Blu-ray Highlights for 4/17/12 – This Message Will Self Destruct in Five Seconds

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to buy one of the best action movies of 2011 on Blu-ray. Some other stuff might be worth looking at as well.

The following new discs hit the market today:

New Releases

The week’s two major new releases couldn’t be more different than one another. On the one hand, we have the blockbuster smash ‘Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol‘, which provided both a comeback for Tom Cruise (whose beleaguered career really needed a hit) and a very successful live-action directing debut for Pixar’s Brad Bird. This fourth franchise entry features a clever script and incredibly inventive set-pieces, and may be the best in the series so far. Our reviewer Mike Palmer says that the Blu-ray is a stunner, though some fans may be disappointed to learn that the disc doesn’t alternate aspect ratios (a la ‘The Dark Knight‘) like the IMAX theatrical run. Apparently, the decision to maintain a constant 2.40:1 aspect ratio was the director’s call.

[Note: Please direct further comments about the aspect ratio issue to our poll post. Thanks. -JZ]

Those who favor indie art films over action spectacle may head to the opposite end of the spectrum for the bleak drama ‘Shame‘. The movie reunites star Michael Fassbender with his ‘Hunger‘ director Steve McQueen (who is, obviously enough, not the late actor of the same name). Fassbender’s performance as a sex addict spiraling into depression was widely acclaimed and buzzed as a likely Oscar contender. His failure to land a nomination was later cited as one of the Academy’s biggest snubs of the year.

Catalog Titles

Catalog titles this week are an eclectic mix. The latest release from Universal’s 100th Anniversary celebration is the 1941 Abbott and Costello comedy ‘Buck Privates‘, which finds the pair joining the army to avoid jail time. As far as I’m aware, this is the first of the iconic duo’s films to hit Blu-ray.

Our reader EM will probably be pleased to see Kino release the 1972 British horror film ‘The Asphyx‘. He’s cited it as a favorite of his once or twice in the Comments section of this blog. (See, I pay attention!) In the strangely-titled movie, a scientist discovers an ancient Greek spirit that snatches a person’s soul at the moment of his or her death. He attempts to achieve immortality by capturing and imprisoning it. Given that this is a horror film, I assume that doing so will have some unintended consequences. This sounds like a neat premise. I’m interested enough to check it out.

Criterion adds two more titles to the venerable collection, one foreign and one domestic. The first is legendary Japanese director Jasujiro Ozu’s 1949 ‘Late Spring‘, about a wealthy man in post-war Japan who tries to marry off his only daughter. The other is American independent filmmaker Robert M. Young’s 1977 illegal-immigrant drama ‘¡Alambrista!‘, which won the prestigious Camera d’Or prize (the trophy for Best First Feature) at the Cannes Film Festival.

Of considerably less acclaim than either of those is ‘Roadracers‘, a quickie TV movie that Robert Rodriguez threw together in between his ultra-low-budget debut ‘El Mariachi’ and its respectably-budgeted sequel ‘Desperado’. While this may come from the period of his career where Rodriguez still seemed like an exciting talent (before he started churning out terrible kiddie flicks written by his own children), the movie stars David Arquette. Those two factors tend to balance each other out, which is probably why the picture has largely been forgotten. In any case, cheap-jack distributor Echo Bridge dumps this on Blu-ray today, no doubt with the terrible quality that the studio is so notorious for. I’m pretty sure that I saw this on the shelf at Best Buy a few weeks ago. Was it one of those unadvertised exclusives there first?

Try to follow this bit of convoluted history: In 1986, Jackie Chan starred in the Hong Kong action hit ‘Armour of God’ and then followed that up in 1991 with a sequel called ‘Armour of God II: Operation Condor’. However, when Miramax acquired the domestic distribution rights to the franchise, the studio decided to release the sequel first under the shortened title ‘Operation Condor’. After that was successful, the original movie was retitled ‘Operation Condor 2: The Armour of the Gods’. Thus, the first film in the series was turned into a sequel to its actual sequel, which now comes first. Confusing enough for you? Whatever you want to call it, ‘Armour of God’ is a breezily entertaining Indiana Jones knock-off in which Chan plays a treasure hunter searching for three parts of a valuable Middle Ages antique. Unfortunately, it’s now another dump-title from Echo Bridge. Given that the disc is called ‘Operation Condor II: The Armour of God‘, I’d have to assume that it’s also the badly dubbed and re-edited American version of the film. Sigh.

Speaking of Indiana Jones knock-offs, studio Hen’s Tooth gives us ‘High Road to China‘. As most fans know, Tom Selleck was almost cast in the iconic role in ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’. Realizing just how badly he missed out, the actor starred in this 1983 copycat about a 1920s biplane pilot and rough-and-tumble adventurer hired to rescue a wealthy man. While not nearly on the same level as its inspiration, this may qualify as a guilty pleasure.


