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Blu-ray Reviews: Into the Blue

Originally published in Sound and Image, July/August 2007, v.20#8
Last updated 3 July 2009

Into The Blue cover Into the Blue
2005 - Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Australia
Director: John Stockwell
Starring: Paul Walker, Jessica Alba, Scott Caan, Ashley Scott, Josh Brolin, James Frain and Tyson Beckford

Movie: 3.5 Picture: 5 Sound: 4.5 Extras:

Surely this is what Blu-ray is all about: gorgeous young people with a minimum of clothing swimming around the tropics to find treasure. What's to complain about?

Paul Walker (formerly of The Fast and the Furious) is righteous, but poor. His girlfriend Jessica Alba (formerly of TV's 'Dark Angel') loves him unconditionally ... until she suspects he might be less righteous than she thought.

Our happy couple, with their blow-in and quite despicable friend, Scott Caan, and his dispensable girlfriend, Ashley Scott, happen by complete fluke upon two treasures at once: a semi-mythical gold-carrying sailing ship and a recently downed cocaine smuggling airplane. So trouble awaits.

No doubt about it, as a story this is a definite B or C grader, but it does hold mild interest. It is still a worthwhile investment on Blu-ray because the photography is just about as good as it gets. Those sections shot in our accustomed atmosphere were sharp to the point of perfection, and the high MPEG2 bitrate (typically around 30Mbps) brought those to the screen without any discernible artefacts or softening.

It was like having a super high resolution tropical poster on the wall, except that it moved.

What was technically impressive, though, was the extensive underwater photography. This lost nothing on the surface scenes when it came to sharpness and detail. Certainly things became rather murky in 'distant' underwater shots (even in the tropics, water reduces visibility), but most of the action was filmed up close. This disc is a great demo disc for state-of-the-art submerged cinematography.

As to the sound, this disc overcomes the transition problems associated with these new formats. You can get the audio in two ways: via a standard S/PDIF connection in the form of Dolby Digital 5.1 at the highest possible bit rate, or as uncompressed multichannel PCM (48kHz sampling) if you use a HDMI connection. This avoids the need for support for the new formats, while still delivering exceptional audio quality.

Running time: 110 minutes
Picture: 2.35:1, 1080p24, MPEG2 @ 21.04Mbps
Sound: English: Dolby Digital 3/2.1 @ 640kbps; English: PCM 16/48 3/2.1 @ 4608kbps
Subtitles: English, English for the Hearing Impaired, Dutch, Arabic, Czech, Danish, Finnish, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Norwegian, Polish, Swedish, Turkish
Extras: Blu-ray promo (1080p24, MPEG2. DD5.1 @ 640kbps - 1 min); 7669 Test Patterns (1080p24, MPEG2 - 1 min)
Restrictions: Rated M (Australian rating); Region Free

The following video bitrate graph was generated by BDInfo 0.5.2:

Into the Blue video bitrate graph

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