The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Sony Pictures - 2008
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 90 Minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: MPEG-4 (AVC)
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Audio Format(s): English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, English/Spanish/French/Portuguese/Thai Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Thai, Portuguese, Korean, Chinese (Simplified/Traditional).
Starring: Dennis Quaid, Matthew Fox, William Hurt, Sigourney Weaver, Forrest Whitaker, Edgar Ramirez, Ayelet Zurer
Directed by: Pete Travis
Music by: Atli Orvarsson
Written by: Barry L. Levy
Region Code: A,B,C
Blu-ray Disc release Date: July 1, 2008
"8 strangers. 8 points of view. 1 truth"
During an historic counter-terrorism summit in Spain, the President of the United States is struck down by an assassin's bullet. Eight strangers have a perfect view of the kill, but what did they really see? As the minutes leading up to the fatal shot are replayed through the eyes of each eyewitness, the reality of the assassination takes shape. But just when you think you know the answer, the shattering final truth is revealed. VANTAGE POINT is a mindbending political action-thriller starring Dennis Quaid, Matthew Fox, Academy Award® Winner Forest Whitaker (Best Actor 2006, The Last King of Scotland), with Sigourney Weaver and Academy Award® winner William Hurt (Best Actor 1985, Kiss of the Spider Woman).
I have been itching to see Vantage Point since I first the trailer for it at the movies late last year. It had a great looking plot and a stellar cast. I didn’t get around to catching it in the theater and looked forward to its release on Blu-ray Disc. After watching it I felt that it was not all that I was expecting. The problem didn’t lie in the performances but in the story. The premise wasn’t new but I was aware of that and certainly would not hold that against it. I liked the way it opened and immediately set up how it was going to tell the story. A single event was going to be laid out from 8 perspectives, which were obviously similar, with each adding a new piece of a puzzle. The first two acts of the film did a very nice job in building the tension and a bit of suspense. The problem came in the third act when it came to reveal what was really happening, why, and who was behind it. The first problem I had was that the ’why’ is never explained as far was the involvement of all of the participants. I don’t know much about the running of the Secret Service but I can tell you that what transpired in the film would never happen. The ending was less than satisfying and seemed way too tidy based upon how things began. For the most part I felt entertained and enjoyed the first two thirds of Vantage Point. I just wish the screenplay had dug a little deeper and allowed the stories potential to be realized.
The rating is for sequences of intense violence and action, some disturbing images and brief strong language. Parents should be cautioned that there are images of people either dying or dead which might frighten younger viewers.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Vantage Point comes to Blu-ray Disc from Sony featuring 1080p AVC encoded video with an average bitrate of 25 mbps and lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 channel sound with an average bitrate of 1.6 mbps.
After seeing the trailer for Vantage Point I had high expectations for its high definition video quality. I am happy to report that they were met as this is a reference quality transfer that simply looks superb. Much of the film is shot outdoors in large sunbathed areas that contain winding streets, older buildings and structures that are loaded with visual texture and intricacies that can look revealing in high definition. There are several interior sequences shot within various vehicles, hotels, and a darkened parking garage. From every perspective detail is simply exquisite. Images are three dimensional with an extended depth of field that made resolution feel almost infinite. Textures were clearly defined with razor sharp lines and persistence of form. Colors were vibrant, punchy and visually enriching. Primaries were slightly over saturated but didn’t look unnatural as a result. Complexions among the varying skin tones of the cast members were reproduced with subtle delineation and beautiful tonality. Those with fairer skin looked a little on the pasty side with a hint toward red but lively just the same. Contrast levels were elevated but not to the point of interfering with video quality or white detail perception. It gave the video a punchy and vibrant overtone which I found pleasing. Blacks were solid and looked dynamic enough when viewed with mixed content. Detail in shadows and dark areas onscreen displayed good visible structure and depth. An example of this was in a scene when Dennis Quaid’s character runs in to a network news trailer looking for video footage just after the shooting. As the camera’s point of view is angled looking up toward him detail is clearly visible in the dark wall and ceiling behind him. This is a whistle clean video transfer that features plenty of eye candy that videophiles are sure to appreciate.
The Dolby TrueHD soundtrack offered dynamic range and crystal clear audio that augmented the heightened sense of tension contained within the film’s thematic elements. It blended the front three channels seamlessly with the surrounds to re-create the sounds of the open aired venue where the shooting takes place in the story. The feeling of panic as people are running and screaming to take cover placed you right in the middle of the action. The same was true of quieter moments such as the feeling of riding in a moving vehicle or sitting in a crowded restaurant. The mix successfully created a sound field the carried the multitude of audio effects perfectly placed in the atmosphere being portrayed onscreen. Bass contained within the mix was deep with excellent solidity and impact as it helped reproduce the feeling of crashing cars, explosions and gunfire. Dialogue was clear and concise throughout but felt like it blended in and could have louder during some of the busier action sequences. Overall this is a great soundtrack that provided an invigorating experience that mated perfectly with the source material.
The bonus supplements included offer good insightful information from the cast/crew as they discuss the film and production. The Inside perspective and Plotting an assassination pieces offer essentially the same information in rehashed forms. As a whole I found them to good but not overly informative from a production standpoint. The coordinating chaos features looks at the stunts utilized in the film. Total time for the three documentaries is just under 50 minutes. The Vantage Viewer GPS tracker option once enabled in the features menu allows you to track the onscreen movements of each character throughout the film’s overlapping timeline. It is a pretty cool feature that worked as advertised although I am not sure that it is something that would want to use your first time watching the movie. The BD-Live features requires an internet connection and a Profile 2.0 player for access. There are two additional features that are in standard definition and have to be downloaded prior to viewing. Only the Trick geography piece was enabled when I tried it. It took roughly 8 minutes to download and another 2 to 3 minutes to begin playback. It was a short feature ( 6 minutes) that was mildly interesting. There were several other BD-Live features that were visible but not enabled yet. I suspect that all will be up and running by release time.
- Director Commentary
- (HD)An inside perspective: Featurette
- (HD)Plotting an assassination: Featurette
- Coordinating chaos: Featurette
- Surveillance tapes
- Vantage viewer - GPS map tracker feature
Exclusive Blu-ray Disc (BD-Live) Features:
- Trick geography: See how Salamanca Spain was recreated in Mexico City
- Enhancing the view: The visual effects team discusses how they created the crowd scenes.
- Play virtual 21 Blackjack game (advertisement for “21” Blu-ray Disc)
- In the line of fire Blu-ray Disc trailer
Vantage Point is an above average action based thriller that succeeds at building good moments of tension/suspense sprinkled with excellent pacing and action sequences. The problem is that the last 20 minutes of the film and the ending is a bit of a letdown. Regardless it has enough going for it that most viewers should find it entertaining. Sony has delivered it to Blu-ray Disc day and date with the DVD in a splendid package that features stellar video and excellent audio quality along with bonus features that include Blu-ray Disc Live content. I waited to see this film on Blu-ray Disc and when all was said and done I felt as though it was worth it.
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Reference Review System:
Sony VPL-VW50 SXRD 1080p High Definition Front Projector
Carada Precision Brilliant White 96" Screen
Oppo 970HD universal disc DVD Player (480i HDMI)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Panasonic DMP-BD30 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Marantz DV7001 Universal Disc Player
Denon AVR 5308CI THX Ultra 2 Preamp/Video Processor
Outlaw Audio Model 7700 seven channel amplifier
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 seven Channel amplifier
Canton "Ergo" Series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SV Sound PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, VizionWare, Audioquest, Best Deal Cables - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package