Atonement has the distinction of being the last HD DVD Universal released at the end of the format war and it finally makes its way onto Blu-ray. I had high expectations but was very disappointed with the pacing, especially in the first act. A second viewing helps things a bit because I knew the characters and what their ultimate fates would be, but I'm still surprised this won the Golden Globe for Best Picture in 2007. The most deserving award for the film is the Oscar-winning score by Dario Marianelli.
For previous owners of the HD DVD you'll be pleased the stellar video presentation is unchanged. Colors are striking, especially the green of the English countryside, and black levels are particularly strong leading to amazing shadow detail. Detail is above average although the occasional soft shot rears its ugly head, but thankfully it’s the exception rather than the rule.
One of the biggest complaints regarding HD DVD was its lack of lossless audio on many releases, and Atonement was no exception with its Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 track. Fortunately the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack included here has some additional thump on the low-end and more body to the Oscar-winning score. Dialog is never an issue and the surround speakers provide suitable ambience and the occasional discrete effect.
Supplements include deleted scenes, a couple of featurettes and an audio commentary with director Joe Wright.
If you're a fan of period pieces, then this is right up your ally. The sets, acting, and presentation are all superb, but I don't consider this one of the best films of the decade. Nevertheless, if you haven't seen it before it's definitely worth a rental.
Release Date: January 26, 2009
Oppo BDP-83 Blu-ray player
JVC DLA-RS1 projector
Stewart FireHawk screen (76.5" wide, 16:9)
Onkyo Pro PR-SC885 pre/pro
Anthem PVA-7 power amplifier
Belkin PF60 power conditioner
M&K S-150s (L, C, R)
M&K SS-150s (LS, RS, SBL, SBR)
SVS PC-Ultra subwoofer
Monoprice HDMI cables (source to pre/pro)
Best Deal analog-audio cables
PureLink HDC Fiber Optic HDMI Cable System (15 meters) from pre/pro to projector
Acoustical treatments from GIK Acoustics