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10 Fantastic Blu-ray Demo Scenes

With chapters and running times. 9/20/2010 7:33 AM Eastern

10 Fantastic Blu-ray Demo Scenes

Sep 20, 2010 11:33 AM, By Jason Bovberg

With chapters and running times.




A few months ago, in “Top 10 Blu-ray Demos”, I gave you a shopping list of sorts. It was a list of my favorite Blu-ray Discs, with which I like to show off the capabilities of my high-def home theater. It was listing of what I felt were some of the greatest AV presentations available on disc. The listing seemed to be a hit, but a few of you felt the list would be more valuable if it had contained chapter and time notations so that you could easily access specific scenes for your demos. In this month’s column, I provide a selection of demo scenes from some of the same movies I referenced in the earlier article, plus a bevy of new scenes for your enjoyment. So pop in those discs and access some of the best demo material out there.

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1. Kung Fu Panda (two 6-minute demos)
“Po’s Training Sequence,” immediately followed by “The Furious Five Face Tai Lung”; chapters 16 and 17, 0:56:29 to 1:02:05
“The Battle of Po and Tai Lung”; chapter 21, 1:14:05 to 1:20:45
Kung Fu Panda is one of my favorite animated films of the past decade—and Pixar had nothing to do with it. It’s not only a beauty to behold in Blu-ray, it’s also got some of the sharpest wit and creative choreography that I’ve seen in the genre. With its precisely edited, colored, and choreographed animations, “Po’s Training Sequence” showcases the film’s terrific, sly humor. And that sequence is immediately followed by a kick-ass action sequence in which the Furious Five—Tigress, Monkey, Mantis, Viper, and Crane— face off with the evil Tai Lung on a rickety suspension bridge. Late in the film, our main character, Po battles Tai Lung for the elusive Dragon Scroll. It’s endlessly rewatchable demo material.

2. Avatar (Two 10-minute Demos)
“Banshee Rookery” and “First Flight”; chapter 16 and 17, 1:05:11 to 1:14:45
“Battle for Pandora” and “Fall of the Heroes”; chapters 30 and 31, 2:10:02 to 2:19:50
What collection of demo scenes would be complete without scenes from the most perfectly fine Blu-ray transfer on the market? This disc hadn’t been released when I presented that first article, but since I wrote it, Avatar is the first disc I turn to when I want to wow someone. For sheer wonder, you can’t beat the otherworldliness of the first demo above, which puts Pandora and its inhabitants on full display, but if you really want to get hearts pounding, play that second demo, which is a full-on masterpiece of a sci-fi/fantasy battle sequence.

3. 500 Days of Summer (one 2-minute demo)
“You Make My Dreams Come True”; chapter 11, 0:31:35 to 0:33:26
How about a little humor? One of the most fun indy romances last year, 500 Days of Summer gives you a chance to show off your system in a more grown-up way. This post-coital fantasy musical number is brief, but it provides one of the most exhilarating moments in the film. Plus, it features the classic Hall & Oates song. How can you go wrong?

4. The Dark Knight (one 9-minute demo)
“Batman and the Joker Truck Chase”; chapters 20 and 21, 1:14:25 to 1:23:30
Christopher Nolan’s dark comic-book behemoth arrived on Blu-ray fresh off IMAX screens. In theaters, only about 20 minutes of the film—some action sequences and some panoramic shots—took full advantage of the gigantic IMAX screen, and on disc, those scenes get the full 1.85:1 presentation while the rest of the film reverts to 2.35:1. The solution isn’t perfect, but those image-maxed scenes are plenty powerful on Blu-ray, and the thumping bass boosts the effect. A regular demo scene at my place is the armored-car sequence in the middle of the movie. It’s a powerhouse.

5) The Fifth Element (one 8-minute demo)
“Taxi Boom”; chapter 5, 0:32:14 to 0:39:00
The Fifth Element is a crazy future tale, full of bubblegum imagery and wacky sci-fi gobbledygook, but it can be an extraordinarily fun ride. I don’t think the movie is entirely successful—thanks in large part to the casting of Chris Tucker as Ruby Rhod—but Bruce Willis as the wisecracking Korben Dallas and Milla Jovovich as the fetching Leeloo make this a comic journey worth taking. In chapter 5, we meet Leeloo just after her creation, as Dallas takes her on a wild mid-air cab ride through congested city streets. Going on 15 years old, the sequence still stuns.


10 Fantastic Blu-ray Demo Scenes

Sep 20, 2010 11:33 AM, By Jason Bovberg

With chapters and running times.




