This review will be a technical overview of the contents of the disc. I will not be giving my opinions on the movie itself. This review is for the standard Blu-ray disc (not the DVD or the Ultra HD Blu-ray). I also own the DVD version for comparison though.
The movie is 2:04:36 long (124 minutes and 36 seconds). The total size of the movie, raw from the disc, is 30.6 GB (28.5 GiB). The disc is a standard 50 GB dual-layer Blu-ray disc.
Video stream size: 25.9 GB (24.1 GiB)
Content resolution: 1920 × 800 (2.40:1 aspect ratio)
Framerate: ≈23.976 FPS (24 × 1000 / 1001)
Color Format: 8 bpc YCbCr 4:2:0
The DVD I have is the full screen version, 4:3 (or 1.33:1) aspect ratio. This Blu-ray is widescreen, 2.40:1 aspect ratio. Unfortunately, it seems this movie was only framed for 4:3 screens I guess, so in this case the "widescreen" means it is cropped vertically, removing parts of the image, rather than expanding to include additional content on the sides (presumably, this means there was not enough additional usable content on the sides of the raw footage to make this possible).
Still, if that's the case, I would have preferred to have the Blu-ray in 4:3 aspect ratio (1440×1080) so that the entire image could be seen, rather than cropping it. They could have at least settled for 16:9 to make a good compromise without cutting off too much of the image, while allowing them to take advantage of the full 1920×1080 frame of the Blu-ray video format, but they decided to crop from 1.33:1 all the way to 2.40:1, which is quite an aggressive crop, and can remove quite a lot of additional image information, even taking away a little bit of context in some scenes, and giving me the feel of tunnel vision in many others. I really am disappointed they decided to go the route of cropping for the Blu-ray. I give 4 stars for this reason.
I'll try to attach some comparison images and maybe a video afterward. Not sure if Amazon will allow them, as posting scenes from the movie might be considered a violation of the copyright infringement rules on Amazon reviews. We'll see.
The Blu-ray contains 3 audio streams:
• English, Dolby TrueHD (5.1 Surround) — 1.75 GB (1.63 GiB)
• French, Dolby TrueHD (5.1 Surround) — 1.48 GB (1.37 GiB)
• English Director's Commentary, Dolby Digital (2.0 Stereo) — 179 MB (171 MiB)
The French audio is dubbed. Interestingly however, the original Russian actors' voices are used whenever they speak Russian; the French actors did not dub those lines over, only the English-speaking lines.
As always, the Dolby TrueHD streams are automatically reduced to a Dolby Digital track for equipment that doesn't support TrueHD, so there are no compatibility concerns there.
I prefer DTS-HD Master Audio over Dolby TrueHD personally, since I think lossless audio is a bit overkill and usually end up just extracting the core track. On a DTS-HD track, the core is a standard DTS track, which is higher quality than a the Dolby Digital core, but it's not a big deal really.
The commentary track contains commentary from director Wolfgang Petersen, with Michael Coleman facilitating conversation.
In the DVD version, the subtitles for the Russian dialogue are permanently burned into the video (in English in my copy, but presumably it differs by DVD region). I'm happy to report this is not the case in the Blu-ray version; subtitles are NOT burned-in on the Blu-ray.
There are three main subtitle tracks on the Blu-ray version:
• English (normal)
• English SDH (Subtitles for the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing)
• French (normal)
All three tracks provide full subtitles (all dialogue is subtitled throughout the movie). To get subtitles for the Russian dialogue only, but nowhere else, you just simply leave subtitles off. The main English subtitle track has the Russian sections marked internally as "forced" subtitles, so on a Blu-ray player the subtitles for those lines will appear even when the subtitles are set to "off"/"none" (on a PC, behavior depends on the playback software). The only consideration to this arrangement is that this only works for one language (English in this case); for French it is either full subtitles or none at all.
Location cards (i.e. "Ramstein Air Force Base — Germany", or "Moscow — Three weeks later", etc.) are still burned into the video (in English).
On-screen text (including contextually-important text, such as the close-up shot of the cockpit screen saying "Autopilot Disengaged" at 58:33) is NOT subtitled in the French subtitle track.
It may also be worth noting that the English subtitle tracks (both of them) contain fair amounts of paraphrasing. This is to be expected of any movie in which characters speak very quickly. There are conventions about how many letters per second is considered "readable" for the average person, so they do their best to stay within those limits when authoring subtitles. If characters speak too quickly, it is common practice to paraphrase to reduce the amount of reading required before the subtitle has to disappear to make room for the next line.
The English SDH track is high-resolution PGS format (like all Blu-ray subtitles), but seems to be designed to mimic the old Closed Captioning system, which is interesting. Text appears on top of the lower section of the video image (rather than in the crop margin below, like the standard English subtitle track), the text is surrounded by a black background, and the horizontal position varies, to indicate who is speaking.
And lastly, there seems to be a mistake in the Russian Dialogue subtitles. I don't speak Russian, so I can't verify what they are actually saying, but the Russian dialogue is subtitled as such:
• 00:25:55 — "They're landing"
• 00:26:42 — "If we land, we're finished"
• 00:25:55 — "They're landing"
• 00:26:42 — "They're landing"
The DVD subtitles seem to make more sense, but I'm not sure which one is actually correct.
The subtitles also say "Get the f*** in the air" at 27:04, even though it sounds like he's actually saying "Get us back in the air", and he says "Get us back in the air, now!" a few seconds later so it seems likely that's what he said the first time too, but this subtitle mistake is present in both the DVD and the Blu-ray. And like I said, the subtitles are paraphrased quite heavily in some places anyway, so inaccuracies are not that big of a deal I suppose. I didn't analyze the whole movie for subtitling mistakes, so there may be more, but that's just what I noticed on my casual watch-through.
The disc contains no special features, aside from the Director's commentary mentioned in the Audio section.