First, the disc hub in the case was damaged, resulting in the disc to move around. As expected, the disc had lots of smudges and scratches on it. Consequently, my HD-A2 was hiccupping in various spots. I will obviously have to get a replacement disc. This is one of those times where I wish HD DVDs had the scratch-resistant coating that BDs have.
I'm not so sure it was the scratches on your disc, because my disc was pristine but exhibited the exact same behavior in my A2. First it wouldn't really load properly -- black screens and such -- then it froze a couple of times during the movie itself.
I found that cleaning the disc off at least enabled it to start up properly...almost like there's a film or something on the disc itself, exactly what we saw with the Universal HD-DVDs that had the very same problem (and could be solved by cleaning or, indeed, "boiling" the disc).
BTW I'm running the most recent firmware on the A2 as well, so I wouldn't be surprised if we see some similar comments once folks get their discs this week.
PS I thought the HD quality was sensational at least