Wolf Totem 3D Blu-ray Review - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 9 Old 12-18-2015, 06:46 AM - Thread Starter
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Wolf Totem 3D Blu-ray Review



Based on the beloved Chinese novel by Jiang Rong, WOLF TOTEM tells the story of a young Beijing student sent to live in Inner Mongolia, where he forms an unlikely bond with a Mongol wolf cub.



The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Film:

Extras:

Audio/3D Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )

88



Details:

Studio and Year: Sony Pictures - 2015
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 122 minutes
Genre: Drama

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC/MVC
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Resolution: 1080p/24

Audio Format(s): Mandarin/French DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish
Starring: Feng Shaofeng, Shawn Dou, Ankhnyam Ragchaa, Yin Zhusheng
Directed by: Jean-Jacques Annaud
Music by: James Horner
Written by: Alain Godard, Jean-Jacques Annaud, Lu Wei, John Colee Based on the novel by Jiang Rong
Region Code: A

Blu-ray Disc release Date: December 15, 2015


"Based on the Acclaimed Chinese Novel"


My Take:

In acclaimed director Jean-Jacques Annaud's film adaptation of Jiang Rong's best-selling novel, a young Beijing student is sent to live among the nomadic herdsmen of Inner Mongolia. Caught between the advance of civilization from the south and the nomads’ traditional enemies – the marauding wolves – to the north, humans and animals, residents and invaders alike, struggle to find their true place in the world.

I haven't read Jian Rong's novel but the subject matter looked appealing so I went ahead and opted to review Wolf Totem. Shot entirely on location in Inner Mongolia, it's a visually stunning film that captures the majesty of vast grasslands and its elemental beauty. I felt that the story, while fundamentally gratifying, didn't pack the emotion and cohesiveness that I hoped for. There is little introduction to the primary character of Chen Zhen, and his bond with Little Wolf is poorly developed. This has a negative impact on later events in my opinion.

There are a cache of supporting characters and while there is some well-placed relationship drama and interplay, none truly underscores the narrative's innate potential. The film has a decidedly conservationist feel as it speaks to industrial advances/man encroaching on nature and the importance of respecting the circle of life. I would have liked deeper exploration of the relationships, beginning with Chen Zhen and Little Wolf, as this is the heart of the story, which had excellent potential.

I thought that the cast was marvelous, especially Shaofeng Feng, in the role of Chen Zhen. The cinematography and the work done with the animals in the film emboldens its thematic elements. As it stands Wolf Totem is an ambitious film with epic aspirations that is set to an uneven coming of age story that while passable, doesn't prove wholly satisfying.

Parental Guide:

The rating is for Disturbing images and violence involving animals, and for brief sensuality.


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.**


Audio: 88
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
  • Dynamics:
  • Low frequency effects:
  • Surround Sound presentation:
  • Clarity/Detail:
  • Dialog Reproduction:
  • Low frequency extension * (non-rated element): NA
  • DSU Rating * (non-rated element):



3D Presentation: 88
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)


  • Depth (Onscreen):
  • Dimension (Beyond the screen):
  • Realism:
  • Clarity/Detail:
  • Color Reproduction:



Wolf Totem 3D comes to Blu-ray Disc from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment featuring 1080p MVC encoded video and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 2.1 Mbps.

Natively shot in 3D this presentation boasts superlative depth and an abundance of high level detail. The plethora of brilliant colors is vividly alluring as the deep primaries and resplendent secondary hues leap from the 2.40:1 framed video. Contrast balance is spot on as the various shades of green, brown and blue are gradationally revealing and whites appear bright with crisp highlights that preserve detail. Blacks are delineated, deep, and rich, which provides low level images with excellent perspective and depth of field. This film make wonderful use of the 3D platform. There are a variety of sequences that provide an entertaining reach out and touch sense of dimensionality. Objects onscreen have a discerning sense of depth with natural degrees of separation that impart a defining perspective relative to their virtual placement. Resolution is strong as the vastness and scope of the recorded elements offers transparently rendered detail, eye pleasing color, and a rewarding sense of depth and dimension that simply looks terrific in high definition. I didn’t notice any signs of ghosting/crosstalk or 3D related anomalies.

The lossless soundtrack doesn’t consistently engage the entire surround platform however it has moments where it energizes the room and reproduces the source elements with aplomb. Dialog has definitive presence with refined vocal character and excellent room penetration. Dynamic range is very good which lends subtle distinction to low level sounds and gravity to broader ones. A large portion of the film has little need for this as dialogue, atmospheric ambience and musical enhancement is conveyed with little fanfare. However there are several sequences that engage the entire system to briefly produce entertaining and room filling sound that is measurable. This soundtrack isn’t demonstration worthy but delivers a satisfying listening experience that didn’t leave me disappointed.


