30 Days of Night: Special Edition (2007)

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Released 13-Mar-2008

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Main Menu Animation
Featurette-Making Of-Pre-Production
Featurette-Making Of-The Vampire
Featurette-Making Of-Building Barrow
Featurette-Making Of-The Cast
Featurette-Making Of-The Look
Featurette-Making Of-Night Shoots
Featurette-Making Of-Blood, Guts and Nasty @/$%
Featurette-Making Of-Stunts
Audio Commentary-Cast and Crew
Booklet-30 Days Graphic Novel Excerpts
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2007
Running Time 108:00
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By David Slade
Studio
Distributor
Icon Entertainment Starring Josh Hartnett
Melissa George
Danny Huston
Ben Foster
Mark Boone Junior
Mark Rendall
Amber Sainsbury
Manu Bennett
Case Amaray-Transparent-S/C-Dual
RPI ? Music Brian Reitzell


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.40:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
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

          Until relatively recently if anyone suggested that Hollywood would turn out a film based on a comic book and serve it to adults they would have been met with derision. Sure, the Batman franchise drew inspiration from The Dark Knight Returns, but the double-whammy of Sin City and 300 cemented the comic book, or graphic novel, as a legitimate source of inspiration for big budget Hollywood movies. The fact that the comic book was the source was one thing - more importantly these movies look like comic books, staccato dark and dramatic.

      30 Days of Night actually began life as a film idea. But rejection led writer Steve Niles to create a comic book series based on that idea with Australian graphic artist Ben Templesmith. It found its way back to the big screen last year, directed by Hard Candy helmer David Slade and starring Josh Hartnett and Melissa George.

      The conceit behind 30 Days is so good it is a wonder it hasn't been done before. Way up in the far North of Alaska the town of Barrow receives 30 days of darkness during winter (Wiki tells us it is 84 but I guess 30 sounds better!). Naturally, the vampires of this World gravitate to the town for a holiday without the interruption of the pesky sun.

      Let the feeding begin!

      All that stands between complete decimation of the town of Barrow and escape is the small town sheriff Eben played by Hartnett and his estranged wife played by George. Their efforts weren't helped by the appearance in town of The Stranger played by Six Feet Under alumni Ben Foster who set about sabotaging every means of communication and escape before the big dark set in. The Stranger is a vampire wanna-be and helps open the human cafeteria for his nasty friends.

When the bloodsuckers come, led by the infernal Danny Huston they hit hard, almost wiping out the entire town population in a short period.

      In a manner not dissimilar to any other horror flick the numbers keep dwindling as the sheriff struggles to find a way to either sit out the dark or fight back. The film was made in New Zealand and features a host of Kiwi actors in support roles. The cast, though hardly made up of Oscar winners, is uniformly good with the genre material and the film only struggles when it tries to make a cohesive whole out of the experience. There is more gore than genuine scares and once the horror of the vampires becomes blindingly obvious the film struggles to recapture that stomach churning sense of dread.

      Still, genre fans loved it as well as others who boosted it to a healthy box office.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Since AdamG reviewed the Blu-ray edition of this film a number of readers have bristled at the thought that the film has been incorrectly framed for, of all things, a Limited Edition. This is only partly true. The film was presented cinematically at 2.40:1 and arrives here in a 1.78:1 transfer which is 16x9 enhanced.

     Shooting of the film began using both digital and film for comparison. Eventually film was the medium of choice. It was shot on Super 35mm.

      For those with a technical bent Super 35mm uses the space of the film allocated for analog sound as extra image area. When the release prints are prepared the image for the cinema is extracted from the overall image and blown up to the intended ratio. This process has its supporters such as James Cameron, as well as its detractors who claim that the process degrades the image quality and makes an overly grainy picture. The advent of Digital Intermediates has lessened the criticisms.

      The real issue here is whether the aspect ratio is consistent with the directors vision. Fans shouldn't be concerned that they are getting less image - in fact they are getting more. Check out this screenshot from 24.37.

You can see that in the 2.40:1 version the film has a cinematic feel but misses out parts of the shot such as the car in the foreground. So there is the question: More image versus tampering with the directors composition. It is a matter of personal taste. Transfer of Super 35mm films to a standard widescreen ratio involves some mucking around with the image where effects shots are used as the filmmakers will rarely spend money on CGI for areas of film that aren't likely to be shown on screen.

      I haven't seen the Blu-ray version but I can say that this version looks incredibly sharp. The grain is consistent with the aesthetic of the film. The colours are stark in the exteriors which is consistent with the graphic novel and only the blood has that rich red look. The colours for the interiors are very stable. The blacks are also stable and there are no compression problems I could see. Overall this is a great looking film. Site policy dictates that we deduct one point for the "incorrect" aspect ratio.

