by The Digital Bits
reviews below were written by regular contributors to
Home Theater Forum. At the end of each review,
you'll find a link to an official thread at The
HTF where you can discuss the discs with fellow
enthusiasts. Note that the review format will vary, and is different
than our regular format here at The Bits.
The opinions expressed are those of the individual reviewer, and do
not necessarily represent those of The
Digital Bits. We simply present these reviews for your
reading pleasure, and we hope you enjoy them!
HD DVD Title: Heroes Season 1
Screen format: 1080P 1.78:1 VC-1 Encoded
Studio: NBC Universal
First theatrical release: 2006/2007
Previously released on DVD/BluRay: Day & Date with
Anamorphic Widescreen DVD
Written & created by: Tim Kring (24 Episodes). Directors:
Allan Arkush (5 episodes, 2006-2007), Greg Beeman (4 episodes,
2006-2007), Paul A. Edwards (3 episodes, 2006-2007), John Badham
(2 episodes, 2006-2007), Paul Shapiro (2 episodes, 2006-2007)
Starring: Hayden Panettiere, Masi Oka, James Kyson Lee, Sendhil
Ramamurthy, Jack Coleman, Adrian Pasdar, Milo Ventimiglia, Ali
Larter, Noah Gray-Cabey, Greg Grunberg, Zachary Quinto, Santiago
Cabrera, Tawny Cypress, Leonard Roberts
Sound Formats: English Dolby Digital Plus 5.1
Length: 23 fill length TV episodes plus the unaired pilot over 7
HD DVD disks
Subtitles: English & French
Review by Sam Posten
In Heroes, veteran TV Writer/Producer Tim Kring has crafted a TV
fanboy/girls dream series, compromising a sweeping ensemble
cast of newly discovered superheroes. Without giving away too much
of the story, suffice it to say that while each begins to learn
about their extraordinary new talents, they also begin to unravel
the mysterious forces that tie them together and the inconceivable
future that they must band together to prevent. I dont even
want to give a listing of the major characters and their powers, as
doing so would ruin some of the charm as viewers witness the
characters discoveries, but I will say that for me the breakout
stars here were Hayden Panatierre and Masi Oka. While Panatierres
high school cheerleader balances her two lives with delicacy, Masi
Okas bored Japanese businessman breathes life into the geek
fantasy of becoming a hero with such relish that its
impossible to not root for the guy, and the hints to his amazing
future capabilities that are uncovered in episode five are sure to
draw viewers in even more tightly.
Despite the comic book pedigree, Heroes is one of the most creative
and smart dramas to emerge in the last few years, along with shows
such as Lost and 24. Chances are if you were addicted to either of
those shows youve already had more exposure to Heroes than I
have so far. Like Lost, Heroes excels at feeding its viewers with
just enough answers each hour to keep the show moving, while
introducing new twists and questions to keep everyone guessing. It
is no mistake that the first episode is titled Genesis
as this very much just the kick off to what is hopefully a very long
running series, and both the religious overtones and resonating
importance of the genesis of this story is hard to miss.
Heroes also features more movie like cinematography and killer
stunts, CGI and effects than most prime time TV dramas. Thats
not to say that Heroes is all sizzle, the talented cast and complex
story lines ensure that these window dressings serve to enhance the
show, and arent the only reason for tuning in. In the end,
Heroes captures what is best about Comic Book Superheroes, by giving
extraordinary powers to average people and putting them into
situations both incredible and mundane, we can really examine the
best and worst of what makes us human, and in holding a mirror up to
us all, help us to focus on who we are individually.
Sound Quality: 3/5
While the visual qualities of Heroes are easy to laud, the sound
side of things is a bit more subtle and almost a disappointment.
While asking for a truly enveloping surround mix for a 24 hour long
dramatic series is probably asking a bit much, its hard not to
note the very front focused sound stage. Over the last week Ive
checked out a few of the initial reviews from people getting this
title and Ive seen a few scores north of 4 and I simply dont
agree that a title that has been this well cared for on the video
and extras side can slide by saying what do you want, its
So, what do we have? Well, despite being front loaded and a bit
short on the bass end, this set DOES capture the audio content that
is present with clarity and punch. In particular the popular songs
that are used plus the works of Lisa Coleman and Wendy Melvoin. For
more information on those, be sure to check the Heroes Wiki at:
As noted the musical score is sharp and ranges the full gamut of
emotions that a typical TV drama would need, and not shockingly a
lot of it is used a bit repetitively. Dialogue is crisp and well
imaged across the fronts, and there are very occasional effects that
bleed into the rears. Overall, its quality stuff but the fact
that its so front heavy is noticeable immediately and
throughout the season, at least through the three quarters that Ive
gotten through so far.
Visual Quality: 4.5
As a TV show you would be hard pressed to find a finer video package
than Heroes. Heroes was conceived from the start as being an HD killer
app, and the season was broadcast in SD and simulcast in 1080i
HD. From what Im told this 1080P VC-1 encoded version blows
away even that HD broadcast.
To start with, Heroes is exceptionally sharp and detailed.
