Heavenly Sword (Blu-ray) (2014)
|Category||Animation||Trailer-Mythica: A Quest for Heroes|
|Year Of Production||2014|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Ads Then Menu|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Gun Ho Jang|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||Yes, during end credits|
†††† Heavenly Sword, made in 2014, began life in 2007 as a popular RPG for Sony PS3. Film adaptations of video games have generally not fared well; one can think of Super Mario Bros. (1993) through to Warcraft (2016), although here are some half decent exceptions such as Resident Evil (2002). The Asians do tend to do them better, such as Ace Attorney, so it is interesting that a Korean company and a Korean director, Gun Ho Jang, brought Heavenly Sword to animated film.
†††† Nariko (Anna Torv) belongs to the clan that has the responsibility of safeguarding a sword that is said to have been given to the people by the gods. The sword can only be wielded by the chosen one, a male child, so Nariko, as a female, is both a disappointment to her father Shan (Nolan North) and unable to be the chosen one. However, when the clanís castle is attacked by the evil King Bohan (Alfred Molina) and his army of vile creatures seeking the heavenly sword, Nariko escapes with the sword and, with her half-sister Kai (Ashley Ball), goes in search of the brother they never knew, who could be the chosen one. They face a horde of enemies and while Nariko can use the weapon it is so powerful that every time she does it brings her closer to her death. Can she find her brother and save her clan before the sword kills her?
†††† Heavenly Sword is a strange film, using motion capture, matte paintings, models and CGI to deliver the animation, it looks like a video game, quite stilted in places and blocky in action. However, one does get used to it and the colours and backgrounds are quite stunning while the army of creatures would be impossible to do in live action without a Lord of the Rings budget. Indeed, a number of sequences, such as the desolated ash grey landscape and the march of Bohanís creature army from his lofty citadel, are reminiscent of Lord of the Rings, in animation and on the cheap! Australian actress Anna Torv was the voice of Nariko in the game and she returns for the film. In the game Andy Serkis was the voice of Bohan but he has gone on to bigger and better things, with presumably a price increase, so the part is now voiced by Alfred Molina. Indeed, the cast list is quite small with Nolan North voicing three main roles (Shan, Kyo and Roach) and Barry Dennen two.
†††† Some reviewers, especially those who have played the game, have not been kind to Heavenly Sword. I have not played the game (and neither has my son who is my technical adviser on such things) so this review is based on the film alone, as a film. Heavenly Sword covers themes of loss, responsibility, family expectations, hope and sacrifice and ends in a sequence that was, to me, unexpected and poignant. Those who know nothing about the game world will have no problem picking up the plot and background to the sword as it is all given in a voiceover during the opening credits.
†††† Certainly there is nothing earthshattering here and the characters are very one-dimensional but the film is colourful to look at with some stunning landscapes of devastated grey rock, deserts, ruined villages, Korean looking castles and a dark and lofty citadel, and the time speeds along.
†††† Heavenly Sword is presented in the 1.78:1 aspect ratio, close to the original 1.85:1, in 1080p using the MPEG-4 AVC code.
†††† As noted, the animation style creates some scenes that look blocky and stilted in action but lines are strong and the colours, including Narikoís red hair and the lava around Bohanís citadel, yellows, blues and the greys of the landscape are deep and bold. Blacks and shadow detail are fine and brightness and contrast consistent.
†††† I did not notice any marks or other artefacts.
†††† No subtitles are provided.
†††† Audio is English DTS-HD MA 5.1.
†††† Dialogue is clear and easy to understand. There is a reasonable degree of surround activity during battles while at other times the rears added the creak of horsesí harnesses, the tramp of marching creatures and music. The subwoofer was rather subdued but did add depth to the crash of boulders and such during the attack and marching feet.
†††† The music by Justin Lavallee on occasion sounded Zimmerish, which is not a bad thing, and generally was effective in supporting the visuals.
†††† This was animation so the lip synchronisation was as approximate as one might expect.
|Surround Channel Use|
†††† A trailer for Mythica: A Quest for Heroes plays on start-up. It cannot be selected from the menu.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
†††† The Region A US Blu-ray of Heavenly Sword is superior because it adds:
†††† Heavenly Sword seems to have disappointed reviewers who were familiar with the game. However, as an animated sword and sorcery fantasy it was colourful and had its moments. It did not go at the end quite where I was expecting and it flies along, packing a lot into its 86 minutes.
†††† The video and audio are fine, the only extra a trailer for another film as we miss out on the making of available in Region A.
|DVD||Sony BDP-S580, using HDMI output|
|Display||LG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||NAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.|
|Speakers||Studio Acoustics 5.1|