On the TV front, HBO brings us a complete second season box set of the acclaimed ‘Treme‘, while a studio called BFS Entertainment rolls out seven separate discs (each with two episodes approximately 100 minutes each) of ‘Sharpe‘. The latter stars Sean Bean as a British soldier in the Napoleonic Wars. (The final two episodes, called ‘Sharpe’s Challenge’ and ‘Sharpe’s Peril’, were already released on Blu-ray back in 2010.) Considering that the series ran from 1993 to 1998, and that Sean Bean was the lead the whole time, I will have to assume that the actor has a better fate in this one than most of the projects he undertakes.

Which discs will you pick up this week?


  1. CK

    I like the Mission Impossible franchise, so I got the new one today; even though I was pretty disappointed with it in the theater. Hopefully a second viewing will be better. At least, by the sound of it, the box-office was good enough to give Cruise and the franchise another try.

    • JM

      ‘M:I-GP’ is the 48th highest grossing film of all time, just between ‘Twilight Eclipse’ and ‘Forrest Gump.’

      Based on its success, I bet the next ‘M:I’ is engineered for asian markets.

      • CK

        Mission: Impossible – Ninja Protocol. This time Ethan Hunt can be disavowed in Asia. Where will he be disavowed/framed and forced to go in without the IMF next? Who knows? But wherever it is, I’m sure he’ll be tricked or forced into helping the bad guys steal something again too.

        All this passionate discussion makes me wonder if M:I-GP is to IMAX what Avatar is to 3D. Both sound like they must have been drastically improved by the different presentations. After watching Ghost Protocol again last night, I would still say that, for me, it may just barely edge out M:I 2 for third place; and that’s just because of the better cast; more Simon Pegg and less Dougray Scott goes a long way and not having Fred Durst singing over the theme song helps too. Other than that, I’d say, if you can look past how goofy and blatantly contrived everything is, it is fun, but doesn’t come near the “best” of any year or any franchise.

  2. Drew

    ‘IMAX: Born to be Wild — 3D’, ‘Shame’, and of freakin course ‘Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol’.

    ‘M:I-GP’ is easily the best of the franchise! I’m got the Best Buy exclusive 3 disc version. Although, I am pretty angry about the lack of changing aspect ratios for the IMAX filmed footage. I know that a version that does switch aspect ratio will be released in the future, and it pissed me off that I’ll have to buy it again.

  3. Drew

    I’ve read that article before. To me, his reasoning is utter nonsense. Obviously the home theater community doesn’t feel that way. Otherwise, the clamoring for switching aspect ratios on ‘The Dark Knight’, ‘Tron: Legacy’, and ‘Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen’ blu-rays wouldn’t have been so feverish.

    Clearly, home theater audiences feel differently about this than Bird. And we are the ones that will be watching it over and over again. He simply made the wrong decision. Period. There can be no argument to the contrary.

    • Josh Zyber

      It’s Brad Bird’s movie, that he directed. If anyone is the authority on what aspect ratio he composed the scenes for, it’s him. If he doesn’t feel that the shifting aspect ratio works as well for his movie on home video as it did in IMAX theaters, it’s his prerogative to release it letterboxed.

      When The Dark Knight was released on Blu-ray, there was a fair amount of clamor from portions of the home theater community that wanted a standard letterbox release. Some of these were Constant Image Height projection viewers. Others simply found the shifting aspect ratios to be distracting.

    • JM

      Alternating aspect ratios is the most annoying cinematic invention since surround sound.

      They need to figure out how to shoot the whole movie in IMAX quality!

      • According to Christopher Nolan, IMAX cameras generate quite some noise and therefore can’t be used during quiet dialog scenes.

        • That’s nonsense – all you need is a little ADR. I thought most movies use pretty heavy ADR anyways, so I don’t understand the argument that “the camera makes too much noise”

          • Josh Zyber

            Running a camera that’s as loud as a Harley Davidson three inches from an actor’s face is not condusive to shooting intimate dialogue scenes, no matter how much ADR you plan to do later.

  4. EM

    Thanks for paying attention. 🙂 (Or should I be terrified of online data mining? 🙂 ) Yes, I am quite psyched, and I pre-ordered The Asphyx some time back. (Since I’m cheap, it won’t get to me right away—I’m a Super Saver Shipping kind of guy—but I’ll get it soon enough. I’m a bit busy this week anyway…) If I understand correctly, both the Blu-ray and the new DVD contain the original theatrical cut and an extended cut; I’m familiar with only the longer cut. It’ll be interesting to compare. The extended cut includes footage that’s less well preserved than the theatrical-only footage (a problem with earlier DVDs, too), but I’m nonetheless looking forward to an overall improvement in presentation.

