Michael Jordan To The MAX (IMAX/2000/Lionsgate
Blu-ray) + Van Gogh – Brush With Genius
Picture: B+/B- Sound: B-/B Extras: C+ Main Programs: C+/B
move to digital video, we move away from more naturalistic images and we are
left with images that are clean and clear in a phony way. In large frame formats like VistaVision, 70mm
and IMAX 70mm, digital still has a long way to go to be as good as film and
even when it reaches higher levels, it will be a different medium anyhow. Two new Blu-rays of IMAX films show us the
Michael Jordan To The MAX (2000) is one of the more broadly
commercial releases in the IMAX catalog.
This one shows the final games and life of the hugely successful basketball
player, but is often too broad about him or his life to really give us a great
portrait of the man despite some good moments.
It did not even need to get personal, just give us more of his essence
instead of his successes on the court and in globalized advertising. It is worth a look, but disappoints.
Van Gogh – Brush With Genius (2009) takes the format and shows
off the amazing work of the legendary painter in a way you have not seen before
and with more background on the long deceased artist than the very much alive Jordan. There is plenty of biographical information
here to make it a real lesson in the man and his art, plus we go to the
locations he lived, which are presented with the same vividity as his work. This is the kind of IMAX program that shows
how great the format can be. I hope more
people see this one because it is that good, especially on Blu-ray.
1.78 X 1 image on both make for an interesting comparison. Jordan
is unusually plastered with video and other low-def images, some HD images and
IMAX camera work that has mixed results.
This is an older HD master and has more grain and noise than I have seen
in most IMAX Blu-ray releases. A newer
transfer would have been nice, but then they would have had to upgrade all that
older footage, so they left it as is. Gogh on the other hand is amazing and
has the kind of depth, detail and range you would expect from a true IMAX 70mm presentation. The superior color range, the better light
values and this is a great way to see these paintings in a way they have not
been seen much before. You can really
appreciate how great and important these works are just by seeing them.
DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 mixes may not be the best in IMAX history, but Jordan
is especially weak with too much of the sound in the center channel and front
speakers, plus the fancy editing cuts down on the soundfield. Gogh
has a better soundfield with nice music presentation and a voiceover that can
also be towards the center/front channels, but this plays much better and more
in the way you would expect a soundtrack meant for 64-speaker systems to play –
with constant ambience and more. You can
only expect so much from a piece about paintings, but this is better than you
Extras on both include making of/behind the scenes
featurettes, with Jordan
adding trailers. 2-minute Jordan dunking montage piece on how it was created in
360º for the film, Jordan stats and a feature length audio commentary by Co-Directors/Producers
James D. Stern & Don Kempt and Producer Steve Kempt. Gogh
adds an art slide show.
- Nicholas Sheffo