With a bloated budget of $175 million and a public feud between star Kevin Costner and director Kevin Reynolds, this film was bound for failure, and with only $88 million in receipts, it was. Critics were particularly harsh on the plot, which is far from original and looks like a clone of Mad Maxcostumes and all. Regardless, it's a guilty pleasure of mine despite the criticisms.
The 1080p AVC encode is a slight improvement over the low-bitrate VC-1 encode on the HD DVD, but the print damage and cinematography keep it from being a top-tier presentation. Long shots are quite soft, and close-ups lack the wow factor of other Blu-rays, but the color saturation is impressive with the rich blue ocean serving as the backdrop. Black levels are adequate, but darker interior shots are flat and lifeless with poor shadow detail.
With such an action-oriented feature, the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack sounds great. Well-placed discrete effects fly from every direction with an active surround presence, and the dialog is always intelligible and firmly rooted in the center speaker with adequate dynamic range. The score from James Newton Howard features a robust midrange, and the LFE comes to life during the multitude of explosions.
The only supplements are motion code for viewers with D-Box motion-simulation hardware installed in their seating, Universal's "My Scenes" bookmarking feature, a theatrical trailer, and BD-Live access.
While it's certainly not the greatest film of the action genre, there's enough entertainment value to consider a rental. For fans, the video presentation is a step up from the HD DVD, but the audio is virtually identical.
Release Date: October 20, 2009
Oppo BDP-83 Blu-ray player
JVC DLA-RS1 projector
Stewart FireHawk screen (76.5" wide, 16:9)
Onkyo Pro PR-SC885 pre/pro
Anthem PVA-7 power amplifier
Belkin PF60 power conditioner
M&K S-150s (L, C, R)
M&K SS-150s (LS, RS, SBL, SBR)
SVS PC-Ultra subwoofer
Monoprice HDMI cables (source to pre/pro)
Best Deal analog-audio cables
PureLink HDC Fiber Optic HDMI Cable System (15 meters) from pre/pro to projector
Acoustical treatments from GIK Acoustics