Individual fibers and small set contents details are overflowing in
just about every scene. Facial details are also quite clear which is
something that is often lacking in movie content. I never noted any
instances of over sharpening or other digital artifacts, but noise
WAS present in several scenes, particularly in scenes featuring
Niki, tho I am at a loss as to explain why.
The color palette is also quite wide, with some scenes taking on
color dramatic casts but for the most part the series mimicked the
vibrant hues associated with comic superheroes, and nowhere is this
more evident than in the paintings created by Isaac. These are
panels that would be welcome in any modern or classic comic book and
they are brought through in tremendous detail in this transfer, and
the real life scenes that match up with the panels are just as
colorful and detailed.
Overall Heroes looks better than any TV show deserves to look, via
broadcast or on disk, and it is clear that a lot of love and hard
work went into ensuring that these disks capture every bit of detail
that was in those broadcasts, and more.
Extra Features: 5+/5
Heroes Season Ones collection of extras is simply off the hook
and I hardly knew where to begin going through all of them.
Fortunately Universal includes a handy reference chart that tells
you how to get going with both the U-control Features and the online
interactive content. Im saving most of those features to dig
through once I have finally completed watching the whole season (so
as not to ruin any of the many spoilers that they undoubtedly
contain), but it looks like we should bookmark a few extra hours to
go through all of them. The guide notes that these include character
connection links, picture in picture behind the scenes details and
commentaries, and high-res presentations of Isaacs comic
panels on the U-Control side as well as Web enabled content like a Genetic
Abilities Test. More on all of these hopefully next week.
Even without counting those features tho, Heroes would be in the
neighborhood of a five star score. Extras include the full 71 minute
unaired pilot episode (with commentary) which, to be fair, is very
similar to episode 1. There are however 50 (!) deleted scenes which
are selectable by episode, a full Making of featurette,
a featurette on the stunts, a featurette on the musical score, an
interactive Mind Reader game, and a profile of artist
Tim Sale who did the comic panels.
Finally, there are both standard audio commentaries for a few of the
episodes but also video commentaries as noted in the U-Control
segment. Slick! While not every episode has a commentary, it would
probably be a bit much to go through 24+ hours of the cast and crew
yammering on. Still, like the HD-DVD of 300, having these run along
side of the actual episodes is a treat that simply couldnt be
done on DVD and has yet to be done on Blu-Ray either.
Overall: 4.5/5 (not an average)
Heroes is one of this falls most anticipated releases and it
comes through satisfying on every level except for those who
expected it to have a fully enveloping surround mix. While that isnt
the case, it isnt at all surprising and every other facet is
rock solid or better. Ill be spending a lot of additional time
with the extras here myself over the next few weeks and for sure I
will be at the front of the line when next season rolls around!
this review here at The Home Theater Forum.
Studio: Warner Home Video
Rated: PG (Animated action violence, some scary cartoon images
and mild language)
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
HD Encoding: 1080p
HD Video Codec: VC-1
Audio:Dolby True HD: English 5.1; Dolby Digital Plus: English
5.1, French 5.1 (Dubbed in Quebec) and Spanish 5.1
Subtitles: English; Spanish; French
Time: 87 minutes
Disc Format: HD-DVD/ DVD combo disc
Case Style: Keep case
Theatrical Release Date: 2007
HD-DVD Release Date: August 7, 2007
Review by Pat Wahlquist
remember many years ago, not too long after I got heavily into comic
books, and I was just learning who Frank Miller and Dave Sim were, a
comic called Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT) came out. It
completely missed my radar as I was too concerned with the various
titles with X or Spider in them to really care. After about a month,
the Comic Buyers Guide began posting how TMNT was now the hottest
thing around and first printings of the first issue were going for
$50-$100. Never being too shy to jump on a bandwagon, young creators
began churning out the rip-offs: Adolescent Radioactive Black Belt
Hamsters and Pre-Teen Dirty Gene Kung Fu Kangaroos come to mind.
Eventually, First Comics struck a deal with Kevin Eastman and Peter
Laird, the creators of TMNT, to reprint the issues in collected,
color editions, so I finally got to read them. After the hype that
surrounded them, I really didnt see what all the fuss was
about. Many years later, I began reading Millers Daredevil
issues and his Ronin series, and Dave Sims Cerebus and my
appreciation of the parody came into focus.
Eastman and Laird had successfully parodied the industry, made a few
bucks and Hollywood came sniffing around. Cartoons, live action
movies, and every other consumer good you can think of soon bore the
images of the four turtles, Michelangelo, Donatello, Raphael and
Leonardo, and remained very successful for many years. With all good
fads, the turtles run petered out (both in comics and other media)
until now, where we are presented with an updated CG version. In
this version, we seem to have continued where previous movie
continuity left off: the turtles main enemy, The Shredder, has
been destroyed and each turtle has gone off to pursue new lives. The
turtles reporter friend April (Sarah Michelle Gellar) finds
Leonardo (James Arnold Taylor) training in South America, while
Raphael (Nolan North) chases crooks as a vigilante, and Michelangelo
(Mikey Kelly) and Donatello (Mitchell Whitfield) make ends meet in
other boring side jobs. Wealthy businessman Max Winters (Patrick
Stewart) is using The Shredders clan, The Foot, to track some
monsters that are attacking the city and he has resurrected some
stone soldiers to aid in their capture. Winters is doing this so he
can apparently achieve immortality (or not) and rule the world. The
opening throws a lot at you and makes some left turns that left me
scratching my head as I was trying to put it all together, so the
kiddies may be left doing the same thing. While this is going on,
there is family drama between Raph and Leo, and their aged master,
Splinter (Mako) must convince his sons how the value of family and
team work will help to stop the end of the world.
