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post #1 of 12 Old 05-20-10, 07:09 AM Thread Starter
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War Of The Worlds - Blu-ray Review


Title: War of the Worlds
Starring: Tom Cruise, Dakota Fanning, Tim Robbins, Justin Chatwin
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Written by: H.G. Wells, Josh Friedman, David Koepp
Studio: Paramount
Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 116 Minutes
Release Date:


Movie

Based on the book by H.G. Wells, War of the Worlds is the story of an alien invasion of planet Earth. Ray (Cruise) is a crane operator in New York and a divorced father of two whose ex-wife has left his children with him for the weekend. After waking from a nap, Ray and his daughter Rachel are witness to a unique lightning storm in the sky which produces no thunder. When Ray makes his way down the street where the event took place, he and scores of others find themselves running for their lives as an alien craft exits the ground and starts vaporizing the local population turning them into dust.

Once back at home with Rachel and his son Robbie (Chatwin), the three of them quickly gather a few items from the house and frantically make their way down the street to a local mechanic’s garage. Once at the garage, the three pile into a minivan and try to convince Manny, the mechanic, to go with them but no before he is vaporized into dust with the rest of the neighborhood.


Now on the run from the alien invaders with family in tow, Ray must find a safe place to hide while trying to gather his wits and formulate a plan to reach his ex-wife and reunite their family. Along the way they run into their fair share of setbacks including losing the minivan to a crowd of scared people trying to escape the alien invasion as well as losing his son Robbie during a battle between the alien invaders and the military. Eventually Ray and Rachel end up in the basement of Harlan Ogilvy, a half crazed man that has lost his family to the aliens. It’s not long before Ray realizes that Harlan is unstable at best and must choose between the aliens trying to destroy mankind and the immediate threat imposed by the madman in the basement.

War of the Worlds is a remake of the 1953 classic of the same name. And while some updates were made, the overall story written by H.G. Wells is basically the same. Aliens come to take over the planet and are eventually wiped out by a virus, and not a computer virus as with Independence Day. It’s not the greatest science fiction story of all time but it is one of the most recognizable stories. I personally think that Steven Spielberg did an outstanding job with bringing this story to life over 50 years after the original was in theaters and Tom Cruise does a great job of in his portrayal of the self-centered divorced father of two.

So many of today's remakes fall far short of the originals, luckily that wasn't the case with War of the Worlds. The acting was above average for this type of movie and the special effects are light years from the original. Spielbergs filming style lends to the story telling in that there is a constant feeling of hopelessness throughout the movie as the human race fights, and runs, for its very right to survive. Sure, it has moments where the logic can be questioned and more than a couple of well placed conveniences that accommodate the plot a bit but, this isn’t Shakespeare nor does it pretend to be. A great popcorn movie that can be watched again and again.


Rating
Rated PG-13 for frightening sequences of sci-fi violence and disturbing images.

Video

War of the Worlds has been given a 1080P AVC-1 MPEG-4 transfer with an aspect ratio of 2:35.1. So, how does it look? It is definitely an improvement over the DVD released in 2005 and I would also say that it is accurate representation of the source material. There is a haze inherent to the way Spielberg shot the film that has become his calling card since ‘Saving Private Ryan’. It is not unlike Minority Report in that there are plenty of colors but nothing that pops off the screen due to the muted effect of the filming process. There is however a great amount of detail to be seen throughout the movie. From the finest particles of dust of people being vaporized to the intricacies of the tripod walker crafts of the alien invaders, there is a lot of detail to behold. I did notice towards the end of the movie that there was a bit of digital noise in one of the scenes but it was quickly forgotten so I won’t dwell on it here either.

This is a difficult one to call because War of the Worlds is not a reference quality video transfer however, other than a spot of digital noise everything else presented in the transfer is intentional so, as I stated earlier, it is an accurate representation of the source material.



Audio

This is one of the movies that most of us have all been waiting for since Bluray hit the market. So how does the 5.1 DTS-HD-MA sound? ABSOLUTELY WONDERFUL! From the moment the movie starts and our narrator (Morgan Freeman) begins speaking, I knew that this was going to be a great audio track. Freeman’s voice is clear, textured and very rich as he sets the stage of our tale. Audiophiles and Bass-heads rejoice! The original DVD release has been one of my reference disks for quite some time as I am sure it has been for a majority of other home theater audio fanatics and I can say with all confidence that this Bluray release is the definitive audio experience for War of the Worlds. The bass is low, intrusive and very offensive. From the lightning, to the death rays, to the tripods exiting the ground and more, this soundtrack will not only rock the home theater but the entire house, the block and perhaps even the entire subdivision.

All is not perfect as there is a single scene in which the audio is very “dirty” sounding and voices are strained. It is when Ray and Robbie are standing in the road yelling at one another as a military convoy passes them. That being said, experiencing War of the Worlds audio on Bluray still far exceeded my expectations and quickly moves to number one on deep bass demo material. I just can’t say enough good things about it.

