The Golden Compass—New Line (Blu-ray)
New Line's epic gamble from last Christmas finds its way to Blu-ray in stunning 2-disc form. The Golden Compass is the first of three stories in the His Dark Materials trilogy, a rather popular set of young adult stories. The film was met with mixed enthusiasm and a subtle amount of controversy because of "religious overtones". Frankly, I don't see what all the fuss was about. The story has a very wide arc and excellent character work. As far as fantasy films go, this one was solid from start to finish. The production values were superb and I really hope we see a continuation of the trilogy since this one leaves off on a high note that almost demands a sequel.
New Line has been nothing but solid with their HD offerings so far and this is no exception. This presentation makes the most of the HD format and offers stunning detail and dimensionality that has been reserved for only the best presentations. Fine object detail can be stunning at times and I was blown away by how dimensional the entire image was. Even the CG work is exceptional, though at times some of the longer CG shots can look a bit softer than the live action. Colors are nicely saturated with bold hues and contrast is excellent. The image is completely devoid of any noise and gives you that "looking through a window" effect quite a bit. A spectacular video presentation.
New Line continues to favor DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks and delivers this one in discrete 7.1. This is a big budget epic and the soundtrack fits it perfectly. The sound design is quite inventive with superb dynamics and extremely low and powerful bass. There are moments when the lower end of this track was room threatening and a few of my walls protested a bit. The entire soundstage is utilized nicely with interesting pans, subtle atmospheric effects and a wide front soundstage. The voice work of the animals can be slightly exaggerated at times, but the main dialogue is balanced nicely with the rest of the track. Like the video this is a top tier presentation.
New Line delivers a "Platinum Series" presentation for this one and the two-disc set has a lot of bonus material. The first disc is limited to a feature commentary but the second disc has quite the load. The disc is divided into sections and provides a look at the story itself then a look at the production and lastly the fantastical of the film. You get an in-depth look at the production, casting and special effects work that went into this film along with interviews and behind the scenes footage.
I now regret not going to see this in theaters. The negative buzz kept my wife and I away but we really enjoyed this film on Blu-ray. The A/V presentation is one of the best I've seen and New Line has delivered an outstanding extras package. I really hope they decide to continue on with this series. Highly recommended!