    As for the movie itself, it is sort-of a thinking man’s horror romp; not lurid and titillating, it takes a slow-burn approach to proceed from solid, quotidian beginnings toward increasingly insane yet seemingly logical consequences.

    • JM

      I was going to take a whack at ‘The Asphyx’ until you said it wasn’t titillating.

      I tend to only watch one thinking man’s horror romp per year, and I need to save my brain for ‘Prometheus’ based on today’s viral video of robo Fassbender.

      • EM

        Glad to be of service. I suppose titillating might be appropriate in terms of tickling the brain with notions and possibilities, but the film is not especially visceral (a little, but not very). (I could imagine this movie being remade to more obviously pander to sex-and-violence desires while not losing its admirable qualities. Of course, whether a remake would really end up successful on all counts is another question.) On the other hand, I’m not ready to call The Asphyx a deeply intellectual treatise either. It’s a thinking man’s romp, that’s all. In any case, I frankly would not expect you to have been interested in this movie—not that I would try to pigeonhole a person’s tastes. Mine sometimes surprise me.

        • JM

          Yes, I think ‘Marquis de Sade: Justine’ would be the Kino romp for me.

          Black & Blue Films acquired the rights to ‘The Asphyx.’ The low-budget remake, written and directed by Matthew McGuchan, will be made for the UK market, set in the present day, and feature Alison Doody.

          I’ll cross my fingers for some classy pandering.

  5. As a recent convert to Constant Image Height (CIH) viewing, I’m glad to see that Ghost Protocol will not be switching aspect ratios by default.

    However, I fail to understand why it couldn’t be an option from the menu? Just as I wish that Dark Knight could have had the switching ratios be optionally turned off, the ideal situation would be to give the viewer the choice, but have the default be what the director prefers.

    If the director feels strongly, they can add their prologue as an extra that is playable from the menu providing the option. Instead of forcing a choice, it’s an opportunity to serve the customer and perhaps even a teachable moment about the decision process.

    • Josh Zyber

      On a technical level, there are two ways the Blu-ray format could accomodate this. One would be to offer seamless branching for all of the IMAX scenes. Depending on which you prefer, you’d get either a letterboxed or full-frame version of the scene. If the movie has quite a lot of IMAX footage, this could wind up leading to disc space and compression issues. But I doubt Ghost Protocol would really be a concern in that regard.

      The other (and more space-conscious) option is to just apply blanking over the top and bottom of the frame. A concern here might be whether the 2.35:1 theatrical area was actually photographed in the exact center of the frame. Sometimes the theatrical area is framed above center. (Avatar has this problem, which makes zooming to 2.35:1 problematic.) In that case, you’d have to go the seamless branching route.

  6. Drew


    As I said before, there can be no argument to the contrary. Read @BigScreenHD’s comments for more information about the proper way to handle something like this.

    I’m a constant image height projectionist, myself, and I would still prefer the option of opening up the aspect for the IMAX footage. I can make my CIH projection screening do what I need it to, in order to gain maximum enjoyment out of it, regardless. The same can’t be said about viewing it on my plasma. The option should exist. That’s the bottom line. They could easily give the viewer the choice in the top menu. BigScreenHD sums up everything else efficiently.

    • Josh Zyber

      There is an argument to the contrary, and Brad Bird has made it. This is an aesthetic decision, and the director of the film prefers a constant aspect ratio.

      On an IMAX screen, the majority of the movie (the scope portion) fills the audience’s field of vision. The IMAX segments are intended to extend beyond that field of vision. This cannot be replicated in the home. Even if you have a large projection screen, the 16:9 image will still be in your field of view. The IMAX scenes will be the same size on your screen as any episode of CSI, and the scope portions will be smaller.

      In Bird’s opinion, watching the alternating aspect ratio at home only serves to make the majority of the movie look small, which was never his intention. With a constant letterboxed presentation, on the other hand, the viewer accepts the aspect ratio of the film and isn’t distracted by some scenes reminding them that the rest of the movie doesn’t fill the screen.

      His movie, his decision to make.

  7. Drew


    I’m incredulous that an admitted 6.1 surround home theater enthusiast would dare call surround sound “annoying.”. C’mon! You’re just trying to cause a stir! Right?

    • EM

      I once pulled to the side of the road when the car radio was playing “They’re Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!” with its sirens vacillating between left and right, lest I have an accident due to the ensuing feeling of disorientation. Sometimes I tell people this story and they ask, “Why didn’t you turn the song off?”—well, because I wanted to listen to the song, of course! Annoying, in some contexts—but quite entertaining…

    • JM

      I too am incredulous!

