We rented four more movies this evening, Kung Fu Panda (Blu-Ray), Mutant Chronicles (DVD), Rocknrolla (Blu-Ray) and Wall-E (DVD). Spur of the moment decision to head out and get some movies from Blockbuster, otherwise I was at risk of moping around all night and doing nothing. We’ve watched Mutant Chronicles and Kung Fu Panda, and we’ll probably watch the other two over the weekend sometime. I’ll post individual reviews of the movies (despite the fact that they’ve been out ages so no one cares). I felt Kung Fu Panda was lacking another act in the second half, and Grete feels the same. We could really have done with Panda and the other Five teaming up and either doing some training or some fighting, at least working together and building some kind of friendship, it felt a bit hollow without that. Mutant Chronicles is silly fun.
What did you expect? I didn’t watch this expecting to see a re-make of the original, I just watched it expecting to see fast cars, crashes, explosions and cliche! I wasn’t let down. How many times can you review a movie and say ‘the dialog / acting won’t win any awards but it’s entertaining’ and still sound credible? Probably fewer times than I have. This is a movie that makes no excuses, no apologies and carries no pretence. It’s nearly a remake of Running Man, but with cars, and it’s a damn sight better than Running Man as well. Jason puts in his usual performance and I actually liked him in this more than Transporter, he actually seems to have slightly more depth in Death Race. The supporting cast provide support, the action sequences are impressive and there are enough amusing moments to keep you smiling.
[voice over voice on] Death Race is the story of a man wrongly imprisoned for a terrible crime he didn’t comit, fighting for his survival and freedom, to rebuild his family, his honour and his life [voice over voice off]
There’s a small amount of plot, but the movie moves on quickly and doesn’t dwell on it too much, I actually preferred that. I didn’t need a 20 minute back story, then 30 minutes of Eye of the Tiger style training for a 30 minute finale. Instead what we get is about 8 minutes of setup and then 82 minutes of fast driving and big explosions.
Grete loved it. I loved it. The cats hated it.
Just finished watching the third Matrix movie on Blu-Ray tonight, we watched the first two yesterday. Would have watched all three yesterday but it really got too late for surround sound by the time we finished the second one, so we postponed until today.
I’m not well versed enough to comment on the transfer or the sound options, or the technical features. But I can say that the Blu-Ray picture is rock solid and hugely detailed. We saw stuff in the movies we’d never noticed before (elements in the background of various scenes) because it’s much clearer. Maybe we’re just convincing ourselves of that to justify the cost, maybe not, you’ll have to decide.
Watching all three I’m confused again why people slate the second two so much. I truly, honestly can’t understand why people don’t enjoy them as much as the first one. For me personally, the three movies represent a journey of birth, life and death and the third is one of the most emotional action movies I’ve ever seen.
I did quite a bit of standby and call out (and a little overtime) in November and December and due to various timings, all my claims got stacked up and paid in February. Which was good news because I needed to pay off the dental work on the visa card and think about organising the rest of it. But it also meant we had a little spare cash, and that was added in to the reduction of my mortgage by £100 and not having to pay council tax this month. So I decided to do my bit to end the recession by spending and not saving1.
After wavering a lot recently about Blu-Ray, and deciding not to get a PS3 when I finally did go for Blu-Ray but to get a dedicated player, I did a complete about-face this morning. Playstation 3 bought from Tesco (proof that supermarket points schemes work, price was roughly the same as other places, but we get points at Tesco that we can buy food with when the vouchers come through). I also bought the Matrix Blu-Ray set (needed something to watch on it), and we got LittleBigPlanet free with the PS3.
Got it all home, disconnected the optical audio from the Sky+ box and plugged it into the Playstation2, and it was all up and running. The PS3 did some updates (two, I think), and LittleBigPlanet tried to do some, but it got a big confusing, and then finally worked.