In this dizzying update of the franchise, writer/ director Kevin
Munroe seems to really want to design video games. Almost every shot
in the movie pans out, pushes in, or highlights the action in
sweeping moves. This style reminded me very much of most any video
game you see these days where our hero performs death defying moves
to save the day while the camera follows him. While I may not get
this form of storytelling for the Gen X-box crowd, my friends kids
ate it up. In the end, those of us who are TMNT traditionalists
still have our trusty comics to read while our kids can watch this
one. Some of the scenes are amazing in their composition and
execution and it shows how far CG is coming.
Note: I am watching this title using a Marantz VP 12-S4 DLP
projector, which has a native resolution of 720p. I am using a
Toshiba HD-A1 for a player and utilizing the HDMI capabilities of
The picture is in VC-1, encoded at 1080p and it is framed at 2.40:1.
The CG picture is excellent, but there were minor instances of
banding. Detail on the turtles is exceptional stretching the limits
of the animators rendering software. ILM used similar techniques in
Episode III on Yoda to achieve a more realistic look to the skin,
and the same goes for the turtles. The human characters look good at
best, maintaining more of a Legend of Zelda look as opposed to
realistic rendering. There is a very specific color palate to the
picture, so what is here is purposely muted to maintain consistency.
Depth of field was very evident in the video presentation, achieving
that near 3-D look at times. Black levels are good, with deep
shadows and good delineation. The rooftop fight scene between
Raphael and Leonardo is amazing, especially the water reactions as
the turtles jump and land and the reflections of the neon only
enhance the experience. Upon close inspection of the picture, it
appears to be a little soft, especially in the background items, but
I believe this was the intent of the animators to give it a
The Dolby True HD soundtrack was attained by a 5.1 analog
I watched the movie with the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track engaged. This
TrueHD track has a very immersive soundstage with the surrounds
being utilized constantly. There is richness to the soundtrack that
envelops the listener and places them in the middle of the action.
Highs and mids are well represented and accurate. Bass effects were
full and deep, blending nicely into the rest of the mix. Vocal
elements are natural sounding and smooth. Since there is so much
action in this flick, I was concerned there may be some stumbles in
the panning effects, but there were none. You can trace the on
screen action with the visuals, again, adding to the overall
enjoyment of the movie. This is an incredible surround experience.
With the advent of HD-DVD, we are faced with several different audio
and video codecs being used on each disc. Due to this, I have begun
adding the encoding details as part of the explanation of bonus
features when applicable and relevant. For this release, the extras
are in MPEG-2, 480p unless otherwise noted.
Commentary by writer/director Kevin Munroe: Munroe spends most of
his time talking about the CG process involved in making the movie.
Munroe goes on to narrate all of the following bonus materials:
Mikeys birthday party full sequence (3:16)
Raphaels Rough House Fight Test (1:41): early CG test footage
the producers showed to the studios to sell the project and see how
the characters would work.
Monsters Come Alive (2:50): a storyboard sequence with live CGI
comparison where Casey and Raphael battle the Stone General.
Donnys Digital Data Files (1:57): Producer Paul Wang and
Munroe talk about the technological challenges of the project,
specifically the detail in the characters skin.
Roof Top Workout (5:35): A cut scene while the storyboards play.
Still Wanna Fight? Temp/Scratch Test (3:11):The expanded Casey and
April apartment scene lends a little more weight to their
Alternate Opening (3:03): Splinter tells the story of where the
turtles have been since the last movie in this color storyboard to
finished CGI sequence.
Alternate Ending Temp/Scratch Test (1:17): Some extra story material
that took away from the turtles, but included some Casey and April
Additional Scene: Splinter Gets Cake: (2:09) Mikey sneaks cake to
Splinter in this grey scale pre-viz.
Interviews with Voice Talent Patrick Stewart, Sarah Michelle Gellar,
Laurence Fishburne and Filmakers (5:04): The voice actors and Munroe
explain the plot and characters. Its kind of funny to hear
these actors try and put some legitimacy to TMNT.
Trailer: TMNT Internet Reel (3:52)
TMNT returns to the screen in an updated version sure to thrill the
kids for the video game-like visuals and attitudes of the four
turtle brothers. The HT enthusiast parents of these young viewers
will enjoy the incredible HD video and audio presentation.
Unfortunately we are left with a ho-hum set of extras.
this review here at The Home Theater Forum.