      I don’t know if “uncanny valley’ is the right term, but frequently I find surround sound the opposite of immersive.

      During certain discs I become distracted that artificial sounds are coming from my side walls, and I can’t suspend disbelief.

      It just feels too fake.

      I don’t know if I’m sensitive, or if my setup isn’t correctly calibrated, but I don’t enjoy surround sound unless the rear-end effect is invisible.

      • EM

        I’ve had similar thoughts about sound itself—and color—and other technical advancements. I don’t object to them per se, but I object to their misuse and sometimes wish they weren’t anywhere nearly so commonplace. I think that filmmakers would do well to learn to make films with more primitive technologies, in order to help them learn how to better make films with more advanced technologies. The tech is often taken for granted, and that should not be the case.

      • I think the issue is how the surround is encoded. When I watched Fiddler on the Roof on Blu-Ray, I came very close to turning the surrounds off (I don’t remember if the movie had a stereo option or not, that would have been preferable). Fiddler had a 7.1 soundtrack, but instruments were just put in weird speakers. It was just WAY too annoying.

        But most of the time, I really like surround.

        So yeah, I understand where you are coming from, Jane. Sometimes, its just a distraction. But, for the most part, I like surround.

  8. Drew

    Once again, there literally can be no argument to the contrary. Period. Bird made the decision to film certain scenes in IMAX. Once this happened, the aesthetic decision was already made. That footage was composed and framed in a certain way. By choosing to only show us a very small portion of what his actual aesthetic intent was, he is robbing us of the option to actually see those scenes as he, himself, intended them to be. If he was actually worried about home audiences seeing the footage framed with his artistic and creative integrity intact, he would have allowed the IMAX footage to switch to a 1.44:1 aspect during these scenes. Pillar-box bars be damned!

    The fact of the matter can be summed up thusly: the IMAX filmed footage wasn’t shot, composed, framed, or rendered with the intention of seeing it in a 2.35:1 aspect. It was built with the 1.44:1 IMAX aspect in mind. By inky allowing home audiences to see a minimal amount of the actual shot, you sacrifice the artistic integrity, and create a situation that is no different than watching a 2.35:1 framed film on a 4:3 screen.

    The viewer deserved an option. End of discussion! If he felt that, “The IMAX segments are intended to extend beyond that field of vision. This cannot be replicated in the home. Even if you have a large projection screen, the 16:9 image will still be in your field of view. The IMAX scenes will be the same size on your screen as any episode of CSI, and the scope portions will be smaller.

    In Bird’s opinion, watching the alternating aspect ratio at home only serves to make the majority of the movie look small, which was never his intention. With a constant letterboxed presentation, on the other hand, the viewer accepts the aspect ratio of the film and isn’t distracted by some scenes reminding them that the rest of the movie doesn’t fill the screen.” ——– He needed to remember that not everyone would feel this way, and that a lot of people would want to see this footage with the original aesthetic and creative integrity it was composed with.

    Home viewers and audiences deserved the option of seeing these scenes as they were originally filmed. This is indisputable, and the studio could have easily given the viewer this option in a variety of ways – a separate disc (no different than what is done with almost all 3D releases now), seamless branching, an option in the menu (no different than choosing to watch an extended edition or not), or even two totally separate versions for sale, so that the viewer could choose which way they wanted to see the film.

  9. Drew

    ” His movie, his decision to make.” —— Right! Exactly! And he made this decision when he composed and filmed certain scenes in IMAX!

    He can’t change his mind, merely because we don’t have IMAX sized screens at home! We deserve the option to see the footage the way it was originally artisticly rendered!

  10. Drew

    I don’t think anybody only wants to be forced to only ever see a minute portion of the shots that he composed. We might not even get the most vital parts of these shots when viewing them in 2.35:1. They were never meant for that framing.

    • Josh Zyber

      The vast majority of the theatrical screenings for this movie (both 35mm and digital) played at a constant 2.35:1 aspect ratio. IMAX screenings were only a minority of theaters. And even of those, only a very tiny number played in genuine IMAX 15/70 film-based theaters with 1.44:1 screens. The rest were digital IMAX, which has a screen ratio of 2:1.

      When I saw Ghost Protocol in a digital IMAX theater, the “opening up” from 2.35:1 to 2:1 was so negligible that you couldn’t even tell it happened unless you knew enough to look for it. I’m sure that the majority of the audience never noticed.

      The director was well aware of this when making the movie. By necessity, all of the IMAX scenes were primarily composed for 2.35:1, with the extra picture above and below protected for IMAX projection, just as directors protect Super 35 movies for open-matte cable broadcast even though the “OAR” is always intended to be 2.35:1

      You’re not missing any important picture information on this Blu-ray. The director himself has specifically stated that 2.35:1 was the Original Aspect Ratio for the film that he composed all scenes for. Why would he lie about that? What would he gain?

