and The Chipmunks: The Road Chip
Express (2006/Sony 4K
Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/The
Smurfs 2 (2013/Sony 4K
Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/Two
(2004/United Artists/MGM/Olive Blu-ray)
Ultra HD Picture: B+ Picture: C/B/B-/B-/B- Sound: C+/B+ &
B/B+ & B/B-/C+ Extras: C/C+/C/D/C- Films: C/C+/C-/C+/C+
Import Blu-ray is now only available from our friends at Umbrella
Entertainment in Australia, can play on all Blu-ray players and can
be ordered from the link below.
is an interesting intersection of comedies for young and some
strictly for older audiences, some children-aimed releases, a serious
drama and more releases in the new 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray format...
start with one of two franchise films that combine animation (now all
CGI) with live action, Walt Becker's Alvin
and The Chipmunks: The Road Chip
(2015) was somehow made despite legal rumblings between the owners of
the characters and Fox, but here's the latest installment and
especially at a long 96 minutes, there is little (including the
tiro's female counterparts) new that this romp offers. Nothing much
is funny here and will all the resources at the fingertips of the
makers, they couldn't find a better script?
course, they go on a road trip, something that should be about
discovery and self-discovery, but this is just about more and more of
the same. Jason Lee looks bored back as Dave and even turns by the
naturally funny Katie Cuoco, Anna Faris and Christina Applegate just
fall flat. Needless to say no expense is spared in making the film,
especially animation-wise, but this was no better than its
predecessors and the mixed reaction was understandable. For young
include Digital HD Ultraviolet Copy for PC, PC portable and other
cyber iTunes capable devices, while the DVD adds a compilation of
best songs from all the movies in the series to date (I can remember
NONE of them) and a 'Story So Far' featurette. All that reaching
back is a bad sign.
Gordon Green's Pineapple
(2006) is back as one of the very first releases from Sony in the
great new 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray format and includes a standard Blu-ray.
We reviewed the film first as an uncut DVD at this link...
cuts are here, along with the same extras, but I think if you are
going to see this one, the uncut version is the way to go. More on
what a nice improvement the 4K Blu-ray is below.
(2013) has also just been issued by Sony in the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray
format and includes the 2D Blu-ray we reviewed in the 3D Blu-ray set
at this link...
film is just poorer than the Alvin
film above, but what is amazing is how the 4K playback outdoes the
Blu-ray (which did not impress me much) and the 3D edition, but more
on that in the tech section below. Again, the 4K Blu has no extras,
so the Blu-ray repeats the extras we covered from the previous set.
(1998) is a curio that has not arrived in the U.S., partly because
some mighty have trouble following the dialogue, but this import
Blu-ray is sonically clear enough as a young Heath Ledger (gone too
soon) plays a young guy looking for the next thing that will help him
out from job to job, agreeing to deliver $10,000 for a small group of
criminals led by a well-known local (Bryan Brown of Breaker
and the FX
films). Unfortunately, the delivery does not happen because the
woman never answers the door... because she dies as he is knocking on
the door from health-related issues!
he has to explain this to the gang, but instead goes to the beach
where a young woman (Rose Byrne) who likes to take pictures and he is
suddenly deeply into turns up at that beach. He decides to go
swimming, but has nowhere to put the money, so he hides it in the
sand with his clothes on top of it! Of course, it goes missing and
things get wackier.
problem with the script is the plotting is too predictable and it is
comical too often with things that might not always be funny, yet it
ha some nice moments, nice camera shots and seeing a Ledger
performance few have seen alone is worth seeking this one out. It
would also make a nice double feature with Pineapple
are very sadly no extras, though this one deserves a few.
Gordon Green's Undertow
(2004) is one of his early dramas with Jamie Bell (now on the
underrated TV series TURN:
reviewed elsewhere on this site) and was a follow-up to his
impressive film George
(issued by Criterion no less) and another one of our writers really
liked, as the link to this review will bear out...
it was not a hit or even the critical success the makers were hoping
for, but I was not as enthused about it as I thought it was too much
of what we had seen before, even if it dared to be gritty filmmaking
like we rarely see. The actors are good here, which is all the more
reason to be disappointed it did not work as well as it should have.
Thus, Green moved into more commercial filmmaking with Pineapple
Express which remains one
of his better successes since moving out of indie territory. Still,
despite my misgivings, you should see this one at least once for
yourself and despite the ratings I give versus my colleague for the
DVD, the Blu-ray is the way to see this one now outside of a good
trailer is sadly the only extra.
anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image on Alvin has decent
color, but this transfer is way too soft, even for this format, so it
is the dud performer here, though a Blu-ray is also available. The
lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 sound mix is also underwhelming.
2160p HECV/H.265, HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced Ultra High
Definition image on our two 4K Blu-rays are the highlight here as
expected, as good as the there newer Fox releases we debuted our
coverage of the format with. Though the 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High
Definition image on the regular Blu-ray of Express outdoes the
passable DVD we covered a few years ago, it was a bit strained in
certain ways and is definitely an older Blu-ray transfer by today's
standards. It is fine and was shot on Kodak Vision 2 35mm film (the
company now makes Vision 3 series stocks), but you can see some color
and detail limits as minor as they are. This is not a problem with
the 4K Blu-ray, which looks much more natural, less strained, opens
up how great the film stocks can perform and the humor of the
performances come across as much funnier as a result, so this is not
just some pandering release issued early to be hip. This looks
was not happy with the 3D Smurfs 2 Blu-ray and especially
disappointed by the detail issues and other problems with the 2D
Blu-ray, but this new 4K Blu-ray more than corrects any issues with
the 2D and, in a surprise, actually outperforms the 3D version with
even better depth, detail and color range. The film might not be
great, but this looks really good and has some nice demo shots for
this kind of commercial film.
1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image on Hands and
Undertow can show the age of the materials used, but both also
have some nice shot and even demo-quality shots with Hands
coming up with amazing location shots of Australia at the time, while
Undertow can definitely outdo the DVD version and you can see
how well this one was really shot. I can only imagine how both would
look in 4K transfers, originally shot so well on 35mm film.
11.1 mixes on Express
TrueHD 7.1 compatible) opens
up the soundmasters nicely enough that they are now the preferred
ways to hear the films over the still-solid DTS-HD
MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes on their regular Blu-ray
Of course, Express
is the bigger surprise here since it is a comedy and I could not
imagine it sounding better, but Smurfs
a pronounced 11.1 soundmaster and that helps make it more watchable.
DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes on Hands
can show the age of the original recordings, along with the budget
limits of the time, but the latter has some more issues and limits,
though it is a quiet film often. This is likely the best these films
will ever sound, though I was particularly happy with the nice touch
ending with a Crowded House song.
Umbrella import Blu-ray, go to this link for it and many other
hard-to-get releases at: