The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: DreamWorks/Paramount - 2008
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Feature running time: 93 Minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
Audio Format(s): English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese
Starring: Jonathan Tucker, Jena Malone, Shawn Ashmore, Laura Ramsey, Joe Anderson
Directed by: Carter Smith
Music by: Graeme Revell
Written by: Scott B. Smith
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: July 8, 2008
"Once you enter there is no turning back"
Based on the terrifying best-seller by Scott Smith, "The Ruins" follows a group of friends who become entangled in a brutal struggle for survival after visiting a remote archaeological dig in the Mexican jungle where they discover something deadly living among the ruins.
I saw The Ruins in the theater and came away feeling disappointed. This re-visit on high definition was a bit more satisfying but was unable to overcome the fact that this is an average take on the man eating plant aspect in the horror film genre. I did like the cast and thought that they gelled quite well. I also liked the idea of keeping things simple. I mean there was no attempt to over complicate the plot or create smaller subplots which would have diluted the story. My problem was that I didn't find the film to be scary enough and while it had a few suspenseful moments they took place within one scene basically. There was one moment that takes place just as the group arrives at the temple and encounters the armed nearby villagers. When I saw this for the first time it took me by surprise and was pretty effective. Once you see the movie you will know exactly what I am referring to. The Ruins is a film that contains plenty of blood and gore for those who like that sort of thing. I don't find that to be something required of a good horror flick but it does have its place. Jena Malone has been acting since she was young and was solid but I thought that Laura Ramsey as Stacey was the standout among the cast in this film. I didn't care for how it ended and the inclusion of an alternate ending really didn't change that (I preferred the theatrical ending over the alternate by the way). I did enjoy it more this time around and may give it another spin in the future.
The is unrated version contains nudity, language, gore and strong violence. Parents are cautioned and should use their own judgment.
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:
The Ruins comes to Blu-ray Disc from Paramount featuring 1080p VC-1 encoded video that has an average bitrate of 30 mbps and lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 channel audio that has an average bitrate of 2.5 mbps.
The video presentation was very much the way I recall it from seeing it in the theater. It uses elevated contrast to drive the brighter sequences which makes them appear very punchy and dynamic. I was happy to see that this didn't have a damaging effect on the rendering of detail within those scenes. I was clearly able to make out gradations within the white sand of the beaches and the area surrounding the temple grounds. The same was true of the panning shots at the beach which featured varying shades of white and gray within the clouds in the background sky. Detail was good enough that fine texture and minutia was visible in clothing, skin/hair, and objects in close up shots. Longer distant shots looked dimensional and exhibited clarity that enabled them to look solid and defined. There were several occasions where they lacked resolute sharpness and the depth of field required to provide three dimensional perception. Colors were beautiful and vibrant with natural tonality and saturation. Shadow delineation was excellent and really helped give the low light and dark scenes plenty of depth. An example was during the scene where Eric and Stacey are in their hotel room. The room is lit only by the lighting coming in from the window on one side of the room. It trails off quite nicely going from left to right as they lay in bed. The headboard has clearly defined structure in lined rows. As you follow it to the right it gradually tapers off but remains visible until is finally disappears into shadow. The same was true within the confines of the walled temple as Eric and Jeff look down into the orifice. The camera angle is taken looking from down below toward them (opening). The same gradual tapering effect is visible in this shot as well as several others down in the temple itself. Blacks were not inky but did were plenty deep so that they appeared dark and dynamic. Fleshtones were whitish with red highlights that was probably due to sun exposure however they still managed to exhibit good tonal delineation among the cast. Grain was present and never negatively impacted fidelity. I found little to complain about with quality of the video.
The audio was definitely how I remembered it from the theatrical presentation. This is a front heavy soundtrack that relies on the left, right and center channel almost exclusively. The surrounds are used primarily for ambient details with occasional discrete pans mixed in. I would like to point out that I think that this was done intentionally. The Ruins is not the type of film that uses the audio to augment terror or build suspense. Although I think that it does do it to a degree. This film uses visuals to elicit audience reaction. Dialogue sounded crisp and clearly intelligible throughout. Sound effects, music and pans across the front soundstage were delivered with concise imaging and clarity. I found that the mix as a whole seemed to have been recorded too low. I had to boost the volume + 4 db over what I normally use to compensate which then just sounded fine. Low frequency effects were used sparingly which I found disappointing. When present bass was good but not what I would call effectively used to enhance the experience. Personally I felt that this soundtrack (not the encoding) could have been more aggressive and would have benefited this film.
The bonus features provided a look at The Ruins from concept, production, special effects and set design. Included were interviews with the Direction, Editor, Producers, Set Designer, and Cast that offered insights into the above as well as behind the scenes footage. I found them to be above average in content and pretty much run of the mill in quality. Paramount has kept us on a steady diet of high definition bonus supplements which I applaud them for.
- Commentary by Director Cater Smith and Editor Jeff Betancourt
- (HD)Making The Ruins - Featurette
- (HD) Creeping Death - Featurette
- (HD) Building The Ruins - Featurette
- (HD) 3 Deleted Scenes
- (HD) Alternate Ending
- (HD) Theatrical Trailer
The Ruins is a film that takes an old concept and tries to freshen it up. It succeeds to a point but does not take it to the next level. I thought the cast was a good match and enjoyed the roles played by Jena Malone and Laura Ramsey. It's day and date release on high definition Blu-ray and DVD is sure to please fans on both fronts. Paramount has delivered an excellent video presentation that enthusiasts will appreciate. I found the audio to be on par with its theatrical presentation which left me wanting then and here as well. I would recommend this one as a rental prior to purchase.
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