      You’re getting worked up over nothing.

      • JM

        ‘M:I-GP’ released as an IMAX event. IMAX represented 25% of the gross.

        Is this like the ‘Barry Lyndon’ aspect ratio issue all over again?

  11. Drew

    “When I saw Ghost Protocol in a digital IMAX theater, the “opening up” from 2.35:1 to 2:1 was so negligible that you couldn’t even tell it happened unless you knew enough to look for it. I’m sure that the majority of the audience never noticed.”

    16:9 televisions are not 2:1. They are 1.78:1, as you well know. Therefore, even if just opening up to 1.78:1, the home viewer would get a significant amount more of the original shot. Moreover, as I said before, if Bird wanted to maintain the artistic integrity of the shots, he could have given the viewer the option to have them open to1.44:1 as they were originally framed.

    • Josh Zyber

      By your reasoning, every movie should be open matte or cropped to 16:9 for video regardless of how they were composed or what the directors want. Brad Bird made this movie, and he does not like the alternating aspect ratio. That’s all there is to it.

      “He could have given the viewer the option to have them open to 1.44:1 as they were originally framed.”

      That’s what you’re not getting. The shots were “originally framed” for 2.35:1. They were only protected for IMAX. 99% of theatrical screenings were 2.35:1. The director has stated that he composed for 2.35:1 The OAR is 2.35:1.

      • You know, if this was a choice, I would jump on this. I would love to see an option to open up the mattes and “fill my screen”. But I don’t make a big deal about it. I got a feeling that, if they did, I might start seeing microphones and lights.

        Granted, Ghost Protocol had those scenes shot with open mattes in mind for projection in film IMAX theaters.

        Truthfully, I really like the idea of seamless branching to let the viewer choose. But, if we are forced to watch it either with the shifting aspect ratios or without it, I would choose to have a constant aspect ratio. Shoot, I couldn’t even make it through the Dark Knight release, because it is SO annoying. Shoot, it annoys me in Grease that the opening animated sequence is at a different aspect ratio than the rest of the movie.

        I think Bird made the right decision as far as what most people would prefer. But I really do wish that seamless branching would be utilized more for exactly this sort of issue.

  12. Drew

    “The director himself has specifically stated that 2.35:1 was the Original Aspect Ratio for the film that he composed all scenes for. Why would he lie about that? What would he gain?”.

    He says, in one breath, that these shots were composed and intended for the IMAX aspect ratio, and in another breath, that they kept panavision in mind when composing them. He’s just trying to appease everyone. He made a decision, and he’s trying to eliminate any uproar surrounding that decision. The fact of the matter is, these shots were positively composed and rendered for the IMAX aspect ratio. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have been shot with IMAX cameras, at all.

  13. Drew

    No. You’re wrong. You’re being absurd by suggesting this. That is not my reasoning at all. Every movie is not composed for 16:9 framing. I want the option to see every shot of every film in the framing it was artistically composed for. My reasoning is that every film should be presented in the way it was artistically conceived.

    If Brad Bird doesn’t like the idea of alternating aspect ratio, he certainly wouldn’t have filmed many scenes of his film in IMAX. Hence, obviously, you’re wrong to suggest this. Clearly he likes the idea of alternating aspect ratio. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have made a creative decision to film his movie in such a way. He took the easy way out, and blamed it on home viewers not having IMAX sized screens. Regardless, the viewer deserved an option of seeing 100% of the picture information, or however many percent of the picture information is afforded by framing it in 16:9. You are being ridiculous when you attempt to say that every film should be open matte, and displayed at 16:9. I never even said that I want THIS FILM to be displayed at 16:9. I said that the IMAX footage could be presented in it’s original 1.44:1 framing.


    I merely want the option to be able to see the artist’s original creative expression. If the bastardized version is less distracting, when viewing at home, I still want to know that I own a copy of the artwork that contains the full rendering of the artist’s initial aesthetic concept.

    You are the last person I would think would argue against being given the original artistic presentation. Would you like to buy a Da Vinci reproduction that only contained a certain percentage of his original vision, just because he said it would be okay that way at home?

    • Josh Zyber

      There are other reasons for shooting in IMAX format than the aspect ratio. IMAX film has much greater sharpness and clarity than 35mm.

      If you knew anything about IMAX, you’d know that IMAX films are photographed with loose composition by design. To truly transfer the “OAR” of IMAX to home video requires a 1.44:1 image pillarboxed in the center of a 16:9 HDTV screen. That’s the exact opposite of the intended purpose of IMAX, which is why most IMAX films are cropped for video.

