out the background story behind Gary Oldman's character Carnegie. This is a great addition, as it gives us some insight behind the villain in the movie.
Three additional featurettes are included. Starting Over is a philosophical "what-if" that explores what would happen if the world as we knew it suddenly changed and we are forced to live with only minimal hope of survival. Eli's Journey provides quite a bit of behind-the-scenes information for the movie.
The final featurette is also the least interesting. I'm a fan of movie soundtracks, but I found the segment about the creation of the movie's soundtrack to be quite uninteresting. Rather than talk for five minutes about the soundtrack, I would rather have seen a shorter introduction from the composer, and then have an isolated score play as the only audio while the movie played. This would have been much more interesting, and added more value to the package.
There are also four deleted and alternate scenes for your viewing pleasure. None of these are critical to the story, but are interesting nonetheless. I would have appreciated the opportunity to hear the editor and/or directors say why these scenes were deleted.
The BD-Live section contains nothing of interest relating to this movie. Another wasted opportunity by Warner Bros. to make use of a feature that would reward those who buy the disc (as opposed to rent it) and stretch the boundaries of what can be done as far as movie-related extras. At the very least, put in a trailer for the movie!
So, rather than just complain, what are some things that could have been done via BD-Live to make this feature more than just a worthless menu item?
The movie raises issues about how society would function in a post-apocalyptic world. Would you resort to cannibalism to stay alive? Do you think society would rise to the occasion or go the way of the dinosaurs? A quick and easy online poll done via BD-Live could have tapped the opinions of viewers and for additional interest, maybe some of the stars could have been interviewed to give their answers? I would bet this wouldn't have taken much effort.
What do you think? Leave comments at the end of this review and tell me what you think would make BD-Live something worth looking at!
There is a second disc which contains the DVD version of the movie as well as a Digital Copy. The inclusion of a DVD version of a movie in the Blu-ray package is something that we encourage more studios to do with their releases. It provides an additional level of value to the buying consumer by giving them the ability to play the movie in other rooms/vehicles where a Blu-ray player does not yet reside. I did not view the DVD, so I cannot judge its video or audio quality. It contained no extras, just the movie and the ability to select a language.
Fans of the movie might enjoy the digital copy, as it would allow you to download the movie and enjoy it many times on your portable device. By inserting the disc into a Windows PC or Mac, you can obtain a digital copy of the movie for playback on your PSP, PC, Mac, or iPod. I didn't explore this option, so I can't comment on the picture or sound quality. The documentation says that the Digital Copy must be redeemed by 6/13/2011.
Bookmarking is not supported. Even though this was a BDMV disc, the Oppo BD-83 that we have in for review could not auto-resume the movie like we have observed with other BDMV titles. Every time we inserted the disc, we were forced to watch the upfront ads (and skip through them, one-by-one), but we were pleasantly surprised to see that this is now the second Warner Bros. Blu-ray release (Edge of Darkness was the first) that offered the ability to resume the movie at the last point of playback, or to start from the beginning.
Resuming playback is one of the biggest usability problems with the Blu-ray format that studios need to recognize and support, so it's good to see more studios making this possible, either through the format they use (BDMV) or through programming (BD-J). I like the resume feature that was included in this disc, but I'd rather the upfront ads be avoided when the software sees that resuming playback is possible.
This movie was well worth watching! Denzel Washington carried the movie, but he was supported by both primary and secondary supporting characters that held their own as well.
Is it worth purchasing or renting? The amount of extras add to the value of a purchase, but the BD-Live section has nothing of value when it comes to this movie, so I'm conflicted about recommending a purchase. Do you find value in the extras outlined here? Are you going to watch the movie more than once? Are you going to want to share it with someone else at some point in time, or keep some scenes available on your iPhone? If so, then go ahead and make the purchase. But otherwise, this might be a rental rather than a purchase.
Unlike some other recent releases, I think it's worth a purchase, but you might attach a different level of value to the extras that come with the movie.
One final thought: In the past, I've railed against the inclusion of Blu-ray promos that play before movies as upfront ads, and I was happy to see that one was not included on this title. I'm hoping that this is the start of a trend by Warner Bros., but I fear it may be an anomaly. We'll have to see in later Blu-ray releases from the studio to be sure.
I'd really like to see the upfront ads be removed altogether, but that's probably wishing for too much customer friendliness...
Don't just take our word for it, check out these resources for more reviews of the movie and of the disc.
A copy of this title was provided at no cost by the movie studio/distributor for the purpose of this review. No expectation of the results of this review were set as a condition of receiving the item.
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