We watched bits of the Matrix and were awed by the clarity and the colour and the detail. I also put our original DVD Matrix in and tried it with and without the PS3 upscaling. I even took some photo’s to try and show people how clear Blu-Ray is, because I can’t find any good examples online. While I was looking at the photo’s I noticed the Matrix Blu-Ray pictures were a totally different colour to the DVD. Seriously, much more blue and green. I was a little worried, was that normal?
Then I played LittleBigPlanet for an hour or so – looks like it might be fun. Between levels the screen goes fully white though and after that hour I was getting a headache.
We eventually settled on watching the Matrix tonight to really see how good Blu-Ray was, and to try and convince myself the colours were okay.
And then I remembered – our TV sets preferences on a per-input basis, so the HDMI2 channel we were watching the PS3 through was set to all the defaults. Those defaults include Backlight set to 100, Contrast and Colour are also pretty high. On my regular setup I run Backlight set to 20 (yes, 1/5th of the default) and Contrast and Colour differently. In fact, I don’t use any of the TV defaults. I set them through a lot of playing around when we first got the TV and again recently using a THX calibration section of the Star Wars DVD’s, so I’m pretty happy with how they look, and they don’t give us headaches.
Setting those values on HDMI2 has left us with a much kinder Blu-Ray image and none of the retina burning sensation that the defaults give you. Also, some searching online showed that the 2004 DVD for The Matrix (and also the Blu-Ray print) have a different colour setup compared to the original DVD release which is the one we own. So, those two things together make me much happier, the on-screen image is now less obviously different, and where it is different I know it’s because the print is different this time around.
If you were ever wondering, can upscaling DVD players really give you Blu-Ray quality images – the answer is no. Maybe with newer DVD’s that were created with upscaling in mind they may come closer, but comparing the original Matrix release and the Blu-Ray release is like comparing the granularity of gravel and sand.
Really pleased with it. Also glad I bought surround sound first, rather than Blu-Ray.
I’m flirting with buying a blu-ray player (although frankly I have been for a long time) and I’ve had my eye on the Sony BDPS350. It’s been as low as £158 on Amazon recently although it’s up to £169 now. I like Amazon, but when buying expensive electronics sometimes it’s nice to be able to walk back into the store with the bits in your arms and say ‘it’s broke, make it work’, and obviously it’s difficult to do that with Amazon.
So I checked in PC World, and the same player was £230. Being generous that’s about £60 more expensive. Yes I understand PC World has to staff stores and pay rent, but still that’s a bit crazy. However, PC World has a price promise, I quote,
Price Match Plus: We promise we won’t be beaten on price!
So I thought, maybe I should point PC World to the Amazon price and we could get the benefit of a good price and be able to pick it up in store. So I read a bit further, and even this bit sounded ok,
We check our prices against major retailers and websites every day so you can buy with confidence.
Oh cool, they check websites, not just high street stores.
But then you check the rest of the page,
This applies to prices offered by retailers within 30 miles of your local PC World store.
The product must be identical, in stock and available for immediate home delivery in one of the retailers detailed below – single unit purchases only.
This price promise applies to:
Argos, Comet, Jessops, Tesco, John Lewis, Asda, B&Q, Game Gamestation, Halfords, HMV, Maplin, Staples, Toys R Us, Zavvi.
In other words, they can’t or won’t compete with the price that Amazon offers. So the price promise is basically a statement which says, we’ll match the price of stores in your local area, who in turn are probably just matching our prices or those nearby, so in your area it doesn’t really matter who’s selling this item you’re going to pay out of the nose for it.
High street retailers complain that online shopping is destroying their business, I can’t believe PC World has to charge £60 more for a Blu-ray player to cover their store costs compared to Amazon’s costs, so I suggest it’s their overpricing which is destroying their business.
Of course, if you want truly crazy, Kays Catalog charge £269 for the very same player. Now that is insane (especially since the higher spec BDPS550 is £238 on Amazon).