NarniaWeb Reviews LWW Blu-ray Disc
Posted May 9, 2008 1:00 pm by Glumpuddle
THE FIRST TIME ALL OVER AGAIN
Review by GlumPuddle
A few months ago, I told a friend “If The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe isn’t one of the best Blu-ray Discs ever, I’m going to be disappointed.” The expectations for this release have been understandably high; Disney has a reputation for being the absolute best at High Definition. All three Pirates of the Caribbean films, for example, are arguably the highest quality Blu-ray Discs released to date. The variety of colors, locations, characters, and action make Narnia an ideal film for Blu-ray Disc (BD).
I’ve had a BD player for a couple months now, and it has amazed me. The video and audio quality is mesmerizing, and really enhances the experience of watching a film. I didn’t fully appreciate the difference until I directly compared DVD and BD. Now whenever I watch a DVD, I can easily make out the individual pixels. BD makes DVD look like a YouTube video. But the cool thing about LWW is that I didn’t have to skip back and forth to appreciate the difference. I have every frame of this film committed to memory, so the moment the BD started playing, I knew that Disney had done it again.
– DISC 1 –
After seeing this film seven times in theaters and countless times on DVD, the BD gave me the opportunity to experience it for the first time all over again. If you just want to get a quick thumbs up or thumbs down, you can stop reading here: The LWW Blu-ray Disc is awesome.
I know other reviewers have been raving about the battle, but the scene that most impressed me was when Lucy meets Tumnus at the lamp-post. The amount of detail allowed me to easily make out a subtle layer of individual snow flakes that I had not noticed on the DVD. I also noticed intentional imperfections in Tumnus’ face, and his CG legs looked even more convincing. In my opinion, it’s scenes like this that benefit most from High Definition, even more than the big VFX action sequences. High Definition really allows the actors to express the most subtle emotions. It made me remember why I love this scene so much.
There has been some discussion in the forums about whether or not certain visual effects shots would look better on BD. The infamous Stone Bridge shots look just as unconvincing on BD, but the CG characters benefit enormously from High Definition. One criticism I’ve had in the past is that Aslan feels more like a really impressive visual effect than just another character in the film. On BD, I found it easier to accept Aslan as a character. There were more subtle parts to his expressions that I hadn’t caught before, and his eyes looked more realistic. The CG wolves also inter-cut with the real wolves a little better now.
Of course, just as previous reviews have been raving, the Battle of Beruna looks tremendous. When you see those huge wide shots of the armies in High Definition, you can easily make out the individual characters waving their weapons rather than it looking like one big mass. It was a delight to be able to see so much detail in the armor and weapons throughout the scene.
And I may not have surround sound, but I could still notice a difference in the audio quality. This release includes an uncompressed audio track, which basically means it’s exactly what Adamson heard when the film was being mixed. The opening scene with the plane engines rumbling put me right into the movie, and the music sounds just as good as it does on the CD. People often rave about Blu-ray’s superior video quality, but forget to mention the audio. The world of Narnia has been brought to life like never before.
This is the theatrical version of the film. No word yet on if Disney plans to release the Extended Edition on Blu-ray Disc. But don’t worry: Blu-ray Players also play DVDs, and in fact, will improve the quality a little bit.
Total Menus: One of my favorite things about Blu-ray is how easy it is to navigate through the menus. The Disc 1 menu is Lantern Waste, and Disc 2 is Aslan’s Camp. While watching the movie, the main menu can be accessed while the movie continues playing. Very convenient.
Audio Commentaries: This BD release includes the same two audio commentaries as the DVD, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that they are subtitled.
Narnia Fun Facts: These were also included on the DVD, but they have been re-done for Blu-ray. Each pop-up now smoothly fades up and down instead of cutting, and is slightly transparent.
Bloopers of Narnia (480p): Also included on DVD.
– DISC 2 –
“There’s nothing that spoils the taste of good ordinary food half so much as the memory of bad magic food.” –LWW, Ch. 9
That’s kind of how it felt to put in Disc 2. After experiencing a film like LWW in High Definition, watching the extras in standard definition felt underwhelming. Only “From One Man’s Mind,” “Creatures of the World,” “Explore Narnia,” and the “Battle for Narnia” game are presented in High Definition. But I think it’s great that Disney consistently includes all the extras from their DVD releases on their Blu-ray releases, which means I don’t need my DVD anymore.
(I have been unable to locate the “Turkish Delight” easter egg that was on the DVD. If you find it, send a spy report!)
Anatomy of a Scene: Behind the Battle (480p): This 8-minute feature originally appeared on Disc 4 of the Extended Edition DVD. I think it’s great they’ve included it here because it goes right along with the “Anatomy of a Scene: The Melting River” feature. There’s even a Play All button for these two features.
Exclusive “Battle for Narnia” Game (1080p): This is the only brand new extra to be included with this release. I’ve never cared much for games included with movies, so I wasn’t expecting much. But it turned out to be kind of interesting. It sounds like they brought Ray Winstone back to record some narration for this feature. The game takes about an hour to beat (I got to the White Witch and then lost!) and was pretty fun to try. It’s certainly more advanced than any DVD game I’ve ever played. I don’t know if I’ll ever play it again after I beat it, but for a movie game, I was pretty impressed. See the embedded video below for a demonstration.
OVERALL: Disney Delivers
Disney has exceeded everyone’s expectations and made “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” a must-own for Blu-ray owners. When “Prince Caspian” releases on Blu-Ray Disc, expectations will be higher than ever, but Disney has earned my confidence.