Scanning High-Def: Eight Below Blu-ray

Movie ••½ Blu-ray Picture/Sound •• Original Extras ••• New Extras ••
This is the first Disney HD title I've viewed, and sadly it wasn't a particularly auspicious launch. On standard-definition DVD Eight Below seemed fine, but with the higher resolution of Blu-ray, there just doesn't seem to be enough detail. Although blacks are deep and the thermal coats richly colored, the whites could be brighter, particularly in all those snow-filled shots. The uncompressed PCM sound is clear but not as stunning as that on some Sony Blu-ray Discs, with little separation between instruments in the music and no real distinction in the atmospheric effects. Eight Below actually has a new extra - a 5-minute film made up of flowing high-def aerial shots of ice fields, showing all their textures. It looks pretty impressive, but because the camera is in constant motion, it's hard to see much detail. The accompanying music, mainly from the front channels, is crisp and clear. Also included is the standard-definition DVD's chatty commentary by director Frank Marshall and star Paul Walker. Marshall plods along about the day-to-day shooting of the movie without sharing any of his technical know-how, and Walker displays a lot of infectious enthusiasm and keeps things focused on the human and canine actors.

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