      There are English subtitles and English for the Hearing Impaired. They give a good account of the dialogue and onscreen action. The Hearing Impaired track features a lot of Sound of axe chopping followed by (Squelch!)!

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

Audio

        30 Days of Night comes in three audio flavours. There is a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix running at 448 Kb/s, a DTS track running at 768 Kb/s and the commentary track being Dolby Digital 2.0 at 224 Kb/s.

      Of the standard audio tracks the DTS track is beefier and sharper. However, it all depends how much of the roof you want left after watching the film for this is a sonic fun-fest. The movie consists of large patches of silence followed by bursts of noise designed for shock effect. The sounds are well recorded and axe blows (of which there are a few) have a deep thud followed by the sound of gooey decapitation.

      The soundtrack by Brian Reitzell is an atmospheric wonder. As Hartnett points out in the commentary track it has hardly a melody throughout but rather is an effectively moody piece of scoring that gets the nerves jangling in the quiet parts and the blood pumping in the action sequences.

Dialogue is clear and easy to follow and the audio sync appears fine despite the large amount of ADR work required.

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

Extras

 

A decent number of high quality extras are provided.

Main Menu Audio & Animation

The main menu is nothing special although each selection of extra etc involves a short cut scene of a vampire jumping at you. There is the usual non-skippable piracy warning and a lengthy excerpt from the film leading into the menu screen.

Audio Commentary with Melissa George, Josh Hartnett and Robert Tapert

This falls very much into the chat-fest category. George and Hartnett clearly became buddies during the shooting, despite the glandular fever that Hartnett endured during the first two weeks of shooting. Their commentary is full of jokes and giggles and focuses on the personal aspects of the shooting. This is no problem as this film wouldn't really benefit from scholarly analysis. The absence of director Slade is a pity although producer Tapert does chime in from time to time with overall production details and tries to keep the actors on track. A fun commentary.

Making Of Featurettes (50:19)

These are a series of featurettes dealing with all aspects of the production. They can be viewed as "Play All" or in pieces. Generally they are of a high standard and avoid all the backslapping often associated with Making of features.

Pre-production

This gives a brief background to the script development and the pre-production mania that set in as the shooting approached. Chief amongst the decisions was the location. Alaska itself was a no go and New Zealand substituted for the far north of the USA.

The Vampire (7.36)

Who would have thought that the vampires would have to go to vampire school to learn their craft? In this feature we are shown how the vampires learnt to walk, snarl and even talk the vampire language!

Building Barrow

The production design team get a chance to talk about the process of translating the dark monochromatic look of the comic book onto the screen. The town was constructed in a few locations, the main one being a disused equestrian centre in New Zealand. The hard part for the cast was looking cold in an often warm studio environment.

The Cast

Each o the key cast members is features as the director explains how he got them on board. For the vampires it was fairly easy - most were people with stunt experience in New Zealand.

The Look

Cinematographer Jo Willems talks about the process of getting the right look for the film including shooting scenes parallel in digital before deciding to go with film. For the first time I can recall the gaffer gets a look in as he explains his lighting set-ups to make it possible to see and film despite the ever-present blackness.

Blood Guts & Nasty @#$%

After watching the extra features for Black Sheep I know that the team at Weta like nothing more than getting all gooey with blood and guts. This featurette tracks the progress of finding the right colour and kind of blood as well as heads and limbs missing their owners.

Night Shoot

This is something of a production diary as we see the team struggle with the night shoot for 5 long dark weeks. It is shot with good humour but the toll

Stunts

This is quite a lengthy featurette focussing on a few key stunt scenes including the little vampire girl. The stunt team had a ball putting the film stunts together. There is a loss of picture at 3.04 on this featurette.

Graphic Novel Extracts

This Limited Edition contains a beautifully detailed series of extracts from the 30 Days series of graphic novels.

R4 vs R1

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

          The film exists in a few versions. The Blu-ray version contains the extras but not the graphic novel but it does have scene comparisons with the novel.

Only the Region 4 and Region 2 have DTS sound but the US Region 1 is in the cinematic aspect ratio. It also contains an episode of the Blood + anime series for those who want it.

Your choice.

Summary

          30 Days of Night is a pretty decent horror flick and Icon have spared nothing with this Limited Edition.

The transfer is very good both sonically and visually.

The extras are detailed and informative.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Monday, June 09, 2008
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer BDP-LX70A Blu-ray Player, using HDMI output
DisplayPioneer PDP-5000EX. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR605
SpeakersJBL 5.1 Surround and Subwoofer

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