      IMAX films require compromises when transferred to video, because the IMAX experience cannot be reproduced at home. The director of this film felt that the best compromise for his movie would be to maintain a constant 2.35:1 aspect ratio. As he has explicitly stated, he composed the entire movie, IMAX footage included, for that ratio.

      You may not agree with that decision, but it is his decision. You are getting the movie that he wants you to see.

      Personally, I don’t agree with Steven Soderbergh for casting Channing Tatum in his last couple of movies. But they’re his movies, and he’s going to do what he wants with them. C’est la vie.

      • JM

        Brad Bird stated with clarity that his love of IMAX is 100% because of the resolution of 70mm.

        We won’t get his original creative expression until the 8K blu-ray.

      • IMAX movies are also usually shot with a fish-eyed lense, because most true IMAX screens are curved or even domed. This is why many IMAX films tend to look distorted on home video, depending on the decisions made in the transfer. If we went by Drew’s argument that it should be as the filmmaker artistically intended it, we actually wouldn’t be showing it in 1.44:1 SQUARE, it would actually be more like How The West Was Won, in smilevision. It may not be as exagerated as HTWWW, but it really is the only way to show it as the director intended it.

        So, not ONLY would you have to have shifting aspect ratios and pillerbox the sides, but you would have a non-square picture in the middle of the screen. This may appease Drew and one or two others, but I am sure that the majority of the public out there would be screaming for blood.

        If the movie was composed for 2.35:1, that is the way it should be presented. Many movies are actually shot full frame, and the mattes applied later on. Are you arguing that, just because a movie was shot full frame, that every movie should be released in 4:3 on home video?

  14. Drew

    “That’s what you’re not getting. The shots were “originally framed” for 2.35:1. They were only protected for IMAX. 99% of theatrical screenings were 2.35:1. The director has stated that he composed for 2.35:1 The OAR is 2.35:1.”

    This is the most, well, there’s no polite way to put it, so I’ll just forego an adjective, and say that it’s the most, insert your own word here statement you’ve ever made. You’re seriously suggesting that shots that filmed with IMAX cameras were originally framed at 16:9? Do you even realize the irony? Let’s put this in perspective, shall we? A director made a creative decision to film footage using equipment that captures footage for presentation at 1.44:1, and “originally” framed said footage at 2.35:1.

    Josh, did you even think before making that statement? It’s preposterous! It’s literally impossible to originally frame such footage at 2.35:1.

    • Josh Zyber

      Do you understand how photographic composition works? Just because the capture medium has more picture information on the negative doesn’t mean that the movie was composed to use that entire negative.

      Of “scope” movies today, the majority are shot on Super 35 film, which has a negative aspect ratio of about 1.66:1, or shot digitally by cameras with a ratio of 16:9. The extra picture at the top and bottom is matted off to achieve the intended compositional aspect ratio. You wouldn’t say that the “OAR” of a movie like Lord of the Rings was 1.66:1. The movie was composed for 2.35:1. That is the OAR.

      This is the exact same situation. Brad Bird knew that the majority of theatrical screenings for his film would be 2.35:1, with a smaller amount at 2:1 and a miniscule amount at 1.44:1. He composed the shots for 2.35:1, and protected the shots for projection at the other ratios.

      Brad Bird has decided that the OAR for his movie is 2.35:1. Therefore, that is the OAR. There’s nothing more to debate.

  15. Drew


    Thank you!

    25% of the gross represents roughly 165 million dollars. Thus, proving a significant number of viewers are quite passionate about seeing this footage.

    • JM

      IMAX fans are passionate about getting a 5-Star transfer of the 70mm sequences for 4x the clarity, but probably wish the entire film was 16:9.

  16. Drew

    And, no, 99% of theatrical screenings were not 2.35:1. IMAX screenings made up 25% of this films gross. So, at least 25% of the screenings were not 2.35:1.

    • Josh Zyber

      What percentage of those IMAX screenings were digital IMAX at a 2:1 aspect ratio versus film IMAX at 1.44:1?

      By your reasoning, 75% of the movie’s audience is “passionate” about seeing it at 2.35:1. Of the other 25%, the majority are passionate about seeing it at 2:1. A small minority are passionate about seeing it at 1.44:1, and nobody at all is passionate about seeing it at 16:9.

      • JM

        I wish the entire film was shot on IMAX and framed at 16:9!

        I wish I could shoot this 15′ on my wall with a REDRAY 8K laser projector!

      • You do not go see a feature-length movie at the IMAX because you want 1.44:1 aspect ratio. You go because 65mm film has much greater clarity than a 2K projector at a theater.

        Now, if I am watching a NASA documentary at the Imax Dome, than, yeah, I want 1.44:1 with the fish-eyed lense.