6) The Wizard of Oz (two 3- to 4-minute demos)
“Somewhere Over the Rainbow”; chapter 4, 0:05:49 to 0:08:02
“If I Only Had a Brain”; chapter 21 and 22, 0:34:45 to 0:38:48
A pristine restoration of the 1939 Technicolor classic arrived on Blu-ray last year, and for the first time (after countless viewings), I could behold the “burlap” makeup on the Scarecrow’s face, Judy Garland’s freckles, the elaborate Oz set design, and just the wealth of fine details in every background. Brittle frames have been repaired, and fading colors have been magnificently enriched. Watching this movie in Blu is a revelation. Although the original mono soundtrack is nothing to get excited about, the lossless representation is warm and accurate. The classic “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” sequence lets you show off the beauty of the film’s sepia-tone early section, but the “If I Only Had a Brain” scene will become a favorite demo.

7) Ponyo (one 8-minute demo)
“Ponyo’s Typhoon”; chapter 8, 0:43:50 to 0:51:05
Hayao Miyazaki’s Ponyo, a reworking of the Little Mermaid tale, might strike you as a film solely for the kindergarten crowd, but there’s no denying it’s one strikingly beautiful animated film. Miyazaki’s watercolor cels burst to life in the Blu-ray home theater. Perhaps the most vivid action sequence of the film is this excellent demo scene, in which a boy and his mother race home while the waters of the sea surrounding them roil in chaos—and Ponyo races, smiling, above it all.

8) Close Encounters of the Third Kind (two 8-minute demos)
“Incident on a County Road”; chapters 4 and 5, 0:19:22 to 0:27:43
“Communicating with the Mothership”; chapters 16 and 17, 1:51:11 to 1:59:28
Steven Spielberg’s 1977 UFO movie is beginning to show its age, but a few of the film’s scenes still seem ageless to me. The first is Richard Dreyfuss’s initial encounter with the aliens on that dark, lonely stretch of road, just after the lights of the vehicle behind his truck rise ominously in his rearview mirror. The second, of course, is the arrival of—and musical communication with—the gargantuan alien mothership over Devil’s Tower. The high-def Blu-ray presentation gives both scenes a powerful bass punch.

9. Bolt (one 8-minute demo)
“Highway Chase”; chapter 2, 0:02:31 to 0:11:00
This whiz-bang kiddie action flick is the first 2D animation from the John Lasseter-helmed Disney Animation Studio, and it’s one of the biggest surprises to come out of that studio in a long time. As with most animation on Blu-ray, this is a spectacularly clear, detailed video experience, and the lossless audio packs a bass-pounding wallop. Watch the opening action scene for 10 minutes of pure home-theater joy. Turns out, this isn’t just a kick for the kids; it’s a true pleasure for all ages. This sequence is a wickedly edited pulse-pounder.

10. Pixar Extravaganza
Up (two 4- to 5-minute demos)
“Married Life”; chapter 3, 0:07:14 to 0:11:34
“The Dogfight”; chapter 32 and 33, 1:21:54 to 1:26:01

Toy Story 2 (two 6- to 8-minute demos)
“Woody’s Restoration and Al’s Toy Barn”; chapters 17 to 21, 0:39:09 to 0:47:00
“Jessie’s Story”; chapter 22, 0:47:24 to 0:53:23

Monsters, Inc. (one 7-minute demo)
“The Door Vault”; chapter 26 1:06:25 to 1:13:54

Ratatouille (two 4- to 8-minute demos)
“Paper Chase”; chapter 22, 1:11:25 to 1:15:05
“Dinner Rush and Anton Ego’s Review”; chapter 27-29, 1:32:40 to 1:40:54
Whether your favorite Pixar film on Blu-ray is Toy Story, A Bug’s Life, Toy Story 2, Monsters Inc., Ratatouille, Wall-E, or Up, it’s going to boast the very best AV presentation available for the home theater. Rock-solid imagery, lossless sound presentations, and just plain wonderful storytelling make the Pixar films an old standby for demos in my theater. Favorite demo scenes include the beautifully emotional first 10 minutes of Up, as well as that film’s hilarious dogfight scenes toward the end; the scenes of Woody’s restoration, as well as “Jessie’s Story” from Toy Story 2; the rollercoaster door-vault sequence from Monsters Inc.; and the exhilarating boat chase from Ratatouille, as well as that film’s heartbreakingly nostalgic finale. Now I want to know when The Incredibles is due on Blu-ray!

Now you have all the information you need to stage some terrific demos in your home theater. So gather all your friends—particularly the ones you’re trying to convince to invest in high-def—and insert these discs for a rollicking good time.

Jason Bovberg is a senior editor for Windows IT Pro and SQL Server magazine and a regular contributor to Residential AV Presents Connected Home. He specializes in networking, mobile and wireless, hardware, and home computing. He has more than 15 years of experience as a writer and editor in magazine, book, and special-interest publishing. He can be reached at jbovberg@windowsitpro.com.


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