Extras
From this point forward, all movies that I review will lose a point for not including a digital copy. This practice should really become a standard across the industry as it easily protected under license and is an offset to the consumer of the higher costs of the Blurays in general.
  • Revisiting the Invasion
  • The H.G. Wells Legacy
  • Steven Spielberg and the original War of the Worlds
  • Characters: The Family Unit
  • Previsualization
  • Production Diaries
  • Designing the Enemy: Tripods and Aliens
  • Scoring War of the Worlds
  • We Are Not Alone
  • Galleries
  • Theatrical Teaser Trailer (HD)

Overall
This is definitely a buy for anyone who has been waiting on this Bluray to be released. You won’t be disappointed in the audio in the least. Even with the faults that I came across, there was no denying that War of the Worlds is a must have for all HT buffs. If you pride yourself on your systems ability to reproduce an incredible bass experience then you owe it to yourself, and to your subwoofer, to go get this one when it releases on June 1st. Good day for now and in case I don't see you later, good afternoon, good evening and good night.


Regards,
Dale Rasco




“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." -Thomas A. Edison


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post #2 of 12 Old 05-20-10, 08:23 AM
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Re: War Of The Worlds - Bluray Review

Looking forward to this one, great review Dale!

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post #3 of 12 Old 05-20-10, 11:54 PM
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Re: War Of The Worlds - Bluray Review

Thanks for the review. I love this soundtrack. The first time I turned it on with my old system, it shut down my receiver. Wheeeeee
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post #4 of 12 Old 05-21-10, 12:59 AM
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Re: War Of The Worlds - Bluray Review

Dale, thanks for the review! I am really looking forward to picking this one up for my collection!

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post #5 of 12 Old 05-21-10, 01:30 PM
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Re: War Of The Worlds - Bluray Review

Good review Dale, cannot wait to watch this one on Blu-Ray
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post #6 of 12 Old 05-21-10, 01:41 PM
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Re: War Of The Worlds - Bluray Review

Great review! Not a huge Cruz fan, but this looks good.

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post #7 of 12 Old 05-22-10, 07:17 AM
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Re: War Of The Worlds - Bluray Review

Great review, I look forward to trying out my new Epik dual empires with this disc.

Thanks
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post #8 of 12 Old 06-20-10, 11:34 AM
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Re: War Of The Worlds - Bluray Review

I just watched this myself & i guess i have the US version of the blu ray, it says "color" rather than colour By the way i could swear it's aspect ratio is the same as the DVD version - 1.85:1.

Now i really like this film as i like scifi but i'll be honest & say that i won't be buying any more Spielberg blu rays until i see the transfer quality (i swear Close Encounters Of The Third Kind looked less grainy/hazy). As has been mentioned the video looks very similar to Minority Report & i found that to be a disappointment as to video quality as well. There is a of a lot of what looks like grain/haze throughout the whole film & at one point it was truly pervasive (the night scene when they were approaching the battle near Ogilvy's house). The haloes around Cruises head in the scene at his house in the back garden throwing the ball to his son & overblown contrast looked plain awful to. I'll be honest & say that it was less noticeable on the DVD version, it looks horrible on blu ray, this should be high definition. Mr Spielberg needs to change the way he films things or he'll soon be rather unpopular in the HD age

I did like the improvement in colour though & the soundtrack is simply awesome

Thanks to the reviewer for stating that Saving Private Ryan is filmed in a similar way, that's one i'll be avoiding until it gets really cheap. I guess i have been spoilt with reference quality transfers like The International, Avatar & another that made my jaw drop - I Robot
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post #9 of 12 Old 06-20-10, 02:14 PM Thread Starter
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Re: War Of The Worlds - Bluray Review

That's odd, it is 1.85:1 I don't know how I missed that, I must have been too eager to get the review out. I have to disagree about Spielbergs style, I think it adds a lot of grittiness to his films and has really become a trademark of his films. I loved the transfer for Minority Report and SPR, I do feel War of the Worlds had a little digital noise but nothing that would have kept me from buying it, of course I mainly care about the sound on that one anyway.
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post #10 of 12 Old 06-20-10, 03:09 PM
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Re: War Of The Worlds - Bluray Review

Quote:
dsr7997 wrote: View Post
That's odd, it is 1.85:1 I don't know how I missed that, I must have been too eager to get the review out.
No worries, i guess i notice these things more than i used to because when i watch a 1.85:1 or 1.77:1 movie i have black bars either side of the picture on my TV On a 2.35:1 or 2.40:1 pic i can fill the screen or have black bars all the way round if i choose, it depends if i want to scale it to 2560 x 1080. By the way, i actually prefer Avatar with the top & bottom cropped to blow it up to the afore mentioned picture size

Don't get me wrong, it was perfectly watchable. It is just that there are much better tranfers (imo) out there as i previously mentioned. Compared to them this was a let down imo (again), even though i love the film.

I know what you mean by the way things are filmed, but in all honesty i'm sure i'm not the only person that would prefer a clean transfer like "The International" than what i watched a little earlier. It just didn't look that superior to the DVD scaled up (except the colour vibrancy & detail) & what you describe as "gritty" is totally absent from blu rays such as i mentioned previously. They look astonishing & what i'd call high definition.

Sorry for being picky, i just don't think that loads of grain in every frame is acceptable when things could be much clearer given what i have seen recently

It doesn't stop me liking the film, it just makes me want to check out future Spielberg releases before i blow cash on them as i'm not keen on all the grain, i want it clean but not DNR'd.
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