        Drew, do you SERIOUSLY believe that people went to go see this movie at the IMAX because of the aspect ratio it was shown at? I have seen you make some pretty naive comments on these threads, but that one takes the cake

  17. Drew

    “If you knew anything about IMAX, you’d know that IMAX films are photographed with loose composition by design. To truly transfer the “OAR” of IMAX to home video requires a 1.44:1 image pillarboxed in the center of a 16:9 HDTV screen. That’s the exact opposite of the intended purpose of IMAX, which is why most IMAX films are cropped for video.”

    If you knew anything about IMAX, you would know that you just proved my point, for me. IMAX is a format that allows for almost any designated composition, and yet, here you are suggesting that the IMAX footage was “originally” framed at 2.35:1. Obviously, if you understood IMAX, you would recognize the lunacy of such a statement, and realize that this is impossible, given the loose composition afforded by shooting in IMAX.

    Furthermore, do you actually think you’re uadding anything by bringing up the fact that shooting in IMAX allows for better sharpness and clarity? This goes without saying. Greater sharpness and clarity is not the reason that certain footage in this film was filmed with IMAX. Everybody knows this. Bird, himself, has even admitted this. The reason certain footage was shot in IMAX was to open up the aspect ratio in an effort to give viewers an improved vertigo inducing experience. This is why this footage contained such a great amount of vertical picture information.

  18. Drew


    Do you understand how photographic

    Seriously. Do you?

    I have a very clear understanding of it.

    • JM

      Don’t they always capture a bigger image than they want, in order to crop it however looks best?

  19. Drew

    The reason why I ask is because you bring up all of this information that is common knowledge, and meaningless to our discussion.

    Perhaps you’re trying to remind yourself how photographic composition works, to draw attention away from the fact that you tried to suggest that IMAX footage was “originally” framed at 2.35:1. As if an original framing for this footage could have actually existed.

    The OAR of the film varies. It’s flat-out stupid to suggest otherwise. The OAR of certain scenes is 1.44:1. The OAR of other scenes is 2.35:1. That’s all there is to it. This is an absolute fact.

  20. Drew

    The equipment used to shoot a film, whether it is super 35, HD digital, or IMAX does not dictate the original framing or photographic composition of a shot. The framing is determined afterwards. Bird chose to frame and compose certain footage with a great deal of vertical information, in an effort to give the audience a better sense of vertigo, and to up the ante during these scenes. The OAR of these scenes is 1.44:1. During the rest of the film, the OAR remains 2.35:1.

    • JM

      If the blu-ray kept switching back-and-forth between 2.35 and 1.44 would that be enjoyable to watch?

      Would it create the vertigo effect?

  21. Drew

    Any motion picture can be captured in any imaginable way, but the photographic composition determined thereafter is done so with an implicit intent, by the artist. Bird had a very specific reason for framing the IMAX footage at 1.44:1. Just because many theatrical screenings were limited to 2:1 or 2.35:1, this doesn’t mean that this is the OAR. By your reasoning, the OAR of.the digital IMAX screenings was 2:1. This is obviously inaccurate. The only way that the audience could witness every shot of this film in it’s OAR was to see it in true IMAX. This was the incentive to see it in authentic IMAX. This was the only way we could see 100% of the footage the way it was originally intended to be seen by the artist, himself.

    • Josh Zyber

      “Just because many theatrical screenings were limited to 2:1 or 2.35:1, this doesn’t mean that this is the OAR.”

      You know what DOES mean that the OAR is 2.35:1? The film’s director, the man whose job it is it make that decision, saying that the OAR is 2.35:1. Case closed.

  22. Drew


    I couldn’t agree more! That would be ideal!

    Regarding always capturing a larger image than they want. This is not always necessarily true. Super 35 captures at about 1.66:1. HD digital captures at about 1.78:1, and yet many films captured with these formats are framed at 2.35:1, or even 2.40:1. So, in these cases, you could say that they are capturing “bigger” vertically, than they want, but certainly not capturing “bigger” horizontally than they want.

    Ultimately, the photographic composition is decided upon, with the intent of displaying the shot in a way that appeals to the artist for a variety of different reasons.

    • JM

      I thought they over-captured every shot, vertically and horizontally, so they have some wiggle room to shift the frame whichever way they want to crop?

      Like if I shot a 1920×1080 photo, but cropped it slightly down and to the left, so it was still 16×9, but the resolution was 1670×940?

      Don’t they throw away 5-15% of resolution of every shot, to perfect the framing?

  23. Drew

    I’m not sure. I just know that we should be given the opportunity to find out for ourselves. I understand that he composed the footage and framed it at 1.44:1 with IMAX screens in mind, but nonetheless this is the way that the photography was composed, and it would be nice to see his original vision, even without the benefit of an IMAX sized screen.

