xXx (Superbit) (2002)

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Released 2-Dec-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Dolby Digital Trailer-City
dts Trailer-Digital Experience
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 119:01
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (61:55) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Rob Cohen
Studio
Distributor

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Vin Diesel
Asia Argento
Marton Csokas
Samuel L. Jackson
Michael Roof
Richy Müller
Werner Dähn
Petr Jákl
Jan Pavel Filipensky
Tom Everett
Danny Trejo
Thomas Ian Griffith
Eve
Case ?
RPI $39.95 Music Randy Edelman


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Dutch
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    xXx has been released once already, as a Collector's Edition. I recommend that you read our review of that version if you want to know what the plot is: Sean wrote a beautifully detailed description, and I won't try to compete with it.

    I did like that (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) X's love interest, and enemy, is Y.

    I'm not sure that I'm completely happy with the way that the Superbit series is trending. I had hoped to see a lot more in the way of back-catalogue material released on Superbit, but it seems to be heading towards releasing the latest blockbuster, whether it merits Superbit treatment or not. This film, for example, is really something of a disappointment in Superbit form. That's not because it's a bad film — you are entitled to your own opinion on that — I happen to think that it's a fine example of disposable film-making (watch it, enjoy it, forget it). No, the disappointment comes because the source material, the film itself, is not good enough to take advantage of the Superbit approach. So why has it been released in Superbit form? The cynical will say that it is a way to extract a few more dollars from the film before everyone forgets it. Unfortunately, I fear they may be right this time.

    I'm looking forward to a new Superbit release of a film that warrants Superbit treatment.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The DVD is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.40:1, 16x9 enhanced, which is very close to its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1.

    The image is never razor sharp (except in the CG closing credits) — there's always a touch of softness — but this is probably due to film grain. It seems like this movie was shot using slightly grainier film stock than usual, or, more likely, the cinematographer (Dean Semler) was always pushing the film to its limits. This movie was shot anamorphically, in Panavision, and Panavision lenses do require more light than spherical optics. If you look at the first sequence in Yorgi's club, around the 35 minute mark (take 35:28, for example), you'll see that the image displays a lot of film grain. Oh, the picture is stylish, with its cool blue lighting, but there's just not enough light for the film to register a clear image. This scene is far from unique. The previous review remarked on film grain and low-level noise; looking back at the previous release I'm convinced that all apparent low-level noise in the video is actually film grain, and inherent in the source material. Shadow detail is variable, from acceptable to quite limited, and I'd lay the blame for that upon the low light levels in which the film was shot, too — the film emulsion can only pick up detail if it has the light to do so. I don't believe there is any low-level noise in this transfer, but it is possible there is some hiding in the film grain.

    Colour is fairly well-rendered, but it can be difficult to judge when the cinematographer is playing around with coloured light. I don't just mean things like the blue light in the club, either; consider the red / orange light in the scene where Xander enters the bedroom. This is oh-so-stylish, and an interesting effect, but it makes it oh-so-difficult to determine if colours are being rendered accurately. One scene that looked somewhat odd was the panoramic shot across Washington (around 3:36) leading up to Gibbons' arrival at the NSA — it looks somewhat overexposed. There's nothing particular in the way of colour-related artefacts.

    I did spot a film artefact: there's a small, but quite noticeable, white fleck at 70:11, but this fleck is not part of a flock — I noticed no other film artefacts.

    There is some very light aliasing, which I mention simply to point out how minor it is — aliasing has been well controlled. There's no moiré. There are no MPEG artefacts. There's no shimmer.

    They have done an excellent job of preparing this transfer, and it is up to Superbit standards in terms of fidelity to the original, but they cannot work miracles (like removing film grain inherent in the original film).

    There are subtitles in English and Dutch, and English for the Hearing Impaired. I watched these last. They are noticeably abbreviated, frequently dropping one or two words from a seven word sentence, but they get the story across. They are well-timed to the dialogue, and are easy to read. Single lines are placed below the picture; double lines have the top line over the bottom of the picture. Shorter subtitles are placed below the speaker, which is always a nice touch.

    The disc is single-sided and dual-layered, RSDL formatted. I was unable to spot the layer change in watching the film twice, so I resorted to technical means, and located the layer change at 61:55. It is concealed in a moment of silence in a sequence of quite rapid cuts. The layer change is invisible on every player I tried, and that's truly impressive.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There are the two standard choices of soundtrack on this Superbit disc: dts 5.1 and Dolby Digital 5.1, both in English, which is the original language of the movie. I listened to both. Unusually, I judged the Dolby Digital to be slightly better in this case, with slightly better surround effects — the difference is not large, though, so feel free to give your dts decoder the exercise it so rarely receives. Interestingly, dts is the default soundtrack. The sound seemed a little quiet on both tracks, but that's easily remedied with the volume control.

    The dialogue is as clear as it can be, given the plethora of accents and foreign languages (Spanish, Russian, Czech, at least) on display; I did notice some faint distortion on Vin Diesel's voice on a couple of passages, but the effect is subtle. There are no obvious audio sync problems.

    The music is varied, including The Third Man theme on zither, but mostly rather more contemporary. The Hearing Impaired subtitles describe some of it as Techno (the subtitle writer gives Techno a broader range than most people would). For others, the name of the song and the artists are provided — that's probably simpler. The score is credited to Randy Edelman, and is nicely tailored to the on-screen action, although a lot of the music time is occupied by songs.

    The surrounds get plenty of ambience, and some well-placed directional sound effects. Check that your subwoofer is in good order, and not set too loud — the sub gets a major work-out during this film, most particularly during the avalanche, and you don't want it exploding.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    There are exactly no extras on this disc, as is standard on Superbit discs.

Menu

    The menu is static and silent, looking exactly like every other Superbit menu.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This film has been released three times (so far) in Region 1. They were gifted with both Fullscreen and Widescreen versions of the Collector's Edition, and they have already received the Superbit version. As far as I can ascertain, the R1 Superbit disc is the same as this one, and has the same problem with grain (no surprise there).

    Given the good transfer on the Collector's Edition, and the amazing level of extras it has, I'm going to recommend that you get the Collector's Edition unless you are desperate for the dts soundtrack. Bear in mind, however, that I judge that the dts soundtrack on this disc is slightly inferior to the Dolby Digital one.

Summary

    A nicely made Superbit disc of a film that was much too grainy to warrant Superbit treatment. If you are a huge fan of the film, then this is a beautifully made DVD, and the film cannot look any better than this. However, if you already have the Collector's Edition, then it's very hard to justify getting this version.

    The video quality is as good as it can be given the grainy nature of the film.

    The audio quality is very good, albeit a little quiet.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Wednesday, January 07, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

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Comments (Add)
The main feature on the CE fits onto one layer... - Ben H (My biography. Go on have a read...) REPLY POSTED
Is this uncut? - REPLY POSTED