Seen in HD – The “No Audio” Episode, The Hurt Locker review

Jan 25, 2010 by

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Where last week it sounded like Adam was in a tin can, this week you won’t have to hear either of us ramble on. As happens every once in a while, real life gets in the way of fun things like podcasts, so this week we’re taking a break from the podcast and instead present to you the first-ever Seen in HD lettercast (is that a word?)

On the news front, Oppo has revealed plans for an even less expensive entry-level Blu-ray player, the BDP-80. It shares many of the same features of the superb BDP-83, but does strip out some of the higher end niceties such as the ABT2010 video processor from Anchor Bay. Audioholics has a nice look at the BDP-80 with a handy comparison.

HDTV adoption continues to grow, according to a research released by Leichtman Research Group, Inc. According to their HDTV 2009 study, nearly 50 percent of U.S. households now have HD sets, double what that number was two years ago, while the media purchase price has gone down 22 percent.

Meanwhile, In-Stat today said they expect Blu-ray revenue to be four times that of DVD by 2013 while still slightly lagging being in units shipped. Highlights of their release: Blu-ray units delivery by 2013 – 80 million, 18% of survey respondents cited price as the limiting factor for Blu-ray adoption, and Europe is the largest Blu-ray player market.

On Blu-ray this week, we’ll look at The Hurt Locker. This movie was so good, that we’ll still talk about it next week briefly because it deserves to be mentioned on the show itself. Here’s a quick review.

The Hurt Locker, a 2010 Best Picture nominee shoe-in, follows a demolitions team in Iraq as it goes about it’s duty of locating and dismantling IEDs. The opening scene is brilliant, and in a very close race with the opening to Inglorious Basterds for the title of best opening scene of a movie in 2009. This movie is intense, and rarely takes its foot off your throat. The tension is palpable throughout, rarely do you have a chance to catch your breath before something else happens. It’s not so much an action movie, though there is action, but it’s hard to call it just a drama either. Brilliantly directed by Kathryn Bigelow, this is easily one of the best films I’ve seen in recent years.

The Hurt Locker comes with a fantastic AVC encode that’s listed at 1.78:1 but must be incorrect, because it was definitely letter-boxed on my 50-inch Samsung DLP. It was filmed on both digital and 16MM, but there’s no jarring change of tone when the action switches between the two formats. Rather the team has found a perfect way to weave the two formats together to present a gritty, dirty, harsh print that is stunning in both depth and detail. Some minor artifacting appears in a few of the long-range scenes, but that’s nitpicking. Combined some very cool camera angles, this is a simply stunning video presentation.

Things get even better on the audio side. As you can imagine, a movie about demolitions experts means things go boom at some point in the film. The DTS- HD Master Audio 5.1 track is more than up to the task. Bass is commanding when needed, but the sound designers did a good job of keeping it on a leash so it doesn’t get muddy or out of control. Sound placement is masterful, throughout the film jets and helicopters come into and out of the sound field with the normalcy of honking horns in New York City, and they sound great, passing effortlessly from back to front and left to right. Similarly gunfire is very well placed in the sound field. Despite the amount of action-oriented sound effects, dialogue is never lost or muddled, but clear and crisp throughout. The Hurt Locker enters my top 10 for audio on Blu-ray with a bullet. Get it now for $22.99 at Amazon.

Geek Tonic’s guide to the 2010 Winter TV schedule continues to be pretty quiet. The Dollhouse series finale is Friday at 8 p.m. on FOX, and FOX’s animation Sunday returns as well. The HD Sportsman is headlined by some good college basketball and a Stanley Cup Finals rematch in Pittsburgh.

There’s a large slate of Blu-ray releases for Feb. 2, highlighted by some nice catalog titles such as The Last King of Scotland, Walk the Line, and the wonderful musical The Music Man, along with new releases like Zombieland. If you’re looking for a great bargain this week, both Amazon and Best Buy have the complete WWII in HD series from History Channel for just $19.99 on Blu-ray, cheaper than the DVD in both cases. We’ll see you next week back on the air.

Seen In HD Subscriptions

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P. Lozen and A. Thursby - Seen In HD - Seen In HD

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[tags] Blu-ray, Seen in HD, The Hurt Locker, WWII in HD, HDTV, sports [/tags]

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