    Perhaps it wouldn’t be good at home, but we should be given the chance to compare and contrast. If it is distracting, or ineffective, and the viewer chooses not to watch it that way, it would still be lovely to be able to look at all of the vertical picture information, that he included when composing these shots, just to see what is being eliminated when watching it in 2.35:1.

    This version should have been included, if even for the benefit of just pausing it to look at the special vertical photography.

    The bottom line is that we deserve to see the photography, the way that it wad ultimately composed.

  24. Drew

    What you describe here is commonplace, definitely. I was merely alluding to the fact that this is not only the case. Sometimes, only more vertical information is captured. Others, only more horizontal information is captured. It’s a stylistic choice to over-capture, and decide how you are going to do so. Although, what you describe is certainly the way that it occurs, the high majority of the time.

  25. JM

    They should have designed the blu-ray format for consumer satisfaction.

    Every disc should have menu settings for theatrical and extended cuts, for aspect ratio preference, for subtitle placement, and a sound test to tweak dialogue volume.

    I hope when things switch to 4K they do a better job of providing customization.

  26. Drew

    This is very true. I’ve always been disappointed that blu-ray never offered a customizable experience. I feel like HD DVD would have, if it would have remained in the game. That format seemed a lot more geared to consumer satisfaction. It’s not like blu-ray disc doesn’t have the storage capacity to make this possible.

    Remember the famed, “six times the storage capacity of DVD”? Most BDs use about an eighth of their overall capacity.

    The next-gen format better consider this

    • Truthfully, I feel that many of the shortcomings in Blu-Ray could be fixed with a simple firmware fix. I honestly do not know why they don’t do this – I mean, you have to upgrade your firmware every year or so to play the new Fox releases.

      I think the STUPIDEST limitation of Blu-Ray is that 1080p is ONLY allowed at 24fps. HD-DVD didn’t have that limitation. And there is no technical limitation of the format for this – most Blu-Ray players support AVCHD, and it allows 1080p at different framerates.

      Yes, there was a few things that HD-DVD was better on, with that being the main one. I just really do not get why they haven’t addressed that issue yet.

  27. Drew

    … Hit submit on accident.

    …better consider this, at launch. Learn from the mistakes of the previous generation. Don’t create a situation in which you’re having to retroactively atone for your own mistakes.

    There’s no reason that we shouldn’t have an experience that is unique to our many varying and disparate circumstances.

  28. Brian H

    Despite assuming that MI:GP would be released with alternating aspect ratios as the Dark Knight had been, I made a special effort to see MI:GP in IMAX as the movie had been marketed as though 3D IMAX was the target medium. I actually did not really notice the changing scope, with the exception of several shots of Dubai and the sand storm. It was certainly less noticeable than all the iphones and ipads employed by than IMF team during the movie among other disappointing aspects of the plot.

    I doubt that the director had CIH projector enthusiasts in mind, but his decision for the blu ray release pushes viewers a bit further away from that IMAX theater experience. While this doe not affect me aside from making me glad I made the effort to see it in IMAX. It does raise the issue of director’s intent versus viewer choice.

    I used to really endorse director’s cuts and extended editions, only to find several instances of director’s cuts not really being what a director wanted, extended cuts being editing tragedies, and directors making endless changes that confuse everyone.

    Unlike the endless and ongoing Star Wars debacle, there are movies like the Last of the Mohicans where I have no idea what the original release was even like. Which has really directed me to think that whatever the intent of the director, studio, and everyone else involved is, once the movie has been released and seen by the public, that public version of the move should be available. There are numerous technical limitations and gimmicks (smello-vision) that won’t make a home media release, but the idea of replacing the version of the movie that viewers saw in theaters should not be encouraged. I would hope that the Library of Congress has multiple versions of Brazil on file.

    • Josh Zyber

      I don’t disagree with your sentiment in principle here, Brian. But I will point out again that the majority of theaters that played Ghost Protocol during its original run ran the movie at a constant 2.35:1 aspect ratio.

      This is not an after-the-fact revision. The movie was made from the start with both aspect ratio presentations planned. The director had to choose one for Blu-ray, and he chose the one with the constant ratio, as is his prerogative.

      • Brian H

        I know that this has moved to another thread, but taking the finished and released version of the film that was shown in most theaters and that the director considers the best version and releasing it on blu ray seems reasonable.
        Honestly, I’m a big fan of the Zemeckis Beowulf, and I encouraged friends and coworkers to see it in 3d IMAX. I saw Superman Returns in 3d IMAX, and was thoroughly unimpressed all around. The point being, If you want to see the version shown in IMAX, you had better see it in IMAX.