Pacific Rim (US - BD)
Matt takes Warner's recent Blu-ray disc for a spin and tries to hold all of his geeky, manchild happiness firmly in check.
In Pacific Rim legions of monstrous creatures, known as Kaiju, have started rising from the sea, beginning a war that takes millions of lives and consumes humanity’s resources for years on end. To combat the giant Kaiju, a special type of weapon was devised: massive robots, called Jaegers, which are controlled simultaneously by two pilots whose minds are locked in a neural bridge. But even the Jaegers are proving nearly defenseless in the face of the relentless Kaiju. On the verge of defeat, the forces defending mankind have no choice but to turn to two unlikely heroes--a washed up former pilot (Charlie Hunnam) and an untested trainee (Rinko Kikuchi)--who are teamed to drive a legendary but seemingly obsolete Jaeger from the past. Together, they stand as mankind’s last hope against the mounting apocalypse.
I really enjoyed Pacific Rim when I saw it in the theater back when it was a bit warmer out than it is now, and after sitting down to watch it again my feelings towards it really haven't changed all that much. The characters are still a dash stereotypical and a little too broadly drawn for my tastes and the dialogue is often mired in cliche and delivered with the hammiest of fists, but if anything I actually enjoyed it more the second time around. After you've been assaulted with this much ridiculously giant action and mind blowing, awesome sauce eye candy once, your system quiets down from the shock of it all you can really take the time to look in the corners of the screen and check out the extremely expansive world building on display. If nothing else the world of Pacific Rim is swathed in rich textures and details, which is an aspect of director Guillermo del Toro's films that I enjoy the most. Sure, giant robots hitting giant monsters is cool as hell, and if you're like me and my 13 year-old you'll be trading high fives a few times, but it's the little things in the background--the intricate design of a logo here and the pipes and electrical systems cascading down a wall there--that really make the film come alive and this futuristic world a place you'll want to revisit time and time again.
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment's 1080p, AVC encoded 1.78:1 video transfer of Pacific Rim is outstanding and one of this year's best looking discs. Originally filmed using the Red Epic camera system, del Toro's film is full or intricate detail in both the practical surroundings and digital effects, and this transfer handles it all easily with consistently deep black levels, fine, sharp detail and color with enough pop that it practically leaps from the screen and into your lap. The transfer is given a fairly decent bit rate, and I didn't notice much in the way of ugly anomalies such as banding, macroblocking, aliasing or edge enhancement. Though contrast is near perfect, crushing blacks did pop up a couple of times, but really weren't anything to worry about and the effect was gone fairly quickly. Pacific Rim is a newly released theatrical film, and I'm assuming that the source used for the transfer is coming straight from the digital files, so there aren't any problems with dirt or debris that might hinder a less perfect source print. Overall this is an exceptional video transfer on Blu-ray.
That's the best, one word description I can give for Pacific Rim's 7.1 and 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio tracks. I haven't had an aural assault like this in quite a while, maybe not since The Avengers Blu-ray release last year, and I loved every minute of it. Directional effects are outstanding and the surround channels are given plenty to do over the course of the picture with nearly every scene giving you the sense that you're actually there, and your LFE channel will need to take a breather after the pounding it's going to take from the deep bass throughout. None of the sound design and fun effects come at the expense of crisp, clear and always intelligible dialogue however, so you won't need to worry when it comes to being able to understand what's going on. Overall, and like the video transfer, this is a demo worthy presentation that needs to be heard and not just read about--turn it up and annoy the neighbors.
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has assembled a fairly decent selection of high definition special features that are spread across two Blu-ray discs:
- Audio Commentary with Guillermo del Toro - This is one of the geekier commentaries you're ever going to listen to, and it's an absolute blast. del Toro gives what is basically a lecture on the history of the Japanese Kaiju and mecha genres while cramming every detail that he can think of pertaining to his own movie over the course of its roughly 130-minute running time. This is one of those tracks that you wish would continue after the credits on the film have come to a complete stop.
- Focus Points - Just over one hour's worth of featurettes are also included on the first disc, ranging from topics such as director Guillermo del Toro, special effects, the actors and characters that inhibit the film and several other facets of the movie making process. It a nice batch of stuff that should keep you entertained as well as informed. Featurettes include: "A Film by Guillermo del Toro", "A Primer on Kaijus & Jaegers", "Intricacy of Robot Design", "Honoring the Kaiju Tradition", "The Importance of Mass and Scale", "Shatterdome Ranger Roll Call", "Jaegers Echo Human Grace", "Inside the Drift", "Goth-Tech", "Mega Sized Sets", "Tokyo Alley Set Visit", "Baby Kaiju Set Visit" and "Orchestral Sounds from the Anteverse".
- Director's Notebook - This feature is basically a virtual version of director del Toro's notebook and includes handwritten entries and illustrations that can be more closely scrutinized and looked over and can lead to larger galleries of artwork and notes. Also included in the notebook are more featurettes--by my estimation totaling another 25 minutes worth of content--with del Toro covering the process of bringing the picture to life. It's a little clumsy, but a neat and novel idea that's definitely worth checking out if for no other reason than to check out the additional video segments.
- "Drift Space" (5 minutes) - A strange breakdown of the drift sequences in the film that slows each of them down to point out what the images and memories in each mean. Disappointingly the one I wanted to check out--the drift sequence focusing on the "aliens" of Pacific Rim--is absent.
- "The Digital Artistry of Pacific Rim" (18 minutes) - A nice, in-depth look at the special effects work that del Toro and ILM accomplished on the film.
- The Shatterdome - An archive of animatics and design art used throughout the film. Impressive stuff.
- Four deleted scenes (4 minutes).
- Blooper reel (4 minutes)
The package also includes a standard definition copy on DVD (this version also includes the audio commentary) and a code for an UltraViolet version of the film for streaming and download.
Thanks to the miracle of home video you can now watch Pacific Rim frame-by-frame to your heart's content, and don't even try to deny the fact you'll do exactly that more than once with this one. It's a lot of fun, and if you can look past its few shortcomings you'll walk away very pleased and with a big, goofy grin on your face for the rest of the day. Warner Bros. Home Entertainment's Blu-ray presentation is as flawless as these things get--the video and audio are both demo worthy and the special features are very good, especially if you are a fan of the genre and Guillermo del Toro's work as a director. Overall this is one of the year's best new theatrical Blu-ray releases and it's definitely more of a buy than a rental, but either way you should be sure to check it out as soon as you can.
The screen captures throughout this review were taken from the Blu-ray disc, but due to .jpg compression may not be truly representative of the high definition quality of the release.
Not official, but too awesome not to include here...
Review by Matt Joseph
Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13
Release Date: 15th October 2013
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 & 5.1 English, Dolby Digital 5.1 French & Spanish
Subtitles: English, French & Spanish
Extras: Audio Commentary, Featurettes, Deleted Scenes, DVD Copy, UltraViolet Digital Copy
Easter Egg: No
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Cast: Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi
Genre: Action, Adventure and Sci-Fi
Length: 131 minutes
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