2D Video Quality:


Video: 94
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)


  • Resolution/Clarity:
  • Black Level/Shadow Detail:
  • Color Reproduction:
  • Fleshtones:
  • Compression:



Wolf Totem comes to Blu-ray Disc from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 21 Mbps.

This is a great looking encoding that looks solid throughout. High definition detail is readily apparent as images are firmly resolute with crisp edges, defining sharpness, and two dimensional depth that enhances dimension regardless of the camera’s perspective. Colors are beautifully rendered with revealing delineation and tonal warmth. The long range shots of the earth toned colors and sprawling country vistas look terrific. Fleshtones appear lifelike with naturally pale tonal description among the similar complexional types in the cast. Blacks are stable and exhibit good dynamic range with discernable gradational highlights and excellent depth of field during darker scenes.

Bonus Features:
  • (HD) The Nature of a Wolf – 11 minute featurette on the training of the wolves used in the film
  • (HD) The Cast – 3 minute featurette
  • (HD) The Director's Adventure – 5 minute featurette
  • (HD) Saving the Environment – 5 minute featurette



Final Thoughts:

Based on the beloved Chinese novel by Jiang Rong, Wolf Totem, is a fairly entertaining albeit uneven adaptation that would have benefited from a better rounded script. It comes to Blu-ray featuring excellent 3D/2D high definition video and sound mated with a middling supplemental package. I suspect that those that enjoyed the novel will be somewhat disappointed with the film however fans of the subject matter/genre will find merit in Wolf Totem. In that light it's worth a rental on Blu-ray.







Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews



Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS500 3D/4K Ready High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6 Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV8802A 13.2 Channel Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-103D Universal Disc/3D capable Blu-ray Player (With Darbee video processing)
Panasonic DMP-BDT310 3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" and In-Ceiling series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SVS PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
SVS PC12-NSD
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package
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post #2 of 9 Old 12-18-2015, 08:14 AM
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Thanks Ralph, I just placed an order for it from Amazon. Look forward to watching it!
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post #3 of 9 Old 12-18-2015, 10:30 AM
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Much appreciate your reviewing the not quite as well known titles Ralph. Sounds a little heavy-handed on the conservationist side but if the visuals make up it, partivularly in 3D, I may add this to my inventory.

I guess you probably don't make a habit of reviewing import-only titles (getting review copies of such is probably not simple), but if you get a chance to review, or even just see, "The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet", I'd love to hear your take. The film itself was generally well received and the 3D has been compared to that in "Hugo".
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post #4 of 9 Old 12-18-2015, 10:46 AM
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Thanks for the review.


I will skip this one due to two reasons;
-Very few movies will I watch with subtitle.
-The biggest one is "violence involving animals".


I understand that some people like to hunt for food, and that is fine.
But violence involving any type of animals, should not be tolerated.


Since, I know it will piss me off, I will just skip this title.


Just my personal opinion and Thank you for taking the time to do a review on this one.


Ray
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post #5 of 9 Old 12-18-2015, 01:14 PM
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Thanks MR. Potts. I noticed a new display in your signature, nice to see a review using the new JVC!
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post #6 of 9 Old 12-18-2015, 01:39 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lee Weber View Post
Thanks MR. Potts. I noticed a new display in your signature, nice to see a review using the new JVC!
Greetings,

What can I say? Got it through a great dealer..


Regards,
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post #7 of 9 Old 12-18-2015, 04:55 PM
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Thanks MR. Potts. I noticed a new display in your signature, nice to see a review using the new JVC!

Good observation, Lee.


Ray
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post #8 of 9 Old 12-19-2015, 06:33 PM
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This was on my list for the weekend but was checked out...Thanks for the advanced review Ralph!. I'll still rent it when it comes in. At least I know now, what to expect.
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post #9 of 9 Old 12-21-2015, 10:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ralph Potts View Post

I felt that the story, while fundamentally gratifying, didn't pack the emotion and cohesiveness that I hoped for. There is little introduction to the primary character of Chen Zhen, and his bond with Little Wolf is poorly developed. This has a negative impact on later events in my opinion.
I saw this theatrically earlier this year and this is pretty much what I felt about the film. Frankly, it wasn't very memorable to me. (I do love wolves!!!!!)
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